Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Paying for Superpowerdom
One point I made that provoked some discussion was my assertion that the election results demonstrate that many Americans are unwilling to pay the costs associated with being the "indispensable nation" and that support for the Iraq and Afghanistan missions was much stronger when the focus was defined as removing immediate threats to national security rather than long-term transformational goals.
I don't think that most Americans want to be isolationist. I think that there remains broad support for American leadership to maintain a global system based on open lines of communication; for America to help underwrite broad security guarantees that help keep the peace in Europe and East Asia; for some humanitarian projects. But not for the U.S. to solve every problem, every ill, or to intervene everywhere at all times.
One of the three has to give.
Notice that, for example, in the absence of socialized medicine in US, all manufacturung (and the wealth that it brins) will leave US.
In regards to the backgoring of all of this: WWII - US rode on top of a vcitory by USSR. USSR paid the piper (25 Million dead) while US reaped the benefits. That situation no longer obtains and I cannot believe there is anyone is US who is willing to pay that price so that the Chinese and Indians of this world would call the shots after we have bled white.
What’s surprising to me was that there was any controversy at all. Your assertion seems common sense of the face of it, and has been borne out by the events It doesn’t help your president’s cause that it’s proven much harder to keep warlords, sectarian militants and diehard rebels and what have you under control while doing heavy-duty nation building, nor was it a good idea to change the narrative (if not necessarily the intent) after the fact.
I don’t think there ever was broad support “for the U.S. to solve every problem, every ill, or to intervene everywhere at all times”, at least not since the war in Vietnam. But “to maintain a global system based on open lines of communication; for America to help underwrite broad security guarantees that help keep the peace in Europe and East Asia; for some humanitarian projects”? We are willing. But are you able? I know we aren’t.
US sabotaged the Japanese effort to create an East Asian Bank along the lines of the World Bank and IMF after the financial crisis of 1997. US is not willing to give power away.
In Afganistan we had a decisive military victory of one side (the Northern Alliance) against the other side (Taliban). The post-war Afgahn settlement was agreed to by all her neighbours, even Pakistan. Beyond the immediate neighbouring states the war and the settlement was accepted as justified by most governments of the world. Lastly, US made no explicit and implicit threat of using Afghanistan as a platoform for regime change against neighbouring states.
None of this obtains for Iraq.
Without Democracy, the Shia would have joined the Sunni and fought agianst US.
US is unwilling to pay the price for what it takes to implement what you suggest: draft, 2 years of effort to build the requisite US Army Divisions into decent military units and then the hard slug of years and years of enforcing peace.
Exhibit A is modern Russia: Exhibit B is Iraq.
Security threats, in a multipolar world, are literally wherever you look for them, and we won't be a hegemon forever.