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Mitt Romney and the Empire of Hubris. Setting America on a path to decline.

10 October 2011

Summary:  Romney is among the most experienced of the Republican presidential candidates, and the most moderate (a relative measure to be sure).  Here we examine his foreign policy proposals for America.  They’re remarkable, and could put us on the fast track to decline and fall.

Contents

  1. Romney’s speech, paradigmatic thoughts of early 21st C America
  2. Does God favor America?
  3. America as a voice for liberty and prosperity
  4. America as hegemon
  5. Lessons from the British Empire
  6. The dumbest aspect of his strategy
  7. Other articles about Romney’s speech
  8. For more information

(1)  Romney’s speech, paradigmatic thoughts of early 21st C America

Excerpt from the first major speech in this campaign cycle by Mitt Romney on 7 October 2011 (text here).  Historians may quote this with wonder as exemplifying delusional traits in early 21st century America that inevitably led to its decline.

But I am here today to tell you that I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion: This century must be an American Century. In an American Century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world. In an American Century, America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world.

“God did not create this country to be a nation of followers. America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers. America must lead the world, or someone else will. Without American leadership, without clarity of American purpose and resolve, the world becomes a far more dangerous place, and liberty and prosperity would surely be among the first casualties.

Let me make this very clear. As President of the United States, I will devote myself to an American Century. And I will never, ever apologize for America.

(2)  Does God favor America?

His references to God are paradigmatic of the speech as a whole.  While I’ve only skimmed the Book of Mormon, Israel is the nation given assurances in the Bible — and they are not remotely as specific as those believe God has given 21st century America.  Perhaps Romney fancies himself a Prophet, sharing with us his revelations from God.  More likely he’s just making stuff up to please right-wing evangelicals, with their highly selective and frequently fanciful interpretations of Scripture (e.g., their selective use of prohibitions in Leviticus).

Much of the rest of his speech is crackpot nonsense, in two forms.

(3)  America as a voice for liberty and prosperity

“Second, America must promote open markets, representative government, and respect for human rights.”

America made a fateful decision after WWII to make fighting the Soviet Union the geopolitical priority, allying when necessary (or commercially convenient) with colonial powers (against national liberation movements) and local tyrants.  This continues to the present day, substituting Islamic fundamentalism for communism.  For example, the Arab Spring movements are mostly revolts against US allies, such as the governments of Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, and Yemen.

This is a truth so powerful that our leaders conceal it with a bodyguard of lies.  Such as Romney’s speech.   The truth is out there, and only our passive complicity allows us to remain ignorant.  News media that we despise, such as al Jazeera (based in Qatar), report this more accurately.

(4)  America as hegemon

America’s status as superpower resulted not so much from our awesomeness as the errors of other great powers.  Russia and China adopted crazy leaders (ie, Stalin and Mao).  The great European powers attempted suicide in two great moronic wars (both resulted from incredibly stupid leaders).  We won by default.  Perhaps that was the hand of God.  Perhaps we were lucky (like the Princes of Saudi Arabia).  Mistaking God’s will for simple luck will have horrific consequences.

Looking forward, other great powers arise.  No matter what we do, Germany, Russia, China, and Brazil will grow.  America has a small fraction of the world’s population and resources — and probably an equal fraction of the world’s moral awesomeness.  Romney seeks to build our grand strategy on a ever-shrinking foundation.  It’s not the smart way to plan.

(5)  Lessons from the British Empire

We’re repeating the story of the British Empire.  Although they started from a position of greater pre-eminence — and managed their decline with great skill.  From chapter five of Paul Kennedy’s The Decline and Fall of the Great Powers (1987):

{Britain’s bid for world power} had been made a century earlier and had climaxed in the 1815 victory, which allowed the country to luxuriate in the consequent half-century of virtually unchallenged maritime and imperial preeminence.  After 1870, however, the shifting balance of world forces was eroding British supremacy in two ominous and interacting ways.

The first was that the spread of industrialization and the changes in the military and naval weights which followed from it weakened the relative position of the British Empire more than that of any other country, because it was the established Great Power, with less to gain than to lose from fundamental alterations in the status quo.

… The second, interacting weakness was less immediate and dramatic, but perhaps even more serious.  It was the erosion of Britain’s industrial and commercial preeminence, upon which the last resort, its naval, military, and imperial strength rested.  Established British industries such as coal, textiles, and ironware increased their output in absolute terms in these decades, but their relative share of world production steadily diminished; and in the newer and increasingly more important industries such as steel, chemicals, machine tools, and electrical goods, Britain soon lost what early lead it possessed.

(6)  The dumbest aspect of his strategy

“I will reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts. … I will reverse the hollowing of our Navy and announce an initiative to increase the shipbuilding rate from 9 per year to 15. I will begin reversing Obama-era cuts to national missile defense and prioritize the full deployment of a multilayered national ballistic missile defense system.”

Aside from the usual lies (Obama has increased military spending), this is idiotic.  First, Romney gives no hint of how to pay for this (tax increases are probably out of the question).  I doubt cutting welfare to poor people and foreign aid will raise enough money.

Second, against whom are these conventional military expenditures directed?  We already outspend several-fold all likely foes — combined.  Only China even bothers to contest our blue-water supremacy (see Wikipedia’s list of aircraft carriers).  China has an Admiral Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier, keel laid in 1985; see Wikipedia.  They claim to have one or two more under construction –compared to the US fleet of 11 (plus one under construction).   Our fifth-generation fighters (see Wikipedia) are a decade ahead of Russia and China prototypes.

Third, like the Brits after 1870, the major threat to our global preeminence is our relative economic decline.  Slashing education and infrastructure spending to build a larger military makes us weaker — not stronger — vs. nations building their commerce and industry while we build weapons.  Romney would double-down on a losing strategy.

(7)  Other articles about Romney’s speech

  1. Mitt Romney’s Culture-War Foreign Policy“, Spencer Ackerman, 7 October 2011
  2. No Ideas: Expert-Checking Romney Foreign Policy Speech“, National Security Network, 7 October 2011
  3. Mitt Romney’s Swiss-Cheese-Like Foreign Policy ‘Strategy’“, James Fallows, The Atlantic, 7 October 2011

(8)  For more information

  1. The Myth of Grand Strategy , 31 January 2006
  2. America’s Most Dangerous Enemy, 1 March 2006
  3. One step beyond Lind: What is America’s geopolitical strategy? , 28 October 2007
  4. America’s grand strategy: lessons from our past , 30 June 2008  – chapter 1 in a series of notes
  5. President Grant warns us about the dangers of national hubris , 1 July 2008 - chapter 2
  6. America’s grand strategy, now in shambles , 2 July 2008 — chapter 3
  7. America’s grand strategy, insanity at work , 7 July 2008 — chapter 4
  8. How can America adapt to a new world? A conference about national security lights the way., 18 October 2008
  9. Is America a destabilizing force in the world?, 23 January 2009
  10. No matter how skilled the author, US geopolitical analysis so often looks like something from Oz, 18 June 2010
  11. This is how a nation thoughtlessly slides into stupid wars, 2 July 2010
  12. Is America fighting the tide of history? Are we like the Czars in the 19th century?, 29 July 2010
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17 Comments leave one →
  1. Whirlwind permalink
    10 October 2011 12:15 am

    What do you think of Ron Paul’s foreign policy if he were elected?

    • 10 October 2011 2:48 am

      I don’t have a crystal ball, so cannot answer that. Perry has said little about his foreign policy views. My guess: he has few foreign policy views, and those are incoherent.
      .
      .
      Update: This was a large reading FAIL on my part! The question was about Ron Paul, and I answered about Perry (I was reading about him right before answering). See my response below about RP.

    • steve permalink
      10 October 2011 6:06 pm

      Hi Fabius,

      I think Whirlwind was asking about Paul and not Perry.

    • 10 October 2011 6:26 pm

      I agree with Paul completely. I am a Constitutionalist as well, or the strict interpretation of it. We are the world’s police forces. We stay at constant war to support the MICC! Plus, our political leaders and their supporting think tanks do not understand true strategy. Our strategy basically supports the MICC and keeps the Mid East oil lines open because we do not wan to take a national effort to invest in alternatives (which exist and with a true national effort on the scale of waging WWII, we could do it), but we don’t have leaders, we have professional politicans with a few exceptions, Paul being one of them.

    • 10 October 2011 6:23 pm

      About Ron Paul: he’s a radical outsider. Someone willing to upset the banker’s operations in the Temple. He’s as likely to be elected President as Jesus was to become High Priest, with the Sadducees and Pharisees thanking him for explaining how everything they believe is wrong.

      outsiders serve an important role in American political life by introducing new ideas. These are first regarded as heretical, then controversial, then obvious. Those who champrion radical new ideas are often (ie, usually) incapable (ie, incompetent) of actually governing — which requires a very different skill set. We elect people to govern us, not abstract ideas.

      Ron Paul is also typical of outsiders in that they bring not just one great new idea — but a basket of new ideas, many of which are quite daft. Gandhi is a good example of the damage such people do when they get to the controls of a State.

    • Aaron Dellutri permalink
      10 October 2011 11:20 pm

      The thing about Ron Paul is that while I agree with him on Foreign Policy, he has all these other views that are, to be blunt, completely nuts. His economic ideas are nuts, and so are his social and environmental views. He seems like he wants to bring the US back into the past, and in my experience, trying to recreate the past has never worked. With his recent statements about the US not needing FEMA and wanting to deal with hurricanes like we did in 1900 [1], he has now burned through whatever goodwill I had collected for him when he spoke out against wars. He’s crazy and his followers now remind me of a cult.

      [1] “NEWS FLASH: Ron Paul On Hurricane Irene: Response Should Be Like It Was In 1900″, Think Progress blog, Aug. 26, 2011 by Alex Seitz-Wald

  2. 10 October 2011 3:28 am

    Didn’t you vote for Romney in the last primary? will you do it again? How much of this speech is political posturing to get to the right of Obama who admittedly is much more hawkish than anyone predicted.?

    • 10 October 2011 3:58 am

      (1) Yes, I did.

      (2) No, I will not. By his willingness to abandon his previous positions and accomplishments — and his willingness to pander to extreme right-wing fringe elements — he has become in my opinion unworthy of being President.

      (3) We cannot know. That’s the problem with someone like Romney. We have no way to know his true beliefs, or what he would do as President. I believe any Republican President will be even more hawkish than Obama.

  3. 10 October 2011 2:52 pm

    Fabius,

    Great, and sadly a very truthful post.

    I was thinking the same thing when I heard his speech. I also heard the mainstream media people on Fox and CNN say that Ron Paul’s problem is he is not prescribing to American Exceptionalism, that is what the American people want to be told, they don’t want be told they cannot do something. That says it all! Use that as an excuse to be responsible!

    Don

  4. 10 October 2011 6:28 pm

    we need to convert our armed forces into a true hard hitting smaller expeditionary force, go in, teach a lesson, then pull out, all in three weeks. I would reduce the defense budget by 50 percent, and make a massive investment in mass transit and alternative energies.

    I wrote about this in detail in my 2002 book Path to Victory – America’s Army and Revolution in Human Affairs in Chapter 9. Don

  5. Matt D. permalink
    11 October 2011 12:03 am

    “God is Spanish, and fights for our nation these days.”
    – Count-Duke De Olivares, Spanish general and prime minister, 1625. In 1643 Spanish forces were routed in the battle of Rocroi, marking the death of Spanish dominance.

  6. Buzz Killington permalink
    11 October 2011 5:45 pm

    Regarding the military spending specifically, I am hoping (Romney has my theoretical vote, for now) that’s just cheap campaign theatrics since, as you noted, defense spending has not in fact been cut. If ignorant people believe it has been, then it’s a no-cost boost for Romney since he wouldn’t have to actually do anything to follow through, so to speak.

  7. Mikyo permalink
    12 October 2011 2:14 am

    Here I am! Guided by one overwhelming!
    This must be! God made us to lead!
    We have no rivals! No nation can be our equal!

    Born in the highlands, about 400 years ago?

    Here we are, born to be kings.
    We’re the princes of the universe.
    Here we belong, fighting for survival.
    We’ve got to be the rulers of your world.
    I am immortal, I have inside me blood of kings.
    I have no rival, no man can be my equal.
    Take me to the future of your world.
    (highlander tv theme)

    • 13 October 2011 5:58 am

      “There can be only ONE.”
      LOL!

      Mikyo, FM,
      It’s been sometime now. How have y’all been?

      “Perhaps Romney fancies himself a Prophet, sharing with us his revelations from God.”
      Seems he’s on a regular diet of trippin’. As cracked as them raghead extremists.

      FM, When exactly have you started allowing us guests to once again comment on this here site? Apologies, not been visiting here for extended period.

  8. Mikyo permalink
    13 October 2011 8:34 am

    Still love ya, baby. Just been busy here at home. :)

    • 13 October 2011 10:22 am

      Yo, likewise here.

Trackbacks

  1. PELO DIREITO À UNIDADE EUROPEIA, PELO DIREITO A UM IALTA II OU DA DESESPERANÇA DE HOJE AO DIREITO À ESPERANÇA, AMANHÃ – OS AMERICANOS COMEÇAM A APRENDER. NÓS MUDAMOS AS NOSSAS OPINIÕES ACERCA DO NOSSO IMPÉRIO LOUCO – por FABIUS MAXIMUS |

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