Recently I had a misunderstanding with a friend. In thinking about how misunderstandings occur, which amounts to how people perceive the actions and sometimes ideas or conclusions we individually have, it’s not surprising that misconceptions arise. These misconceptions can lead anywhere from bad feelings to fractured relationships, which is the case in this instance. I am a ponderer by nature, and I will turn over in my mind actions, ideas, consequences, and objectives in an endless stream of what if, who was right, who was wrong, and every angle I can think of. Now, stay with me for a moment because what I came to understand about my friend also applies to our country.
At its core, friendships and world relations can be reduced to a single element. Do you have your friend’s back and they yours, or not? The friendship in question will eventually be repaired. But, as a country, who’s got our back? We are in alliances with NATO, Five Eyes, ANZUS, treaties with Japan, Taiwan Relations Act, AUKUS, and others. However, none of our partner/treaty nations have 1/10th the military power that we possess that would back up their obligation. And, there is no guarantee that these nations, who have pledged to support us as we promised to help them, will rally to our defense in times of crisis. And, what do they bring to the fight, and how fast will they show up if they do?
Questions, questions, few with definitive answers. Eventually, when you get down to brass tacks, nobody can guarantee our survival. We are on our own, baby. And, just as consequential, I believe, is our vital role in ensuring that the U.S. fills political and military voids, leading to tough-to-fix issues that we’ll eventually have to face. Issues can and do occur with alarming frequency. I frequently compare politics to the weather, for example, as winds blow from areas of high pressure to low-pressure areas. God forbid, in some future war, our friends take a national breath and say….” We’ll sit this one out.” Such a scenario emboldens those bad actors who constantly think of conquest and subjugation.
Can we hide between our two oceans to be left alone forever? Temporarily, perhaps, but we may soon begin to starve for oil, critical minerals, or technology being denied to us. And what about our fellow citizens who need to make and sell their products and our technologies? What happens if the doors to those sellers are suddenly slammed closed? What will our farmers do with the excess grain, wheat, and corn they have grown to sell abroad? Will some enemy hold a knife to some country’s throat to do their bidding?
Could we slim down our country to a new reality to go it alone without world trade? Would our enemies tolerate us possessing the land, minerals, and potential slaves that they covet? I doubt that. Peace is only maintained through strength and engagement and not unearned trust.
While it may seem obvious to me, I realize that not all my readers want to see our country involved in the world more than as absolutely necessary. Even fewer see the need for our country to lead the world politically or militarily. This is a significant hurdle that our nation must resolve. This dilemma is like the half-pregnant debate, which says either you are or you’re not because there is no in-between.
In the preceding paragraph, the phrase ‘lead the world either politically or militarily’ is explained thus:
- We aspire to a mantra of personal freedom for anyone ready to accept the responsibility and risks that go hand in hand with being a free country. Sadly, freedom must be fought for from time to time. Freedom is defined as self-determination that does not infringe on the fundamental individual rights of others. Freedom is not aspirational; it is an essential tenet that will inevitably lead to a higher degree of world peace and stability.
- I believe the death of a single person is just as horrible as the slaughter of a million. Situational ethics allows one to put blinders on in the case of individuals or groups of people that are either subjugated, tortured, starved, or killed. All of such behavior is evil, immoral, and unethical. Sometimes, such actions or our national interests require us to intervene. Intervention always creates a balancing act of risk, reward, coalition building, and more.
- We can use our military capabilities to support human (not necessarily American-style rights) and economic rights to prevent threats to world order. Or to deter those evil-doers who threaten to destabilize countries or pose a risk of mass murder through direct or indirect action. An example of such behavior is the indirect starvation of third-party countries by the actions of Russia, who have recently refused the safe passage of Ukraine’s grain and wheat shipments. Ukraine serves as a breadbasket for many underdeveloped countries.
- The saying that “America can’t be policemen to the world” canard is only true, to a point. Coalition building by willing countries who see their self-interest served by aiding stability in the world is essential and can’t be avoided. Unfortunately, our country has a spotty track record of putting together effective coalitions. Too often, the percentages are lopsided, with the U.S. doing all the heavy lifting. We need strong, independent partners to share this “policeman” burden. We must sell the proposition that, although we are separate countries, we have mutual threats in common and must agree on how best to confront them. And mean it!
- Finally, the issue of who made America the decider in chief? This almost sounds like the beginning of a good bar joke. “Biden, Putin, Kim Jong-un, Khamenei, and Xi walk into a bar where there is only a single stool at the bar. Who gets the stool?” Folks, I won’t try to explain the differences between countries that foster self-determination and freedom vs. countries that rank their citizens with Social Credit Scores or Morality Police. Only brainwashed individuals see a moral equivalency between these other rascals and the United States. While I dislike Biden’s politics, he is part of a Representative Democracy with a Constitution that places individual rights at its core. Joseph Biden is the leader of our country. Republicans will have to figure out how to win in this new environment.
As we move into this holiday period, I am so proud to be an American, warts and all. That does not mean that my country is perfect or that any of us have all the answers; because we don’t. Our Constitution guarantees me the right to think thoughts contrary to what the regime I live in thinks while still keeping my head attached and my beliefs, is not missed by me.
Only America, its people, and its leaders are in the unique position to safeguard ourselves and the world toward a more peaceful tomorrow that we all need and want.
God bless our country.
God Bless America!
Allan J. Feifer