China, Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy, General, Immigration, Politics

Obama Redux

On its face, this quotation from Theodore Roosevelt would seem rather obvious. Indeed, the legitimacy of American democracy rests on the theory that our elected leaders will pursue policies roughly matching their political rhetoric. This honesty requires not just avoiding outright lies, but also hypocrisy, i.e., saying one thing and doing the opposite.

In fact, our recent experience in America shows TR’s principle to be regrettably revolutionary in practice.  Donald Trump’s crude and divisive lies plumbed new depths of political dishonesty. However, the glib hypocrisy of the Obama Administration was the catalyst for the Trump revolution of 2016.   Obama was a master of the art of eloquently claiming one goal while pursuing manifestly contradictory and damaging policies at the same time.  The American people might not always have been able to put their finger on the lie itself but could see how the rhetoric clashed with the policy realities in their daily lives. It is why, contrary to media claims, Obama had the lowest average approval rating of any post- Cold War President prior to Trump.

Sadly, the Biden Administration is adopting the same strategy of dissemblance and hypocrisy. Like Obama in the middle of the 2008 Great Recession, Biden seeks to restructure the American economic system in a way that imposes sacrifices on average Americans but enables the globalist elite to escape similar sacrifices.  Its climate change policies would have the effect of not only eliminating thousands of jobs, but, as this article suggests, appeasing China. It makes the disturbing claim that Biden’s climate change ambassador Kerry is willing to compromise on American security and economic interests in exchange for unlikely and unenforceable carbon emission reductions by the Chinese.  When confronted with the effects of such policies on American workers, he showed his elitist callousness by claiming that oil & gas workers can simply build solar panels. He conveniently ignored the fact that solar industry jobs pay about 20% less than equivalent petroleum industry jobs.

Meanwhile, Biden’s immigration proposal would legalize our de facto policy of unrestricted immigration at the expense of low-income and technical workers, who are disproportionately women and minorities. Many of those are the same heroes and heroines who kept our nation going during the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, the Administration is pursuing a policy that would continue the kind of wage slavery and economic inequality Biden campaigned against (see this previous article). His only response is to invoke the divisive rhetoric of woke politics and income redistribution.  Even longtime liberals are questioning the honesty of these policies in light of the inequality crisis in California.

Loyal readers of this blog will quickly recall my vote for Biden expressed last year and ask if it was worth it. I still believe he was the best of a painful choice, which was confirmed by the Capitol riot and Trump’s petty sabotage of the Republican campaign in the Georgia runoff elections. The Democrats’ narrow control of Congress still gives nationalists a realistic chance to highlight Biden Administration hypocrisies so the American people can weigh in and decide if this is really what they voted for.  This site will try to help by analyzing and publicizing the contradictions and hypocrisies, concentrating on three areas – infrastructure, especially related to climate adaptation, immigration and political reform.  Please let me know of any other issues you would like to see covered as well. 

Coronavirus, Domestic Policy

Strength Through Resilience

A nation-state’ s power has traditionally been measured by the size of its military and economy.  As the attached article points out, the COVID-19 pandemic highlights a new and crucial source of national power – a nation’s resilience.  Resilience is defined as the ability to sustain and adapt to a systemic shock, or, as the old Timex watch commercial put it, the ability to take a licking and keep on ticking.  It is based on adequate infrastructure and governmental legitimacy more than material resources. 

Resiliency, however, comes in many forms.  China’s centralized communitarian culture allowed it to bounce back faster from the pandemic, but only by using the same totalitarian governmental repression that caused the crisis in the first place. In contrast, the individualistic culture of America hobbled our ability to control the spread after it arrived, but our decentralized federalist system gave state and local leaders the flexibility to create the necessary controls when the federal government failed to provide leadership.  Our freedom to innovate also helped foster development of reliable treatments and vaccines faster than China. 

At the same time, the weaknesses exposed by the pandemic must be addressed, especially those in our manufacturing capacity and health infrastructure.  By prioritizing efficiency over resiliency in our economy, we ended up dangerously dependent on China and other governments for vital materials, and not just in the medical field. The article touts strong alliances as a solution, but they cannot replace onshore local capacity in a crisis. Building national vigor means identifying and protecting resources we need to survive a future shock, whether it be from a disease, cyberattack, or climate change.

Theodore Roosevelt advocated “the strenuous life” of exercise and outdoor activity as a way of achieving personal resilience.  Both require short- term sacrifice and effort to build the stamina necessary to meet future challenges.  Similarly, we Americans will need to be willing to pay higher prices for domestically-produced goods or higher taxes in order to create the national resilience to remain a great power and a shining example of freedom. The immediate pain will be well worth it in the long run.

https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2020/11/pandemic-revealing-new-form-national-power/170061/

2020 Election, Foreign Policy, Politics, Realist Theory

An American Nationalist Voting Index – Speaking Softly

This is part of a series examining the issues in the presidential election. To see other articles in the series, click on the “2020 Elections” link on the Home page

Score

Biden -2.5 Trump +1.5

While Theodore Roosevelt often engaged in bellicose rhetoric, his foreign policy while president relied more on negotiation and adroit diplomacy to advance American interests. For example, Roosevelt relied on his diplomatic connections more than military power in avoiding an intervention by Germany in Venezuela to collect overdue debt. TR knew U.S. foreign policy needed to change to adapt to new challenges. In his time, it had to adapt by becoming more active in the world.    

As I mentioned in my posts on the History and Future of Nationalism, the world has changed again. The pursuit of liberal hegemony since the end of the Cold War has been proven to be unsustainable. Meanwhile, the rise of China, Russia, India and other regional powers ushered in a dynamic multi-polar system.  Trump‘s election in 2016 was a repudiation of the liberal model. Much of the change since then has been simply talk, but talk in foreign policy can also be substantive.  Nevertheless, foreign policy remains one of the sharpest contrasts between the two candidates.

Realist Foreign Policy

As I have argued previously, the new National Security Strategy promulgated by Trump in 2018 is one of the most important and least understood changes in modern American foreign policy. It rejects the globalist liberal crusade to spread Western values throughout the world and expressly adopts the realist strategy, which holds that international relations is a contest among nations, especially great powers, and that America’s only foreign policy goal should be to preserve its own national security and way of life. The text has its flaws, but it remains a watershed moment in recent history. Trump deserves a +1 for this achievement. 

In contrast, Biden supported the liberal globalist model in the Senate and as part of the Obama Administration.  There are encouraging signs that some of his current advisors recognize the failures of this strategy as discussed in this article from the DefenseOne website.   However, both Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris still focus on human rights rather than the real economic and geopolitical dangers we face. Thus, a Biden-Harris Administration would most likely return to the liberal model and so deserves a -1 rating. 

NATO Expansion

The American commitment to NATO is based on the post-World War II socioeconomic weakness of Europe in the face of looming Soviet Communist expansionism.  It is past time to reduce our commitment since Europe now has the capability to defend itself against Russian aggression.  President Trump has talked about this, but his substantive policy has been quite the opposite.  Much handwringing occurred when the administration announced the withdrawal of 9,000 troops from Germany. However, instead of coming home, they are destined for redeployment in Poland.  Moreover, we agreed to admit North Macedonia, a tiny remnant of the old Yugoslavia, to NATO, and thus to defend it even though it has no relationship to any real threat to the US.  Trump thus has failed to accomplish anything of substance in this area and deserves a zero.

However, Biden’s stated policy is worse. As the DefenseOne article mentions, he supports releasing Europe from the goal to  increase their defense expenditures to 2% of GDP in exchange for “cooperation” on China and Middle Eastern issues.  This ignores the fact that Europeans have very different views on those issues.  This would allow them to piggyback on our defense support while giving up little in return. It thus earns Biden another -1. 

Withdrawal from the Middle East

Perhaps nowhere has liberal hegemony failed so disastrously as in the Middle East. Rather than attempting to solve its centuries-old intractable problems, we should be supporting the development of an internal balance of power and become simply an offshore balancer (see this previous post). Unfortunately, neither candidate fully embraces this approach. Trump abandoned the JCPOA with Iran that controlled its nuclear development and instead threatened military action.  He has reduced, but not eliminated, the number of combat troops in Syria and Afghanistan.  On the positive side, the administration engineered the recognition of Israel by the UAE and encouraged its tacit alliance with Saudi Arabia. This lays the groundwork for a balance of power in the region between an Arab-Israeli coalition vs. Iran.  However, the lack of strategic coordination between all these policies earns Trump only a zero on this subject. 

Meanwhile, Biden supports trying to renew the JCPOA, but calls Saudi Arabia a “pariah state”.   While supporting military withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Middle East in principle, he then conditions it on effective control of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.  Immigration and economic sanctions would be as effective in preventing them from attacking the US.   Biden’s approach does nothing to achieve a realist solution in the region and thus earns him a zero as well. 

China

China presents a multifaceted geopolitical, trade and domestic challenge to America.  President Xi Jin-Peng’s increasingly totalitarian rule and bid for world power came as a shock to globalist elites. It should not have surprised anyone with any knowledge of Chinese history and culture. President Trump rightly alerted the world to the danger and has successfully controlled some of their influence, notably through his campaign against Huawei. However, he has failed to build the global consensus necessary to effectively contain the threat. He rates a +.5 for his efforts.

In contrast, Biden has minimized the threat and was part of an administration that naïvely coddled China and allowed the US to become dangerously dependent on it.  The DefenseOne article suggests that his advisors now realize these errors and accept the need to respond.  However, given the former Vice-President’s past attitudes, he must be assigned a -.5 on this issue. 

Conclusion

There is no question that there are fundamental differences between the philosophies of the two presidential candidates on foreign policy.  Biden has been part of the globalist establishment for years while Trump has challenged it, though often by word rather than deed.  A future strategy must be based on the realism and restraint – speaking softly, not primarily by force – to be both sustainable and successful in the 21st century world.