Look, if someone bombs Pearl Harbor, then I’d of course support firebombing their country – up to and including raining atomic fire on city after city – until they surrender, because that’s a fine lesson to be learned from WWII.
I’m just saying, so long as other folks are just setting each other on fire, there’s often little point in sending even one American to die over there, because, hey, we’ve sent Americans off to die for nothing, and we should learn a lesson from that, too.
The US could step back as “sole hyperpower” to more of a “first among equals” role. First step encourage friendly regional powers to play a larger role. Kick the EU up the ass and make clear they have to shoulder the main brunt of containing Russia. In Asia, lobby hard to form Asia’s equivalent of NATO, where Japan, South Korea, Phillipines, Vietnam, Thailand form an alliance to contain China, try to get Malaysia and Indonesia on board if possible as well. In South Asia rethink the alliance with Pakistan and instead recognise that India as a long term stable democracy is a better partner to fight terrorism and contain China.
Middle East and Africa is more complicated, but again work with regional powers and don’t intervene unless asked to.
I think ceding a greater leadership role to China and Russia would be a good idea (though I trust the good intentions of China less than Russia).
I don’t want Islamic extremists to have any kind of ‘leadership role’, but I also don’t think that’s a major threat. The only major country where political Islam has proved to have long term staying power is Iran. The Muslim Brotherhood couldn’t even hang on to power in Egypt, let alone anywhere else. A few countries like Afghanistan and Yemen might fall to religious extremists, but those are weak countries and not exactly in a position to exert regional leadership.
Thanks for linking to that very interesting article. It makes a good case that Obama is one of three American “grandmasters of geopolitics;” this would be more apparent to all without the incessant GOP mewling. (The other two grandmasters are Elihu Root and Zbigniew Brzezinski.)
(A popular choice for geopolitical mastermind was Henry Kissinger, which seems peculiar considering 2003 Iraq and the other stupid wars Kissinger supported. The article quotes one expert about Kissinger’s “extraordinary capacity to be repeatedly wrong about almost every major foreign policy decision made by the U.S. government over the course of the last half-century.” )
Historically, whenever America withdraws from the world, world wars follow soon after.
Secondly, who would we cede leadership to? The EU doesn’t want it, China is in demographic decline and it’s not like they are a magnet for immigrants like we are to make up for it, and Russia is Mexico with nukes. We are at least 100 years from being able to cede leadership even if we wanted to.
Of course, we could just choose not to lead and allow bad actors to just sweep into the vacuum, which seems to be the administration “strategy”.
Obama a grandmaster? Oh lordy. Obama’s the cautionmaster, which I guess is understandable after an administration that screwed so much up through aggressiveness. What makes this idea that Obama is brilliant on foreign policy particularly stupid is that he has never articulated any vision or plan. He’s reactive and his simple rule seems to be, “do as little as I can politically get away with. And if I have to do more, don’t tell the public.”
Foreign policy is hard. There has never been a grandmaster, or even a particularly competent foreign policy President or diplomat. A lot of them have been extremely knowledgable, but that only gets you so far, as Kissinger’s example shows. The world is a very complicated place and the simple seem to have just as good a record navigating it as the brilliant.
Well, I don’t know about that. They’re still Confucians and Buddhists, still family-first instead of Western individualists, etc. As with India, Western-invented democracy and industrialism have been overlaid over the native culture, but the native culture is still there, India is no “western nation.”
I would like to point out that without US leadership in making the air and sea safe to travel and to conduct commerce that the world economy would fall apart. No other single nation can do that, and I don’t see and sign and combination of countries would be able to do it either. There is no ceding of leadership in defense that does not have the world rapidly descend into a pit of local wars and piracy.
Look, nowadays piracy only happens off the shores of desperately distressed places like Somalia, and all functional countries with seacoasts have their own navies to hold it down – small navies in many cases, but quite big enough to deal with pirates. I really can’t see any future that includes a new Age of the Buccaneers. Romantic though the notion might be.
That’s because they can’t get away with piracy on the open seas, because the US Navy will get them. Any other country building up a military sufficient to offer the security we do will simply trigger an arms race and war.
You start off discussing “making the air and sea safe to travel” in order “to conduct commerce” – but then you end by talking of “local wars and piracy.” Can’t we combat piracy while saying, hey, if a civil war breaks out in a landlocked country, why do we have to act like the world’s policeman? Can’t we just not send Americans to die?
The linked article sounds like it was written in 1910. There is no strategic thinking going on there at all.
The Iraq war proved that America no longer has the stomach for military interventions using ground troops. Libya showed the disastrous results of just using air power. An aging population means the budget that currently goes to the military will need to be used for pensions and healthcare.
The US withdrawing militarily means that the neighbors of Russia and China will need to spend more money on defense. The good news is that both Russia and Japan are relatively poor countries that are demographically in decline. Russia is dependent on fossil fuels and the rise of fracking and alternative energy sources means their economy will stagnate or shrink. Meanwhile their population is on pace to shrink.
China is a huge economy because of its size but it is still a poor country and its economic growth rates are slowing. Its political systems are not adequate for ruling a rich country and its population is getting old fast.
What American foreign policy needs is not trade agreements which are a good idea economically but not an instrument of foreign policy but a vision of what it is trying to achieve. The biggest threat to world peace and prosperity is radical islam. The US needs a strategy to fight that threat just as they once had a strategy to fight communism. It means more than just putting out fires like we are trying to do against ISIS and the taliban. The US needs to diplomatically isolate Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey. Those are the countries supporting terrorism. The US needs to get out of the cold war mentality where those countries are our allies and recognize them for the threat they are.