The reason US foreign policy has been such a mess over the last two decades (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya) is that we failed to practice restraint. Now the same people want us to shoot down Russian planes and collapse the Russian economy. Think before you act!— David Sacks (@DavidSacks) March 5, 2022
I don’t see how I am in a tough spot.
“National populists—the same people who are dogmatic about protecting national borders—are in a tough spot right now, thanks to Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression on Ukraine.
The same ultra-nationalists passionate about building a wall on the U.S.’ southern border, or obliterating the EU and returning to hard borders among European nation states—seemed utterly unconcerned about Ukraine’s borders during the run-up to war. These folks are also known for the fetishization of masculinity and toughness, and yet they suddenly became introspective, nuanced, and dovish in their excuses for Putin’s invasion of a sovereign nation. …”
I’ve been saying the same thing about our foreign policy for over 20 years now through all the interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and now Ukraine. It is why I hated George W. Bush and voted for Ron Paul and Donald Trump. I was thrilled when Trump floated getting out of NATO.
Back in the early 2000s, I made up my mind about this issue when George W. Bush and the circle of neocons around him plunged us into the Iraq War. We were told that Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator who was part of an “Axis of Evil” that was hellbent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Saddam was a genocidal madman like Slobodan Milosevic. In those days, I was reading Pat Buchanan, Lew Rockwell, Sam Francis, Justin Raimondo at Antiwar.com and their views on the subject became my views.
There has always been a nationalist and populist foreign policy tradition in the United States that stretches back through Charles Lindbergh and the America First Committee through William Jennings Bryan and back to the days of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. There have always been Americans who wanted to avoid foreign entanglements and wars in Eurasia. This was the consensus in America until Teddy Roosevelt’s time. Seen in this light, the Philippines, Iraq and Ukraine are none of our business.
We have never supported NATO or its expansion to Russia’s borders or the post-World War II “rules-based international order” or staying in Afghanistan for twenty years to protect women’s rights or building a “Great Society” on the Mekong or entering World War I to “make the world safe for democracy” or trying to transform Iraq into a liberal democracy or any of these other foolish liberal crusades.
In our ideal world, we would withdraw from NATO and all entangling alliances that we have with Eurasia in Europe and the Pacific. We would withdraw from all globalist institutions. We would quit trying to rule the world and dominate and micromanage foreign countries and forcing them to be like us. We would be content to mind our own business for once in North America and the Eastern Pacific. Instead of expanding the Pentagon’s budget to over a trillion dollars and exhausting ourselves trying to fight a Second Cold War, we would radically cut the Pentagon’s budget and abolish the so-called “intelligence community.”
What we want is so simple and easy to understand that even Matt Lewis should be able to wrap his mind around it. We want peace and prosperity and economic development at home and good foreign relations with the rest of the world and a demilitarized country with strong constitutional protections of civil liberties. We don’t want to be a global empire with a totalitarian surveillance state and a bloated military. We don’t want to be anything like the old British Empire refighting the Crimean War.
If this is absolutely impossible and pie in the sky wishful thinking, then at the very least the current Empire should be content and not forever expanding into places like Ukraine where nothing but catastrophe awaits us. There is no good outcome that comes from expanding the Empire into Ukraine.
“Here are a few questions that are now hard to escape:
If one believes national borders are sacrosanct, why not respect Ukraine’s?
If the answer is that one solely cares about Making America Great Again, then why all the interest in boosting the European far right, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, India’s Narendra Modi, and even the right-wing ultranationalists of Israel? …”
It is tragic what is happening in Ukraine, but it is not our problem. Ukraine is not a vital interest of the United States and pretending that it is imperils our own security by aggravating tensions with Russia. This also imperils Ukraine’s security. Obviously, we’re not running our foreign policy because would have preferred to dismantle NATO rather than expanding it right up to Russia’s front porch.
In terms of foreign policy, Making America Great Again has always meant to us avoiding catastrophic wars of choice based on inflated moralizing rhetoric like Iraq and focusing on long neglected domestic priorities. We can also admire how Viktor Orbán has secured his own borders and kept out George Soros without simultaneously believing that we should be in NATO or making Hungary a satellite.
“If one hates and fears foreign “dictators” (see their attacks on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau), why all the love for Putin? …”
Russia has always been an autocratic multicultural empire throughout its entire history and we have managed to coexist with it. Canada, however, shares the longest border in the world with us and by definition what goes on there is a vital interest of the United States. Also, Canada’s shocking turn toward totalitarianism is a radical departure from its Anglo traditions whereas Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not. Ukraine has been a part of Russia throughout all of American history until the 1990s.
“And if one exalts rugged manliness, has there ever been a better example of that than the courage being exhibited by Ukraine? …”
Is it wise for us to risk World War III with Russia to intervene in Ukraine? No, we can admire the Ukrainians who are defending their country without conflating our interests with their interests.
“In short, Putin’s invasion has exposed the fact that America’s ultra-nationalist populism isn’t just hypocritical, it’s incoherent. …”
There isn’t anything incoherent about our worldview.
Fundamentally, we don’t want to be involved in distant conflicts in Eurasia whether it is in Vietnam or Afghanistan or Iraq or Syria or now Ukraine. We have no desire to dominate Eurasia. This isn’t our ambition.
“What these natcons do seem to have in common is a hellbent determination upend the post-World War II rules-based liberal order. With all of their being, they oppose a worldview that includes an affinity for alliances with freedom-loving nations, as well as other maxims such as “appeasing a strongman is like feeding a crocodile, and hoping he will eat you last.” …”
Does expanding NATO to include Ukraine make us more or less secure? We would argue that it has made us less secure. The current situation is proof of it too. Every American is also now paying for it on a daily basis. How long can this continue before our economy plunges into recession?
National Populism isn’t mindless jingoism like Hannity bellowing about evil dictators circa 2003 or morons stuffing their faces with Freedom Fries and pouring out French wine. If anything is true, it was a reaction against that.