Our Gulliverís Travels in the 21st Century
If we could step back for a few moments to examine the world in terms of the various pressures that impinge on Americaís role in the early 21st Century, the picture, while still foggy, becomes a bit more understandable.
Letís start with the American taxpayer who demands both cheap food at the store and cheap fuel at the pump. Cheap food? Yes, go live in Western Europe for awhile and then come back to marvel at the variety, the quality and comparatively low prices of food in American supermarkets. Cheap fuel? Yes, to live in Western Europe and routinely pay more than $5 dollars-per-gallon for fuel makes our $3-dollar gas seem like a bargain.
But we donít live in Western Europe. We live here. So, whatís the point of all this? The point is that our relatively cheap food and fuel merely prove that tax dollars are fungible. Our food and fuel only appear to be cheap. That appearance is the result of how we taxpayers subsidize both our agricultural and energy-production industries. This is not to say that is bad. It is simply the way it is.
In a representative democracy such as ours, elected officials, if they want to stay elected, must balance the demands of the voters against the realities of an America trying to make its way in a world that is admiring the point of jealousy. Despite the lamentations of the Far Left and its handmaidens in the Sinistra Media, America is admired for having the most people with the most material things and is admired as historyís most militarily powerful nation that has no colonial ambitions.
Yet, as long as we are dependent upon foreign oil and as long as the environmental lobby keeps us from fully developing our own replacements for foreign oil, we are stuck to the tar-baby of the Middle East, stuck clear across the Crescent of Islam from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia.
Pity those of either political party who must craft American foreign and military policy in ways that must walk the tight rope of cheap food, cheap fuel and keeping the sea and air lanes of world commerce open for America -- that most advanced maritime and aviation nation in world history.
And so, today, Americaís major contribution is that of an international police force that uses its ships, submarines, airplanes and troops to allow the other nations of the world to move what they produce around the globe.
Meanwhile, the poorer nations will continue to suffer from their two major, self-inflicted problems: lack of capitalism and lack of political freedom. Inexplicably, they will continue to embrace forms of fascist socialism that have never improved their lot in the past and will not in the future.
If the Democrats come to control the White House in November, 2008, and continue to control the Congress, they will find the same post-Cold War problems faced by the Republicans. They will find that America is a powerful Gulliver hog-tied by its domestic Lilliputians who demand cheap food and cheap fuel and roped by foreign Lilliputians into being the Gulliver who commands the seas and the skies for the benefit of all.
Meanwhile, Russia, under Putin, tries to reassert itself as a world power, and will. France tries to do the same but, of course, cannot. Iran continues to improve its nuclear weapons capabilities.
The Surge in Iraq, while successful on the ground, was not convincing enough to force Iran to the diplomatic bargaining table. Iran will have to be dealt with militarily. The esteemed foreign-policy analyst, Arnaud de Borchgrave, says pro-U.S. French President Nicolas Sarkozy left his meeting with President Bush convinced the U.S. will eliminate Iranís nuclear capabilities -- sometime in 2008.
Whether or not that happens, neither Democrats nor Republicans will be able to escape the ties that bind America into its role as the most beneficent Gulliver the world has ever known.
Syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, William Hamilton, is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and a former research fellow at the U.S. Military History Institute of the U.S. Army War College. He is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. Writing as William Penn, he and his wife are the co-authors of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy Ė two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2007. William Hamilton.