Chuck raises some great questions about “The Rick Doctrine” when it comes to military policy. I will admit that I don’t quite know what to do with the subject of the military. I know there are some holes in my position that I can’t quite think through an answer. Here are my thoughts:
What is the last war that the United States “won”?
We failed in Korea, we failed in Vietnam, we failed to accomplish much in our many masquerades in the Clinton years. We did something in the Gulf War, but did we finish the job? Can there ever be an end to the current war? The only war that we won in the last 50 years was the Cold War (make a note of that). In fact…
Which wars have we ever truly “won”?
The Revolutionary War, The Mexican War, The Spanish-American War, World War II, and the Cold War.
The War of 1812 almost made a short history of our nation, we didn’t win we simply found a way to save face. WWI put off the inevitable WWII. And most everything after WWII has been a disaster.
The Mexican War was an unfair route (though given Mexico’s history I can’t help but wonder what things would be like today had we kept all of the land. We would need a more narrow fence for sure). The Spanish-American War was just “a splendid little war” to quote Teddy Roosevelt. So lets look at the Revolution, WWII, and the Cold War.
Lesson 1: The Revolutionary War: ideology, the will and resolve of the people is supreme
How do you lose nearly every battle and yet win the war? The British handed us defeat after defeat and yet steadily lost their grip. You cannot rule a nation who’s people and ideology are against you. Eventually it became futile to continue. Does Vietnam, Korea, and Iraq sound a bit familiar here? Winning battle after battle and getting nowhere fast. Rarely will you have the level of hardened resolve of the Revolution.
Lesson 2: Word War II: You can’t be afraid to do what is necessary to win
In WWII we fire bombed cities, devastating Germany. We didn’t have long debates over military only targets or spend nights worried about civilians in the cross fire. In Japan, we dropped the bomb. We didn’t have the overwhelming ideological tide of support of lesson 1, but we overcame it by doing what was necessary. This was the last war in which we fought in that manner. We’ve lost a lot of wars since then…
Lesson 3: The Cold War: Military might makes right
We never fired a shot, and yet we won. How? On the threat of what we COULD do.
The Rick Doctrine
You need an awfully compelling case to get involved and overwhelming local support(lesson 1). Carry a big stick and speak loudly (lesson 3) and if you do go, hold nothing back (lesson 2) in order to preserve the lesson 3 threat that keeps us from needing to go in the first place.
What is our moral obligation to other nations?
Would I like to see a world where liberty thrives? Yes. But liberty was never brought to another at the point of a gun. Liberty is first won through an ideological battle. Then, she takes up arms for herself and demands it. Did not the French help us you might ask? Yes, but not until standing back to see our resolve. And even without the French, though the path be longer, liberty would surely have overcome.
Moreover, I cannot think of a nation we have “liberated” where anything like democracy prevailed. We won the Spanish-American war… and now we have Cuba. We aided many enemies of the Soviets… who we now fight. I’m not saying there isn’t a time and a place for it, I’m saying it is rare and we need better discernment.
The hole in “The Rick Doctrine”
And here is where I admit, I don’t have an answer: Terrorism. When nations cease to be nations and are instead rogues, and independents, what then do we do? If there is no nation to strike back at, where do we aim our big stick? The Bush Doctrine says wack away at anyone who supports them. But how do we really know? Can a nation know the intent and actions of all its citizens? How do we quantify support in a meaningful way that can’t later be second guessed? I like simple principles, simple answers, and I can’t find those here. The best I can say is I want less war and MORE torture of terrorists. Let’s franchise club gitmo.
What do we risk in being more militarily isolationist?
Granted many others in the world lose out. It’s tough luck for South Korea. It is hard to think in those terms, but there are a thousand good causes in the world, a thousand other leaders who their country would be better without. If we truly had the defense I’m talking about and we know we are protected, what do we lose?
What do we gain?
Our current budget looks something like this:
$515 billion military budget
$33 billion in military items budgeted under other programs
$170 billion suplimental and war budget in 2007
$20 billion in foreign aid
$738 billion. I think I can fund my defense and save the tax payer quite a bit on top, or more correctly not print out of thin air the majority of this budget, not inflate the dollar, etc. When the non-military items of the Rick Doctrine is in effect I run the entire government on a small fraction of its current cost. But more importantly we don’t have a government perpetuating a welfare state and a pink, liberal ideology. We have a place where the views of our founders can thrive again. Liberty can once again export her ideology and revolutionize from within.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’d give this idea a chance.