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In Victor David Hanson’s recent story for the National Review, he talks about how the political climate in today’s world resembles the early 20th century. At that time following WWI in rather quick succession you saw the fall of once great powerful empires; empires like Austro-Hungary, Kaiser Wilhelm’s Imperial Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and Czarist Russia. Due to inattention by the world’s leading governments they were then replaced by even stronger more ruthless empires such as the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, and Imperial Japan. The rise and fall of such empires and the cost to humanity in terms of suffering, property damage, and loss of life cannot be accurately measured nor can the cost be ignored and treated as if its irrelevant ancient history.
It was only through a monumental wholehearted national effort by Western democracies, at great cost and sacrifice by their military combatants and civilians, working in cooperation to meet the threat, did these oppressive regimes finally meet their end.
It is not by accident that we have not seen another global confrontation like WWI or WWII in seventy years. Its not because humanity has somehow become more civilized, far from it. Its just that global peace is obtained only through commitment to strength and not by appearing weak or being weak.
Hanson asserts that in today’s world we are seeing an equally volatile period in history just like the 1930’s and 1940’s largely due to American indifference and perceived weakness by our enemies. During Obama’s watch we have seen the rise of ISIS/ISIL almost immediately after we began withdrawing from Iraq. We see Iran’s subtle and not so subtle influence over the Middle East growing not to mention their appetite to obtain nuclear weapons and to destroy Israel at the right opportunity. As we withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban still assert power there. What is going to stop them from reclaiming what they lost, the shaky Afghan government? Power abhors a vacuum. We are seeing Putin’s Russia reassert its once death grip hold over all of Eastern Europe with Ukraine being its latest victim.
I believe President Obama believes its his mission to remove the USA from its position of authority and world leadership much to our great detriment and the whole world’s. Our withdrawal from the world stage, retreating if you will, will have very bad consequences for us and those nations that resist oppressive anti-Democratic, anti-American, despotic governments.
History has shown Evil does in fact exist in the world and to turn from it and ignore it, or appease it only encourages it to be more audacious, not less dangerous or less threatening. Appeasement only works for those being appeased. Failing for example to name the source of almost all of the current terrorist activity in the world today ” Islamic fundamentalism” (which is rooted in literal interpretation of the Koran), only encourages those fanatics. I think it would be better a few be offended than billions engaged in a global armed conflict.
A position that says let’s not care about what goes on beyond our borders and focus just on our problems here may seem like a good idea on the surface to some. I understand the arguments for isolation, less intervention and domestic focus as I too once held that position. However I think that only invites a very ugly future global confrontation when we will be much weaker to resist the very real threats to our way of life.
Some might want to convince themselves that the evil in today’s world is caused by USA’s inequities in life and our greedy corporations coupled with our intolerance to other cultures. I would argue show me where these other cultures are better or as tolerant. The truth is the world is a very biased, racist, and intolerant place and its those intolerant cultures and countries that are now posing the greatest threats to mankind.
I believe however that appeasement and disengagement is our President and some of his follower’s intention. Somehow he has convinced himself that downsizing our military and abandoning our allies, while simultaneously: supporting or appeasing Islamic-Fascist regimes; removing sanctions for tired old communist regimes like Cuba; permitting China and North Korea to engage in economic and cyber warfare against us daily; and allowing Russia to do what ever it wants without tangible negative consequences for them is somehow in our best interests.
Looking at the world today I really believe Obama appears feckless by design, he’s not that stupid like some would believe. His actions I believe are a portent of a much greater evil to come but that is another story.
For now the average American being comfortable, complacent and compliant with our government’s control over their lives while solely focused on themselves and their issues is not going to keep any of us safe or free. We must stay concerned and engaged on matters inside and outside of our country. We must elect leaders willing to uphold the law, and oppose those who would seek our destruction from within as well as from outside our borders. Those same leaders must resist evil where ever it is, for however long it takes and rally the citizens behind the cause. We need to be fully committed as a nation, and willing to sacrifice for the long haul, just like those Americans from an earlier generation did for only then can we hope to win and survive.
What I’m saying is an all in commitment is necessary with a resolve to take the fight wherever it leads us, to whatever country’s doorstep it may take us. We must resolve to win this war not just co-exist with it or we can expect to be at war forever.
Earlier this month U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that it was giving up oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN as it is known. ICANN is a US non-profit created in 1998 with the purpose of managing the internet’s Domain Name System or DNS. The company also has been responsible for managing top tier domain names like .com, .org and .gov. The US government responsible for the creation of the internet beginning in the 1960’s has maintained some oversight of its functions but has faced criticism from more than a few nations who do not like the idea of a free and uncensored internet.
According to the Washington Post “Pressure to let go of the final vestiges of U.S. authority over the system of Web addresses and domain names that organize the Internet has been building for more than a decade and was supercharged by the backlash last year to revelations about National Security Agency surveillance.”
The Obama administration’s announcement that it would not be renewing ICANN’s contract in 2015 and doing so without a firm plan in place to transition oversight has caused a stir among many here in the US and from unlikely bedfellows. Former President Bill Clinton speaking at a panel discussion Friday night regarding internet governance stated “A lot of people … have been trying to take this authority from the U.S. for the sole purpose of cracking down on Internet freedom and limiting it and having governments protect their backsides instead of empowering their people..
Heritage Foundation fellows Brett D. Schaefer, James L. Gattuso, Paul Rosenzweig and David Inserra weighed in essentially agreeing with Clinton stating “The U.S. has a strong interest in maintaining an open and free Internet. If Internet functions were harmed, not only would there be economic damage, but a vital forum for freedom of speech and political dissent would be compromised. While the transition of Internet stewardship from the U.S. may have been inevitable, it is unclear why the U.S. surrendered its greatest point of leverage prematurely. Surrendering U.S. oversight of ICANN was a key objective of many nations that wish to curtail freedom on the Internet.”
The danger lies giving a governing body like the UN which is made up of countries like China, Russia or Iran, not known for their support of free speech or any type of dissent, to weigh in and regulate the internet and its functioning. The consequences that would have are not small. The internet has been a bulwark for freedom and communication across the globe. It has been our government’s ambassador at large for freedom and democracy. Anyone including the oppressed with a connection has a voice that can be heard around the globe by millions. The disenfranchised can see for themselves what it looks like to live in a free country as a opposed to one that is “secure”. A good example of the effectiveness of the net was when world wide attention was brought on Syria and their use of poison gas during their civil war, something that would not have been readily known otherwise had it not been for the internet.
One thing is clear; the US should not surrender oversight quickly regardless of how bad some in the international community want that to happen. A clear plan must first be in place that guarantees a smooth transition to a new governing body that is completely on board with the principles of freedom and uncensored speech. The US has provided the ordinary citizens of the world a voice that must not be silenced by authoritarian governments or well-meaning but dim-witted bureaucrats in the United Nations assembly.
A close friend of mine died today. He lived a long, long, life filled with adventure, intrigue and the stuff you read in the history books. During his birth he beat the odds and many said he should not have survived. When he was a child, others left him mostly alone, not sure what to make of his odd ideas, manners and customs. He was blessed with a good place to live filled with abundance, and was raised by parents that respected God and family.
As a young adult he grew strong, powerful and self-confident. Some would even say he had become arrogant. He was also known to be cruel and selfish in his youth. However life’s experience would teach him hard lessons, and he learned from his mistakes. Slowly over time his character was built with confidence to overcome any obstacle. His can do attitude won him much adulation from his peers.
He became a fierce warrior with the heart of a lion out of necessity for survival. Others would call for his help frequently and he always answered that call. He would be forced to fight in wars and conflicts overseas seeing firsthand the cruelty and barbarity men could inflict upon others but it did not change his character instead making him only stronger and wiser as he aged. He was industrious, compassionate, and generous with his money.
In the years that followed he grew happy and content and sired many children. Over time however as with many families his children grew complacent, fat and lazy. Having not experienced the same challenges and hardships that their father had experienced, the same challenges and hardships that built his character; they became weak and insecure.
His children ignored their father’s warnings and lessons and ridiculed his past mistakes. They chose to spend their inheritance and squander the good will their father had built up with his friends over many years. They welcomed their father’s old enemy’s ideas into their hearts and borrowed money they could not pay back from those same enemies. Over time displeased and disgusted with their father and his ways, they dispatched him while he slumbered. His children celebrated their new found “freedom” from their father proclaiming his old ideas were slowing their progress and that with him gone their direction was certain.
However, seeing my friend’s demise, at the hands of his children, my friend’s old enemies no longer were afraid of my friend’s family and rose up against the house their father had built with blood, sweat and treasure expended and destroyed them all, taking their lands, their livelihoods and their freedom forever.
I shall miss my friend America, as will most of the world as there has never been a country quite like it before in history and we are not likely to see one like it ever again.
Where will freedom reign once it is extinguished here?
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Abraham Lincoln
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Is the global war on terror also an assault on personal liberty and the U.S. Constitution?
Keen observers of history will note that our leaders in government have with great success at various times of crisis convinced the American people that in order to stay “safe” and have a certain level of security and piece of mind, their individual rights must be sacrificed. In those cases the Constitution is completely ignored or trampled upon. Some poignant examples come to mind, Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War and FDR’s internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War.
The pattern is the same. A flagrant disregard for the rights of the individual citizen and usurpation of power or authority usually proceeded by some great tragedy or perceived threat. In the 21st century we are told the war on terror provides justification for these violations and require us to re-think the law for our own good to “protect” us from the grave dangers we face.
- NSA warrantless intercepted electronic and telephone communications….direct violation of the 4th Amendment
- Targeted assassinations of US citizens identified as “Terrorists” overseas…direct violation of the 5th & 6th Amendments
- Drones obtrusively observing citizens from above our cities…..direct violation of the 4th Amendment
- Indefinite detentions without trial…. direct violation of the 5th Amendment
- Illegal searches of homes and property for entire city blocks as in the case of the Boston bombing….direct violation of the 4th Amendment.
The danger lies in this. We have placed our trust in representative government to do its job and put people by election in positions of power and authority that will not subvert the process for their own personal gain. We have placed our faith in that they know what they are doing and have respect for the Constitution and will when the crisis has been averted resume the role of guardians of the system and restore the rights of American citizens. In today’s modern bureaucrat’s mind however, he believes he knows what is best for the country and its citizens and will not give up any new found powers granted to him. Once power or authority is co-opted or willingly surrendered to the State it is rarely relinquished without a fight. A fight that usually ends up very bloody.
Since our founding, and even more so after the turn of the 20th century, America has proven exceptional in many ways compared to the other nations on Earth. She stands in stark contrast to say Russia whose people who do not have a history of freedom and independence. The Russian people it seems have always been ruled by various tribal war lords, czars, brutal dictators, petro billionaire mobsters, or variations of the same theme. With Putin in command they seem to be reverting back to the Cold War days of Stalin. Russians have always known great suffering under oppressive regimes when they were’t too busy inflicting suffering upon others around them. There paranoia is legendary some of which may be justified given their past experiences in WWII but make no mistake Stalin’s regime was every bit as evil and repressive as Hitler’s.
America by contrast has proven resourceful and resilient. Her people by and large are happy and even the most poor among us do not suffer the same hardships like say people from Bangladesh or India suffer. She is blessed with abundance in most everything. She has for the most part been a nation of religious people, at least more so than other nations and as a result her willingness to share from that great abundance is more than most nations. Frequently she displays generosity in times of crisis or need throughout the world. Lastly the promise of freedom and hope that her political institutions and laws has offered provide hope to people from all over the planet who come here (some illegally) seeking asylum and opportunities they cannot find elsewhere. This has been the America I grew up to be proud of and love.
Indeed many of America’s past leaders like John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan invoked the image from the bible parable of a shining city on a hill when describing America. President Ronald Reagan in his January 11, 1989, farewell speech to the nation said ”I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still..”. This is a strong vision for America and one in which our people need to still recognize. I have hope that we can still be that country.
Like it or not, America was, when the smoke and the bodies were cleared away after WWII, one of only two great superpowers left standing. In the end a confrontation of ideas had to take place as they could not co-exist and we won defeating Soviet communism. We were left with the role of world policeman and a growing appetite for debt.
Since then America has made colossal mistakes, not the least of which was arrogantly and unilaterally invading Iraq without declaration of war or real concrete evidence to justify it. That war I believe did irreparable harm. Our trust in our leaders was once again shaken and America’s role as leader of the free world and a reputation as a country that stands for what is right and just was compromised. The world after Iraq could easily say look at America, they are not much different than any of history’s other imperial empires. With the recent revelations of our spying on our allies made by Edward Snowden we continue to lose more credibility with those we call friends. In a nut shell we have lost the moral high ground and our reputation on the world stage is tarnished.
Economically we are broke and having a closet socialist as a President does not help give confidence to the financial engines that drive our free market economy and stimulate recovery. Do you know any business right now that is hiring in large numbers, or banks investing large amounts of capital on new ideas and inventions? I don’t and I bet you don’t either. They’re few and far between. Obama gets a vote of no confidence from most small businesses in America too despite what you might hear on television.
So this brings me to the latest headlines and the Ukraine. The old America would never let stand Putin’s country grabbing. The old America having signed treaties like the one with the Ukraine and promising to prevent Russia from forcing the Ukraine back into their political hemisphere in exchange for giving up nukes, would fight back against Putin. The America of old would stand by its word. Can you see John Kennedy backing down now or Reagan? How about Obama? Well? The truth is the old America would not even be in this political foreign policy predicament. Russia would have respected the USA’s ability to crush them economically with sanctions and militarily if need be, and so would never dream of invading Ukraine a free and sovereign country with whom we have ties and a treaty.
A clear and present danger today exists in American foreign policy and that is respect. Having lost the moral high ground after Iraq, and financially teetering on disaster after the last few years of Obama in the White House we appear weak. The Russians think so and I bet the Chinese think so and the Islamic fascists in the Middle East think so too.
My libertarian side wants us to stay out of this mess. How can we afford to do anything over there when we can’t take care of business at home. It might seem like George Washington’s advice regarding alliances might be a good idea. However as someone once said power abhors a vacuum. Step down from the world stage like Ron Paul or other libertarians advocate and you can be sure that Russia and China will fill in the void. What about those other countries we promised we would protect? You know our allies. Can you see other former Soviet states who fought for their independence fall back under Moscow’s control? Is Poland next? How about Taiwan?
It has been our country’s policy right or wrong to make the world safe for Democracy since WWII. Other smaller nations expect this and look to us for leadership. We fought hot and cold wars against totalitarian aggression on multiple continents and our old foes Russia and China are the same now as they were then regardless of what new image they like to spin or how many cheap manufactured things they sell to us at Wal-Mart. They are bullies in the world’s school yard always have been and always will be.
Perhaps in a perfect world we never would have taken on the role as leader of the free world or world cop but that is the role that was thrust upon us. We cannot sit idly yet the question becomes what can we do now. I think not very much. No matter how you look at it this, it does not end well for the people of Ukraine or our image. There is still much work to do but I’m afraid there is not enough time, money, allies, or fortitude left.