Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Grich who stole foreign policy

Nile Gardiner, "Barack Obama’s Top Ten Foreign Policy Follies" (, December 23, 2009), in his first year alone: 1) Surrendering to Russia over Missile Defence, 2) Appeasing the Mullahs of Iran, 3) Ending the War on Terror, 4) Announcing a Surge while Declaring an Exit -- and the list goes on. Don't worry. Be happy. He doesn't even touch on domestic policy.

[Hat tip to C.B.]


Anarcho-Papist said...

Apologists for the American Imperium would do well to review the Church's teachings on subsidiarity. Better yet, they could acquaint themselves with St. Augustine's *The City of God*:

"Without justice, what are kingdoms but great robber bands? What are robber bands but small kingdoms? The band is itself made up of men, is ruled by the command of a leader, and is held together by a social pact. Plunder is divided in accordance with an agreed upon law. If this evil increases by the inclusion of dissolute men to the extent that it takes over territory, establishes headquarters, occupies cities, and subdues peoples, it publicly assumes the title of kingdom!

"A fitting and true response was once given to Alexander the Great by an apprehended pirate. When asked by the king what he thought he was doing by infesting the sea, he replied with noble insolence, 'What do you think you are doing by infesting the whole world? Because I do it with one puny boat, I am called a pirate; because you do it with a great fleet, you are called an emperor.'"

One wonders what sneering contempt the apprehended pirate might direct at our modern day Emperor; for when it comes to "infesting the whole world," not even an enthusiastic cosmopolitan like Alexander the Great can hold a candle to the President of the United States. POTUS, with his 575,000 troops and 700 military bases in 130 countries encircling the globe, truly bestrides the whole world like a colossus. Neither considerations of Christian morality, Constitutional constraint nor simple human decency impinge on POTUS’ maniacal quest for Full Spectrum Dominance. POTUS alone has used nuclear weapons on civilian populations. POTUS kidnaps and tortures. POTUS detains without charges. POTUS’ interminable military adventures have killed, maimed or left homeless millions. Irony is lost on POTUS. POTUS now presumes to wage war on terrorism.

Universality is the hallmark of morality. But POTUS holds universality in contempt, even while paying lip service to morality. If POTUS’ empire "creates its own reality," it necessarily creates its own morality. The double standards ensue. As Joseph Sobran once noted: "Americans who think America should behave like other countries are ‘isolationists,’ whereas other countries that behave like the U.S. are ‘rogue nations.’" To be sure, when any other nation’s leader acts like POTUS, POTUS acts horrified.

Pertinacious Papist said...

Well-said, Anarcho-Papist. There is, however, a bit more to be said, IMHO. The same St. Augustine who said these things in his Civitas Dei also gave us the tradition of just war moral reasoning. Once Christians were no longer a marginalized minority, but thrust into positions of civic and imperial authority and leadership, they had to rethink their task in the world. Was it enough to simply wait for the return of Christ, eschewing public office and civic responsibility? The Church had to rethink its task in the world. The articulation of this new paradigm comes full-fledged in the conversionist (Christ the transformer of culture) vision of the Thomist synthesis, vis-a-vis the dualist (Christ against culture) vision of the sub-apostolic and ante-Nicene patristic period.

While a Pax Romana can never be conflated with a Pax Christi, it does serve an invaluable purpose if it preserves the civic peace, protects the innocent, and advances a just peace under natural law. St. Paul in Romans 13 says as much, and was doubtless well-aware that his three (possibly four?) missionary journeys across the Mediterranean were made possible by the protected Roman roads and waterways defended by Roman Roman legionaries. Indeed, before the court of Felix in Acts 25 appealed to Caesar for the protection of his civil rights -- and the fact that he was ultimately beheaded unjustly under the miscarriage of justice under Nero is no more than an exception that proves the rule that human governments are capable of justice.

My intent in this post is not to defend an American manifest-destiny hegemonist foreign policy, but to note alarming tendencies in the Obama administration to appease international bullies who have no interest in defending human rights, in preferring foreign policy decisions based on his perceptions of politically correctness rather than the interests of the unjustly victimized (and I haven't even mentioned abortion).

Anarcho-Papist said...

I love your blog, Prof PP. I appreciate your granting equal time to a crank like me.

Just to be clear, though, no one's advocating Christians shirk their civic responsibilities. On the contrary, I'm all in favor of their embracing their civic responsibility to resist the Biggest International Bully of Them All. This would entail, at a minimum, repudiating the conversionists' adoption of the methods ("Thou Shalt Not Steal or Kill, Unless Thou Art Advancing the State's Version of the 'Public Interest'") employed by the reigning territorial monopolist of force (TMF), whether that TMF presumes to Preserve the Disorder only within its own borders--like those peon "isolationist" nations run by mullahs--or across borders, like the One Indispensable Nation run by forward-thinking men of vision like Bush and Obama.

Yes, Pox (sic) Americana, like its Pax Brittania and Pax Romana predecessors, can serve an invaluable service *if it preserves the civic peace*. I see very little evidence it does. The words of Tacitus--"Where they make a desert, they call it peace"--still ring true. Millions of Iraqis and Afghanis will testify to them.

The Pox may or may not protect the roads and waterways. Either way, there's no reason to believe smaller governmental units or private interests can't accomplish that task more efficiently and inexpensively.

Finally, I see no evidence Obama is appeasing bullies--unless you mean he's appeasing his pals in the military-industrial complex and himself. That sham of a Nobel Peace Prize notwithstanding, he's pretty much pursuing the policies of his predecessor: maintaining the U.S. military presence in Iraq, expanding it in Afghanistan, and siccing his drones on Yemeni and Pakistani wedding parties.

Happily, when the inevitable blowback comes, as it did on 9/11, the Empire and its apologists can blame "Islamofascists" motivated by hatred for our freedoms. As if the imperial mischief-making had nothing to do with it. As if the victims of Muslim extremism are any more innocent than the victims of U.S. imperial extremism. As if we're free. And on and on it goes.

Confitebor said...

A steaming pile of fetid Anti-American bigotry.

"The Biggest International Bully of Them All." You're not talking about the United Nations.