Democracy Doubted

Demonstrations and voting show the best in US democracy, while riots show the worst. Other nations are watching…and making decisions about what kind of governments they want. Democracy is declining worldwide, and America’s example looms large. Our future will be poorer, sicker, dirtier, and bloodier as a result.

The United States is sailing through troubled waters in 2020, and the forecast predicts more stormy weather. COVID-19 has killed many Americans, frightened many more, and challenged every one. The tragedy surrounding George Floyd’s death appears to be a crime, and the investigation continues. The peaceful demonstrations spurred by his death encourage an important conversation on police practices and institutional racial discrimination. Meanwhile, many Americans voted in primary elections to choose our political leaders in 2020. Voting, peaceful demonstrations, and dialogue reveal democracy at its best.

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US Foreign Policy and Donald Trump

Pundits, politicians, progressives, and prophets panic over Donald Trump’s “failures” in his foreign policy. They may wish to reconsider.

“Disaster!” media outlets howl when they discuss American foreign policy in the first year of the Presidency of Donald Trump. Some commentators bemoan the withdrawal and even decline of US power, while others rejoice to see the return of a multipolar, rather than a unipolar (US “hyperpower”) or bipolar (US and USSR, or perhaps China, as superpowers) world. Recently the Economist, a British news magazine, announced that Trump has made America and the world less safe.

Whatever one thinks of President Donald Trump, he or she must consider these breathless pronouncements in terms of history and geopolitical reality, not just in terms of modern events. In a speech to the House of Commons (1 March 1848), Viscount Lord Palmerston (1784-1865) said “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”[1] He was right, and the permanent interests of nations are a surer guide to success on the international stage than the vagaries of the news cycle and the panic of political pundits.

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Immigration

Immigration is a huge issue throughout the world, but how do immigrants actually do it? The book Arrival City, reviewed below, shows us.

The “Arab Spring” of 2011 and its hopes for democracy in the lands of Mohammed have failed. Libya replaced the government of Muamar Quadafi with two governments, one controlling the east of the country and the other the west. Egypt deposed a civilian despot, Hosni Mubarak, and now has a military one, Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi. Iraq hanged Saddam Hussein and now has lost a huge part of its territory to the radical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Syria is locked in civil war, and on the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen is in flames. More blood has been spilt since the Arab Spring than was shed when the dictators were in power. As a result, millions have fled these countries, seeking safety in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Southern Europe, and North America.

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Immigration, Religion, and the West

How do the religious practices of immigrants to the Western World affect their integration? How does the process of immigration affects their faith?

The Syrian Civil War and the advent of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have caused a human disaster of the highest degree. According to recent media estimates, 300,000 have died and 10 million have been made homeless since demonstrations began in the fateful “Arab Spring” of 2011.[1] A terrible situation has become worse. US, Kurdish and Iranian forces are attacking ISIS, but Russian forces in Syria are also targeting US-backed Syrian rebels who are trying to overthrow Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad. There is no end in sight.

Unsurprisingly such misery has generated millions of refugees. Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have accepted 3.5 million between them,[2] but a tide of refugees is beginning to roll towards Europe. Many countries have absorbed some, and Germany has agreed to accept 800,000.[3] Libya, sub-Saharan Africa, and many other failed states also send tens of thousands of migrants to Europe, and the United States, every year.

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Useful Quotations on International Relations

Pithy Prose for Politicians, Preachers, Professors, Pundits, and Public Speakers.

“This accession of territory affirms (Louisiana Purchase) forever the power of the United States, and I have given England a maritime rival that sooner or later will lay low her pride.” Napoleon Bonaparte

“We do not covet anything from any nation except their respect.” Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), British statesman, writer. Broadcast, 21 Oct. 1940, to the French people.

“For leaders unable to choose among their alternatives, circumspection becomes an alibi for inaction.” Henry Kissinger

“The bargaining position of a country depends on the options it is perceived to have.” Henry Kissinger

“The public does not in the long run respect leaders who mirror its own insecurities or see only the symptoms of crises rather than the long term trends. The role of the leader is to assume the burden of acting on the basis of a confidence in his own assessment of the direction of events and how they can be influenced. Failing that, crises will multiply, which is another way of saying that a leader has lost control over events.” Henry Kissinger

“Facing down a nonexistent threat is an easy way to enhance a nation’s standing.” Henry Kissinger

“Humiliating a great country without weakening it is always a dangerous game.” Henry Kissinger

“Heads of government are notoriously vulnerable to arguments that question their courage.” Henry Kissinger

“The bargaining position of the victor always diminishes with time. Whatever is not exacted during the shock of defeat becomes increasingly difficult to attain later.” Henry Kissinger

“In the field of world policy I would dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), U.S. Democratic politician, president. First inaugural address, 4 March 1933.

“Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), U.S. Republican (later Progressive) politician, president. Speech, 2 Sept. 1901, Minnesota State Fair, quoting a favorite adage and referring to military preparation and the Monroe Doctrine.

“When great nations fear to expand, shrink from expansion, it is because their greatness is coming to an end. Are we, still in the prime of our lusty youth, still at the beginning of our glorious manhood, to sit down among the outworn people, to take our place with the weak and the craven? A thousand times no!”

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), U.S. Republican (later Progressive) politician, president. Speech, Sept. 1899, Akron, Ohio, justifying the war against Spain.

“The man who loves other countries as much as his own stands on a level with the man who loves other women as much as he loves his own wife.”

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), U.S. Republican (later Progressive) politician, president. Speech, 6 Sept. 1918, New York City, on the anniversary of the first Battle of the Marne.