Where I stand

Politically, I have always considered myself a “Reagan Conservative”; though of late I call myself a “John Kennedy Liberal“. Meaning, socially tolerant, fiscally conservative, and on foreign policy a hawk.

I believe in smaller government, less taxes, and encouraging more self-reliance in our citizens. What assistance people require should come from local governments and private charities, not bloated Federal bureaucracies.

I believe government needs to regulate only as much as necessary to prevent social chaos or physical depredation. On this, the Libertarians often get it spot-on!

I believe American is not just the “last great hope for mankind”; I see America as the only fireman in a city full of arsonists.

Were America to pull itself into an isolationist shell, the result would be catastrophic for the world. Only we have the strength and will to stand-up to evil. Sadly, our will is weak these days, and evil is on the march everywhere.

While I think, in general, that diplomacy has a foremost place in international affairs; I believe that diplomacy not backed by the credible threat of military force is facile and a waste of time.

Our world is governed by the law of the jungle far more than it is by so-called “international law”. Without a strong, wise, and engaged America, the world would just devolve into “Lord of the Flies”.

I believe that the greatest threat to our liberty and to the safety of the world at large, is the reluctance of too many young Americans to serve in our Armed Forces; and of our political class to maintain our military at the level necessary keep the peace.

Military service is not a duty: it is a privilege of free men, to bear arms in the service of their country. Our military budget consumes less-than 20% of the Federal Budget, and is in the process of a trillion dollar reduction; and our military is smaller today than it has been in generations. Our fleet is the smallest its been since 1917, on the eve of Word War One! And it is the American Navy that maintains the freedom of the seas that allows all international trade.

We didn’t choose to be the “Policeman of the World“. It was a job thrust upon us. The world needs someone stong enough to walk that beat.

You cannot be for “world peace“, yet against a strong Defense. That would be like being for cookies, but against bakeries!

In the words of John Stuart Mill:

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

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21 thoughts on “Where I stand

  1. Oh my goodness…Ummm…”The only fireman in a city full of arsonists”, wow.

    As one of the rare non-Americans who will read this blog I have a responsibility to step up and say that this simply isn’t true. There are many “firefighters” out there in the world besides the United States. In fact, pretty much every western nation has stepped up as peacekeepers and sometimes even fighting wars in the name of freedom (not simply for ourselves either, but to maintain peace and freedom throughout the world).

    I hope you know me well enough by now to know that I’m not anti-American and I value many of the contributions that America has made to the world. That said, I cannot agree that you are the only ones making such contributions.

    My own grandfather (who is still alive) was a navigator in the Canadian Air Force during WWII, and unlike America we didn’t wait until we were attacked to join in. Canada has participated in pretty much every U.N. approved conflict in some capacity since that time, just like many other countries. It is this sort of self-aggrandizing and ignoring the contributions of others that give Americans a bad reputation.

    • Your idea of “firemen” and mine differ in this: One stands by and helps unroll the hoses. The other enters the burning building with axe in hand…
      ONLY the Americans and Brits fight. Period. The rest of any NATO/UN force are constrained by rules of engagement from actually fighting. They can only use their weapons in self-defense…
      The NATO force in Afghanistan, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has become a joke to American forces in country. The Marines I have talked to joke that ISAF stands for: “I Watched Americans Fight”!

      • I don’t want to get in an American-bashing fight, but I’ve heard stories from veterans laughing at American Soldiers as far back as WWII. This doesn’t mean that what they are saying is completely fair or accurate though. Many people/countries build up their own contributions and shoot others down.

        I also think that proved your own stance wrong by saying that the British do fight as well. So clearly there’s at least one other fighter out there. Btw, the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq stemmed from a terrorist attack on America. How much did the United States contribute to fighting the I.R.A when Britain was under terroristic attacks? These two wars are your wars and even if other countries are only unrolling the hoses, a “thanks” would be nice considering how many non-Americans have died to do a little unimportant job like that.

  2. Well said! I have a geopolitical simulator in which you play out economic and global scenarios and it taught me a critical lesson. Every nation on Earth combined cannot defeat America in an all out conventional war, and thank God for that. That threat of righteous force is the sole hope for human freedom.

  3. Karen-
    Surely your not suggesting that were America to become isolationist, that Britain would step in as “policeman of the world”?

    So, no, I didn’t disprove my point. My point is that no one will fill our shoes, except perhaps someone we all wouldnt’ want to see (like China, or Russia).

    There are only a few nations that maintain combat-worthy forces. Ours and Britain’s are the most capable; thought Britain is woefully small.

    Ditto for our other best ally, Israel. They are small but very capable. But “small” can’t police the world..

    Most of NATO is only capable of supporting the US, which is how they are configured. Most European countries have opted to spend their money on expensive social welfare programs; not on maintaining combat forces.

    Canadian troops have a fine history of fighting as part of the Commonwealth. But, like Europe, cannot fight a war on their own…

    Russia is capable, and bellicose enough. But hardly a “white hat”. Ditto for China.

    The rest? A rabble in arms.

    • Oh don’t get me wrong. America is unique and no one is about to replace you guys, including Britain. I don’t even argue that, for better or worse, America is the world’s policeman, and in my humble opinion, the world would be a worse place without America to help out.

      What I objected to is the whole “ONLY firefighter” business. You aren’t the only firefighter. Britain is a firefighter too. To a lesser extent, so are most of the other countries in the western world. Are you guys the “fire chief”? Sure, why not. But good chiefs know when to share the credit…

      I

      • And since I’d also like to share the credit, please ignore the word “western” in my poste.

        Also, I have been thinking further on this topic, and since you declared this a “straight talk” zone, I feel obliged to share why articles like yours are so offensive to the rest of the world.

        We send our troops out to conflicts all over the world. Like I said previously, we do not send as many troops as you guys (and some might argue that we don’t stir up as much trouble as you guys). We do send our troops though. We sent our troops to Afghanistan specifically to help the United States. Sometimes, like yours, our troops die. So when you say that America is the “only fireman” you are saying that our people died for nothing.

        This must be particularly annoying for the Brits because they do exactly what you do. It’s also somewhat galling for Canadians because we hear you constantly talking about how you protect us. When’s the last time you fought a war specifically for us?

  4. Not to denigrate the occassional sacrifices of our Canadian neighbors, but I don’t see a lot of sacrificing going on up there in the Great White North…

    You ask the quesiton: “When’s the last time you fought a war specifically for us?”

    Every time American boys and girls fight to put down the Taliban’s of the world; stand watch over South Korea; hold the line in Europe against Soviet expansion, we are doing so on behalf of free men and women everywhere. We do it so that you can sleep snuggly in your jammies at night. We keep the Putins, the Saddams, the Chavez’s, Ahmadinajads and all other tin-pot despots around the world from devouring the weak and vulnerable that have the misfortune to be their neighbors.

    Every dollar in social programs that Europeans and Canadians spend on their citizens is owed to the willingness of America to shoulder the burden of your defense. You don’t need to spend 20% of your GDP on defense; because we do.

    We don’t mind being the cop on the beat who keeps you safe. We don’t even mind (much) that you don’t pay a dime for our services… But PLEASE spare us your self-righteous bleating! There is no virtue in being a sheep. You are what you are. At least have the grace to be thankful to the sheep dog that keeps the wolves away!

    Enough straight talk for you?

    • Want some more?

      Bleating? Really? I can be a smug a**hole for sure, but I never once insulted you personally or even America. So it seems less than chivalrous for you to insult me.

      As for all of the things you’ve saved us from, how many of those have you stirred up yourselves? How many dictators did you place in south america? In the middle east? Then when everything turns chaotic you call yourselves the “only fireman” for being the main one to fight the mess you created.

      • I would also like to point out that besides insulting me, you never once addressed what I said about the troops. When our peacekeepers go out they fight disorder too. They don’t die for nothing.

      • No personal insult intended, Karen. I was addressing that comment to the world at large…

        As for creating the mess we often have to fix, that happens.. But less than other smug a**holes around the world would suggest.

        Again, Peacekeepers were never the topic. Canada does its share of putting blue helmets on the ground. So do other countries…

        But the topic was being the policeman of the world. And putting out fires before they become conflagulations. Peace keepers can only keep peace once their is peace to keep. As has been seen time-and-again, the UN and its peacekeepers are useless till the beligerants are done beating up on each other.

        It takes American muscle to prevent wars or stomp on those who start them. And only America (and our closest allies) have shown the will
        to do so. Most of the rest of the world wrings their hands and decries how awful it is when bad-guy A committs atrocities on poor bastard B.

        Then complains when America has the stones to do something about it… Or, equally, complains when America decides to sit that particular one out…

        Its perhaps a moot point; in that our current President seems bent on guelding the military and reducing our wealth and power to the point where we are no stronger or capable of taking action than, say, Canada. 😉

        Then the world will have to find a new policeman. Good luck with that…

  5. I apologize for the misunderstanding and my overreaction.

    Believe it or not, I kind of agree with about 95% of what you just said. My problem from the start of this discussion is a comparably minor one. You are the biggest muscle, no doubt, I still don’t feel you are the only muscle.

    I know America is often blamed for more than its fair share, but you should consider that a portion of the worlds’ current issues were spurred on by American actions. And trust me, there are other countries that have made a mess of things too (I’m looking at you, France).

    • You know, Karen, every action causes a reaction (not alway equal or opposite). Whenever a person is placed or assumes a leadership role, and begin making decisions and taking actions; the effect will only partially be what is intended. Some of the effects will be predictable, some not so much. And there is also such a thing as the law of unintended consequences to consider. Murphy’s Law also plays its part as well.
      As with people, so it goes for nations.
      America does a lot of good, but we also make mistakes. Even when we do the best we can under the circumstances, there is always those unintended consequences.
      Take Iran.
      During the Cold War, the Soviets and the West were locked in a death struggle. They wanted to dominate the world and spread communism. We wanted to dominate trade, and prevent the spread of communism.
      In the midst of this 20th Century “Great Game”, each of us moved pieces on the chess board.
      In 1953, the Iranian Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, seemed to be becoming too chummy with the Iranian Tudeh Party (the Iranian Communist Party); and increasingly hostile to British and American interest. Churchill convinced Eisenhower that a change of leadership in Iran was prudent.
      Enter the Shah.
      Of course, in terms of the Cold War, it seemed the right thing to do. Stalin’s Soviet Union bordered Iran to the north, and had alread threatened invasion in the previous administration.
      However, 24 years later, there was blowback; in the form of the Iranian Revolution.
      I would contend that we acted as any great power acts. But every action has a reaction.
      My point? No matter who has been in a leadership position, wither the Romans or the Americans, policy decisions have consequences. You do what you need to do, as best you can; and deal with the consequences later….
      I respect that. I don’t respect those who choose to stand on the sidelines, wringing their hands and doing nothing (except criticize those who do).

      • I might be double-posting here, my computer is doing funny things.

        What should we (meaning the rest of the world) do if we don’t approve of the actions America chooses to take (e.g.war in Iraq)?

        I do see America as a force for good in the world, however, sometimes the rest of the world disagrees with your view of “good” and none of us were given a vote on what you guys decide to do.

        So when you do take unilateral action, it may be a bit unfair to expect us all to silently line up to clean up the mess during and afterwards all while listening to why we don’t deserve respect because we didn’t want to take an unneccessary action.

      • One more point. Hindsight is 20-20 so I don’t disrespect America for most of the choices you guys have made.

        However, we’ve made choices too (like being involved in Afghanistan but not Iraq) whether we’ve made the right choices or not will probably become clear in time, but until then I think the word, “respect” is tossed around and yanked away a little too lightly.

      • Also, if you think peacekeepers just stand around after America does all the hard work, please read a book called, “Shake Hands With the Devil” by Romeo Dallaire, a Canadian general who led our peacekeepers in Rwanda.

  6. Karen, do you REALLY mean to use Rwanda as an example of how effective UN Peacekeepers are? (Their courage or good intentions are not in question).

    In Rawanda, the Blue Helmest were forced to stand around watching while one half of the population murdered the other! In fact, the poor guys had everything they could do to keep themselves from winding up on the piles of corpses. And several were, in fact, killed by Hutu militiamen!

    Why so ineffectual? Because the arcane and pusilanimous “rules of engagement” that the member governments place upon their contributed contingents.

    Had US Marines been their instead, with clear rules of engagement allowing them to prevent the genocide, do you think for a moment Hutus would have tried to jump ugly with them? Or, if stupid enough to try, would have gotten very far down that road?

    In Sierra Leone, UN Blue Helmets were actually taken hostage by the RUF thugs! It took combat soldiers from Britain to come in and rescue them!

    So, REALLY? The UN??

    • I think you missed my point entirely.

      No I’m not saying that Rwanda is a good example of how effective the U.N. peacekeepers are, nor am I saying that the U.N. should be proud of what happened in Rwanda. It was a nightmare that I hope is never repeated. I am proud that the Peacekeepers and Dallaire himself were able to accomplish the little that they did despite the overwhelming odds against them without the support of ANYONE. Plus it’s a fascinating book, that examines an absolute hell on earth.

      My point was that it isn’t only Americans who are dealing with some of the messes worldwide. I understand that I probably sound very pro-U.N. but I don’t like the way the organization has handled many incidents.

      I think my point to you throughout this whole discussion isn’t really coming across well, so I’ll try again: Diplomacy. That’s it, that’s all. America needs to work on including others (and hopefully one day we can have an effective U.N. to help out with that). If you guys try to start listening and respecting others (and yourselves, for goodness sakes, stop fighting and calling each other “sheep”, you can disagree without being so combative). The rest of us need to stop being smug a**holes.

  7. “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming… who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
    Teddy Roosevelt

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