Time To Bring Our Troops and Money Home Until We Figure Out What We Want

George KennanI had the unhappy experience of turning into a BBC program that was pitched as a debate among John McCain, Alexei Pushkov, Chairman of Russia’s State Duma Committee for International Affair, and two others, a Saudi prince, Turki Al-Faisal and the other an American woman named Jane Harman. The debate issue was whether the United States is losing credibility, influence and power on the international scene.

I guess listening to a Russian criticize the US is a little too much for me so I’d have been better off not to have listened. But perhaps the worst part was listening to John McCain, a man who I like although I did not vote for him because I feared he’s too willing to pull the trigger, go along with the idea that President Obama has a feckless foreign policy and supporting the idea that gives the impression the US is backing off a bit.

We’ve had a long-standing policy in the United States, sort of like we have in Irish families, not to wash our dirty laundry in public. That it we keep our foreign policy differences at home. It’s a little bit off-putting to see McCain linking arms with the Russians.

Aside from that, listening to the Saudis criticize us because we are not losing America’s lives and wealth in defending them really put me in a foul mood. This was compounded by the advertisement I saw about the Emirate of Dubai extolling its growth and wealth. Those countries and others as Kuwait and Qatar survive because we protect them; they spend little on their military expecting us to come to their aid. Our thanks is not even a hardy handshake.

We’ve also heard Israel’s Netanyahu criticizing Obama for his reluctance to start a war with Iran and lose American lives and take Iranian lives. Since late in the first George Bush administration Netanyahu has been telling us to do this. So have the Saudis, the latter because of religious differences. If they want to attack Iran they can go ahead and do it. But they won’t because they want Americans to die for them. Sadly, some in America feel the same way treasuring foreign lives over American.

In response to these rising voices, Secretary of State John Kerry had this response: “I must say, I’m perplexed by claims I occasionally hear that somehow America is disengaging from the world – this myth that America is pulling back, or giving up or standing down. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. This misperception appears to be based on the simplistic assumption that our only tool of influence is our military, and that if we don’t have a huge troop presence or aren’t brandishing an immediate threat of force, we are somehow absent from the arena.”

He added: “The most bewildering version of this disengagement myth is about a supposed US retreat from the Middle East. You can’t find another country, not one country, as proactively engaged, or that is partnering with so many Middle Eastern countries as constructively as we are, on so many high-stake fronts.”  

I have to say I’m perplexed because our secretary of state is perplexed. It seems like he has been absent from the world since he tossed someone else’s medals away after the Vietnam War. How has he not figured out that none of these countries care about our so-called soft power, that is our influence using diplomatic measures and pressures, but are only interested in us if we give them our money or use our military to destroy their enemies. They have no problems continuing to harass us, unfortunately with the support of their good allies in Congress, until we sacrifice our money and lives to better their conditions.

It would have been good if Secretary of State Kerry said: “yes, those who are saying the United States is disengaging from the world are correct. We are going to let you solve your own problems and fight it out among yourselves. We’re over 17 trillion dollars in debt in part because we tried to help you and all you give us in return is the “what have you done for us lately” lament. So do it on your own and don’t come calling, you all hear!”

One of the things I like about Obama is his reluctance to lose the lives of young Americans in endeavors that don’t  relate to actual threats against our country. We’ve seen how much Karzai in Afghanistan likes us. He’s using doctored photographs to attack us. He cares little that we lost over 1,700 Americans putting him into office or that we drop bags full of money in his office for his own use without any accountability. Our response is to plead with him to let us keep 10,000 American troops in his country. We’ve lost our pride and have no shame.

Once we calmed down the situation in Iraq we were told to take a walk. Now the Iraqis are back asking for us to stay out of their lives but give them support in the form of money and arms.  We’re cutting back on what we can afford to give Americans while those that really dislike us want us to continue to fill their piggy banks.

After WWII in the face of what Winston Churchill called an Iron Curtain coming down between the West and the Soviets the nation came up with a plan for future action in our foreign policy. Some called a containment plan. It was devised with the United States interests at heart. It was followed through most administrations up until the fall of the Soviet Union.

Since then under the two Bushes, Clinton and Obama we have floundered about unsure of what we want or where we want to go. Everything seems to be made up at the moment in response to something suddenly happening or is being driven by interests of countries other than our own. We have some brilliant people who work in our state department and in private institutions who are skilled in foreign policy. It is time for us to come up with a future plan for America that will place the lives and wealth of America first which can be supported by all our political parties and leaders.

No longer should we be whipped sawed by other nations. No longer should the desires of other nations be considered before our own. Congress should stop seeking to have American kids killed doing the dirty work for other countries.

Obama’s goal over the next year should be to come up with such a plan before it is too late.



  1. Susan George’s book is entitled “A Fate Worse than Debt,” not “Debt Before Dishonor,” which was written by some one else, maybe, Delasandro (sp?). Hayak of the Austrian School emphasized “moral risk” in economics. He believed the world’s economic system would be just fine, if countries paid their bills. Hayak thought it only fair that if a country defaulted, its international creditors could then take over the transportation network, water supply, agricultural resources of that country to satisfy its debts.

    • Khalid:

      I’m not much for economics although I wish I understood them better. Things like the money supply mystify me. I can’t figure how the FED keeps interest rates at zero. I wonder if it has such power why was it we had the misery index during the Carter years. Hayek I tried but couldn’t stick to it. The idea the international creditors could take over a country’s transportation and other critical resources and appropriate them to their own use seems to be something fascist-like. We’d have lots of little Mussolinis strutting on the world stage. I guess Hayek wasn’t fond of democracies.

  2. Is 17 trillion in debt the indication of a perilous economic situation?
    Stuart Corbridge (Wharton) wrote “Debt and Development” twenty-five years ago. He states that debt flow drives the international economy. According to Corbridge, wealth generated in the USA must be lent overseas in order to maintain economic stability at home. If the wealth stayed in the USA it would compete against itself, driving the cost of domestic investments up, and, forming an economic bubble that has to eventually burst. For example, the real-estate market was hyper-inflated by the banks, who attempted to invest their capital at home, rather than overseas. Corbridge believes that nations holding trillions in dollar debt can only spend those dollars in the US economy.
    Foreign aid is another way the US Government circulates debt. Recipients of US foreign aid must spend the borrowed funds on US products, and, services. Corbridge inverts the normal conception of international economics; debt, not, profit, becomes the engine of the world economy. Keeping dollars at home leads to disaster. That is why one can borrow to establish a business overseas much easier than one can borrow to invest in the domestic economy.

    • Khalid:

      Following your argument logically we should be 34 trillion in debt then everything would be humming.

      • Exactly!

        This will require another trip to the barn. If you are an acolyte of Hayak’s Austrian School, we’ll have a lively discussion. I tend to the Susan George (“Debt Before Dishonor”) “system un-fixable” side of the argument. Corbridge’s book isn’t available for an e-read, I checked. I’m hoping to discover a physical copy out in the barn. Ms.George’s book might be on the Internet.
        Last time I went out to the barn, I found a real treasure, “The Enigma of Capital: a Marxist Viewpoint” by V. Shemyatenkov, (Moscow:Progress Publishers, 1981). Perhaps, I’ll be lucky again.