Foreign Policy

The Forgotten Men & Women of America


In 1883, William Graham Sumner published an essay titled “The Forgotten Man” (originally titled “On the Case of a Certain Man Who Is Never Thought Of” – not quite as catchy) which is as relevant today as it was when it was written. The essay is a great exposition of the laissez-faire understanding and approach to social problems and articulates what I believe many on the libertarian right and within the Tea Party believe today. From a Catholic point of view, there is much I find agreeable within it, though there are certain tangents, unnecessary to the main argument, that I would take issue with.

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We Apologize For Breathing

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Hattip to AllahPundit at Hot Air.  Your tax dollars at work.  The State Department is paying for the above video to run in Pakistan.  I find it breathtaking in its complete incomprehension.  The foolish anti-Mohammed video is merely a pretext for the Jihadists to carry on their war with us.  Obama and Clinton could apologize from now until Doomsday and it would have no impact, except to convince watching muslims that the United States leadership is weak and confused which is a completely accurate assessment of the Obama administration abroad. Continue reading

Ronald Reagan on Foreign Policy

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We in America have learned bitter lessons from two world wars: It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We’ve learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.

Ronald Reagan

Ditto.

Has the U.S. Government Betrayed Chen Guangcheng?

Matthew Archbold as well as the folks at Hot Air have done a fantastic job covering the story of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng.  Matt discussed this story a few days ago.

Chen Guancheng is a blind human rights activist who has protested his country’s forced abortions and sterilizations. After months of beatings at the hands of his guards, Chen pretended to be sick and laid up in bed. He and his wife studied the movements of the guards, according to ABC News. In the middle of the night, Guancheng slipped past nearly 100 guards stationed around his home and escaped into the night.

Matt detailed the U.S. government’s less than enthusiastic embrace of Chen, and today we have learned more troubling details that indicate that the administration has betrayed Chen.  Ed Morrissey relays this:

Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng says a U.S. official told him that Chinese authorities threatened to beat his wife to death had be not left the American Embassy.

Speaking by phone from his hospital room in Beijing on Wednesday night, a shaken Chen told The Associated Press that U.S. officials relayed the threat from the Chinese side.

Chen, who fled to the embassy six day ago, left under an agreement in which he would receive medical care, be reunited with his family and allowed to attend university in a safe place. He says he now fears for his safety and wants to leave.

Chen says that the U.S. government lied to him.

An American official denied that account. The official said Mr. Chen was told that his wife, Yuan Weijing, who had been brought to Beijing by the Chinese authorities while Mr. Chen was in the American Embassy, would not be allowed to remain in the capital unless Mr. Chen left the embassy to see her. She would be sent back to Mr. Chen’s home village in Shandong, where no one could guarantee her safety.

“At no time did any U.S. official speak to Chen about physical or legal threats to his wife and children. Nor did Chinese officials make any such threats to us,” Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokesperson, said in an e-mailed statement. “U.S. interlocutors did make clear that if Chen elected to stay in the Embassy, Chinese officials had indicated to us that his family would be returned to Shandong, and they would lose their opportunity to negotiate for reunification.”…

“At no point during his time in the Embassy did Chen ever request political asylum in the U.S.,” Ms. Nuland said. “At every opportunity, he expressed his desire to stay in China, reunify with his family, continue his education and work for reform in his country. All our diplomacy was directed at putting him in the best possible position to achieve his objectives.”

As Allahpundit says, this is a distinction without a difference.  One way or the other Chen was led to believe that his wife’s life was in danger, or at the very least was threatened with physical harm.  Either way, Chen was clearly upset.

“The embassy kept lobbying me to leave and promised to have people stay with me at the hospital,” he said. “But this afternoon, as soon as I checked into the hospital room, I noticed they were all gone.”

He said he was “very disappointed” in the U.S. government and felt “a little” that he had been lied to by the embassy.

At the hospital, where he was reunited with his family, he said he learned that his wife had been badly treated after his escape.

“She was tied to a chair by police for two days,” he said. “Then they carried thick sticks to our house, threatening to beat her to death. Now they have moved into the house. They eat at our table and use our stuff. Our house is teeming with security — on the roof and in the yard. They installed seven surveillance cameras inside the house and built electric fences around the yard.”

At this point it’s impossible to determine exactly what has happened, and whether or not the State Department and the Obama administration sold Chen out just to remain in China’s good graces.  One would like to think the best of this president and assume that he would not betray a heroic dissident in order to keep an evil,authoritarian government happy.  One would also have to be hopelessly naive to blindly make such an assumption.

Ron Paul’s Foreign Policy: Golden Rule or Relativism?

If you move about those regions of the internets in which righteous display their moral superiority by posting sixty second video clips showing just how bad their opponents are, you have probably seen headlines lately along the lines of “Christians Boo Jesus” or “Republicans Mock Golden Rule”. Of course, one hardly needs to watch the clip, because in the dualism that is politicization, everyone already knows that they’re right and their opponents are wrong. But after the fifth or sixth iteration, I had to go ahead watch Ron Paul (who else) present his Golden-Rule based foreign policy to boos. Here’s the clip in question:

Or if, like me, you tend not to watch posted videos, here’s the money quote:

“My point is, that if another country does to us what we do to others, we aren’t going to like it very much. So I would say maybe we ought to consider a golden rule in foreign policy. We endlessly bomb these other countries and then we wonder why they get upset with us?”

Now, this sounds superficially high minded, and some people who really are high minded seem lured by it. Kyle, who has an genuine and expansive desire to understand “the other” has his dander up and says: Continue reading

No Strongman for Honduras

Tomorrow will mark one month since Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was roused from his bed by members of the military and escorted, in his pajamas, to a plane heading out of the country. Later that same day, June 28th, the Honduran congress elected Roberto Micheletti as interim president, with a term to expire on January 27th, 2010 — the date on which Zelaya’s term would otherwise have ended.

Since then, things have held in a state of tense limbo. No other country has recognized Micheletti as the legitimate president, and Zelaya is now camped out on the Honduras/Nicaragua boarder pushing for his return. Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, a backer of Zelaya, has darkly threatened consequences if he thinks Venezuelans in Honduras might be threatened, but to date no outside power has attempted to force the Honduran military to stand down.

However, the situation is more complicated than a simple coup. This in depth article in the weekend’s WSJ on the lead up to Zelaya’s ouster is a pretty good primer on the subject. The military removed Zelaya in response to orders from the Honduran Supreme Court for the military to arrest Zelaya for disobeying the constitution. Zelaya was attempting to push through a ballot referendum to change the constitution — his primary object according to most Honduran authorities and observers being to remove the constitutional provision which limits each president to only one term in office. In this, he was following the example of other Latin American presidents who have sought to remove the constitutional provisions in their countries that were designed to keep one man from maintaining power indefinitely. Continue reading

Book Review: Empires of Trust (Part II)

[Empires of Trust, review Part I]

Review of: Empires of Trust: How Rome Built–and America Is Building–a New World

My apologies for taking so long to get back with a second part to this review. In the first installment, I covered the history of Rome’s early expansion, and how its commitment to establishing a safe horizon of allies, and defending those allies against any aggression, led the city of Rome to effectively rule all of Italy. From southern Italy, Rome was drawn into Sicily, which in turn made it a threat to Carthage and drew those two superpowers of the third century BC into a series of wars that would end with the total destruction of Carthage as a world power.

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Free Iran

In the proud tradition of news photos of beautiful women protesting against political oppression, the Boston Globe provides a series of photos of the protests over Iran’s apparently rigged presidential election, but the first is this one:

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(In all seriousness, this is some of the best photo journalism I’ve seen in a long time, go check it out.)

There’s some reasonable dispute as to whether it would help or hurt the protestors for the Obama Administration to break silence on the issue and speak in support of the protestors. Given Iran’s history and the fierce national pride across the political spectrum, if Obama openly supported the protestors it might give Ahmadinejad the ability to paint Mousavi’s supporters as stooges of the US. However, the US and the rest of the world should make it clear that a violent crackdown ala Tiananmen Square would be absolutely unacceptable.

Book Review: Empires of Trust (Part I)

It may seem like overkill to write a multi-part book review, but historian Thomas F. Madden’s new Empires of Trust: How Rome Built–and America Is Building–a New World explores a thesis I’ve been interested in for some time, which has significant implications for our country’s foreign policy and the wider question of what our country is and what its place in the world ought to be.

The US has been often accused, of late, of being an empire. Madden effectively accepts that this is the case, but argues that this is not necessarily a bad thing at all. Among his first projects is to lay out three different types of empire: empires of conquest, empires of commerce, and empires of trust.

An empire of conquest is one spread by military power, in which the conquering power rules over and extracts tribute from the conquered. Classic examples would include the empires of the Assyrians, Persians, Mongols, Turks, Alexander’s Hellenistic empire, Napoleon’s empire and to an extent the Third Reich, Imperial Japan and Soviet Union. Empires of conquest are spread by war, and conquered territory is ruled either by local puppet rulers or by a transplanted military elite from the conquering power.

An empire of commerce is interested only in securing enough of a political foothold in its dominions to carry on trade, and is less concerned over political control or tribute. Examples would include the British and Dutch empires; in the ancient world the Pheonicians and Athenians; and later, medieval Venice. Empires of conquest are typified by a network of far-flung colonies directly controlled by the home country, at locations which are strategic for exploiting natural resources or trading with regional powers. They are less focused on conquering large swathes of territority than with controlling enough of a foothold (and enforcing enough stability in the surrounding area) to carry on their commerce.

The book, however, is primarily concerned with a third type of empire, the empire of trust, of which Madden gives only two examples: Rome and the United States. The term “empire of trust” itself requires some unpacking.

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