China, Foreign Policy, Realist Theory

New Nationalism News

April 17, 2021

Afghanistan Withdrawal

President Biden’s announcement of our withdrawal from Afghanistan by September is correct for the simple reason that we achieved our objective of defeating Al Qaeda and killing Osama Bin Laden, as I previously argued. Even if the Taliban regain power, we can control any threat through immigration, trade and other sanctions. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/14/us/politics/biden-afghanistan-troop-withdrawal.html

War with China & Russia?

Meanwhile, this article raises the possibility that China and Russia would coordinate attacks on Taiwan and Ukraine.  However, it also argues against American military intervention in either war.

USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group in South China Sea

We still need to show that the US will defend our interests and allies in Asia. Thus, the USS Theodore Roosevelt is currently executing a Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) in the South China Sea to challenge China’s militarization of this shipping lane in clear violation of international law.   

https://www.cpf.navy.mil/news.aspx/130841

The Myth of a Rules-Based Order

When I was in China, the Shanghai Admiralty Court trumpeted the fact that China had signed the International Law of the Sea Treaty in contrast to the US.  Chinese militarization of the South China Sea in clear violation of the treaty shows, as this article says, we live in a world of great power rivalry and not the globalist dream of a rules-based order.   

https://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2021/04/12/the_myth_of_a_rules-based_world_772304.html

2020 Election, Domestic Policy, Government, Politics

An American Nationalist Voting Index – A Strong America

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 above.

Score

Biden -1.5 Trump -1

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is an impressive tool of American power, as is the rest of our armed forces.  However, a nation’s strength springs more from its internal stability than its military power. Without a strong American economy and people, the big stick would be an empty husk.  We would look strong on the outside, but would not have the full range of soft, social and economic power necessary to withstand a sustained challenge.  The issues affecting our strength to do so are diverse and worrisome.

Defense

The Trump Administration has increased defense spending almost every year and has proposed a significant increase in naval capacity.  The Pentagon has also begun pivoting strategy away from anti- terrorism to the great power threats of Russia and China.  Trump also recognized the importance of space exploration and development through supporting NASA and establishing the Space Force. However, the execution of this strategy is still foggy, and the swamp of defense procurement has yet to be addressed. Thus, Trump receives a +.5.

Biden has concentrated on measures to improve service members housing and benefits, which is certainly important.  Otherwise, he and other Democrats have talked about modernizing the force by retiring weapons systems and spending less. Modernization is necessary, but their murky statements on the subject cannot support anything other than a zero rating.

Infrastructure

Trump won the 2016 election on the three I’s – infrastructure, immigration, and international relations. While he made measurable progress in advancing the nationalist agenda on the last two, he has miserably failed to accomplish anything on the first.  It is true that the administration has relaxed some environmental rules that slowed down projects. However, this is not enough to repair our crumbling roads, bridges and ports.  He deserves a zero for this failure.

Biden has a relatively specific plan for an infrastructure program, though it features green projects as much as traditional transportation projects. Moreover, Democrats have made assurances that all projects would be subject to strict environmental review and thus dilatory litigation. Nevertheless, his plan earns him a +.5 for its detail. 

Reducing the Budget Deficit and a Strong Dollar

The use of the American dollar as the world’s reserve currency is one of our greatest sources of international power.  It helps protect us from inflation and makes American economic sanctions more effective, thus reducing the need for military action. To maintain this power, our national debt and budget deficit must remain under control so we don’t flood the world with dollar-denominated bonds.

This power is threatened by our increasing national debt, which has exceeded our annual gross domestic product since 2013.  The World Bank calculated that a debt level above 77% retards economic growth The Trump tax cuts increased the deficit and the rate of growth of the debt. Meanwhile, Biden has proposed billions of dollars of new programs with only a modest tax increase to pay for them. Both candidates are courting a Greek-style financial crisis from which America might never recover and each deserves a -1 for this fiscal profligacy.

Decoupling from China

Our dangerous dependence on China for vital materials was laid bare during the early days of the novel coronavirus pandemic when we discovered that the manufacturing of masks, ventilators and other vital health materials had largely been outsourced to the Chinese.  Much of the rare earth minerals necessary for solar panels and defense production also comes from China. President Trump’s tariffs began the process of shoring up our manufacturing sector and so rate a +.5.  In contrast, much of this unhealthy dependence developed under the Obama Administration and Biden has belittled the economic threat from China.  This justifies a -.5 score for him. 

Political Violence

As serious as the above issues are, they are dwarfed by the increasing threat of political violence on the left and right. A recent poll showed almost 33% of Democrats and Republicans believe that violence would be justified if their candidate lost the election.  The very legitimacy of our democracy is in the balance.

 Unfortunately, both candidates stoked these violent trends in the past.   President Trump has shamefully encouraged white nationalist groups and the QAnon conspiracy movement but acted forcefully against left-wing rioters in Portland and elsewhere. However, his express statements encouraging white nationalist groups requires a -1 score.

On the other hand, Biden was part of an Obama Administration that tacitly encouraged a ragtag group of Native Americans and radical environmentalists to block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline even after the courts rejected all of their objections.  This toleration of lawlessness to achieve their policy goals on climate change encouraged the growth of Antifa and violent urban protests.  Biden has since criticized the current violence.  However, we need a President who unequivocally rejects political violence of all kinds and Biden’s equivocations deserves a -.5.

Conclusion

America can be strong only if it’s people are strong. The development of strength requires sacrifice and commitment, yet neither candidate is truly committed to that goal.  If we cannot find the will to build and maintain our true sources of national strength, the nation that produced Theodore Roosevelt will disappear into history, perhaps with democracy itself. 

Coronavirus, Defense Policy, Foreign Policy

An Embarrassment to a Great Name

Acting secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly has just submitted his resignation as a result of the mess surrounding the dismissal of the Captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt Brett Crozier. Modly’s departure is undoubtedly his most gracious and professional act during the whole affair. 

The DefenseOne website provides a helpful and well-documented timeline of this sorry episode in recent Navy history.  I agree that Capt. Crozier’s use of unclassified channels for the letter and its wide distribution strongly suggests an intent to publicize the COVID-19 crisis on the ship beyond the chain of command and potentially to the media. TR’s great-grandson Tweed penned an op-ed supporting Capt, Crozier.  However, he notes that, while a similar protest by his great-grandfather during the Spanish-American War accomplished  Roosevelt’s goal, it cost him a Medal of Honor in his lifetime.  Both were the kind of calculated risks that either earn you a commendation or a court-martial in the military.

Nevertheless, the timeline makes it clear that it was Modly, not Crozier, who first interfered with the chain of command by encouraging the Captain to contact him directly and thus by-passing his commanding admiral.  Modly then inflamed the situation further by flying unannounced to the ship and calling Capt. Crozier “stupid” and “naïve” to the crew of the Roosevelt and accusing him of undermining the chain of command.  In fact, those words are a more accurate description of his own actions, not those of the captain.  

TR probably almost came out of the grave in anger over this fiasco associated with his name and beloved navy.  The damage is done, but hopefully will be repaired soon by a leader with his honor, bravery and intelligence.