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Posts Tagged ‘Nationalism’

The UN, having obtained US Support, has now moved to create a “no fly” zone over Libya.  Oh, what can we say.

Obama is now getting on the train he couldn’t get off after saying–unwisely in my opinion–Kaddafi must go.  That’s the problem with threats . . . they cascade upon themselves. This appears chiefly an emotional reaction to disturbing and violent news from the region, coupled with a self-fulfilling prophecy of presidential rhetoric.  There is no real moral reason to intervene here and not, say, Iran a few months ago or Bahrain or Egypt or many other places. And the reasons here are many times less compelling than Iran, which has, unlike Libya, been hostile to the US in very recent times.

We should all be concerned that Obama is moving without any congressional authorization.  Indeed, there’s been almost no debate.  It’s weird.  Wake up one day, and we’re at war. This is a terrible precedent, not so different from what the first President Bush tried to pull in the First Gulf War, though he ultimately did get a congressional resolution. Obama spoke out against this sort of thing when he was in Congress.  But like most presidents, he has fought to preserve and expand the power of the office once he was in it, even as he has used that increased power to undermine America the nation.  But even strong presidents have generally recognized in the momentous matter of war, the people’s representatives deserve a say.

Obama is turning against the one thing he had going for him in the last campaign:  relative realism and restraint on foreign policy.  Contra my putatitively conservative brethren, I do not embrace the US-as-global-cop role.  It is expensive, it does us little good, and it allows small regional conflicts to become global ones.  Many Americans agreed in 2008, fed up as they were with the indeterminate outcomes of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the antagonism these wars fueled in the Muslim world.  Now we have a President who eloquently spoke to these themes going down the road to permanent war counseled by the psychotic duo of Senators McCain and Lieberman.  And worse, he is doing so at the insistence of Britain and France, nations whom we should respect, but not nations whom we should follow into every hare-brained European-style human rights war.

Worst of all, we have no strategy here. Though legally required, a congressional debate may not do any good, because, in both parties, we see a reactive, emotion-laden, and vaguely Wilsonian approach to the world that has no end game, cannot distinguish the important from the irrelevant, and, through a misplaced concern for “human rights,” makes no distinction between a genuine threat to the global order from what used to be called “internal affairs.”  So today we go to war with Libya.  Iran, not so much.  We are this big, lumbering, powerful country, but our leaders’ thinking is worse than that of children.  It’s like that of adolescents:  impulsive, overly self-satisfied, contemptuous of risk, ignorant of potential pitfalls, forgetful of recent failures, and a product of peer pressure.

Finally, in Europe and in America we have this confused idea that “no fly zones” are something short of war.  It’s true, they’re much safer for our guys than a land war.  In Kosovo, we had zero casualties, even as we bombed Serbian bridges and cities. In that sense, air strikes are sometimes the right tool to use.  But they are still acts of war, with bombing and killing and violations of another nation’s sovereignty, as well as some risk to the life and limb of Americans.  Yes, Kaddafi is a bad man.  He killed Americans back in the day and was punished for it (or made recompense in the case of Lockerbie).  If this were a merely retaliatory raid, I might be more sympathetic.  But American no longer does retaliatory raids. Every campaign is wrapped not in the flag but in the mantle of concern for democracy. This is the Democratic Party’s version of neoconservatism, plain and simple, where the lack of national interest is held up as proof of our purity of motive.  But this type of “freedom” is no formula for peace, as it makes a potential enemy of every nation on earth that is not governed like us.

While I am no pacifist, for moral and self-interested reasons, I must prefer peace to war.  Peace is not just a state of mind.  It involves something tangible and fundamental:  not undertaking aggressive military action unless it is a last resort connected to national interest.  The concern for the national interest, if widely shared and enshrined in international law, limits the effect of war.  It certainly limits the impact of war on our own nation.

A strong principle once existed for condemning war unless it was a defensive act.  This was the European system of the last 400 years, particularly after the Congress of Vienna.  But it’s been degraded since the end of the Cold War in the name of human rights.  It faced an earlier challenged in the name of ethnic homogenization, as in the Franco-Prussian War.  But even this principle had natural limits, and it was thoroughly discredited (or rendered irrelevant by ethnic cleansing) after World War II.

Now even this limiting principle is gone.  Americans will suddenly go to war for Rwandans and Libyans and Chadians and God knows who else.  We can’t go to war for everyone everywhere, and say we’re for peace.  If we’re engaging in “humanitarian” wars without even a patina of concern for national interest, then our nation is acting like naked imperialists.  Just because a handful of nations, in the name of Europe, team up and say they’re in the right doesn’t make this conglomerate non-imperialist.  It’s just cooperative imperialism.  It doesn’t change the reality.

I genuinely felt sick during the Kosovo War.  I knew what it meant to be “ashamed” of your country.  It was a new feeling for me.  Not only was our nation getting into an unnecessary war, but it was doing so for stupid reasons, badgered by confused Europeans, swindled by propaganda, and we were on the wrong side.  Today it’s the same.  While I feel much less sympathy for Kaddafi compared to Christian Serbia, it’s otherwise a nearly identical situation.

Iraq, at its worst, still had some arguable connection to national interest, even if the war ultimately proved unnecessary or based on a mistaken premise.  Afghanistan clearly had such a connection, even if it’s dragged on too long, having metamorphisized into a democracy-building campaign.  But Kosovo?  Somalia?  And now Libya?  These are the military interventions of an idiotic national leadership, Republican and Democrat.

Obama, after waxing and waning, has made a choice.  He neglected to tell the American people why this is so important. And now, showing solemn regard for the seriousness of war, he is off . . . to Brazil!?!

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Obama is getting beaten up by core supporters, his lies are crumbling, his half-hearted war leadership has been exposed, and his lack of political skills and instincts is more and more apparent. Why is this so surprising?  His campaign was a big lie; the media participated in myth-making and didn’t do their job, from checking his Hyde Park left-liberal record to investigating his terrorist associations and the unlikelihood of his authorship of Dreams of My Father.

I am rather enjoying all of this, frankly, and an ideal end game would be a radicalized, alienated, small-government-oriented and ethnically conscious majority, mass disillusionment by liberals, and a serious dismantlement of the welfare state out of sheer necessity.

The only thing to be wary of his the Republican party’s infidelity to decent policy.  From its addiction to nation-building in the Muslim world to its bad faith on immigration, it’s not so clear that this radicalism won’t get defused and wasted on stupid liberal policies simply because they’re advanced by Republicans. That said, Republicans function better as an opposition party, and we are very lucky McCain is not putting the final nail in the coffin that is the GOP.

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Today Felipe Calderon addressed the U.S. Congress.  As has become the Mexican custom, he castigated the United States for its unreasonably liberal gun control laws, unreasonably harsh treatment of illegal immigrants, and the alleged U.S. role in his country’s troubles with drug kingpins and violence.

He said, for example regarding Arizona’s immigration enforcement law, “It is a law that not only ignores a reality that cannot be erased by decree but also introduces a terrible idea using racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement.”  Note the multiple layers of presumption and moral judgment.  First, he is criticizing a law democratically enacted by a U.S. state designed to address a massive flood of people caused by his government’s policy of encouraging illegal immigration (complete with “how to” pamphlets.)   Second, he is fearless in his condemnation of the U.S., even though his country is many times weaker militarily and economically, and even though he is our guest.  Finally, he is a hypocrite of the first order, as Mexico aggressively intercepts and deports illegal immigrants to Mexico and passing through Mexico from other parts of Central America, and Mexico’s human rights records leaves a great deal to be desired whether we’re talking the Cristeros War or more recent events such as the massacre of students in 1968.

I did a little digging.  The last US President to address the Mexican Congress was Jimmy Carter in 1979. While foreign presidents can mingle and engage in pseudo-aristocratic diplomacy, the Mexican Congress has long been a a hotbed of the traditionally ambivalent Mexican view of the United States, a combination of envy, fear, and contempt.  Carter’s speech presaged the devolution of American self-respect we’ve seen fully flower under President Barack Hussein Obama, whose various speeches in Berlin, Cairo, and Moscow cement in place the new era of American powerlessness and paralyzing guilt.

While today the Mexican President presumes to lecture the United States on illegal aliens and gun control, in 1979 Carter spoke in soothing and subservient tones, and he did so in Spanish.  He pleaded, “My friends, I have come to Mexico to listen.  This is a time to appreciate the mutual benefits of our historical friendship as neighbors. But it is also a time of exciting changes within our two countries and in our relationship with each other.”  Listening, that’s good–welcome and appropriate, in fact, in a foreign nation’s legislative halls. Such gestures of faux equality are unobjectionable standing alone, as mutual respect goes a long way in relations between nations.

Felipe Calderon didn’t get the memo; or, rather, he got the version with the editor’s notes, notes which reveal that there is one set of rules constraining the United States that demands we treat unequals as equals, and these editor’s notes make it plain that these inferiors can make demands and control policy among their military and economic superiors.  This is the tone and tenor of all leftist foreign policy:  the objective destruction of Western and American power recast as the advance of universal justice.

Much like Obama’s various humiliations of America–their America, the land that oppressed his ancestors–Carter also took things too far, noting, “Our friendship has at times been marred by mistakes, and even by abuses of power.”  Carter’s literal text was ambiguous, but rest assured, the Mexicans acknowledge no Mexican abuses of power vis a vis the United States.  In 1979, they understood the meaning and were pleased, or rather emboldened, and ever since the U.S. has weakly appeased them, even though Mexico as a nation has done literally nothing for the United States.  It has sent no soldiers to fight in any of our wars–unlike smaller neighbors Honduras and El Salvador.  Mexico in fact abrogated the Rio Treaty shortly after the 9/11 attacks.  The Mexican Congress even found it difficult to have a moment of silence to mourn the Americans killed in those attacks, as this was considered unduly subservient.

Weak people make bad friends, and the same thing is true among nations.  Weak people and weak nations take all they can get, as they have not learned the restraint and magnanimity that comes from success and strength.  The Mexicans are weak and insecure, not least because American prosperity, in a nation that emerged some 120 years after theirs, is a daily indictment of the Mexican social and economic system, their culture, and their vaunted La Raza Cosmica.

Mexicans still smart over things Americans have forgotten, like the Treaty of Gudalupe Hidalgo or U.S. boycotts in the wake of the nationalization of the Mexican oil industry in 1938.  Mexicans are also undoubtedly ashamed that so many of their citizens are leaving, in many cases forever, to the North, where even the lowliest and least educated can make a living impossible to achieve in Mexico.  In short, Mexico is a pesky, fragile, and envious little country that is the chief source of its own problems.  Unfortunately, our politicians all the way up to our President seem to think that they will somehow expiate America’s sins by doing Mexico (and the rest of the Third World’s) bidding.  As we have seen in Calderon’s latest insults, the more likely result is that Mexico will become further emboldened and more demanding as the U.S. loses its self-respect.

During the Cold War, Mexico, for all of its leftism and socialism, never dreamed of going Communist. They knew America would strike back.  In Eisenhower’s Operation Wetback, the Mexican government knew to tread lightly in dealing with America’s internal affairs, as much as it may have filled their so-called Revolutionary Party with resentment.  Today, when our impositions on Mexico are so minimal, that resentment, and that demandingness, has reached an all time high.  And these demands are enabled by a domestic fifth column, fueled by multicultural ideology, that is willing to let everyone but native-born Americans play by rules of tribal aggrandizement.  The only silver lining of Calderon’s visits is for patriotic Americans to realize that these foreign leaders have contempt for them and their way of life, and that they are arm-in-arm with leftist American elites that share that contempt.  In short, the insults of a President Calderon can ignite a nationalist reaction that would be muted if its authors were solely, at least technically speaking, American statesmen.

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Bush was never a real believer in Free Markets. He instead believed in preserving the power and privilege of people like him. He sold it as a new kind of middle way, so-called “compassionate conservatism.”

Bush did not work hard to get where he was, instead inheriting his name, his network, and most of his money from his family. My experience with these “fortunate sons” is that they have a certain blindness about their own and others’ economic fortunes. Not having attained their success through their own efforts, they either feel guilty about it and indulge in various guilt-driven flirtations with leftism, or, alternately, don’t care about the structures that allowed their enterprising ancestors to attain wealth, aiming instead to preserve what they have at the expense of the economy as a whole.  Consider Bush’s perception that a woman who needed three jobs to support herself and her family was “uniquely American” rather than a tragic consequence of a low wage, screwed up economy.

Bush has been willing to sell out American workers and manufacturers out for many years to China and Mexico in the name of a cockeyed notion of fairness.  Now, worried about his legacy, he’s willing to kick the auto manufacturing can down the road by giving away TARP money to the Big 3 automakers.  There is no rhyme or reason to it, and his selective involvement in the economy is an invitation to chaos and politically chosen winners and losers.  Instead of setting the rules of the road, under Bush, the government has chosen very distinct winners and losers in the economy.

Consider Bush’s numerous deviations from free market principles and basic fair play:

  • The giveaway to MBNA and other credit card companies in the ex post facto bankruptcy reforms of 2005;
  • The giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry in the form of the prescription drug Medicare benefit of 2006;
  • The rescue of Bear Sterns earlier this year coupled with the rejection of a Lehman Brothers bailout;
  • The $190B farm subsidy bill of 2002;
  • The cheap-money, high deficit imposition of various costs on future generations in order to create the present day illusion of prosperity.

Bush has repeatedly put a particular social class–corporate America, its multinational managerial elite, and the wealthy in general–above the good of the country as a whole.  Unlike Reagan and the long traditions of the Republican party, Bush has shown indifference to American workers and businesses most threatened by globalization. Obviously the Big 3 have problems largely of their own making, caused not least by the short-sighted greediness of their unions.  But they did not create the last decade’s unbalanced trade with China, our overly leveraged and under-regulated financial sector,  the slow money-suck of constant inflation, nor the immigration-driven wage gap with the rest of the “blue collar” economy.  They should not be bailed out now, not least because they have a tool in bankruptcy to reform themselves.  But the trade and monetary conditions of the last 10-20 years should never have come to pass.  Now terrible decisions are being made under crisis conditions by an ideologically unmoored failure.

Unfortunately, Obama and the Democrats promise more of the same whether in the form of spending on make-work infrastructure programs, appointing an “auto czar,” or “investing” in new technologies.  Their policies, an exagerrated version of Bush’s with even less regard for the national interest, will perpetuate the legacy of cronyism and failure with slightly different winners and losers, i.e., giveaways to minorities, the unproductive, and politically correct Third World supplicants.  Whenever the government gets involved in these matters and insulates participants in the market from the usual requirements of profit, loss, and competition, then political considerations come into play, just as they do in a smaller way in the realm of government contracts, such as the practice of affirmative action set asides and other forms of patronage.

Bush did not embrace free markets tempered by some consideration of the necessity of a strong, vibrant, and diversified national economy.  Unfortunately, his term went down in the recent history books as “extreme conservatism” rather than the nonideological jumble that it was, the reflection of a man with a peculiar past and a worldview formed by lifelong associations with preservation-minded elites in the world’s most corrupt nations.

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I think it’s low down and pathetic that McCain’s operatives are blaming Palin for his loss.  If anything, she pumped him up.  Surely the proposed Lieberman pick would have been a complete flop.  McCain did better in the popular vote than I ever expected considering what an unpleasant mediocrity he was on the stump and considering how much he alienated conservatives with his aggressive attacks on immigration reformers.

Palin is hated because of who she is.  Like Mike Huckabee, she represents a populist appeal and rural way of life and value system that is absolutely terrifying for the “K Street Conservatives.”  The professional punditariat in Washington DC and New York are indifferent or hostile to everything that matters to their base, including abortion and gay marriage as well as gun control and immigration.  I don’t agree with everything from the populist wing, but I do share their concerns and their necessity as a group to a well balanced country, as I argued here earlier. 

Our elites are more out of touch than ever with these people. Their diagnosis of Bush Senior as “too conservative” in 1992 is why we ended up with a big government disaster with almost nothing to show for itself under the rubric of Bush’s “compassionate conservatism.”  To make Palin’s untutored instincts a symbol of the authentic conservatism of America’s interior ignores the real intellectuals–Tom Fleming, ISI, Vdare, the Von Mises Institute, Thomas Sowell–making intelligent and rigorous contributions to our understanding of culture and policy far away from the most prominent institutions of “conservative” opinion. 

Consider Andrew Sullivan.  He’s still obsessing over this threatening, fertile and religious woman.  And he’s lost all sense of proportion and reason, for example:  “The trouble is that Palin confuses what is settled reality and what is settled reality insider her own head. . . . 46 percent of the country was prepared to have this delusional whack-job as a potential president . . . . Give us the proof of Trig’s maternity now!”  It’s telling that a whack-job like this works at the Atlantic.

The soon-to-be-vicious conservative infighting about what to do next will chiefly be between the neoconservative right as represented by the coastal elite institutions that guided the Bush presidency and the anti-intellectual populist-nationalist institutions and people of the interior, the Huckabees, Palins, and Buchanans.  Of course, sometimes the elites are right as on Hariett Meirs or Bush’s penchant for cronyism.  But on the whole they’ve been a disaster both politically and on policies, whether immigration, Iraq, the economy, or the Bush presidency as a whole.

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The story of Rhodesia is an inherently tragic one.  Europeans, who came to Africa in search of economic progress and confident in their power to spread Christian Civilization, soon found themselves swamped by demographic trends and nationalistic political ideas.  These trends were the products of the very medicine and education that Europeans had brought to Africa.  Of course, things could not have remained forever as they were with a small white minority forever ruling a black majority.  Yet the alternative of majority rule in a continent notoriously tribal, corrupt, and inefficient has proven to be a disaster for most Africans.  Both white and black Africans have endured wars, mismanagement, corruption, and a decline in every measure of civilization since the emergence of independence in the sixties.  

Rhodesia disappeared.  It’s now Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.  And the last few years have seen the terrorist philosophy he embraced come to fruition.  In a last ditch effort to reward his supporters, white farms are being distributed to black Zimbabweans and soon ending up in a state of disrepair.  Food is now scarce.  And his political opponents, white and black, are increasingly being arrested, harassed, or murdered outright. 

Apartheid-style policies were unsustainable and unjust.  So too were the communist “class justice” policies proffered by the likes of Mugabe, Mandela, and their peers.  As conservatives we should acknowledge that steady and measured change towards greater political equality would likely have been more sustainable than the blood-soaked politics of revolution.  And, regardless, we can admire the courage, tenacity, and discipline of the Rhodesian military–a force that attracted adventurers, idealistic anti-communists, and professional soldiers from the world over to fight a an ultimately doomed war against the rising tide of African nationalism in the seventies. 

The video above shows some of the peculiarities of their fight:  black and white soldiers, side-by-side, fighting for a regime that excluded blacks from political power; modern jets and horse cavalry; and amazing sophistication and improvisation in a nation cut off from aid through UN embargoes.  These men  ultimately fought for their country and their way of life against an enemy that indiscriminately employed terrorist tactics.  But their defeat also shows another fact of modern life:  even a fight with flags waving and extraordinary courage and determination can still be lost if the political system to which it is attached is too far out of step with the tide of history.  Their extraordinary military effectiveness and amazing kill ratios (25:1 or more) should also give pause to those who believe we can easily win in Iraq if we just “take the gloves off.” 

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