The debate over the Iraq War that was held in the United Nations, and in academic and foreign policy circles, could be broken down as the question whether it was Iraq or the United States that was the rogue nation. On the one hand, Iraq had defied multiple UN resolutions, but so had the United States. Iraq had gone rogue, but, by talking about a unilateral invasion, so had the United States, and, in the moral calculus of the international community, all that mattered was being a team player.
Every now and then we wonder why we can't win wars anymore. The answer is that we don't fight wars, we fight endless police actions in the name of stability. Nearly every war we fought in the last hundred years was about stabilizing a region in an endless game of domino theory. Most of the wars were morally right, not so much because we fought them for the right reasons or in the right ways, but because our enemies were genuine monsters.
Our defense plan and foreign policy for generations has depended on maintaining an international order that would provide for common defense and common markets, and that most of all would allow for international stability. Stability has been the absolute good, instability the absolute enemy. It's not right or wrong that we care about, but the regional stability that maintains stable markets and keeps us from having to send peacekeeping forces to another hellhole.
This is the Pax Americana. This is why we did something about Iraq and Libya, countries out of step with the Arab League. It is why we will almost certainly bomb Syria and why we pressure Israel. It is also why we have done nothing about a genuine genocide in Sudan, whose regime has the support of the Arab League. It is why we will keep on pushing Taiwan into China's embrace, while trying to checkmate China's expansionism. It is why we will keep putting money and troops behind the United Nations.
United States governments have lost the ability to think of national rights and interests, apart from the international order. The two have become one and the same. It is presumed that what is good for the international community is good for America, even when that clearly is not the case because it is presumed that the infrastructure of international law and stability is an overall good.
The United Nations was not simply inept, like the League of Nations; it was a relic of another age even as its delegates trooped into the modern glass and steel building on Turtle Bay. It had been built to counter the wrong threat. The problem no longer lay with rogue industrialized nations on a conquering spree, but with an international ideology determined to subjugate civilization with its own worldwide alliance.
American power and wealth made the international order possible, but aside from the Korean War, it proved to be of very little use against Communism, which simply infiltrated it and took it over. The international order was a dream of Western liberals, and their sympathies inevitably lay with the barbarians at the gate, not with the civilization within. Their dream of inclusiveness filled the UN with legions of Third World dictatorships, giving us a choice between allying with monsters or letting the Soviet Union ally with them.
The same story is repeating itself with Islam, except we didn't spend the Cold War pretending that the Warsaw Pact were our allies, while our enemies were a handful of Communist terrorists who needed more moderate influence from the Mecca of Moscow. We bombed countries to overthrow Communist dictatorships, we did not bomb them to install "moderate" Communist dictatorships-- as we keep doing now.
International orders are based on voluntary action and after all the champagne flutes are lifted to toast peace, no one particularly wants to go out and enforce it. Not against a big target. The League of Nations folded out of sheer gutlessness. The United Nations hasn't gone the same way because it has yet to encounter a major war that would expose its uselessness. Had the Cold War gone hot, we would be reading about the United Nations in the history books. When the conflict with Islam truly explodes, the United Nations will be one of the first casualties.
The international order does not exist to prevent war, but to maintain the illusion that the current level of stability and order is due to a new plateau of human enlightenment, rather than because the combination of factors waiting to turn the simmering grudges and power vacuums of yesterday's conflict into tomorrow's war have not yet come to term. Then the tanks cross the Polish border, the planes crash into the towers and the illusion begins to collapse. The ability is gone and there is a sharp diving line between those members of the international order who will fight and those who will cower in a corner.
American elites have always had a strong Transatlantic tendency. Throughout the 19th Century, the United States was pulled to the West, but increases in communications and transportation technology, combined with government centralization, drew it back to the east and across the ocean into a European alliance to protect the mother country and the continent and patch together the ragged pieces of a post-colonial European order. From the 1940's onward, the United States was tasked with arbitrating the conflicts between the European Left and Right, and between its moderate and immoderate left.
The Pax Americana realized many of the European plans, tying together international law with free enterprise, generous international aid and a dose of moderate policing. It was a post-colonial colonialism based on ideas that we insisted were universal, even though the only countries which really held them to be self-evident truths were the colonial powers and their offspring. But mostly it all depended on American power. It still does.
The only thing worth knowing about international affairs is that everyone hates the United States and every other country in the world that isn't their own. The degree of hatred varies with prominence, proximity and exposure. Everyone hates their neighbors, even if they don't have much prominence or exposure. Most hate prominent countries with a great deal of exposure. Even minor countries that are far away, but have a great deal of exposure end up being hated after a while.
Mostly this hatred isn't violent. It takes the form of resentments, stereotypes and grudges funneled into soccer matches and angry wars of words between politicians over some minor trading dispute or the position of a few islands on the border. Small reminders that we aren't an enlightened breed, we aren't noble people, we are often petty and territorial. We are only human, and the international order that we built is only human. It has the same petty hatreds and resentments, and the same cowardice and criminality that we are capable of. The international order is a mob, and mobs are ugly things. They will tear apart the weak while fleeing the strong. A mob has less morals in a group than its individuals do. And this is the international order that we have staked our future on.
If the United States is going to survive the century, it will have to do so as a rogue nation. The international order has no future, and dying for it is madness and suicide. The international order is cooperative and turning cooperation with a system that disdains individual nations and rewards internal alliances into our supreme value in international affairs is suicide.
We have fought two useless destructive wars on the terms of the international order, with international alliances aimed at stabilizing regions, and turning rogue states into good members of the international community. We failed both times, and we lost far more men and women on these stabilizing exercises than we did in fighting the wars. We recently fought a third war with nothing to gain for it and plenty to lose. We are likely to launch a fourth war this year for the same reason, and continuing doing this road is madness.
The international order values integration above all else. Its only values are cooperative values. The internationalists have replaced, "My Country Right or Wrong" with "The International Order Right or Wrong". And the international order has been consistently wrong for sixty years. The order today represents our enemies who wish to destroy us demographically and militarily. They want to grind us down as a separate entity and incorporate us as tools and resources into the order. That will mean not only the death of our individualism, our economy and our independence-- it will mean the death of everything when the international order falls to the Jihad.
To survive, we have to stop thinking of global stability and global markets, and start thinking of ourselves. We have to go back to discover what our national interests are and what our moral values are, instead of confusing our interests and morals with internationalism. To survive as a nation, we have to become a nation once again.
If we could reverse ourselves a few generations, Pax Americana would do the world a lot of goodReplyDelete
If, like once in ancient Greece's democracy, only a moral elite would have been permitted to form the league of nations this system might have worked better............ReplyDelete
Historically seen that did not work out either and only wars that are fought all out to destroy the enemy without pseudo moral restraint can be won.
Sultan, you write that as individuals we are more moral than the mob, yet as nations however we do feel more moral by fighting for a cause when backed by a consensus even knowing from experience that the problem the fight is fought for shall not get solved but instead fester.
I heard Sasha Baron Cohen being interviewed on the radio. He said he wanted to film at the UN for his 'the dictator' movie. But the UN wouldn't let him. "they said they represented the interests of dictators, and they would be upset if I had been allowed to film there. I said 'my movie's a pro-democracy movie', but they didn't want to know".ReplyDelete
He seemed somewhat confused by all this. But anyone who doesn't know what the UN really is would be, I guess...
Genius... Reminds me of a typical classroom where the highest good -- for the sake of the teacher and the system -- is for everybody to behave, which means that it's best if no one is exceptional.ReplyDelete
My only nit-pick is stop using the expression "international community." There is no such thing. The term is a fiction, meant to seduce us into imagining that every society is equal to every other solely by virtue of the fact it exists, and having nothing whatever to do with its contributions to the betterment of the the world.
We may all be created equal. But what we do with our shot at life is not therefore equal.
Yet there is no more money for internationalism. It is very expensive endeavour. Take the huge costs of fighting global warming, of nation building, the inability to fix Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, etc.ReplyDelete
Globalism is similar to empire building. It only works when you have a lot of money for redistribution. And when you don't, desintegration follows.
Come on Sultan, do you really think the Jihad can take over America? We do still have the largest military in the world. A few rag tag camelheads aint gonna take over.ReplyDelete
Knish, America has been through many depressions. This one cannot be worse than the The Great Depression which ruined many. We survived that, and went on to become greater.ReplyDelete
The economy will heal, like it did then.
We will be great again.
Your writings are... pursuant.ReplyDelete
Now i do the migrain thing again.
International stability is going to take a real big hit if Greece leaves the Euro, or the Euro collapses.ReplyDelete
There is not much the UN or the US can do when that happens.
So batten down the hatches, its going to be a rough two years.