Felicia Muftic: Might doesn’t make right in this world
Grand County, CO Colorado
The Greek debt theater and the dizzying rise and plunge of the U.S. financial markets within a 24-hour period brought sharp focus to the fact that there are external events and conditions that limit the ability of our U.S. political systems and leaders to control our own destiny.
The U.S. has two problems: We are not the only power in an interconnected world and the often lamented structure and practice of our political system allows difficult, hard decisions to be uncompromised into inaction. There has been much less attention in this difficult economy paid to foreign and military policy, yet they have equal bearing on our economic well-being. It is time we sit up and pay attention.
The U.S. was in a unique position after World War II because the powers that challenged us or were allied with us were in ruins. Fortress America had survived and we basked in the illusion that we had the military force and leadership to continue as numero uno for our lifetimes. That did not last long.
The Cold War began soon after and the Soviet Union balanced our power and defined our foreign affairs for the next 40-plus years. We had the economic system that allowed us to increase our military might and we were able to spend the weaker communist system under the table. The resulting illusion then was that we were almighty.
That too did not last long as Europe united and China and India arose. Our mentality is stuck in nostalgia, that post World War II, post Cold War were the natural state of our being. In reality, we have spent most of the post World War II constantly challenged, reacting mostly with military action both threatened and conducted as a succession of powers emerged. We succeeded, but the nagging recession is a new reality.
To continue to look at the world through the prism of military power alone could result in our spending ourselves under the table, too. Our economic ability to rely on continued high military spending, to invade and occupy, is shaky, either because we lack the will to pay for it or even the resources.
Instead of going solo, we need allies and alliances to chip in their blood and treasure. We also need foreign policies that do not goad potential world rivals to fight us with the sword. Trade and diplomacy should help us avoid expensive military action instead.
That is why I shudder when I hear the chauvinistic declarations of some GOP candidates who are either naïve or who appeal to our nostalgic pride in America to see the world from the perspective of solely a military power. The GOP debate this week will be about foreign policy. So far the candidates, save one or two, have shown lack of interest or sheer ignorance of world affairs. One who has ventured to offer an opinion is Mitt Romney, whose pronouncement so far has been to roll back every recent cut to the Pentagon budget and increase military spending by 20 percent.
Most GOP presidential candidates so far have been united in their approaches: to criticize President Obama for withdrawing our nine year long occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and for his leading from behind by playing a supporting role in Libya. In the meantime, there is no will among any of those candidates to raise taxes or to do more than decimate any social programs to pay for longer engagements .
Another policy proposed by Romney has been to stop trade and engagement with China to force them to adopt policies more favorable to us. China could be our largest future trading partner. Economic interdependence with us could be the best deterrent to future military conflict. The antithesis of the Romney approach has been engagement, favored by Jon Huntsman, former ambassador to China. While Huntsman has little chance of being the GOP candidate, a dialogue between the two may expose Romney’s narrow global vision.
For more commentary, go to http://www.mufticforum.com
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