What is the West?

Broadly speaking, what we call the West are the countries and peoples formed by the meeting of Greek philosophy, Roman law, and Hebrew religion. There’s a great deal of diversity within the West, but religion, ideas, art, literature, and geography set it apart from other civilizations.

Rod Dreher
Yes, They Really Do Despise Their Civilization
The American Conservative

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Dances with Soviets

The president was boasting of the “great intel” he receives when he discussed intelligence provided by a U.S. partner.

Source: Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador – The Washington Post

I cannot help but think about the Gipper at moments like this.

Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave with such speed that we can almost hear it in Oxnard.

Tory, Tory Hallelujah 

In the wake of one of the most outspoken political campaigns in American history, the most inspiring political address that I have heard in a decade did not come from an American leader, but an English one.

Not everyone will agree with all of what British Prime Minister Theresa May says. Yet even her opponents must concede that hers was the most coherent expression of a right-centrist approach to the world order that we have heard in America in a very long time. It was positively Churchillian.

Her speech was to me as much a silent pointed finger at the intellectual bankruptcy of the American right as it was a foreign policy manifesto for the American center. It pandered to neither left nor right. It was liberal internationalism tempered by realpolitik, a recognition that whole-cloth globalism must be amalgamated with a respect for the nation-state as the best servant of the people, and a focus on the well-being of all people, not just oligarchs and corporations.

She covered a great deal of ground, and I’ll be excerpting over her speech over next few weeks.

The Republic of Mischief

We hear constantly from our politicians and from the Saudis and their allies about the need to “counter” or “contain” Iran, but the reality is that Iran’s government has done a fine job of alienating almost the entire region and greatly reducing whatever influence they may have had as recently as ten years ago.

Source: The Hawkish Fantasy of an Iranian ‘Empire’ | The American Conservative

All true and fair. An Iranian empire is, at this point in time, probably a Neocon’s wet dream more than a genuine possibility.

But let’s not forget that Iran has the motive and opportunity to create considerable mischief, death, and destruction even if it never expands an inch beyond its current borders.

At the very least, we should be wary.

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The White House and The Russia House

Is Russia Trying to Keep Montenegro out of NATO?

Source: A Russian Hand in Montenegro’s Coup | commentary

The first hint of a critical question: will the President-Elect cede to Russia a sphere of influence in the Baltics?

And if so, exactly how far does that sphere extend?

One can only wonder whether we are setting the stage for Cold War II.

The South China Sea Problem Begins in Manila

The powerful lawmaker wants to get tough now to stop China’s island-building efforts before it’s too late.

Source: John McCain is done pussyfooting around with China

We can argue about whether America has the wherewithal to contain Chinese irredentism, but the responsibility to contain China’s territorial ambitions begins with the states in the region. It is past time for the leaders of Southeast Asia to accept that they cannot canoodle with China via ASEAN and bilateral trade, and then expect America to guard them against Chinese adventurism. Responsibility for regional security begins in region, must be led in region, and the United States should only step in  when the maximum concerted efforts of the region’s nations have proven incapable of stopping China. And even then, we should do so as a part of a clear, united front, not as the sole bearer of burdens.

In particular, it is difficult to conjure much sympathy for the Philippines. The late Corazon Aquino called U.S. bases on Philippine soil “an affront to national sovereignty.” We can argue about whether she was right, but what is clear is that once she managed to summarily eject the U.S. Navy from Subic Bay and the Air Force from Clark Air Base, she – and her successors – utterly failed to replace the shield the US military had provided. The Philippine armed forces are a bad joke, first tossing their professionalism to the wind in a series of domestic political interventions, then intentionally weakened by sequential administrations who (not without reason) feared the specter of a military coup.

Such is the lot of a bored military with no external threats. But times have changed, and China’s actions are enabled in no small part by their unvarnished assessment of the Philippine military as being aught more than toy soldiers.

The Philippines is overdue to create an armed force capable of defending the nation. Until they at least begin such an effort in earnest, the US should live by the letter of its treaty obligations, and no more.

Time for a New Security Order for Europe

Why, 70 years after the conclusion of World War II, 26 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and 22 years after creation of the European Union, are the Europeans still dependent on America?

Source: Should the U.S. Leave NATO? | The National Interest Blog

I tend to use caution with trial balloons from CATO scholars because I see the organization as a front for corporate interests. Nonetheless, Doug Bandow raises a valid question: why are the Europeans still dependent on the U.S. for their security.

The answer that you are unlikely to find in a CATO publication is this: Europe is dependent upon us because we wanted the Europeans dependent upon us – especially our large military contractors – and the Europeans were happy to have their defense subsidized by the US taxpayers in exchange for the occasional purchase of a few dozen fighter planes.

But that is not really what Bandow is asking. The real question is why are we still permitting the Europeans to depend upon us? Is it not time that we at last put the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to rest, to send Europe an unequivocal message that the subsidy is over? After 70 years in Europe, America is finally coming home. The Cold War, the raison d’etre of NATO’s existence, has now ended, and it is time to close the books on that august, well-intended, but outdated institution.

And it is time for us to reassess, in the view of a very different geopolitical environment and domestic political economy than those we faced when the NATO alliance was at its height, our needs for collective security and the limits of our ability to contribute to the defense of any region beyond our shores.

The process must be conducted with wisdom. We cannot simply abruptly disavow our obligations and go home. Rather, we need to view this as a process, beginning with informing the leaders of Europe that we are on this course, and that Europe must be prepared to step in and take up the burden of its own defense.

We also need to recognize that the process of re-framing our defense relationship with Europe must be conducted in a way that addresses both our legal and moral obligations under the treaty structure that gave rise to NATO. If our friends are to remain our friends, we must leave (or retire) NATO in a way that observes the diplomatic forms, and that gives the nations of Europe a reasonable amount of time to build the forces and doctrine to step into whatever breach we decide to leave.

Because that process is long, it must begin as soon as possible. The process is unlikely to be driven by an administration with a scant year left in office, but it should be at the top of the foreign policy to-do list for the next occupant of the White House. We can make that happen by starting the public discussion ourselves, right now.