The Decline Of Influence

Submitted by James E Miller of Mises Canada,

The world is seemingly aflame in chaos right now. The Israeli military has invaded the Gaza strip after the breaking of an 18-month cease-fire agreement. Which side broke the accord is still an open question. A commercial airliner was shot down over Ukrainian airspace. Western media and politicians assume the indefensible act of violence was committed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in an effort to conquer the contiguous area. In Iran, the government is ostensibly pursuing nuclear arms, much to the consternation of globalist tinkerers. Next door, in the Devil’s playground of Iraq, radical Islamists are causing massive amounts of destruction, including destroying historic churches from the apostolic times.

All of this disorder is the fault of waning American prestige according to Robert Fulford. In his latest column for the National Post, Fulford laments the indifference on display by President Barack Obama as violence erupts in planet’s most dangerous corner. He writes that Washington is no longer viewed as a legitimate threat by much of the world. Under the Obama presidency, he attests, “U.S. policy has become erratic and half-hearted, subject to arbitrary change without notice.” Fulford notes the lack of a strong response to the Syrian civil war as just one example where America backed away from the limelight. If the U.S. doesn’t soon take back its leadership role on the global stage, the “future looks increasingly dire.”

Fulford is far from alone in his fault-finding. Journalists from both political camps have been critical of the President of late. Arch neoconservative Charles Krauthammer called Obama’s comments on the downed Malaysia Airlines jetliner “passive” and demonstrative of a governing philosophy of disinterest. James Kirchick – the token leftist warmonger who takes great pleasure in American might displayed abroad – demanded it’s finally time for “the West to stand up to Putin” starting with U.S.-backing of the Ukrainian military.

All of these critics assume that America is capable of flipping a switch and rearranging the world’s affairs to meet its own standards. They don’t recognize the path the U.S. imperial state is on is slowly coming apart. It’s no longer the 1950s. The ceiling on Washington’s budget is getting closer by the day. The national debt is $17 trillion and counting; an unfathomable number that is impossible to maintain in perpetuity. The domestic economy is still sluggish from the 2008 market crash. The time of America’s dominance may soon be coming to an end. And the truth has yet to hit the people employed in the business of imperium.

The talking heads who opine on Sunday morning talk shows are still stuck in Cold War-mode. They refuse to face the truth about foreign policy: that there are always too many functioning  gears for good and evil to be readily apparent; and that truth and fiction often trade places depending on one’s preconceived agendas. The so-called experts forget the advice of realist Walter Lippmann who noted that rational foreign policy “consists in bringing into balance, with a comfortable surplus of power in reserve, a nation’s commitments and the nation’s power.”

More importantly, the media chattering class doesn’t seem to realize the conflicts taking place today are not the result of warring factions. The people of Iran, Ukraine, Israel, Palestine, Russia, and every other country under the influence of Western power didn’t originate their gripes from out of thin air. The incessant meddling of governments, specifically Washington, have fomented the fights we see today. Many are the direct, or indirect, result of overanxious global planning with scant knowledge of possible unintended consequences. Should the Obama Administration heed the complaints of interventionists longing for action, the result could be more death, more violence, and less peace.

The clashes going on currently have the mark of U.S. government meddling all over them. In Ukraine, the conflict between nationalists and separatists sympathetic to Russia is an immediate consequence of the overthrowing of President Viktor Yanukovych. The coup was surreptitiously supported by Washington and its sock puppet batch of non-government organizations. The annexation of Crimea and ongoing violence in the area can be traced back to Western agitation of Russia.

Iraq is more of the same calamity. Former dictator Saddam Hussein was no angel, but under his rule, radical Islamic elements were kept largely at bay. His toppling by U.S. forces has left the birthplace of civilization anything but civilized. The country, which was arbitrarily formed by European colonial powers following World War I, is slowly lurching toward a three-way split along ethnic and religious lines.  Terrorists with allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are wreaking havoc across the country, a spillover effect of embattled nations such as Libya. The latter battlefield is, of course, the result of Western intervention financed primarily by the U.S. government.

The experiment where America takes up where the British Empire left off appears to be finally coming to an end. It was never designed to work in permanence. The contradictions in intervention are not bringing tranquility or even supremacy. The control freaks beside the Potomac have allowed hubris to take hold. Their grip on other countries is loosening due to the very disarray they created. The irony is about this new reality is the outcome was easy to predict. Arrogance over one’s own intelligence is always a human failing. It was never possible for a cabal of political actors to guide the world’s affairs smoothly. As Friedrich Hayek wrote, “[N]o human mind can comprehend all the knowledge which guides the actions of society.”

If I had to take a guess at what drives the yearning for worldwide dominance, I would say it’s ideology. Everyone has their own, but the fervor at which interventionists opine is more passionate than most. They don’t yearn for just control, but seek a complete transformation of other peoples and cultures so that a uniform attitude is adopted by the world’s populace. Much of the propagating is done under the guise of human rights. With everyone kowtowing to the same lies of democratic celebration, liberty is dissolved.

From Alexander the Great to British rule, history, if it has a lesson, teaches us that no group of men can conquer the world. It’s simply too big, too vast, and too complex. Humanity is far too restless to sit and take orders from dictators halfway across the globe. Likewise, the outcome of intervention does not exist in a vacuum. It often has far-reaching effects that can’t be known in advance. Those decrying the decline of American power on the global scene have yet to learn these valuable lessons.

The mindset that wishes one country to have an iron-grip on world affairs is horribly naïve. Empires are not free. Washington’s credit card can’t be charged to infinity. The need for prudence is growing larger by the day. For the sake of average Americans, and peaceful citizens across the world, let’s hope it gets here sooner than later.


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