There are two pieces today by Victor Davis Hanson that put into perfect perspective why domestic and foreign policy are intertwined. Having a domestic policy that is bereft of any sense of prudence or morality will lead to a foreign policy that negates the influence of peace inducing powers, and that is the point of the two Hanson pieces.
The first piece that I came across was published on PJ Media and in it Hanson details how Western Civilization is merely hanging on by a thread because the current group of people in charge of things have an ever growing hatred for everything that has made the West the dominant culture on the planet. Hanson makes this point by first pointing out that “What we take for granted — our electrical power, fuel, building materials, food, health care, and communications — all hinge on just 144 million getting up in the morning to produce what about 160-170 million others (the sick, the young, and the retired who need assistance along with the 90 million idle) consume.” This speaks to the work ethic of the West that has been demonstrably in decline since the middle of the last century, and this point has been made by Harvard professor Niall Ferguson when he discusses his “five killer apps” that made the West great.
Hanson then goes on to explain that this diminished industriousness has lead to a diminished desire to actually learn for the sake of knowledge. He describes the modern day university as nothing more than a factory of uneducated, effete debtors with nothing to contribute to society mockery and malice toward the society that has given them the comfortable lifestyle that they enjoy. “[O]ne trillion dollars in student debt; a small Eloi class of rarefied elites who teach little and write in runes that no one can decipher; a large Morlock class of part-timers and oppressed lecturers who subsidize the fat and waste of the tenured and administrative classes; graduates who are arrogant but ignorant, nursed on –studies ideology without the liberal arts foundations to back up their zeal; and a BA/BS brand that no longer ensures better-paying jobs, if any jobs at all.”
The “Morlock” class, having been prevented the opportunity to climb out of that status, have been kept occupied with desensitizing messages of debauchery through continuous exposure to pop-culture. “Does anyone believe that Kanye West, Miley Cyrus, and Lady Gaga are updates to Glenn Miller, jazz, Bob Dylan and the Beatles? Even in the bimbo mode, Marilyn Monroe had an aura that Ms. Kardashian and Ms. Hilton lack. Teens wearing bobby socks and jeans have transmogrified to strange creatures in our midst with head-to-toe tattoos and piercings as if we copied Papua New Guinea rather than it us. Why the superficial skin-deep desire to revert to the premodern? When I walk in some American malls and soak in the fashion, I am reminded of National Geographic tribal photos of the 1950s.” In that last observation Hanson really boils down where we are as a society. We have become tribalized with no concern for or reverence of anything beyond our immediate sphere.
And here is where the tie to foreign policy comes in. Hanson writes, “You cannot expect the military to protect us, and then continually order it to reflect every aspect of postmodern American sensitivity in a risky premodern world.” This is absolutely correct and it is the root to why many of us in the United States are weary of foreign policy that is geared toward interventionism. Why is the US going into its thirteenth year of fighting the Taliban and al Qa’ida in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Why has the seven year occupation not done for Iraq what it did for Japan and Germany after World War II? Why have allies across the globe come to find the US not being as dependable as we have been in the not too distant past? Simply put because the same people who have nothing but disdain for the society that they take full advantage of have just as much disdain for the relatively peaceful world that that same society created at the end of World War II. Hanson, this time writing at National Review, puts it this way, “For Obama, America abroad is analogous to the 1 percent at home. We need not squabble over the reasons why the wealthiest Americans enjoy unequal access to the things money can buy, or why America, of all nations, finds itself with unmatched global clout and influence. The concern is only that such privilege exists; that it is unfair; that it has led to injustice for the majority; and that it must be changed.”
The current situation in our society has given rise to the sense of neo-isolationism that has been espoused by many on the Right. This is not necessarily a wrongheaded view, as many on the Left like to attribute to them. It is a natural reaction to the realization that the US no longer has the same society that won in both theaters of World War II or managed the protracted Cold War against the Soviet Union. The challenges that face the US, and Western Civilization as a whole, today require that there be a large, confident society able to rally behind a single purpose. This sentiment has not existed in Europe since 1991 and is quickly disappearing in the United States today.
Tea Party Conservatives need to embrace the theme that domestic policy is intrinsically connected to foreign policy and make the case that a confident citizenry is needed to meet the challenges posed by the outside world to that citizenry’s lifestyle. It will be impossible to enjoy Miley Cirus twerking on TV if the country can no longer present a large enough projection of naval power to ensure that those TVs make it to US ports for US consumption. It will be impossible for the country to enjoy a week long getaway to Europe if the prices for plane tickets are made so expensive by UN cleptocrats that a Middle Class family of four cannot purchase them. And it will be impossible to convince the citizenry to become confident if they are made slothful by the ever expanding, and yet, ever weakening welfare state keeping them locked in a perpetual adolescence.
Victor Davis Hanson is frightful that it is already too late.