Darfur v. Zimbabwe: Is U.S. Foreign Policy Just An Elite Plaything?
Race; Posted on: 2008-05-19 16:39:35 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
War has gotten too expensive to be profitable
By Steve Sailer
In American politics, foreign affairs is considered to be a more prestigious calling than the logrolling grubbiness of domestic politics.
Yet it's becoming less and less clear what America actually gets out of the immensely complicated foreign policy devised by our foreign affairs mavens.
Strange as it may seem to readers of the Washington Post, there are countries that essentially have no foreign policy—such as Switzerland, which has espoused strict neutrality for the last two centuries, and Finland, which was forced to delegate its foreign policy to the Soviet Union from 1945-1989—and yet are famously pleasant places to live.
The basics of a sustainable, sensible foreign policy are simple—1) Don't invade anybody; and 2) don't let anybody invade you.
And that's not very hard to accomplish these days, because war has gotten too expensive to be profitable. Sure, in the age of Metternich, foreign entanglements were essential for any country in danger of being overrun. Back then, most of the asset value of a conquest was in the farmland, which war couldn't damage. But now, most assets are buildings, equipment, or human capital. These are terribly vulnerable to the destructiveness of modern weaponry.
So, since invading other countries is seldom profitable nowadays, humanity is losing interest in it. The portion of the rest of the world's Gross Domestic Product spent on the military has dropped to only about one and a half percent. America, which spends about four percent of its GDP on the Pentagon, now accounts for almost half of the entire world's outlay on the military.
Foreign policy is becoming a luxury good indulged in by countries during times of prosperity, such as oil-rich Venezuela and Russia following the rise in oil prices earlier in this decade. Hugo Chavez has had a grand time giving away his country oil earnings to his allies in Cuba, Colombia, and elsewhere. But how his profligacy has benefited the Venezuelan national interest is not obvious.
Likewise, the suspicion is growing that, two decades after victory in the Cold War, American foreign policy is becoming an extremely expensive hobby for various cliques of elites, who vastly overstate the benefits that any particular foreign policy (other than a negative policy of "Stop doing stupid stuff") can bring to Americans.
The various foreign policy hobbyist factions can be loosely categorized as:
What Dwight Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex.
Lobbyists, flacks, and intellectuals on the payroll, directly or indirectly, of foreign interests.
Ethnic lobbies, such as Cubans, Armenians, and Jews.
War Enthusiasts. These are guys who should be spending their energies on what successful hypercompetitive men normally do across this great land of ours: bribe star high school football players to sign with Old State U. Yet, because the most influential Enthusiasts typically went to colleges with weak sports programs, such as the Ivy League or the military academies, they instead funnel their enormous competitive urges into playing the Game of Nations as if the United States of America was their alma mater’s team, even when there is very little national interest at stake. Historians may someday attribute much of America's hyperactive 21st Century foreign policy to the lack of first-rate college football teams in New York City and Washington D.C. to soak up the aggressive urges of the rich and influential.
The Stuff White People Like set, who demonstrate their moral superiority by demanding that something be done about Tibet, Burma, and a handful of other fashionable topics. They somehow know with complete certainty who are the good guys and who are the bad guys in obscure territories on the other side of the globe. Of course, after they succeed in driving out the bad guys and the good guys inevitably begin to act like the bad guys they replaced, the Stuff White People Like people lose interest and move on to the next fad.
John McCain is clearly a War Enthusiast. Over the last 15 years, he’s seldom met a war he didn’t like. He wistfully dreams of new wars to come … if only the American people could somehow prove worthy of them.
However, as with so much about him, it’s unclear where Barack Obama stands. Although he’s often extolled by his supporters as the international man par excellence, his entire career trajectory up through his early forties was centripetal, as he tried to remold himself from an exotic in to a “race man” on the parochial South Side of Chicago.
The only foreign countries Obama has shown much interest in are Kenya—where his father was born and where his friend Raila Odinga, Luo warlord and new Prime Minister, claims (dubiously) that Obama is his first cousin—and Indonesia, where Obama spent four years as a small child. (Obama admits in The Audacity of Hope that he’s largely lost touch with Indonesia.)
The common denominator linking Kenya and Indonesia is that both were nominally capitalist allies of America during the Cold War—much to the dismay of Obama’s leftist parents. Obama’s white mother despised the Texas oilmen with whom her Indonesian second husband, Lolo, socialized as part of his job with the government oil company. When he asked her to attend a business dinner with her fellow Americans to help his career, she hissed: "They are not my people."
Similarly, Obama’s economist father pushed socialism for Kenya, earning the ire of Kenya’s biggest “Big Man”, Jomo Kenyatta. Kenyatta’s Kikuyu tribe sided with the U.S. in the Cold War, so the Luo, their rival tribe, to which Obama’s father belonged, were anti-American.
Has Obama’s disdain for America’s Cold War foreign policy made him skeptical about foreign policy in general? Or does he feel we just needed a more left wing foreign policy? Although Obama is largely running on his autobiography, his Dreams from My Father, nobody seems to have asked him these obvious questions about the influence of his leftist parents.
It would be nice to find out before the election.
Obama has, however, done a nimble job of exciting the Stuff White People Like coterie—by repeatedly acting as if he cares about Darfur, a god-forsaken expanse of arid grassland just south of the Sahara in western Sudan, where militias backed by the "Arab" central government in Khartoum have been attacking locals.
Darfur has become a cause célčbre among celebrities such as George Clooney and Matt Damon. Obama has been addressing fashionable rallies and hiring foreign policy advisors, such as Samantha Power, who are passionate about America getting involved in this huge bit of damn-all in the middle of nowhere.
Darfur’s appeal as a foreign policy issue to many Obamaniacs is it’s utter uselessness—America has no national interest in Darfur whatsoever, so therefore we should get involved because it wouldn’t do us any good—thus demonstrating the purity of our intentions.
In contrast, virtually no celebrities have expressed any interest in "raising awareness" about Zimbabwe, a verdant country at a pleasant altitude in southeast Africa. Over the last decade, dictator Robert Mugabe has destroyed the economy and driven his subjects to the brink of starvation. As with Darfur, the U.S. has negligible national interest in Zimbabwe. Nevertheless, in contrast to Darfur, Zimbabwe doesn’t interest the partisans of purity because of the unfortunate details behind why it is now prostrate: In 2000, Mugabe unleashed his goons to beat up and steal the farms of the efficient white farmers who raised most of the food.
Several members of Barack Obama's inner circle of foreign policy advisers are leaders in the movement to demand we do something about Darfur. For example, in a 2006 Washington Post op-ed entitled "We Saved Europeans. Why Not Africans?" Obama confidantes Susan E. Rice and Anthony Lake and Obama superdelegate Donald M. Payne called for the U.S. to wage war upon Sudan. After the expiration of a one-week ultimatum, they trumpeted<
"The United States, preferably with NATO involvement and African political support, would strike Sudanese airfields, aircraft and other military assets. It could blockade Port Sudan, through which Sudan's oil exports flow. Then U.N. troops would deploy—by force, if necessary, with U.S. and NATO backing. If the United States fails to gain U.N. support, we should act without it."
Similarly, in an interview entitled "The McCain Doctrines" with Matt Bai in today's New York Times Magazine [May 18, 2008], John McCain volunteers that he's often thought about starting a war with Sudan, if only a way could be found to make it practical:
"I asked McCain if it was true … that he had been brought to a more idealist way of thinking partly by the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica. ‘I think so, I think so,’ he said, nodding. 'And Darfur today. I feel strongly about Darfur, and yet, and this is where the realist side comes in, how do we effectively stop the genocide in Darfur?' He seemed to be genuinely wrestling with the question. 'You know the complications with a place that’s bigger, I guess, than the size of Texas, and it’s hard to know who the Janjaweed is, who are the killers, who are the victims. It’s all jumbled up. … And yet I look at Darfur, and I still look at Rwanda, to some degree, and think, How could we have gone in there and stopped that slaughter?'"
Note that, although McCain likes military adventures, the simpler task of intervening in Zimbabwe to avert famine does not appeal to him at all. While McCain volunteered Darfur, the NYT’s Bai has to bring Zimbabwe up:
"Why then, I asked McCain, shouldn’t we go into Zimbabwe, where, according to that morning’s paper, allies of the despotic president, Robert Mugabe, were rounding up his political opponents and preparing to subvert the results of the country’s recent national election?"
McCain tries to spell it out euphemistically for the journalist why a white President of the United States is not going to depose a black tyrant who wrecked his country by persecuting productive whites:
"'I think in the case of Zimbabwe, it’s because of our history in Africa,' McCain said thoughtfully."
Well, not that thoughtfully—the U.S. doesn't actually have much of a history in Africa.
McCain notices his mistake and tries to make himself clear without actually mentioning the W word:
"Not so much the United States but the Europeans, the colonialist history in Africa.'"
News Source: vdare