Catastrophic Escalation?

Friday, August 19, 2022 12:32 PM

America’s glory is not dominion, but liberty. 
Her march is the march of the mind. 
She goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.
—President John Quincy Adams, 1821

Dear Friends + Interlocutors,

On the domestic front, the U.S. Congress recently passed and our nominal POTUS has signed a monstrosity mislabeled the Inflation Reduction Act. It’s yet another pork pie costing a Niagara of money that Uncle Sam does not have but which can be spent due to the U.S. Dollar's status as the world reserve currency.

On the foreign policy front, I’m wondering if Senator Rand Paul or somebody in the Senate might propose a bill entitled The Insanity Reduction Act. It would be a lark, of course, that would never make it to a vote, but it would make the point that U.S. policy makers and most lawmakers on Capitol Hill are out of their minds.

Among other things, the bill could mandate that Washington seriously adopt the role of an honest peace broker in world affairs, and not that of an inept world policeman of an American empire, which ersatz entity has been spreading mayhem and confusion far and wide for some time. At present, Ukraine is an outstanding example of mayhem set loose in furtherance of the anti-American idea of American empire.

I call it anti-American because it runs counter to the warp and woof of the Founding Fathers of the United States. They fought against the British Empire to establish a self-governing republic and acquire what we might loosely describe as freedom. Their “America first” foreign policy was against venturing abroad in a quest for an empire of their own. Or was it? Professor Van Alstyne suggested otherwise in his little-noticed 1974 book.

I grant you, at some point along the way this predominant anti-imperial idea in Washington got tossed aside and left in the dust. It was exchanged for the opposite trajectory. To wit, embarking down a path and in alliance with the British Empire—the very empire America had originally revolted against. Some historians point to 1898, the Spanish-American war, as the kick-off date for America's wrong turn towards imperium.

In any case, it seems to me that 1898 led to 1917 and inevitably to 1939. That is, to President Woodrow Wilson’s entry into the Great War on behalf of John Bull, and then to Franklin Roosevelt instigating the start of the Second World War in Europe, specifically in Poland, in September 1939. Step by step. The FDR presidency embodied the antithesis of the Founding Fathers. Today Washington is routinely policing the planet, purportedly in its own interest, issuing sanctimonious Diktats spiced with blather.

Is it too dramatic to ask if we on the verge of World War III as a result? Can we really be that stupid? American and European leaders do not necessarily need to be stupid—witness the outbreaks of the previous world wars—they just need to be myopic, arrogant and sleepwalkers. And prone to accidents, not to mention all-consuming hubris.

Foreign Affairs has just published another important article by Professor John Mearsheimer on the subject of Ukraine. Unfortunately, it’s too late now! The blow-up which Mearsheimer predicted and warned against for years has occurred. The ramifications and potentials are immense, perhaps greater than even Mearsheimer ever conceived.

The title says it all. Playing With Fire in Ukraine, The Underappreciated Risks of Catastrophic Escalation. Mearsheimer is actually suggesting, it seems to me, that we are on the precipice of World War III. That’s the way it sounds. All the ingredients are there, judging from previous conflicts. It just takes a slip. A false flag. A mistake.

Ukraine is yet another example, perhaps the best outside of Vietnam, of Washington policy makers injecting themselves into a region of the world about which they know and actually care little—and meddling into affairs which, in the final analysis, are none of their business. Ukraine is a Russian sphere of influence and a matter for Russia and Europe to address, not the U.S. Period. 

What is the motivation for America’s leaders in Congress and policy makers at the White House with respect to Ukraine? That’s a question never asked, because it suggests a private agenda underlying proactive warmongering. It’s worthy of investigation. In any event, this is why we urgently require an Insanity Reduction Act, before events get completely out of control like in 1914 and 1939.