This is a momentous occasion for me, as this is the first time I have ever written an official treatise advocating a particulary policy change. I have
given this plenty of thought and with the presidential elections coming up, I feel as though I need to make this case.
Let me start off with a quote by General Rupert Smith, written in his amazing book titled The Utility of Force
Like the U.K., France ultimately came to realize through a combination of changed postwar international context, local unrest, and diminished
resources, that there was no option but a withdrawal from its empire. The process of realization was slow and painful.
I know a lot of people, particularly the conservatives of the neoconservative and Bush/McCain/Buckley variety, will take offense to me referring to
America's actions overseas as imperialistic. Call it whatever you want, but it must be understood America's actions, however benevolent, do carry
the characteristics of empire. At the end of the day, who do we seek to benefit the most from our escapades? The USA. There is no getting around this
simple fact. We care about the well-being of other countries and other peoples as long as it does not lead to our detriment. Nobody in the U.S. is
particularly happy about China's economic prosperity because it benefits the Chinese people, but not necessarily the American people.
A lot of people characterize the U.S. with the Roman Empire. I ask, "why stop there?" Every empire seems to fall in ways not so different to empires
of the past. Going back to the quote by General Smith, the U.S. is in the same position that the French were when they suffered defeat at the hands of
the Viet Minh. The post-Cold War and even the post-9/11 international context has changed completely after Russia invaded Georgia and when China
hosted an exceptional Olympics. There is plenty of local unrest in Afghanistan and Iraq, the two by-products of our current foreign policy. As for
diminished resources, just look at the economy. Many writers have likened the current times to the 1970s. Considering the '70s were quite a horrid
time by American standards, equating 2008 to 1978 speaks volumes about where the country is socioeconomically. No hard-working, flag-waving,
family-oriented American can say with 90% certainty that America currently has the ability to go out and change or dominate the world.
Recently, I have been thinking a lot about a report given by Stratfor, a civilian intelligence agency, which basically states that up until August 8,
2008, the U.S., as well as much of the West, has been living in a fantasy world where non-state actors and terrorists are the only threats we would
ever have to face. In fact, its rather ironic that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, whom I greatly admire, stated in the latest National Defense
Strategy, just a few weeks prior to Russia's invasion of Georgia, that the U.S. should place overwhelming emphasis on facing irregular enemies,
non-state actors, and the like. The recent developments in the Caucasus imply that our greatest enemies of the 21st century may be the exact
The biggest problem with America's foreign policy since the end of the Cold War has been its center of gravity - abstract principles and ideology. An
foreign policy more rooted in one's beliefs, fables, and proverbs yields no benefits, because then absolutely any kind of behavior can be
legitimized. The funny thing about a rigid black-and-white approach to life is that reality eventually takes hold - there are different shades of
black and white. It appeared that as long as America put forth its values of democracy, freedom, and a certain brand of human rights, such
unconstructive behavior such as anti-diplomacy, improper use of force, and a failure to win hearts and minds were completely excusable. As we have
seen in Afghanistan and Iraq and as General Smith asserted in his book, such things have no use in today's world.
Russia's invasion of Georgia is an exemplification of why our actions of the past eight years will prove disasterous for us. Regardless of what Mr.
Bush, Mr. McCain, the late William F. Buckley, and the fearmongerers of Fox News may tell us, cutting-and-running carries more benefits than
detriments. Insurgents want their country back; you leave, then they get what they want. Their ability to influence their adversary is limited to the
theater in which the insurgency is trying to impact. Terrorists have a more transnational reach. However, their means are limited and the legacy of
their actions depend mainly on how the victims choose to respond. A nation-state such as Russia, however is different. Approaching Russia the way we
approached Iraq, insurgents, and terrorists, will lead to nuclear war.
So let me ask, what have we done to help ourselves out? I stated in a post earlier this month that Russia's invasion of Georgia exposes the need for
the U.S. to prepare for a major war and not just counter-insurgencies and counter-terrorism. Such preparations will take years in this day and age,
but we may not even have years. America's economy is in bad shape, due in no small part to our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our military is still
the most powerful in the world, but our ability to carry out long-term military operations of high-tempo and high-intensity is now in question as
protracted guerrilla warfare has eseentially worn our ground forces out. Finally, is this nation prepared to take economic hits and social hits? I am
not advocating military confrontation with Russia, but at this point, such a confrontation seems inevitable. We may sit here and brag about our
supposed military superiority, but all too often we forget about the costs. Winning or losing seems so insignificant at times to the price we have to
pay for that victory. To sum it all up, we're just not ready for this.
Russia's reemergence shows the need for the U.S. to make significant changes to not just our foreign policy, but our national policy as well. Being
handicapped by foreign oil is an assurance that economic warfare will be used against us to frighteningly powerful effect. Blindly embracing the
tenants of free-market capitalism and free trade with asking whether it benefits America ensures the American people are on their own if a crisis
hits. Having a large portion of our military deployed persistently to the Middle East means we will have very little to work with when a truly
cataclysmic situation erupts. Finally, talking blindly about democracy and freedom and all of these other abstract contepts with no meaning whatsoever
means the true needs of the people will go unheeded. There are things bigger than one's beliefs and principles. Exactly who are people like Glenn
Beck more loyal to, capitalism or the United States? I am no fan of big government, but it seems like some people are against it only when it does not
benefit them or goes against their meaningless principles.
Again, I hope for no war with Russia. But the ways things have gone this past month, some combination of confrontation/conflict truly seems
inevitable. When that goes down, energy coming from our own backyard, every able body with a job, money in our pockets, and most importantly, our
military on American soil.
Should we cut and run? Oh Hell yeah.