Saturday, March 7, 2009

Foreign Policy

It has occurred to some observers that the US ability to be the world's policemen is being impeded by the lack of money. It has long seemed to me that the best way to impose one's will on others is by having money, it's one of the pleasures of being rich and it applies to people, corporations and nations alike. The unhappy fact is that we lack cash right now and depend on people who be our enemies to buy our debt and keep us afloat. How long will that last?
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There are numerous examples throughout history of empires imploding for one reason or another and usually it can be defined at the very end by a lack of money. Poverty requires retrenchment, for families as well as empires. The second Iraq War was sold to us as a self financing venture, remove the dictator, free the people and Iraq's oil would pay for reconstruction. And now the US is out some 5 trillion dollars in that effort.
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With massive deficit spending going ahead at home it seems very likely that at some point soon our imperial adventures and massive military spending will be curbed if not shut down. That notion raises an outcry from the thoughtless, but when programs at home face extinction the mind becomes amazingly focused, and keeping roads and bridges operating at home will take precedence over US bases in Korea and Britain. There is in fact a great deal of diplomacy going on right now as though to prepare for wholesale US withdrawal.
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As the crisis progresses and stocks lose value and corporations eliminate workers it gets harder and harder to find anything good in all this. Perhaps ending US military excursions around the world might be a good thing, keep our military safe at home to defend us in an increasingly bizarre world and let the rest of the world sort itself out.
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Then again who will protect US economic interests around the world? So we will cut domestic programs to keep foreign oil coming home to the US. Difficult choices, but inevitable at the rate public debt is building up.

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