March 13, 2011
The Value of American PromisesBy James Lewis
Pax Americana has protected the world since 1945, when the Japanese Empire surrendered on the US Navy battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay. But just like the dollar, Pax Americana is a promissory note. It is the solemn word of America as a nation that it will come to the aid of friendly powers who are threatened by war and barbarism. Like the dollar, we back the security of the world with the "full faith and credit" of the United States.
Barack H. Obama has just shown what happens when the United States betrays its solemn promises to fearful countries in the world. When Obama brutally pushed Hosni Mubarak out of power, he also pushed over the biggest pillar of stability in the Middle East, the Israel-Egypt peace treaty.
That treaty is the only example of a working peace treaty in the history of the modern Middle East. There are no other examples, not a single one.
Obama brutally pushed Mubarak out of power, apparently on a mere whim. Nobody knows what will happen now, but all the suppressed frustration and rage in the Arab world suddenly exploded. Obama kind of liked that, and the Obama-backing media are celebrating it as a new springtime of democracy.
I sure hope that their wild guess is right, but it could just as well be Springtime for Hitler, or for Al Qaradawi, the hero of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, who just gave a speech to a million people in Al Tahrir Square that our media didn't tell you about. Al Qaradawi is not an enlightened person. He is a medieval throwback, who wants to become the Ayatollah Khomeini of the Sunni Muslims. If that happens, all bets are off.
In response to the Arab firestorm Obama quickly started to back tyrants like Muammar Al Qaddafi, just as he has been backing the throwback tyrants of Tehran.
Well, Obama the rookie has just found out that tyranny is better than chaos, as long as it is "organic," in his quaint, old-fashioned Marxist jargon. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney could have told him the right answer, but of course Bush and the history of America are irrelevant to this crowd.
People like Obama are educated by first wiping out whatever they might know about real history. Then they insert artificial historical grievances (e.g., American blacks are still slaves) and delusions of grandeur (viz., Obama, Chavez, Putin). That part is easy. Our post-modern colleges still brainwash students that way, because all of genuine human experience is irrelevant to their cult ideology. They don't educate, they cultify their students.
After the fall of Mubarak every country in the world wants to know if America's solemn promises are worthless. We guaranteed the Israel-Egypt peace treaty in 1979, and we still have peace keepers in the Sinai to ensure that it isn't broken. (Much.)
Is the US Navy still protecting the oceans and the trade bottlenecks of the world, the Persian Gulf, the Suez Canal, the Straits of Taiwan? Has the Soviet Union achieved its revenge, post-mortem, and will Russia suffer just as much as the rest of Europe as a direct consequence? China's prosperity depends on free trade, as do Japan and Germany, Saudi Arabia and Colombia.
Forget the dollar. Without a credible United States foreign policy the dollar will collapse. Investors want stability. The dollar will collapse as soon as America fails to protect world peace and trade, not to mention the global oxygen supply of prosperity and security, namely the unimpeded flow of oil, coal and gas.
The dollar isn't a piece of paper. Around the world people take it as a solid store of wealth and security. They tuck away dollars for the day their own regimes might collapse. That day now seems to be dawning in the Middle East. Just to rub the message in, Tehran sent two modern warships through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean, for the first time in thirty years.
Everybody knows what message those warships carry. Even liberals will get it when Tehran explodes its first bomb. North Korea is now believed to be getting nuclear pulse (EMP) bombs, which can knock out entire modern nations, and it is the biggest nuclear bargain basement in the world. What the Norks have today, Iran and Syria will have tomorrow.
Americans often wonder why the United States fights wars abroad. The ideological Left thinks it's because we're really evil, deep down, and many conservatives think it's because we are good. All of us feel the pain of shedding American blood on foreign soil, but the question "why are we doing it?" is never answered in the media. That is insidious.
The answer is right there in plain sight in our history books that were written before the Age of PC. Pax Americana came from the bitter experience of generations of Americans who fought in World War I and II, and in the two bloody proxy wars of the Cold War, Korea and Vietnam. The Americans and Europeans who created NATO and all the other guarantees for world security had seen battlefields and their aftermaths. They did not want to see them ever again. The only answer was to build a defensive wall as far out as possible, in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. They knew the cost of war, and they therefore built alliances with friendly powers who seemed to share the same values and experiences.
Pax Americana kept the peace for sixty years.
Today it's all up for grabs again.
Our defensive alliances came from Wilson, FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson, who knew beyond a shadow of doubt what would happen if the United States wasn't there to patrol a very tough the tough beat. What happened was the Kaiser, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Khomeini, and all the genocides and disasters of the 20th century.
Pax Americana plus modern science and technology have vastly improved peace, prosperity, health and well-being in the world since 1945.
That is utterly without precedent in history. Our former enemies like Russia and China are also thriving today, as a direct result of Pax Americana, and they know it. There is a very good reason why China invests in the United States: Over time, America has kept its value better than gold.
Gold is where fearful people go when they feel threatened. The rest of the time people put their money into stable industrial countries with solid economies and currencies. It used to be the British pound. Today it is the dollar. But those paper tokens are only worth the full faith and credit of the countries they represent.
Japan is hotly debating whether to go nuclear today, because it is directly threatened by missiles from North Korea and China. Japan no longer believes that the United States will come to its defense. Ditto Taiwan and South Korea. Israel long ago decided that in the final analysis it only has itself to depend on. France has the biggest nuclear power industry in the world, because the French are the least trusting people in the world. And since De Gaulle it has had its own nuclear force de frappe.
At this very moment heated debates are taking place all over the world. Our shaky allies feel scared because Obama is a "community dis-organizer." He is a revolutionary by instinct, an anarchist. He likes to see revolutions.
Now mind you, the industrial world has been far too dependent on the United States, so that Europe has eaten its own seed grain of military investment. It has drifted off into vain delusions. The whole European Union has a delusional ideology, conveniently forgetting what Europe's safety and security is based on. But today they are suddenly getting it again: Merkel, Sarkozy, and Cameron are trying to wake up their peoples from the sleepy delusions of the past.
Still, self-defense in a dangerous world is not cost free. Europe has relied on American guts and tenacity to defend it. So has Japan, and even Russia since the Soviet Union crumbled. All the delusional fantasies that sabotage our safety today (post-modernism, multicultism, the UN) came from Europe, when Europe's ideologues figured that Uncle Sam could be suckered forever, and that they could have their world imperialism cost-free. The result is "cultural Marxism," which runs our universities and media today.
That's what the UN and global warming fraud are about: Using American lives and treasure to pay for a fantasy world for European socialists. It's not going to work, and Europe just got the message from Barack Hussein Obama. Talk about ironies!
The Middle East is shivering because they're getting it, too. It's not hard for them to see danger, because they calculate their chances for survival every day. When they see those gray American battle fleets on the horizon in the Mediterranean, they know that things will be safe for another day. They may not love us, but their lives will be safe. The very second those fleets disappear so does their security. Today they understand it again, after Obama dumped Mubarak, even if they forgot it for the last few decades.
Libya is a perfect test case for Europe's seriousness about protecting its own neighborhood. They have said the right words, but they haven't backed their words with action. Qaddafi is teetering on the brink, and a vigorous military response from Europe would tip the balance.
Without such a demonstration of seriousness nobody will believes Europe, because they have no track record of putting lives on the line to ensure their own safety. Today they are back to dithering absurdity, when they had a chance to be taken seriously again.
Europe is as prosperous as America, it has the same industrial capacity. Through the fantasy of world socialism Europeans are again projecting an imperial ambition on the world. What Europe really needs is a test case that shows that it has finally learned the lessons of the 20th century, as shown by the United States of America.
America uses our fighting power when we must, not like Bismarck or Napoleon, who just needed to aggrandize their cramped egos. When we fight we do it well. As soon as enemies signal a willingness to make real peace, we want to settle. We see no benefit in war, just necessary pain, when there is no other way.
That should be the policy for every rational nation in the world. Putin's Russia should adopt it instead of trying to pretend that the Soviet Union still has a world-historical mission to rule all countries from Moscow. Right now Russia is helping to build up Tehran's nuclear power, even though the Muslims have fought Russia for more than a thousand years. Putin is plainly irrational about Iran, which is an hour's flight by civilian airliner from Russia. Having Iran next door is like putting nuclear missiles in Cuba: It's much too close for comfort.
China has also become a mercantile power, deriving its wealth from trade and productivity. The only way China can keep its peasants satisfied is by expanding its economy, and the only way to do that is to follow Japan on the road to commercial prosperity.
Right now Beijing is deciding whether to pursue its traditional imperial impulses, as it did in Tibet, or whether to follow the example of Japan. They are like Putin's Russia: Go the old way or the new way?
Russia now controls the natural gas supply to Germany, and Angela Merkel has explicitly negotiated with Moscow to keep it that way. This sounds like a dangerous move, but it makes sense if you remember the centuries of Hobbesian warfare Europe has had. Germany is giving Moscow control over its prosperity as a hostage to keep the Russians peaceful.
We are at a moment of quiet but deep historic realization. It may not be obvious to the media (but that means less than nothing). The real question is whether Europe is finally remembering its own bloody history, and whether it has the resolve to plan for a rational future, not UN-imperialism. The same questions are facing all the old nations in the world.
Imperialism, tyranny and war have been the common lot of humanity for all of written history. The United States, following Britain and the other mercantile powers of history, has found a better way. It does not wipe out war, but it makes it much rarer than ever before.
Today all the old imperialisms are growing prosperous from trade and industry. But they still harbor those old grandiosities -- you can see it all over Europe and Asia.
What is needed is a sane balance. In the next 24 months the world may see an Iranian nuclear bomb, the first time since World War II that a martyrdom ideology has had the capacity to trigger a world war. The civilized world must keep that from happening, or live with horrific consequences. If Putin wants to see Iranian missiles threatening Moscow, he should stay in the same fixed mental set he is pursuing right now. The same goes for the Arab world.
This is a time of fundamental decision, and Obama the rookie has accidentally blundered into a truth that all sane nations must cope with very soon.
With Obama, Pax Americana is more threatened than ever before, because Obama represents a generation that has no memory of the real past. The hour is late. Nuclear proliferation is here and now. Peace is not a matter of wishful fantasies like the Left keeps dreaming. Pax Americana is the way to peace, and the more people understand that, the better our chances for survival.