Tuesday, January 13, 2009

An Empire That America Can't Afford

By Ivan Eland
January 13, 2009

Somebody is going to have to whisper in President-elect Obama’s ear that the unipolar moment has passed and that the United States can no longer afford its informal worldwide empire.

Read on.

1 comment:

Bill from Saginaw said...

Obama's inaugeral address would certainly be a good time to announce that we now live in a multi-polar world community. But I'm afraid I must agree with Ivan Eland's bleak assessment of what is in fact likely to happen in US foreign policy during the next four years.

In my opinion, the heart of the problem is contained in this passage from Eland's piece:

"A liberal, Obama had to show during the election campaign that he was no wimp. To be patriotic nowadays requires pledging allegiance to some military adventure."

It is very true that America's Founders grasped the significance of simple geography, and embraced the wisdom of avoiding entangling alliances that would otherwise invariably draw the United States into other peoples' wars in Europe, Asia and elsewhere (or, worse yet, bring their wars over here). Note, however, that George W. Bush and the neo cons have gone out of their way to ridicule the notion that Americans should avoid sabre rattling and mind our own business. They declare that such traditional ("old fashioned") US foreign policy restraints have now magically become "naive" and "dangerous" in the post-9/11 world, where oceans can no longer protect us (as if the oceans ever did or could).

By deliberately conflating respect for international law on the use of military force with wimpish isolationism, Bush/Cheney/Rove have indeed gone a long way towards making all talk of peace and nonviolence seem somehow unpatriotic. We should recognize this phenomenon for what it is: an aberration in American political rhetoric that is of very recent vintage.

FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, and other national political figures in the latter half of the 20th Century repeatedly openly spoke up about the goals of world peace, nuclear disarmament, human rights and the beating of swords into plowshares.

Like the drafters of our Constitution, these men were not wimps. They were wise enough not to pledge allegiance to military adventurism abroad, even if pandering to such bloodthirsty passions might very well pay partisan dividends at home.

This is a traditional American value that Barack Obama can and should restore.

Bill from Saginaw