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Thoughts on U.S. Foreign Policy in the 21st Century

Recently I re-read A Republic, Not an Empire, trying to see if it had any hints as to why Pat Buchanan's screws have come loose, foreign-policy-wise. Once again, I found myself nodding along through it with only an occasional quibble not worth mentioning, except for his goofy notion that we should annex Greenland. Do we really need a whole lot of ice and Eskimos? What for?

Since I'm on the subject, though, I might as well recapitulate his policy proposals:

I have bypassed his discussion of the Middle East, because it was written before 9/11 and is therefore completely irrelevant to the current situation. Unfortunately, Buchanan doesn't seem to understand this: he writes about Iraq as if nothing has changed since the Gulf War. What could make someone write such a sensible book and then turn out to be a lousy peacenik?

One can argue the merits of getting into the Gulf War -- but the fact remains that we have been at war with Iraq since 1991. There was a cease-fire, not a peace treaty; we left Saddam Hussein in power, let him crush the rebellions we encouraged, and sat idly by as he thumbed his nose at us ever since. This sort of behavior makes us look weak and foolish (because it is), and squashing him like a bug is the only way to rectify the situation -- and not-so-incidentally, to send the world a loud, simple message: "Don't fuck with the United States of America!"

Buchanan argues that some people are in favor of invading Iraq because it would be in Israel's interests. Even if we take at face value every factual assertion he makes, the only question is: so what? If Israel's interests happen to coincide with ours, why should we act against our own interests? It's hard to avoid the conclusion that he hates Israel more than he loves America.

As for widening the war beyond Iraq -- it's not as if we really have much choice. The situation is pretty clear, isn't it? The bastards hit us hard, so we have to hit them harder. If playing whack-a-mole with terrorists is difficult, you make it simpler by targeting the countries that support the terrorists.

I've been 110% for the Bush Doctrine since Day One. The only problem with the Bush Doctrine, as far as I can see, is that we haven't gone through with it as hard and as fast as we should be doing.

The State Department already had a list of countries that support terrorism. It seems to me that all we have to do is go down through the list -- checking it twice, just like Santa Claus -- except that instead of giving the naughty boys lumps of coal, we go and bomb the hell out of them.

It worked with Afghanistan, didn't it? And now we seem finally to be gearing up to do it to Iraq. Better late than never. But wait -- Paddy-boy is bleating about what we're going to do with Iraq after we bomb the hell out of it.

What gives? After Pearl Harbor, we said "Beat the Japs!" We didn't sit around worrying about what we'd do with the Japs after we beat them. One problem at a time.

Now, some people are saying we can reconstruct the Arabs, and turn them into nice little democratic boys and girls, just as we did the Japanese and Germans after World War Two. I'm skeptical, but it's worth a try. And if we can't -- so what? So we can't democratize the Arabs. What we can do, is go and bomb the hell out of them until they stop giving us trouble: either because we put the fear of Uncle Sam into them, or because they're all dead. I don't particularly care which. Maybe they care. Well, it's their call.

Anyway, right now it's high time to finish our unfinished business with Saddam Hussein and all his little Saddamites. So, what should we do with his pygmy version of the Evil Empire? Just the same as with the other one: let the thing fall apart.

Iraq is not a nation, and therefore has no claim to national sovereignty. "Iraq" is nothing but some lines drawn on the map -- drawn by the British empire, when Britain and France carved up the Turkish empire. Those lines include two nationalities (Arabs and Kurds) and two religious groups (Sunnites and Shiites) -- and they all hate each other. So, why not let each group have its own little country?

And in general, we should welcome movements to split up big countries into little ones. From the moral point of view, national self-determination is a principle as American as the Fourth of July; and from the practical point of view, splitting up foreign countries makes us relatively bigger, and therefore stronger, and therefore safer. And when those countries are our enemies, we should not only welcome separatist movements, but actively foster them as allies. To reject this policy in the name of "national sovereignty" is not only absurd, but self-sacrificial: it puts the notional sovereignty of Iraq (or the former USSR, which Bush I was so keen to preserve intact) ahead our own national interests.

2003 by Karl Jahn