Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens had a prescient article last November, “Yes, America Should Be the World’s Policeman” in which he said, “No great power can safely ignore chaos and disorder in key regions of the world. It is time for the U.S. to take a new approach – enforcing rules and standards but not trying to remake failed societies.” As illustrated in the photo just above from a recent soccer game, Germany is stepping forward and welcoming the masses of refugees now sweeping across Europe from the Middle East. But Germany’s generosity will just encourage yet many more refugees to attempt to escape from their failed societies.
The Hudson Institute’s Walter Russell Mead discusses “The Roots of the Migration Crisis” in yesterday’s WSJ. “The humanitarian question of refugees and asylum seekers cannot be separated from the bankruptcy of Western security policy in Syria and Libya, and the bankruptcy of Western security policy cannot be separated from the longstanding difficulties that many European states have in taking a responsible attitude toward questions of military security.”
“The utter failure of Western policy in both Libya and Syria has to be seen for what it is: not just a political blunder but a humanitarian crime.”
“It is impossible to have a humane and sustainable asylum policy without an active and engaged foreign policy that from time to time involves military action.”
“The dream of a liberal humanitarian peace that both the Obama administration and the EU share … certainly cannot be achieved with the kind of policies now in favor in capitals on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Or as Mr. Stephens said a year ago, “If the world’s leading liberal-democratic nation doesn’t assume its role as world policeman, the world’s rogues will try to fill the breach, often in league with one another.”
In other words, it is not just our own peaceful and prosperous way of life which is threatened by chaos in the Middle East, but our liberal-democratic values as well which are the foundation of progress for all of humanity.
“Ukraine is a wake-up call for what a post-American world would look like” declares the foreign affairs expert Walter Russell Mead in an article “Putin Did Americans a Favor” (http://online.wsj.com/articles/walter-russell-mead-putin-did-americans-a-favor-1401662270) in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.
“For those willing to see, the signs of what a post-American world would look like are easy to discern. We can look at Bashar Assad’s murderous campaign in Syria to see how Iran thinks power should be used. To see what Saudi Arabia thinks about human rights and liberal values, follow events in Egypt and Pakistan. China would become more aggressive in a post American world, and the chances of Sino-Japanese conflict would increase. … In Europe, only power keeps or can keep Russia from rebuilding its old empire.”
“Those who think American decline is inevitable must face a tragic truth: The eclipse of American power will be a disaster for our economic interests, for the values we cherish and, in the end, for our security at home. What stability, peace and legality now exist in the international system are there because the U.S., with important help from allies and partners, made great sacrifices to build and secure them.” America’s decline is not inevitable but neither is our continued success. As much as anything else, it depends on the strength of our economic system. We need to give much more attention to making our economy grow faster. This will create more jobs and better jobs and thereby boost national morale. It will bring in more tax revenue for paying our bills. In addition, projecting national power is very expensive. We can and should continue to insist that our defense budget be lean and efficient. But there is a limit as to how far we can go in this direction. Ultimately defense spending will have to increase as a percentage of GNP. This can only be accomplished with a robust economy.
As I have repeated many times in my blog posts, the best strategy for making the economy grow faster is to encourage more consumer spending by lowering individual tax rates and to encourage more entrepreneurial activity by reducing tax rates on small business. Such tax changes can easily be paid for by closing loopholes and shrinking tax deductions for the wealthy. But there has to be a political will to do this.
Can this be accomplished? I don’t know but our future as a free and prosperous nation depends on it!