Once Again, Do Ends Justify Means?

During the George W Bush years, especially with Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, the Administration mantra was “the ends justify the means”. There was no civil liberty or time honored practice that was not sacred enough to escape being trampled if it stood in the way of an Administration objective. Now, in the early days preceding the Trump years, there are many indications that the good old days of “do what is necessary” will rule the day.

President Obama ran a different type of Presidency. Obama’s critics point to him leading from behind and running rough shod over Article one of the Constitution, making law through regulatory action. A far more apt President Obama criticism might be his years were “the means justify the ends”.

President Obama used only executive prerogatives which prior Presidents had used, for example appointments during Senate recesses and only when the Republican controlled Congress failed to act. With President Obama there were no incidents of fabricated intelligence, invasion of sovereign lands, or out right violation of signed treaties like the Geneva Convention. But to many, the Obama years lacked decisive action, ISIS being the critic’s most popular example.

So, it is not a surprise that neoconservatives and other right wing types see the Trump Presidency as a time the sun will shine again. These are people who see government power as the most effective statecraft tool. Carry a bigger stick, use it enough that opponents worry you might use it again, and demand everything as a means of getting the most. (Sound like a New York real estate developers motto?)

This week President-elect Trump has exercised his bully pulpit against United Technology’s Carrier air conditioning unit. By extension he has fired a warning shot across other American companies ideas about outsourcing jobs.  Trump has threatened new tariffs if words won’t suffice.

If retaining jobs is successful, how could this be an undesirable “ends”?

In another case, President-elect Trump arranged a telephone call with Taiwan’s President, a no-no for the past 60 years in US-China relations. But if Trump’s goal was to gain more US exports to China, how could that not be a desirable “ends”?

Both of these incidents could also be simply “bluffs”. President-elect Trump may think these are cost-free tactics which if they produce the desired outcome are great and if they do not, they cost virtually nothing he may think. Hmmm, or did they?

The neoconservatives and far right wingers are truly dangerous people. They seek to achieve government objectives by force which means too often using the sons and daughters of other people in military action. While this sacrifice is necessary when the US must defend its boarders, venturing into the affairs of other sovereign nations almost always comes back to haunt us.

The President-elect must be careful that his “bluffing” gambits will be misconstrued by the hawks and understood as encouragement for these chicken hawks to do the same.

Another potential casualty of the “bluff” approach is that the bluffs may obscure other viable approaches. In the case of US companies shipping jobs overseas, a revisit to the tax code might reveal changes which make these outsourcing moves less valuable. The President-elect might, if truly serious about making America Great Again, instead de-emphasize “maximizing shareholder value” in favor of broader corporate governance which considers 4 stakeholders (customers, employees, communities, and owners/shareholders).

The Taiwan phone call is hard to figure. Sending a signal that the US under Trump might do the unexpected is grossly naive since in the period of nuclear deterrents, the last thing the US wants is to send unclear messages.  For US self interests, it is important to know what China’s (or Russia) intent are or that China or Russia know ours.

And what would the President-elect think when the Chinese President begins calling Raul Castro regularly?

Ends do not justify any means, and bluffs, especially those associated with bullying, are extremely short sighted tactics. Lets hope these incidents are just growing pains for the new Administration.

Explore posts in the same categories: congress, Conservatives, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, George W Bush, GOP, Neoconservatives, Politics, Republican Party, Uncategorized

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