The Elements of National Power.

FEB 2011

I ascribe to an unpopular but loud school of thought that the majority of America's problems are a product of the US government, rather than them being a product of outside interlopers. For example, it's so easy to blame China for our economic situation, and for their dumping their cheap products (some with dangerously high levels of toxins) upon our door. You're looking in the wrong direction. We must look first at our own policymakers. Was it not our leaders – on both sides of the aisle – who sold the American people on the benefits of NAFTA? Was it not our policymakers – on both sides of the aisle – who created more corporate taxes and more regulations upon American businesses, that left only two alternatives: raise prices and die, or move offshore and remain competitive. The deindustrialization is not a CAUSE of America's economic problems. It is merely a symptom. Do not ever assume that the government exists to your benefit, or to protect you. Every handout, every policy, every program… has a price.

With that aside, I read today about the DIME paradigm. It stated:

"The elements of national power are Diplomacy, Information, Military, and Economics. Every nation has at its disposal various levels of influence utilizing these elements of national power. But, all of them are essential and vitally important."

Well, I can appreciate the DIME paradigm. However all too often, the M and the E are too quickly resorted to, resulting in more negative consequences than positive. Perfect example is the E approach to Cuba, which has only resulted in further impoverishing the people, and (whether by virtue of Castro's propaganda, or by virtue of the truth), the blame for their miserable situation is placed squarely at the feet of the USA (idiocy of the Communist model aside). Another place where the E element is being used to deleterious effect is right inside our borders, against the American taxpayers. If instead we consider the E element a way to ENCOURGE and INCENTIVIZE, rather than to PUNISH and DISCOURAGE, we may have more luck in making lasting friendships by exporting and fostering economic liberty, prosperity, and a solid work ethic, rather than perpetual poverty, chronic dependence upon government entitlements, and laziness.

From the standpoint of the M element, here is where I differ from Ayn Rand (which is a rare occurrence). Ayn Rand (and resultantly the Objectivist philosophy) believes that it is the United States' moral obligation to use all means necessary, up to and including military force, to liberate the oppressed, and export liberty wherever there is a paucity thereof. I don't support this view. Not all peoples are destined to be free, and not all cultures would do well as a free people. Don't mistake liberty with prosperity. They are not one in the same, and actually in the asian and arab worlds, they're proving to be more mutually exclusive than peacefully coexisting concepts.

With that said, I believe in showing support for oppressed peoples' efforts to shrug the yoke of tyranny, by information (propaganda, internet, twitter (and other social tools), radio, etc. and by diplomacy. However, I draw the line at sending our boys to go die, simply to replace one tyrant with another (whether it be a monarch or an oligarch).

Would our military presence have really mattered in Rwanda, had we sent our boys there? These were ignorant, superstitious, tribal people who were hell-bent on killing each other. It's sad and unfortunate, but not a case to send our boys to die. The same case goes for Iraq, former Yugoslavia, Kosovo, etc. Consider, instead a regional force, made up of an upstart state's neighbors, who can exert more immediate, lasting influence on a government that oppresses its people. Perfect example is the army of Tanzania, which, fed up with the influx of refugees, and outraged at the bloodsoaked atrocities of its Ugandan neighbor, invaded Uganda, overthrew Idi Amin, and liberated the Ugandan people. It then withdrew and assisted Uganda in the rebuilding / transition. Tanzania footed the bill for the invasion and subsequent peacekeeping role from its own coffers, and Uganda paid back Tanzania's debt, as a show of gratitude. Rather than Tanzania and the Ugandan people turning to the US for solutions, it was resolved regionally.

This is no different from the American people's own belief that it must turn to the US government to solve their own personal problems. Can't pay your mortgage? Make the US government pay for it. Don't want to pay for your own food because you refuse to give up your creature comforts? Make the US government pay for it. Your neighbor earns more than you do? Make the US government rob him, to pay you. Your competitor stands to prosper while you fail? Make the US government stack the deck with regulations and fees, to even the playing field.

With the US debt amount now on the cusp of equaling the total US gross domestic product, it's nigh-time, if not too late already, to begin making some tough decisions about where we spend China's loaned money. Does it make any difference for us to borrow money from China, to pay Israel (or Egypt, or any other propped up puppet)? Yes, it is sad to see oppressed peoples, and corrupt tyrannies besmirch this earth, but we have our own issues to deal with, including crumbling infrastructure, expansionary money policy, future collapse of government, overloaded social system, and rampant illegal immigration. Perfect example is the situation in Haiti. After the devastating earthquake that wracked this already-impoverished nation, the entire world community turned to the US, saying, 'What are you going to do about it?' I say: NOTHING. Haiti's situation, pre-earthquake, and even post-earthquake (economically and infrastructurally speaking) is due in majority part to the sh!t sandwich that France fed it, after Haiti negotiated its independence, in exchange for crushing, high-interest debt to pay for France's future loss of revenue derived from the colonial occupation. I say let FRANCE foot the bill. Why, again, must we borrow money from China to help Haiti? Tell Haiti to call China, and I'll even cover the long-distance call.

Stop thinking that we can continue being a global superpower. We are out of money.

And the money we have is being increasingly shunned by our neighbors. Soon, China and Russia will abandon the dollar as the currency denomination for trade between their two countries. The gulf Arab states have already begun converting their dollar reserves to a basket of currencies, and have begun using other currencies to conduct trade. Our own treasury secretary, Geithner, has discussed openly the idea of banding with the world powers to form a global currency, the Bancor, as a possible REPLACEMENT to the dwindling dollar.

The only way that we have been able to sustain these debt amounts is that our debts are (currently) denominated is US dollars, so all we have to do is print more, to pay for it, right? Soon, our creditors will either discount the value of the dollar (for purpose of repayment of the debt), or demand payment in another currency.

When this happens, coupled with or independently of, the replacement of the dollar as the currency for the buying and selling of oil on the global market, our cost of living will necessarily skyrocket, and our (heretofore artificially buoyed) standard of living will necessarily plummet.

Are we awake yet?