Make America Powerful, Because She Has to Be

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Honoring Those Lost on Memorial Day Raises Question

Make the realization, a powerful America is a great thing. It would be mutually beneficial and pivotal for the community of nations to resurrect the principles of political realism and unilaterally agree that American power is not as frightening as its absence would be. No one has guaranteed freedoms, prosperity, and opportunity to attain wealth or social status than a citizen of the United States of America. Having said that, after a rather emotional Memorial Day one cannot help to avoid a rather unpleasant, yet important question: “Why does the United States of America keep sending young men and women to die for someone else’s causes?”

In his inaugural speech in 1961, President JFK promised to defend by any means necessary the values and fundamentals of every democratic society by saying, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” Fifty years later Barack Obama’s administration reneged on this promise and plunged the world from relatively stable order to chaos. America and her allies will not forget easily how Barack Obama structured his foreign policy doctrine on soft diplomacy by engaging in a protracted apology tour and projecting weakness.

No matter who calls or where the call comes from.

Perhaps by bolstering coalition building rather than de facto unilateral leadership Obama pursued to re-brand America from the world police to a global nanny. Although such seemingly noble foreign policy strategy brought President Obama the Nobel peace prize, it isolated US allies and created a dangerous power vacuum. This, hitherto, had been filled with American power – but now attracted other not-so-stable superpowers (Russia & China) and rogue states such as Iran as well as wicked so called “JV squads” ideologies like ISIS. Eventually even Obama administration’s noble intentions could not escape the reality of global affairs. He subsequently had to restart order under American leadership. The question is why?

World Affairs are Based on Anarchy

The answer is simultaneously simple and complex. The United States of America fights wars and conducts active foreign policy because she must. Isolationist libertarians and naive liberals both might call such reasoning a convenient excuse for aggressive neo-conservatism. On the other hand, let us study this statement through the lenses of political science and theories of international relations. Whether we examine such an axiom with ancient perspectives from Thucydides, Hobbes and Cardinal Richelieu or via more contemporary angle from Morgenthau, Waltz, Kissinger and Brzezinski, they all concluded that international relations is an anarchic battle for survival between states in the absence of a world government.

In his seminal – and perhaps the most important work in the field of contemporary realist international relations – Kenneth Waltz argues that due to the anarchic systemic structure of the world, leaders of powerful nations are forced to act in certain way. Perhaps most of the readers came to ponder this predicament through eight seasons of Game of Thrones. Even there, where our noble heroes, despite of best intentions and causes, turned out to be merely a repetition of the previous order.

Survival of the Most Powerful

For a powerful state to survive, it must continuously expand and project its power against rivaling states. Since there isn’t a unilateral world government to enforce universal rules and restrictions, such a formidable task falls on the shoulders of the most powerful super-state or an empire. Thus, unlike political idealism or liberalism, political realism acknowledges the world system as it is instead how it ought to be; strong do what they can and weak endure what they must.

We and the world are lucky to have strong American power establishing some sort of standards because the alternatives are rather depressing. Barack Obama infamously said during a UN speech that “No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed”. By the same token, demanding something to be done without designating who should act to make things happen is a serious sign of intellectual myopia and wishful thinking.

Make a Choice – America or Other Model

Is American power and involvement in global affairs moral and just? International relations theorist Hans Morgenthau revealed an inconvenient fact for those who dream about perpetual world peace under a kumbaya-like collaboration: Power and morality have nothing in common because liberty and personal freedoms emerge exclusively through power and security. Justice depends exclusively on one’s power to enforce it.

In addition, if America does not establish and maintain justice in a chaotic world, who would? Thus far the American model of international justice has created order out of chaos (ordo ab chao): Liberating individuals from tyranny and fostering prosperity in every corner of the world. The majority of the world would be abhorred to live under the other options which include Chinese communism, Russian dictatorship, European Union’s disintegrated diversity, United Nation’s deep corruption, or Sharia law under ISIS. Clearly the world community benefits from American sense of universal justice.

Equilibrium is Due to Respect

After WWII a new world order emerged in which America established the rules of the game. At that time, most of the world accepted them. In essence global affairs were in an equilibrium due to respect and small dose of fear towards the power that maintained justice. Both American friends and foes thought carefully on their choices and behaviors because actions resulted in inescapable consequences. Therefore, leaders enforced the equilibrium.

Under President Obama any hint of global respect towards American power vanished. Rogue leaders ignored previously established rules that American hegemony had created. Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and ISIS had forgotten their place in world order. Obama’s idealistic vision of a world community merely encouraged, not deterred these leaders to act and challenge Pax Americana. Even when such questionable Republicans as Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin publicly predicted America’s power to decline under Obama, they were mocked and ridiculed. Who is laughing now?

Make the World a Safer Place With a Powerful US Military

Perhaps former President Obama had grown tired of rest of the world’s ingratitude and by design withdrew America from geopolitically important theaters. Only by doing that would the rest of the world understand the importance of American diplomacy and power. Whether the leader is JFK, Barack Obama or Donald J. Trump, Pax Americana is by no means perfect. Conversely, the alternatives should all shock us to our core. This is why the United States of America keeps answering to the call to fight for liberty. No matter who calls or where the call comes from.

Photo by Jim Plante/ Pixabay

Author Profile

Henri Erti
Henri Erti
Henri Erti is a writer for NRN. Born in former USSR Estonia, he escaped communism to neighboring Finland where he learned first hand about the atrophying effects of socialism. Erti studied international business in Brevard College (NC) and completed graduate studies in international political economy at Dubrovnik International University (Croatia).