April 29, 2016

Trump's post-imperial foreign policy

After a long rise from the early Colonial period, the expansionist phase of America's geopolitical influence peaked sometime between WWII and the end of the Cold War, and no later than the 1990s the Establishment began grasping at straws to create the illusion that we were still a British Empire for the new millennium. As in so many other domains, Trump's goal in foreign policy is to end the wasteful foolishness and get real. (Read a transcript of his recent speech, or watch the video.)

This shift will be one of the main differences between today and the last time a populist Republican led a re-alignment out of a period of laissez-faire economics and open borders -- the election of 1896, won by William McKinley, Trump's closest predecessor.

Back then, America was still expanding: just one year into his Presidency, McKinley presided over the Spanish-American War, through which America gained Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, as well as a protectorate over Cuba. We intervened in Latin American politics for the better part of the 20th century. In 1896, Utah had just attained statehood, and there were still five states out West left to join (Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii).

Today, our Union isn't going to get any bigger, and with the prospect of a Puerto Rico bailout, if anything the American people will be open to shrinking it. And we see what we get by trying to maintain a sphere of influence over the entire globe.

"America First" is a great way to transition away from imperial over-reach without sounding or feeling defeated. It's not that the rest of the world beat us, rather we beat ourselves through arrogance and wastefulness. Shrinking our sphere of influence down to the 50 states is no more defeatist than the Roman Empire letting go of the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. It's not going to be the age of the Five Good Emperors forever. And it's not going to be the age of Teddy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt forever either.

One of the main dangers facing a shrinking empire is getting over-run by migrants -- the Germanic tribes during the decline of the Romans, South Asians being invited into the post-colonial UK, and now the Muslim migration over Western Europe. Peter Turchin identifies the glue holding together an empire as solidarity among the citizenry, or the potential for collective action. When that glue starts to come undone, it will naturally show up in the form of borders not being defended as fervently as in the climate of "we're all in this together".

Thankfully, the Trump movement is working to solve this major problem of post-imperial political life, most of them not knowing anything about the fall of the Roman Empire, and therefore not deliberately "applying the lessons of history". But whether consciously or intuitively, we're largely going to avoid getting over-run by foreign hordes as we shrink back our sphere of influence, once we Build That Wall, deport the illegals and anchor babies and their families, end birthright citizenship, and dial down immigration.

To close on a different topic, it was reassuring to hear Trump use the phrase "Western" values, institutions, and civilization, rather than the phony construction "Judeo-Christian" values etc. that the guru of the Cruz Cult would have used. It's a shift away from the Jewish-influenced neocon agenda of nation-building and cultural imperialism, and setting a more pragmatic and non-interventionist goal of staying true to our (non-Jewish) cultural roots and setting a good example. Whoever wants to emulate us, can try, and whoever does not, will not. Big deal.

When Trump does mention Christians, he's referring to an ethno-cultural group under siege in the Middle East. He doesn't talk about the entire religion of Christianity, let alone as something that ought to be spread around the world in a latter-day version of the White Man's Burden. Leave cultural change to the missionaries, not the politicians. That point generalizes to all aspects of the culture war that has yielded zero results for the would-be conservative theocrats.


  1. "To close on a different topic, it was reassuring to hear Trump use the phrase "Western" values, institutions, and civilization, rather than the phony construction "Judeo-Christian" values etc. that the guru of the Cruz Cult would have used."

    At the Fiorina VP announcement a woman behind Cruz was wearing a shirt that said "I STAND WITH ISRAEL."

    It really is a cult.

  2. I see Trump as a latter-day Hadrian (without the beard or the faggotry): give up on unsustainable conquests in the East, while building walls along the frontiers in the West to keep out the barbarians...

  3. Hadrian was Emperor during the expansionist phase, though. We've already peaked and have been going through bitter polarization and conflict within the elite (political, economic, and cultural), more akin to the Crisis of the Third Century.

    That makes Trump more like Diocletian. Instead of circling the drain, we'll have at least partial integration and cohesion, like the Western and Eastern Empires being whole enough, without re-uniting into a single Empire (under Constantine).

  4. It was beautiful how this speech infuriated the neocons, despite some lip service to Israel. Also a lot of the freeloaders (and would-be freeloaders) in E Europe who want the US to "protect" them are butthurt about his NATO comments. As Buchanan noted, the neocons' idol Reagan actually had a similar foreign policy based on negotiating from a position of strength (and letting the USSR implode on its own) rather than on Clinton/Bush nation-building, he considered the Lebanon deployment his worst mistake.

  5. And in fairness to Reagan, most of the covert adventurism like Iran-Contra was due to Bush (former CIA Director).

  6. Without the influence of Bush, Reagan probably would have been even more even-handed towards Israel/Jewish lobby and the Gulf kingdoms than he was (another thing neocons forget). He was bucking an already rabidly pro-Israel bipartisan consensus, and of course his successors elevated it to the current slavishness to both Israel and the Arab kingdoms. http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/west-of-eden/if-obama-treated-israel-like-reagan-did-he-d-be-impeached-1.400542


  7. Good news for Trump supporters: Slighty over half of the original settlers of Indiana were from the South as the river allowed good navigation. This meant it didn't attract as many yankees, scandinavians, germans, or various other cucked people/immigrants throughout it's history, and thus at one point was the virtual center of the KKK. I disavow the KKK but you gotta admit they weren't communists.

    Because of the Southern influence instead of the Yankee/Midatlantic WASP British/Nordic influence across the rest of the Midwest I feel like Indiana might be one of the few unchecked states in that region

  8. Indiana has a fair share of Appalachians, too, like Bobby Knight. He was technically born one county west of Appalachian Ohio, but he says "Worshington" and "the other 'un" like my grandmother does. Plus he has a hawk nose and did not go bald -- the born fighting type.

    Bobby Knight would not be a living legend in a culture plagued by Nordic niceness. Anyone expecting an Iowa / Minnesota / Wisconsin outcome is in for a rude awakening, or rather a pleasant surprise.

    My grandmother's family spent a few years in Indiana during the Depression, so I'm guessing there were other families like hers but that stayed around rather than go back to the Ohio Valley.

  9. Right, the Southern settlers of Indiana were largely from Kentucky, and there's also probably some from other regions of Appalachia.

  10. Libertards hi-jacked the G.O.P. to get the gubmint out of our lives (because private citizens, small businesses, and big corporations always do the right thing) in a quest to idealize and champion the heroic individual. Decades of this disease have corroded (sometimes literally) the fabric of our society. Nothing seems to work, nobody can be trusted, and good deeds go unrewarded while scum floats to the top.

    Neo-cons bastardized our foreign policy to the point that rather than defining the positions of the parties as pro or anti-Israel/intervention/war, it's instead question of just how pro Israel or pro war a particular person or party is.

    Holier-than-thou prissy loudmouths started to insist in the late 70's that we weren't spiritually and socially refined enough. And we need to keep pushing to be more enlightened and to encourage everyone to compete in a virtue status contest. For conservatives, it's being:
    - pro fetus
    - pro gun
    - pro Israel
    - pro evangelical Christianity (or less commonly, pro Judaism or Christianity in general)
    - pro soldier
    - pro athlete. No matter how effete, sad, or chaotic the modern West is, at least we've got gladiators to cheer on. The wealthy give big $ to colleges as they compete to field the strongest teams, while working stiffs thrill as ridiculously over developed bodies run, jump, spin, and collide. Strangely there is little interest in the rugged but essentially team oriented factory worker who is not allowed to celebrate hysterically after proving his competence. Athletes produce nothing of value, and sports in a lousy era are associated with gambling, cheating, ennabling of spoiled and stupid athletes, and status striving (merely owning a pro team in a big league or being a booster or coach of a powerful college team confers much status and value).

    For liberals, its:
    - pro gay
    - pro black
    - pro feminist caterwauling
    - pro queer (who have and always will make up an extremely low % of the population)
    - pro eco awareness

    Note that none of these issues address how to unite everyone in pursuit of a productive and prosperous society for all.

  11. "Plus he has a hawk nose and did not go bald -- the born fighting type."


  12. I think Israel's influence has just about peaked in the US. As the left's coalition goes non-white, it becomes immune to accusations of antisemitism. And Trump is directly challenging the idea that we have to destroy Israel's enemies and give them tons of free money. I don't see the Jews turning this around. Time for Israel to leave us alone.


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