Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Crimea & The End of Empire

What little that I know about foreign affairs, I learned at Camden Catholic High School and at the feet of Fr. Thomas Ploude, a former student of Henry Kissinger at Harvard.

In his wonderful seminar, Fr. Ploude left us with two fundamental principles by which to formulate a sound foreign policy.  These are for a nation to:

1.       Advance and protect its national self interest
2.       Protect and defend its natural sphere of influence

The sphere of influence for a super power such as Russia includes its border nations, navigable waterways in its vicinity as well as the broader European community with which it shares a continent.

In terms of national self interest, no nation can tolerate instability and chaos, let alone hostility on its doorstep.  From that standpoint, Russia’s heavy hand in Ukraine and Crimea is absolutely understandable.
Traditionally, the U.S. has defined its sphere of influence as the entire Western Hemisphere beginning with the Monroe Doctrine.  We have never been reluctant to intervene in our neighbor’s affairs when it suited our interests.

America’s Crimean crisis began in the late Nineteenth Century with the Spanish American War.  Once the U.S. realized its Manifest Destiny of a continental empire, it turned its attention overseas.    America established itself in Latin America via the Panama Canal.  With the Spanish American War, the U.S. gained a Caribbean stronghold Puerto Rico and in the Pacific via the Philippines and Guam.  Separately, U.S. colonists in Hawaii staged an uprising against the island’s royal family leading to U.S. annexation.
Under President Wilson, America squarely ignored George Washington’s advice and became entangle in European affairs via World War I.  Our stated ambition was to “make the world safe for democracy”.  Instead, we made Europe ripe for Bolshevism, Fascism and Nazism.

We haven’t backed off since.  Uncle Sam has established military outposts the world over.   This means that our government believes that America’s legitimate sphere of influence is everywhere.  It is the entire face of the earth.  The US of A is an empire with global reach.

 The moral justification for America’s global hegemony is to export our revolution, to bring to liberty and democracy to the great unwashed.  True conservatives from Burke to Taft to Kirk will tell you that you cannot impose a culture of western liberalism on peoples who are not ready for it.  Nations will choose that type of society and government that flows naturally from its historic values and traditions.  Our century long foreign policy of liberalizing the world by force is pure progressivist fantasy.
The phony Crimea crises              

In terms of national self interest, America has none in the Ukraine or in Crimea.  They are not vital allies or trading partners.  Our government’s main interest is in preserving the illusion that the entire world is our backyard and we are the baby sitters.

Putin’s Ukrainian escapades have pulled back the curtain to show the world that the emperor really has no clothes.  Obama, McCain and Kerry can scramble all they want to find a pair a drawers bit it’s too late.  We have been exposed.

The empire is finished.  America has overextended itself and cannot make good on its threats or promises.  It is now due time to return to our Founding Father’s vision.  I quote from President Washington’s farewell address.

"It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world….The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connexion as possible.  Europe (at that time our only foreign land of concern)  has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities."

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