IS NOW EVER ANOTHER TIME
Principles and Practices ultimately reveal People and true Priorities
The United States (US) occupies an extraordinarily fortuitous swath of geography, large oceans port and starboard, and accommodating neighbors fore and aft with whom it shares productively entangled economic interest and relatively unforced cultural civility. The US has no military competitors of consequence anywhere in the western hemisphere. It’s nuclear arsenal and delivery systems provide global deterrence against all sober would-be aggressors. The US is one of only four countries in the world with sufficient agricultural capacity to exercise food power, a power it has never exercised.
These conditions substantially shape the worldview of many Americans, more so than positions espoused by government or journalist. This worldview is also influenced by the fairly recent and important achievement of net US energy independence. To many these conditions make the notion of an America that minds its own business seem both plausible and compelling. However, today security depends on more than territorial sovereignty, and controlled access to food, clothing, shelter, and energy.
A recent Economist magazine article concluded, “the US economy is slowly clawing its way back”. While many other noted publications agree, huge economic challenges nevertheless abound (national debt, stagnant GDP, unemployment, entitlement reform). It is critical that American’s understand the primacy of America’s military and global influence is determined first by the underlying strength of the American economy.
Americans struggle to understand the connection between security and global economic stability. This derives from the perception of self-sufficiency, a truly noble respect for the rights and wishes of others, intervention fatigue, and fear. However, leadership that perceives inflexible isolation to be inviolately in America’s national interest, actually assaults and insults Americans. Sober moral courageous leadership provides more abiding security than economics, geography, force, and transient self-sufficiency.
Circumstances and despots change, but principled responses to narcissistic vision and actions had better remain the same. An enduring facet of such challenges is the tumultuous debate they precipitate within free democratic societies, such as that beginning in 1939 between United Kingdom conservatives Chamberlin (conciliation) and Churchill (pre-emptive confrontation). Fear and fatigue are human conditions not political persuasions.
Contemporary posture, sentiment, and rhetoric suggests the following casting: the European Union as Chamberlin and Churchill, Congress as Joseph Kennedy and Cordell Hull, Russia as Germany, Gazprom as Poland, China as Japan in black face, fracking as the Manhattan Project, and Iranian nuclear misdirection as death camp plagiarism.
Many would argue, as a gifted playwright, novelist, and journalist once declared; now is another time. Perhaps. Are the details of now actually sufficiently different from then to justify reprising demonstrable impotent embrace of conciliation and accommodation over effectual renouncement? Not surprisingly, just as jazz musicians utilize chords changes and rhythm as templates to construct interpretive solos, the Left and the Right only know how to exploit volatility, no matter how dangerous, for self-promotion.
It would appear Americans and Western Europeans have the same opinion regarding next steps to tame the initiative of a by gone Empire that lost both its territorial girth and global influence, words but no sticks or stones. The last time around tactical-clemency eventually turned the gas on. This time around strategic-clemency is likely to first turn the gas off.