2015 May 31 Sunday
Stephen Walt Thinks We Worry Too Much About Foreign Countries

Stephen Walt says Chill Out, America: TV news, think-tank pundits, and politicians all want you to see threats around every corner. Don't fall for it.

Unfortunately, this enduring exaggeration of external dangers can blind us to real problems. In fact, if you look at the past 25 years or so, it is abundantly clear that external enemies have done far less damage to the United States than we have done to ourselves. Saddam Hussein was a very bad man, but he wasn’t threatening or harming Americans after we kicked his ass in 1991. Ditto Slobodan Milosevic, Muammar al-Qaddafi, and the whole wretched Assad family. They were all problems, to be sure, but they weren’t threatening many Americans and U.S. leaders did business with each of them at one time or another.

The Iraq war cost us a few trillion dollars and our assorted interventions in the Middle East against dictators have let loose civil wars and the most repressive strains of Islam.

I agree with Stephen Walt. Our biggest problems by far are internal. The Eternal War wing of the Republican Party has alienated me fairly completely. Its allies on the Left ditto.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2015 May 31 10:14 PM 

Check it out said at June 1, 2015 4:50 PM:

Whew! Finally. Yes! Good for you Randall. I mean it, thank you for posting this.

Why the hell has it taken so long for somebody in the U.S. to understand something so simple.


Sad thing is that U.S. government likes doing things like these. Children, right? Killing childrend is the new thing for the U.S., right? So trendy, ain't it?

I'm talking about U.S. politicians, ok. Let's make that clear.

Check it out said at June 1, 2015 5:07 PM:

Some other time we'll talk about military, -that is bloodshed- operations in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and all the reactionary hell the U.S. government has awaken everywhere. And maybe later we'll include the silent war against it's own citizens. Oh but all that would take hours, let alone including Vietnam, Corea, E a s t e r n E u r o p e, L a t i n A m e r i c a, Hiroshima, Africa, Native Indian Americans. This is madness.

Yes, Chill the f**k out America.

Wolf-Dog said at June 1, 2015 8:27 PM:

The two pillars of the foreign policy are:

1)The need for oil imports, and fracking will help only temporarily, as these wells get depleted very fast.

2) Dollar as a reserve currency (also oil priced in dollars, which forces the world to buy dollars to pay for oil).

Otherwise the enemies of the US have no power to physically invade America.

If electrical cars can become reality, the first part 1) will not be a factor any more. And once 1) is solved, then 2) will be less important. And if robotics can revive a manufacturing revolution in the US, then this will also nullify 2).

Maybe new tax reductions for manufacturing companies would dramatically support a manufacturing renaissance here.

Engineer-Poet said at June 1, 2015 10:29 PM:

As soon as the fracking revolution hit, the USA could have eliminated oil imports via substitution with CNG/LNG.  Instead, the move was to use NG to refine foreign crude cheaply and export the refined products.  We can see whose interests are being served, and they are not those of the American public.

Wolf-Dog said at June 2, 2015 4:13 AM:

But isn't it also true that both the oil and gas wells created by means of fracking, have very short longevity? If this is the case, then fracking will last only a few decades. At least fracking is will give us more time to develop batteries or other storage systems. Although the world still has enough oil until batteries are developed, the geopolitical situation makes it very important to attain oil-independence.

Stephen said at June 2, 2015 5:04 PM:

Wolf-dog, policy 2 is an order of magnitude more crucial than policy 1. If the world stops being forced to buy US dollars then the country collapses overnight.

Wolf-Dog said at June 3, 2015 12:29 AM:

Stephen, You are correct overall, but don't forget that the real reason the US would collapse if the world abandons using our dollar as reserve currency, is because the real meaning of money has been distorted in the first place: money is supposed to be not only a store of value, but more importantly, a transmission mechanism for the exchange of all goods and services. Still, the best science and engineering is here, and the best social system is still here, and if Robotics can launch a new manufacturing revolution here, and if new thorium energy is developed (originally the first prototype was built during the 1960s and the scientist who figured it out was fired precisely for this reason), we can then keep our dollars to ourselves and there will be no collapse. On the contrary, the other countries will collapse without a credible international reserve currency that they can trust. Most other currencies are owned much nastier and far more selfish countries than the US,

albatross said at June 5, 2015 12:33 PM:

The dollar isn't the world's reserve currency due to our aggressive, mostly counterproductive foreign policy. It's because investments in dollar-denominated assets (mostly in the US) are relatively stable, and our currency is relatively stable. We could remain the world's reserve currency without bombing any third world peasants, handing shock batons to any third world dictators, or propping up any allies with foreign aid.

ErisGuy said at June 6, 2015 4:28 AM:

Now if only the Democrats would stop their eternal internal war against liberty and prosperity.

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