A recent article in our daily newspaper lifted largely from The NY Times lauds the "foreign policy achievements" of President Obama--apparently just him, not his administration. Included were the impending withdrawal of all troops from Iraq (yes, we're still there), success in Afghanistan (Really? The Taliban has been defeated?) and the crowning touch, the defeat of Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Libya, followed by his brutal mutilation and murder by victorious rebels. If you thought NATO did it, think again.
Not too long ago the U.S. dispatched five of our heavy--and very costly--strategic bombers, three B-1B Lancers (known affectionately as the "Bone" from B-One) and two B-2 Spirit "Stealth Bombers" non-stop from U.S. bases to Libya and return. Over Libya, they hit 150 targets with JDAM guided munitions. Each B-1B costs $283.1 million and each B-2 $1.01 billion. They were refueled by KC-135 tankers five times enroute. This, plus very intense reconnaissance coverage by E-8 Rivet Joint aircraft and innumerable UAV unmanned drones, along with close air support using U.S A-10 and F-16 fighter-attack aircraft, is heavy involvement in my book, and very costly.
Some years ago there was an organization (it might still exist) that advocated something called The New American Century. You may recall the organization; it was called the Project for a New American Century, or PNAC, and was the heart of the neo-conservative movement. It was founded by Bill Kristol and counted some very influential people as members. Its stated purpose was to encourage American adventurism around the globe, imposing democracy on undemocratic nations. The basis was the fact that we were the undisputed world superpower and had the military might to pull this off. They claimed it was our responsibility to spread democracy by any means necessary, because democracies are much less likely to start wars and the prospect for world peace would be enhanced. This was labeled Pax Americana by PNAC.
While the neo-conservative movement was widely reviled, especially by liberals, and its charter discounted as kookish, yet today we see substantial elements of the PNAC philosophy at work. American military presence is nearly ubiquitous in the world today. We are engaged in militaristic nation-building--an euphemism for democratization--in three countries: Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. We have military forces in a number of other countries such as Germany, South Korea and Japan, with a major naval presence in the Pacific to defend Taiwan from China. We are the core of NATO, whose original purpose to confront the Soviet Union is lost in the dustbin of history. I'm not sure what its purpose is today. We stuck our nose into Yugoslavia/Kosovo, deposing the dominant Serbs from an historic province in favor of Albanian drug merchants.
While our administration claims to be "drawing down" our forces, eventually bringing them home, the Air Force has been directed to establish by 2013 a 24/7 overflight and surveillance program using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) such as the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper in a full-time 65-flight cover over Afghanistan. We don't have enough and are frantically building them and training controllers.
So, what is the purpose of all this? Iraq?: Supposedly being run by a democratic government, admittedly fractious, with substantial inter-tribal and religious sect conflict remaining. Iran is doing much mischief attempting to extend its influence into Iraqi political affairs. We defeated and killed Saddam Hussein and his Sunni government, admittedly brutal but undeniably strong, which was a bulwark against the Iranians. Now that's gone, replaced with a weak fledgeling democracy pretty much at the mercy of Iranian mischief.
Bush invaded Afghanistan to attack al Qaeda. They are long gone and have been for some time now. We are fighting the indigenous Taliban, for what reason I have no clue. They certainly pose no threat to the U.S. The same can be said for poor Moammar, who, while one of the many Middle East brutal despots, foreswore terrorism years ago and apparently kept his promise.
Now we have Uganda, with 100 U.S. "advisors" being sent by Obama to help the hapless Ugandan military defeat a small religious rebel group called "The Lord's Army" that is fighting the hard-line Islamic government. Hmmm. Where do I remember this "advisor" thing from? Oh yes, some small country in Southeast Asia back in the 1960's. That turned our well, didn't it? Don't even ask what our national security interest is in Uganda.
The bottom line is we have expended trillions of dollars fighting other nations and rebel groups around the world, along with defending even other nations with our military presence. Our military, especially the Air Force with it's 26-year-old fighters and 50-year-old refueling tankers, is being stretched to and beyond the limit while the administration is talking about cutting $400 billion from its budget. And none of this is directly related to the security of our nation. Honestly, what would be the effect on us if China gobbled up Taiwan and its Chinese population? My answer is "None".
So, I have become an isolationist. (Oh no, not that!!) We are expending massive resources for no discernible national interest. Heretically speaking, we don't need anyone! We are militarily secure from any international threat. A modest ABM system, the technology for which is available, would provide all necessary security from rogues like North Korea and even a nuclear Iran. We just let them know if they try to attack, we will incinerate them. And mean it!
I say let Germany, South Korea, Taiwan and even Israel defend themselves. I have no problem selling them whatever military hardware they might need, cash on delivery. We have more than enough resources like petroleum to provide for our needs, if we have the will to go and get it. We are blessed with total self-sufficiency in this great and wonderful nation. What we cannot do is support the national defense of our so-called allies, rid the world of its dictators and nation build willy-nilly any country whose policies or leadership we--or the UN--don't like. We have the means to protect ourselves against terrorism and retaliate massively and with deadly effectiveness against any aggressor.
Bottom line: pull the troops home, all of them. Cut off foreign aid--completely. Let the U.N. paddle its own canoe; we should resign and pull our 25% financial support. (They can keep the building.) Let the third world have it as their own little playground. They already do anyway. If we wish to support some humanitarian U.N. activities, we can do it independently. Certainly we would still respond to natural disasters as we always have done, but we cannot afford to do for the whole world; we're going broke trying.
Outside of some do-gooder handwringing and foreign weeping and wailing, I see no downside to this that we can't handle with little sweat. Economically, I suggest ground-levelling tariffs to equalize our production costs with the Chinese and Koreans so we are competing fairly. If the WTO doesn't like it, tough. If they don't want to buy our stuff, they can grow their own corn. This is the only way American industry can compete internationally and is the traditional purpose of tariffs. We'll manufacture and sell what we need, "Made in the U.S.A."
I'm sure some of you will have problems with this. There will be warts and ditches, but I really think everyone would be better off, especially us. The responsibility of a government is the welfare and protection of the nation, both for us and for other countries and governments. Let them paddle their canoes and we'll paddle ours.