Friday, April 10, 2009

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Peace Through Strength

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

Like many neighborhoods growing up, ours had a bully. Whenever he appeared, a fight most assuredly followed. One day I had had enough and decided to stand up to him. I said, “Look, if we're going to fight, at least let’s fight fair.” He then hit me with the proverbial sucker-punch and a fight ensued. I lost.

My dad taught me to play, and if provoked, fight by the rules. Unfortunately when others don’t, the outcome can be less than hoped for. The lesson learned: Know thy enemy, hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Barack Obama has returned from his first trip abroad. Some things went well, others not. The European socialists showered him with adulation, as one might expect from a continent that has been moving further and further to the left; a direction they hope Obama can steer us. It’s clear they like him personally. Unfortunately, liking him doesn't translate into liking us.

Obama sought from the Europeans a more active roll in Afghanistan, the emerging front in what used to be known as the War on Terror. Additionally, he asked our European allies to commit to a more aggressive economic stimulus program. He got neither.

Obama addressed other topics of concern, including nuclear proliferation, especially in North Korea and Iran. He seeks improved relations with Russia and China, perhaps still military adversaries. He is an advocate for arms control, especially nuclear. Obama is hoping that reductions first and then the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons would reduce the tensions that exist today among nuclear and non-nuclear adversaries alike.

Ronald Reagan also dreamed of a no-nukes world. But Reagan recognized that as noble and worthy a vision that is, it’s a theory that can’t be put into practical application without putting at risk national security and sovereignty. A president’s primary responsibility is to keep America safe. Reagan believed the best way to do that was to achieve “peace through strength.” It worked. He was the architect for ending a Cold War that had dominated international relations for 44 years.

Idealistically, the fact the U. S. or any nation needs to maintain a nuclear arsenal is regrettable. The nuclear devastation wreaked upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki in southern Japan in the closing days of World War II was devastating. President Truman used this “weapon of mass destruction” to bring to an end a long and horrific conflict. Many lives were spared-perhaps a million casualties had a land invasion been the only option to end the war.

Practically speaking however, our nuclear arsenal has acted not only as a deterrent to those nations who wish to do us harm, but as an umbrella for our allies. Europe, Japan and our other allies have relied on our protective shield for decades. Yet, when Obama asked the Europeans to help us keep them safe by joining with us in fighting terrorists in Afghanistan, they not so politely declined. With the exception of Great Britain, and a former Soviet bloc nation or two, the only thing we can rely on lately from our European “allies” is an occasional scolding.

Obama told those in Europe that America has a moral responsibility to act. Moral is defined as involving right or wrong as to how individual people should behave.

There are those in the world who understand what moral responsibility is and seek to embrace it. With those nations we can engage in honest and open dialogue to try to reach a mutually satisfactory understanding. With others, a treaty of any kind with the west means nothing. Their idea of moral responsibility is different than ours: suicide bombings, beheadings, torturing and maiming women, children and other innocent civilians.

Rogue nations like North Korea and Iran who either have, or are on the brink of developing nuclear warheads, aren't exactly the type of regimes the U. S. can count upon to uphold a treaty of any kind. The Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s zeal for the obliteration of Israel precludes him ever being trusted, regardless of his “promises.” His hatred for Israel is galvanized so deeply into his soul, that he would risk the total destruction of Iran as a trade-off for destroying his Jewish neighbor.

North Korea is equally problematic. Kim Jong il has turned his nose up in the air to any who have tried to stop his nuclear ambitions. The launch of a missile last week, in spite of its failure, took place in the face of the U. S. and others.

Whether its terrorists, Iran, North Korea or any other adversary, the only certainty is that they respect strength. To date, they have shown no interest in being world partners through diplomacy. There is little reason to believe that will change.

Europe was caught with her pants down in the late 1930s, as was America at Pearl Harbor in 1941. As recently as 9-11, we learned again what happens when we errantly believe all of us play by the same set of rules.

Mr. President: We all want to live in peace. But most importantly, we wish to remain free. To insure that, it will require more than spineless diplomacy. When it comes to foreign policy, you would do well to remember Teddy Roosevelt’s words of wisdom: “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.”

This article is a good example of how close conservatives and libertarians are on most issues of foreign affairs. I think the only difference comes down to the outcome worked for after we have gone to war. If a war is necessary, and we have to go in (like we did preemptively in Iraq), libertarians think we should leave Democracy behind. That changes how we handle the aftermath of war. However both libertarians and conservatives understand the real world enough to realize, we better be strong in this nuclear age because losing any war will be a disaster.

Clinton gutted our Navy, reducing our major ships from 600 down to 300. Bush fought a war, but never really focused on keeping us strong by building up our military capacity to fight anything but the insurgency wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He at least maintained it though.

Now, under Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is abandoning the new generation aircraft that are needed to win the first stage in future high tech wars. China is launched on a massive military buildup, and Russia is doing the same. We are cutting back to "save money" for Obama's domestic agenda.

How comfortable do you feel with a pacifist President who displays a naive belief in diplomacy leading our nation at this dangerous time?


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