Senator Lindsay Graham articulated a theme which voters should hear often from GOP Presidential hopefuls. Graham promised to make the US again the “World’s Leader”. What in the world does that mean, what would it look like, and what is he smoking?
“Leading from behind”, for sure, is not the most macho way to describe the world’s wealthiest and most military powerful nation. It is, however, a more realistic assessment compared to the empty boast of “world’s leader”. The world is in a far different place than the days the cold war ended.
Telling other nations how to behave seems patently laughable no matter how well meaning the US’ words might be. More to the point, our nation grew to wealth and power from the shadows of other world powers from the days following our independence up to the end of World War II. There is nothing from the historical record that says the US could not continue to grow and prosper in a world of no clear leader.
The Obama Administration’s Middle East strategy fundamentally assigns primary responsibility for peace and security to the people living in the region. This means no further US occupation and only measured amounts of support. How can anyone expect that a US occupation presence would bring lasting peace to Syria, Iraq, Libya, or to dozens of African States.
Where would the money necessary to occupy again come from? Who would staff the military, volunteers or draftees? What current Government spending would be deferred in favor of “world leader” spending? And, how much more taxes would voters accept in order to become the “world’s leader” again.
Oh, and I wonder whether anyone has told Senator Graham that “world’s leader” also involves confronting North Korea, China, Russia, or any other nation bent upon fulfilling some national ambition?
The business community should be sending some pointed messages to our politicians. From experience, businesses know globalization has changed the competitive nature amongst countries. No longer is the American education system the best in the world. Gone are the days of the US possessing a vastly superior infrastructure. And the nation is slowly but steadily going to the poor house with healthcare per capita expenditures two times the rest of the modern world (with arguably worse outcomes). Focus on improving the US’ competitive position is critical to remaining a strong country.
Foreign policy, of course, remains important for the security of our country. The idea that the US can simply invade another country and impose its will is on the wrong side of history. Our economy depends upon globally open and free markets.
Presidential candidates should be talking about what domestic policies they would advocate and how these policies would make the US more competitive. Candidates should also clearly state foreign policy parameters which define what America’s national interests were. This would be a short list and not contain every boy scout good deed.
I do not expect to hear any serious campaign pledges. Advocating “world’s leader” is far more motivating as long as no one asks what that means. President Obama’s “pivot to the east” was insightful, and leading from behind simply reflects reality.
Does Lindsay know better?