An Autarky Thought Experiment

 

In response to my post about refugee bonds, the Great Ghost of Gödel left this comment obiter dicta:

Not without trepidation or regret have I come around to the Fortress America position, but here I am. Bring all of our troops stationed overseas home. Defend our borders without mercy. If the rest of the world is hell bent for leather on destroying itself, whether rapidly with open war or slowly with insane economics and/or immigration policy, so what? We’re perfectly capable of being self-sufficient as a nation, and it never was a good idea to be the world’s police. …

In short: we need to quit acting like we need the rest of the world at all, let alone that we need the rest of the world’s governments to like us. We’re supposed to be different from everyone else. So let’s actually be different, keep attracting people because we’re better, and make no excuses for being better — and being loners.

What about trade, I asked? How would we ensure freedom of navigation without the US Navy? He proposed that if people want to trade with world beyond our territorial waters, they can hire their own navy:

The Navy is appropriate within our territorial waters, and of course there is extensive maritime law with respect to what that means.

Beyond that, I think a private security/defense model, presumably attached to some kind of insurance system, is appropriate. This is, of course, also historically precedented, by the security and defense approaches taken by the British East India Company, et al. I think it’s reasonable to imagine similar arrangements without the connection to colonization. It might look something like this. …

Keep in mind I’m suggesting this as a contingency upon international trade being “not worth it,” as measured by actuaries insuring international shipping, who in turn are paying security forces to protect them. In other words, if the fixed costs of security and insurance leave international trade profitable, great! If not, I’d call that a pretty good definition of “the world has gone to hell,” wouldn’t you?

So let’s take this idea seriously. Let’s imagine what would happen if tomorrow we brought all of our troops stationed overseas home. We bring back the subs and the aircraft carriers, and if anyone complains about the pirates, we tell them to go out and rent themselves some sepoys and find someone to insure their own aircraft carriers. Freedom of navigation’s their problem.

As of tomorrow, every one of these men and women shutters the bases, closes up shop, and sails back to CONUS:

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 11.06.04Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 11.06.28Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 11.06.46Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 11.07.08Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 11.07.22Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 11.07.35Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 11.07.53Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 11.08.19Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 11.08.31

They bring their gear back with them, of course. Especially the nukes and the missile interceptors. We’re not leaving that stuff in someone else’s hands.

What do you think would happen? What would the headlines look like in a month’s time, in your view? What about a year?

Would it be in our interests, overall?

Source: DoD Personnel, Workforce Reports & Publications, Active Duty Military Personnel by Service by Region/Country Total DoD – June 30, 2015 (DMDC Data)

Published in Foreign Policy, General, Military
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 120 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Pilgrim:Can’t we at least get that guy back from the Turks and Caicos?

    I’m guessing His emails have gone unanswered.

    • #31
  2. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    anonymous:

    Owen Findy: autarky

    According to dictionary.reference.com:

    autarky or autarchy:

    Yes, but then plug in “autarchy” and get “absolute sovereignty” and “an autocratic government”, with no mention of the other meaning.

    • #32
  3. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    Great Ghost of Gödel: In other words, the decay, internal and external, is here.

    So I wonder if sealing it up would hasten the decay or not….

    • #33
  4. Great Ghost of Gödel Inactive
    Great Ghost of Gödel
    @GreatGhostofGodel

    Owen Findy:

    Great Ghost of Gödel: In other words, the decay, internal and external, is here.

    So I wonder if sealing it up would hasten the decay or not….

    Me too.

    My feeling here is admittedly conditional and reactionary: if the rest of the world insists on going to hell, we can be OK. I see it very much as a note-to-self not to throw that ability away. We should be prepared to grow more of our own food vs. importing. 3D printing should lead to a US manufacturing Renaissance, as should CNC milling. And so on. As I said, we should trade when it’s advantageous to do so. But we should not labor under the illusion that it will always be advantageous to do so, or that we have to.

    Ultimately, I’m just asking for America not to be caught flat-footed if, say, our major trading partners find themselves in a nuclear-level conflagration tomorrow. I guess you can think of it as urging Prepping at national scale.

    • #34
  5. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    There is a psychology of isolationism that is so utterly understandable. We can’t control what goes on out there, so we’ll just batten down the hatches and worry about ourselves. Americans, from here on, will need to travel outside the country at their own risk.

    But I think western civilization has evolved beyond that choice being even remotely possible. After World War II, the advanced nations of the world sought more connection, not less. The Internet is an accurate picture of the inter relationships among people and nations. We can’t shut it off.

    The best we can hope for is the dominance of American ideals. And that is a difficult road given the level of ignorance in the developing world.

    • #35
  6. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Great Ghost of Gödel: Ultimately, I’m just asking for America not to be caught flat-footed if, say, our major trading partners find themselves in a nuclear-level conflagration tomorrow. I guess you can think of it as urging Prepping at national scale.

    A good statement of where we need to be.

    We have to do both–act as if tomorrow will look like today but be prepared for the good chance that it won’t.

    • #36
  7. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    If nature abhors a vacuum, world power politics abhors a vacuum even more.  Someone will step in to rule the world if the United States pulls its head back into its shell.  Most likely, the Chinese will assume hegemony over East Asia and the Pacific, and the Soviets (must we persist in pretending they are anything else?) will assume hegemony over Europe and the Middle East.  Africa and South America would devolve into client states of these two military powers.

    Neither of the two world powers would attack the U.S. Homeland militarily, but they will attempt to strangle our trade, eliminate any remnants of loyalty among our former allies, and eventually surpass us in technology and culture.

    To me, the question is not what the world would look like if the U.S. withdraws.  In the short term, that is pretty obvious.  Rather, the question is how long before the world falls into another dark ages?

    • #37
  8. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Larry3435: Most likely, the Chinese will assume hegemony over East Asia and the Pacific, and the Soviets (must we persist in pretending they are anything else?) will assume hegemony over Europe and the Middle East.  Africa and South America would devolve into client states of these two military powers.

    I agree with this scenario.

    I am surprised at how friendly and supportive China and Russia are toward each other. Kissinger wasn’t completely off base in considering this relationship a strong threat. With Russia being handed Syria, we have really helped this along. It is not good.

    • #38
  9. viruscop Inactive
    viruscop
    @Viruscop

    Chris Campion:In a way, we’ve already hired our own Navy, through tax dollars. It’s being paid for one way or another.

    A surefire way to ask someone to kick you in the teeth to to bare them to them, meekly, to demonstrate that you’re no threat to them. Retreat from the world is not an option. We are not the world’s police but if we idealize Democratic tenets, like freedom of speech, trade, etc., then defending those ideals comes with a cost.

    The US was not a dominant world power on Dec. 7, 1941, yet we were attacked. Pretending that realities would never impact this idealized theoretical world is a Bernie Sanders-esque level of thinking, in terms of sheer magic being required to believe it.

    I disagree. I think the US was the dominant world power with the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, giving the US the means to channel its economic heft, if not before that when the treasury began to participate in open market operations at the turn of the twentieth century.

    The US was the dominant power because it was economically dominant, which is equivalent to being dominant once the proper institutions are created. Japan attacked the US ultimately because of this dominance. Remember, the US embargo hurt the Japanese empire more than the entire Nationalist Chinese army could, and forced the Japanese to change their entire strategy in Asia.

    • #39
  10. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Great Ghost of Gödel:

    Leigh:

    Fortress America means more people who want to kill us getting their hands on nuclear weapons. There’s no way around that. There is no way we are safer that way than we are by whatever involvement in the Middle East it takes to protect against proliferation.

    Our “involvement in the Middle East” does precisely bupkis to protect against nuclear proliferation. In many respects, it hampers it (cf. needing Pakistan as an “ally” against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan).

    The fact that we’ve failed before does not prove it would not be far worse if we stopped even trying. Besides I’m talking about what we theoretically should be doing, not our current policy. The Iran deal counts as something close to not trying.

    Moreover, there’s the point that we’re better off fighting them over there than over here.

    It’s not convincing that we’d be better off closing up shop, putting up our best (but inevitably fallible) defenses, and waiting for them to come throw everything they’ve got at us.

    • #40
  11. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    Excellent post, Claire — thanks. And thanks to the great Great Ghost of Gödel (Triple-G) for his “incitement.”

    This whole idea does have appeal. BUT, I have these worries/thoughts:

    1. China withdrew in the 15th century, destroyed her boats and refused to buy any goods from outside. China would sell things but that put a one-way arrow on the flow of silver into her coffers. The opium wars resulted. But, also they went very quickly from a major sea power to a rump power pushed back into her recesses like a squid. She has only recently recovered.
    2. Technology in general and military technology both have huge drivers for them and it is real combat that incites their evolution in dramatic fashion. If our withdrawal is too successful there is a natural dynamic over time that is evident throughout all great power history that will see us unprepared and unwilling to fight. I’m not sure which is worse.
    3. In contradistinction to (2) above, other great powers will see their military technology (and other technology) grow by leaps and bounds. We will slowly be unable to compete without real skin in the game.
    4. If we are successful in this for a few decades, I worry that the kind of leaders that will arise from our midst will not be the best and most savvy types. I have always loved Jesus admonition to his disciples: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” I’m not suggesting the harmless for a country’s leaders but the “wise as serpents” idea is a necessary component of this autarky idea but I don’t know how to even suggest that it could be implemented.
    • #41
  12. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    Let’s remember what we are playing with here:

    Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war.
    -Ernest Hemingway

    We have people depending on us.

    But, our present engagement in the world has its costs of a similar nature. So, I understand the motives and the wisdom of those who want to disengage but I would prefer we do it piecemeal and do it slowly with a clear mission statement for the country. Obama’s approach is fundamentally flawed because he is unwilling to share his mission statement and get buy in from the rest of the country. We have a right to decide to buy into this and we have a right to do it slowly instead of “fundamentally transforming.”

    • #42
  13. Roadrunner Inactive
    Roadrunner
    @Roadrunner

    Don’t let cat ladies get you into fights that you can’t win.

    -Homer

    The current mess was caused by the same people who are so confident in more wild interventionism.  They are also incredibly confident that the latest batch of Middle East immigrants will be good if they just have access to opportunity.  This totally ignores what we know about prior terrorists.  Let’s keep our navy to protect trade, let’s stay out of Syria, and let’s just say no to Muslim immigrants from anywhere.

    • #43
  14. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Larry Koler:Let’s remember what we are playing with here:

    Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war. -Ernest Hemingway

    We have people depending on us.

    But, our present engagement in the world has its costs of a similar nature. So, I understand the motives and the wisdom of those who want to disengage but I would prefer we do it piecemeal and do it slowly with a clear mission statement for the country. Obama’s approach is fundamentally flawed because he is unwilling to share his mission statement and get buy in from the rest of the country. We have a right to decide to buy into this and we have a right to do it slowly instead of “fundamentally transforming.”

    Well said. :)

    • #44
  15. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    How do you get your mind around such a question?  We’re actually in a pretty good place to finally think through the post cold war foreign policy. We’ve learned again that we can’t nation build, foster representative governments or market economies in places that have never had them and for good reason. We’ve learned again that trying the fix the world with a fat check book corrupts both sides.   And we’ve seen again that when we want to smash things up and squash foreign militaries we are unmatched.  We’ve also seen what happens when we wash our hands of the world and indulge in sophomoric anti colonialism, or whatever in the world drives the current Washington crowd.     There is very definitely a role for mature adults, professionals and political leadership that can ignore the mobs our shallow 24 hr media frenzies stir up and that can strike a balance between leading, forward deploying, building alliances which we must do, and getting directly involved fixing the world we can’t fix.

    • #45
  16. Great Ghost of Gödel Inactive
    Great Ghost of Gödel
    @GreatGhostofGodel

    I should add that I’m not actually calling for autarky, unless actual free trade—that is, private actors willing to take all the risks inherent in international trade, minus subsidies, tariffs, “most favored trade status,” etc.—is autarky. I really am mostly talking about not subsidizing other nations’ defense, as well as not giving some bad actors’ (more of) an excuse to use us as an excuse for their own belligerence. To me, this implies being prepared to be “autarkic,” but it still feels like the wrong word when the rest of the world would be smoking ash, third-world hellholes, or smoking ash third-world hellholes.

    The counter-concerns that resonate most with me are: continued civic decline at home in spite of attempts at renewed civic pride and an increasingly flaccid military due to lack of “practice” abroad.

    The concerns about sneaky bombs etc. are certainly valid, but they’re valid today, and there’s no reason whatsoever to believe our engagement with the world reduces them—quite the contrary. Ditto proliferation in general: the primary limit to developing nuclear weapons is access to fissionable material. We can do little about this.

    Concerns that resonate negatively with me: people are depending on us; we have so many people employed in the military overseas; the world will go to hell without us engaging as we do; etc. Right. We made a lot of mistakes in allowing things to get this way. Nothing is helped by perpetuating it.

    • #46
  17. Joseph Eagar Member
    Joseph Eagar
    @JosephEagar

    Great Ghost of Gödel:I really am mostly talking about not subsidizing other nations’ defense, as well as not giving some bad actors’ (more of) an excuse to use us as an excuse for their own belligerence. To me, this implies being prepared to be “autarkic,” but it still feels like the wrong word when the rest of the world would be smoking ash, third-world hellholes, or smoking ash third-world hellholes.

    I think everyone agrees that wealthy nations should pay for their own defense.  But what about poor and middle income countries?  Japan, Germany, and South Korea all became wealthy under our protection, and many other nations rely on us today.

    Frankly, I think the world would plunge into global war if we pulled our troops out.  I realized this after watching the eurozone crisis for a few years: the level of ethnic vitriol, condescension and hatred in Europe is astonishing to me, and these are countries that are all democratic and either wealthy or middle income.

    How many countries are deterred from attacking their neighbors only by American power?  Sometimes I think we can’t even trust the Europeans in that regard.

    • #47
  18. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Great Ghost of Gödel: The concerns about sneaky bombs etc. are certainly valid, but they’re valid today, and there’s no reason whatsoever to believe our engagement with the world reduces them—quite the contrary. Ditto proliferation in general: the primary limit to developing nuclear weapons is access to fissionable material. We can do little about this.

    The one thing we most certainly could still do and should have done already is stop the Iranian nuclear program. We (and everyone else) are far more at risk in a world where that particular regime has the bomb. We would not be better off if the Iraqis had achieved it years ago, either.

    The closer Iran gets the closer we are to a nuclear arms race in that dangerous part of the world. And that greatly increases the opportunities for terrorist groups to get their hands on them. And American lack of involvement increases the strength of the terrorist groups who would try and sacrifices our chance of stopping them over there rather than here. (That our current clumsy involvement may have something of the same effect is irrelevant to this point.)

    I agree with the concerns you find legitimate, and I agree that there are places we should step back. But I’ll also hold to the point that we do have a moral obligation to certain vulnerable allies, and a shared interest in self-preservation with others.

    • #48
  19. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Larry3435: Most likely, the Chinese will assume hegemony over East Asia and the Pacific, and the Soviets (must we persist in pretending they are anything else?) will assume hegemony over Europe and the Middle East.  Africa and South America would devolve into client states of these two military powers.

    What if, instead of withdrawing from the entire world, we restored the Monroe Doctrine and withdrew from the Eastern Hemisphere?  Fortress America would extend to the continental Americas, our Navy would patrol the Atlantic and Pacific, and we’d still have access to the markets and raw materials of two continents.

    • #49
  20. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    We should certainly stop defending Europe, except for Britain.  Let them see how well they get along without all our NATO spending.  Bring home the military members from all European countries, and see what happens to their economies without the spending of all our military members.  I’m guessing that all the “social democracies” would soon collapse if they actually had to defend themselves on their own dime.  We should stop cooperating with all Arab nations, and any other majority-Muslim nations, knowing how Islam sees us as the Great Satan.  The money freed up could be used to support Israel as the last outpost of real democracy and freedom in that part of the world.

    • #50
  21. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Roadrunner:Don’t let cat ladies get you into fights that you can’t win.

    -Homer

    The current mess was caused by the same people who are so confident in more wild interventionism. They are also incredibly confident that the latest batch of Middle East immigrants will be good if they just have access to opportunity. This totally ignores what we know about prior terrorists. Let’s keep our navy to protect trade, let’s stay out of Syria, and let’s just say no to Muslim immigrants from anywhere.

    But, we haven’t done any thing close to resembling serious intervention in Syria, and we de-intervened in Iraq and those are the places that now host the Islamic State.

    I think the view that our interventions only make things worse has been completely destroyed by the fact that things have now gotten much worse without us being at all involved. In fact I would argue that our refusal to do anything and insistence on pulling out has precipitated these events.

    • #51
  22. James Madison Member
    James Madison
    @JamesMadison

    As for the pretense of fortress of America, nice diversion.

    anonymous seems to get it.

    To grasp foreign policy one has to begin by determining what is an existential threat, a threat to vital American interests, and a serious threat.  There are few existential threats.  The U.S. has many options to disrupt mischief and keep things in check so they do not become a threat to vital American interests.   The U.S. possesses many means to keep serious threats in check.

    The U.S. is self-sufficient, for the most part, like we were self-sufficient in 1941.  It is disconcerting how unaware people are of how powerful America was right before WWII.  The U.S. economy was 10 times larger than Japan’s.  We remain very strong and frankly could create havoc in many ways to keep things in check.

    The question was a nice hypothetical inquiry – but not very down to earth.  The proposition that there some believe there is logic to a  “duck and cover” strategy does not make sense given the many options at our disposal.

    We need to accept the Cold War has been replaced by diverse threats (China, N. Korea, Iran, Russia, Venezuela) requiring innovation to keep serous threats from evolving.  Espionage, Humint, Disruption remain viable tools – along with forward presence to permit projection of aid, propaganda, subversion, intelligence and force.

    • #52
  23. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Let us though explore the proposition at hand. What will happen if we pull out, and concede our authority and position as the great regulating hegemon of the world. Well, assuming that everyone believes us, that this is not a ploy, we will see the world start dividing back up into spheres of influence, where as now we really have one sphere of influence with some outsiders trying to push in on us. I think you will see the EU or at least certain members of it (France and Germany) all of a sudden get very serious about military spending. Japan will tare up its pacifistic constitution and begin to rearm. China will try to make vassals out of South East Asia. Russia will make vassals out of Eastern Europe. In the middle east Israel will probably end up going to war with at least one actual Arab nation, on top of their perennial fights with the Palestinians. Africa, well I don’t know much about Africa to imagine what will happen to them. South America might be far enough removed from Russia and China to not become an area of conflict, but I imagine that bad actors on that continent will try to expand their influence. Maybe the drug cartels will feel more liberated knowing that if they actually conquer a country US marines will not come and kill them, so maybe that will happen.

    continued…

    • #53
  24. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Great Ghost of Gödel:

    Leigh:

    1. This idea would work better if accompanied by an absolute foul-proof missile defense system. Our borders are not the only source of danger. The bomb shows up, inevitably, sooner or later. Because one thing that would happen in very short order — we’re too close to it as it is — is nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. And if we think retreating into Fortress America would mean we’re no longer seen as the Great Satan, we are naive.

    I take it as axiomatic that we continue to develop and deploy our SIGINT and even resurrect our HUMINT capabilities to assess and monitor these threats, and defense technologies to counter them. I’m already on record saying anyone dumb enough to attack us outright gets turned into a glass parking lot (I framed it as “three strikes and you’re out” assuming conventional weapons on their part; a nuclear attack should simply result in their annihilation in retaliation. We, of course, have the capability of doing that whether the attacker is a belligerent Iran or a belligerent USSR).

    In other words, of course the borders are not our only vector of attack. But the alternative should be ICBM technology, which we have a lot of technology and experience with.

    GGofG & Claire,

    I find GGofG’s ideas are a breath of fresh air. A real live honest isolationist damning the rest of the world to its own devices. Now that is so much more interesting than just your average whining libertarian who continues on and on about the cost of everything as if one can consult a spreadsheet and foreign policy will just fall right out.

    I’m already on record saying anyone dumb enough to attack us outright gets turned into a glass parking lot (I framed it as “three strikes and you’re out” assuming conventional weapons on their part; a nuclear attack should simply result in their annihilation in retaliation. We, of course, have the capability of doing that whether the attacker is a belligerent Iran or a belligerent USSR).

    Certainly a common sense approach. No complaints here.

    However, I think BDB has a good suggestion.

    Let Iran sink an odd tanker from time to time — let them touch one with an American flag and we sink half of their navy.

    I like it. What was that again.

    a glass parking lot

    Boy that takes me back. I made a sales call on Ford’s Glass Manufacturing facility at the old Rouge Plant. They had enough molten glass to replace 1,000,000 windshields per year. They decided to have a little fun with me and asked me to quote a thermocouple to measure temperature. Even though we had the best in the world they all would melt if used. Hah! I pulled out my infra-red temperature gun. Aim it, squeeze the trigger, and you could measure up to 5000 deg F.

    Mess with me will you.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #54
  25. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    …Resumed

    In America we will find that it is actually very easy to not give a damn. Maybe our newspapers will tell us that FARK now controls Columbia, or that China has invaded Vietnam, and that Japan just tested a nuclear weapon. Hey, the world is a bad place and we are lucky not to have anything to do with it.

    The average person will not make a connection to these thing and the fact that you can’t find fruits like oranges and strawberries year round. That everything costs more. Heck they may even be glad that all these job killing free trade agreements we had in Asia, Europe, and South America are gone, replaced by Chinese and Russian economic exclusion zones. They will be happy that their mediocre cars are now made in the US. They can’t see what they don’t have and never will have. If things are bad at home economically because China and Russia are imposing extra costs on trade by restricting sea lanes, or using their military power to force countries to favor trade with them over us, the average American will not notice. They will blame Republicans for not carrying about them, or Democrats for not taxing the rich enough.

    I think we will be content over all. We will see that the world does not end if we are not there to manage it, and we will assume that anything bad that happens was going to happen anyway.

    • #55
  26. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Valiuth: I think you will see the EU or at least certain members of it (France and Germany) all of a sudden get very serious about military spending. Japan will tare up its pacifistic constitution and begin to rearm.

    Agree with this, I think our very deliberate post-WWII strategy was to pay for the defense of Germany and Japan ourselves because we didn’t entirely trust either power to rearm, given their militaristic and nationalistic histories.  I think those tendencies are more suppressed than cured, I recently listened to Claire’s Menace in Europe: Why the Continent’s Crisis is America’s, Too and there’s a fascinating chapter on the popularity of German metal band Rammstein and what this reveals about German culture.

    In any case I think prior comments overestimate the strength of China and particularly Russia, a nation with a serious looming demographic crisis, a corrupt kleptocracy, and an economy entirely dependent on oil prices.  Russia is certainly dangerous, but if forced to defend themselves I think Germany would be up to the task.

    • #56
  27. Roadrunner Inactive
    Roadrunner
    @Roadrunner

    Valiuth: But, we haven’t done any thing close to resembling serious intervention in Syria, and we de-intervened in Iraq and those are the places that now host the Islamic State.

    I meant intervention as Tony Blair confessed.  The original invasion of Iraq required a generational occupation that was rejected by the American voter and really all Western voters.  After that ISIS had a place in the world in vacuum we created.  The second intervention was based on the idea that actors operating in Iraq are terrorists and the same actors in Syria are freedom fighters.  We foolishly funneled weapons to ISIS.  Now we find ourselves with no side to back and some kind of yearning to apply American military power.  I can’t see how that ends well.  A new balance of power will make itself in the Middle East to replace what we destroyed.  You can’t treat that as a random event that happened in our absence.  We caused it.

    • #57
  28. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Roadrunner: After that ISIS had a place in the world in vacuum we created.

    Yes but the vacuum was in Syria, ISIS was incubated in Syria and then spread to Iraq.

    I think the real mistake was our half-hearted backing of supposedly “moderate” rebels in Syria against the Assad regime.  We should have either:

    1. forcefully intervened early in Syria in favor of the rebels or
    2. taken the “realpolitik” route, held our nose, and realized the odious Assad regime was preferable to a failed state and an interminable civil war

    With Russian intervention it looks like we’re likely to end up with #2 anyway, i.e. eventually Assad will remain in power and regain control of Syria.

    • #58
  29. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    It’s probably not a good idea to allow enemies that have sworn to destroy us, or who want to destroy us but are too smart to announce it weekly, to become so powerful that they might start to believe that they could do it.

    Even if they can’t it would be costly for us to prove it to them.

    • #59
  30. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Valiuth: The average person will not make a connection to these thing and the fact that you can’t find fruits like oranges and strawberries year round. That everything costs more. Heck they may even be glad that all these job killing free trade agreements we had in Asia, Europe, and South America are gone, replaced by Chinese and Russian economic exclusion zones.

    If we went with my restored Monroe Doctrine thought experiment (see #52) we could still import fresh fruit in winter from South America, not to mention two items I couldn’t live without: coffee and chocolate!

    And American corporations could still outsource their factories to exploit cheaper labor in Latin America, so it’s not clear the price of goods would rise dramatically, it’s just that everything in Walmart would be made in Brazil rather than China.

    • #60
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.