Thursday, February 25, 2010

Steyn on Amercian Decline

Mark Steyn has an article in the January edition of National Review (subscription required) arguing that America is at a point where it will have to choose between continuing the role of global superpower and withdrawing from the world and entering a state of decline.

While some might look at Western Europe as a model for decaying gracefully, Steyn argues that's simply not possible for the U.S. since it is our military spending that subsidizes the modern European welfare state:
...the only reason Sweden can be Sweden and Germany Germany and France France is that America is America. Who will cushion America's decline as America cushioned Europe's?
I'm sympathetic to this argument, as well as the one that there simply is no one in the world, not even China, that is able to play this role.

So I'm convinced decline is not the answer, but Steyn's alternative is that we double down on America as empire:
You can understand why the entire Left and an increasing chunk of the Right would rather vote for a quiet life. But that's not an option. The first victims of American retreat will be the many corners of the world that have benefited from an unusually benign hegemon. But the consequences of retreat will come home, too. In a more dangerous world, American decline will be steeper, faster, and more devastating than Britain's-and something far closer to Rome's.
Well if embrace of a Euro-style welfare state is inimical to freedom, I'm willing to wager that a state of permanent global hegemony enabled by enormous military expenditures is no less so.

Is there really no other option? No third way between rolling over and watching a great nation recede, perhaps in dramatic fashion, and a perpetual state of nation destroying/building where we kick in the door of every madrassa and then turn around and drill every village a new well.


Dad29 said...

Of course there is.

The concept of "The National Interest" would have to be resurrected from the grave where it was placed by Ike's successors, of course (although it's possible to argue that the TR and Wilson regimes at least opened the grave.)

Steyn, like all members of the War Party, set up a false dichotomy for 'teh Suckas' to swallow.

Jeremy R. Shown said...

OK, but why are there so many 'Suckas'?

Dad29 said...

Misplaced patriotism.

The concept that "making people(s) free" is the American thing to do has become a commonplace.

It's easy to get there; we freed France (and a few other places) from the Nazis, so 'liberating' people became 'a good.'

So far, we're OK, except for the Ike/MacArthur power-projection concept, which was the beginning of the mess we're in today.

Korea and Vietnam were different--there, the US countered invasions (to one degree or the other.)

Reagan was perfectly happy to maintain the Ike/MacArthur 'projection of power' idee fixe, no matter the cost. The action in Grenada gets a pass from me, like in Nicaragua: they ARE proximate to US and well within the Monroe Doctrine parameters.

Things became muddled under Clinton. Did we "liberate"? And Whom? in Bosnia/Herzegovina? Clinton also introduced the "Army = Cop Shop" idea in Bosnia and in Africa.

Along comes Saddam. Bush One actually did "liberate" people, countering Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. OK.

Bush Two's propagandists simply extended the "liberation" meme and combined it with sketchy evidence that SH had been 'helping the 9/11 terrorists.' (I don't doubt that, by the way--sketchiness aside, SH was perfectly happy to assist them.)

But when BushII introduced "nation-building" as an extension of US policy, the quicksand began to suck us in. Now that concept is being applied to Afghanistan. Good luck with that...

The War Party agitprop, voiced by Limbaugh and others, now ASSUMES the falsehood "white man's burden"--that it is patriotic to 'build nations' and 'liberate people.'

It's not. It's patriotic to defend OUR shores and US interests such as the flow of petroleum and other necessary resources. That's all.