Obama Foreign Policy: Seriously Sub-Optimal

Pictures of Barack Obama bowing courtesy of today’s Drudge Report.

Overview.

I’m not going to hammer on the president for his choice of words on Jon Stewart. I’m not a fan of the Dems’ insulting attempts at faux outrage over things like “binders” so I’ll not do anything but quote our president. But we can safely say, as President Obama did, when Americans die our president’s foreign policy is obviously “not optimal.” And when you look back at the past four years, really, we can’t say what’s happened are mere “bumps in the road,” either, but the result of having chosen the wrong road altogether. Today in the New York Post Amir Taheri put it more succinctly: the president’s foreign policy has “failed.”

So before tonight’s debate about foreign policy, let’s remind ourselves just how sub-optimal this president’s foreign policy has been, and how bumpy the road was. People may criticize Mitt for not having foreign policy experience, but Obama only has four more years than Mitt has, having had none when he started on the job training. The question is whether Barack Obama learned anything during that time, and perhaps the biggest indictment contained in the mess in Libya is that his record indicates he hasn’t learned what he needs to, and is willing to close his eyes to the obvious in favor of a narrative that supports, if tenuously, his world view. Meanwhile I’m sure someone else with a different philosophy, like peace through American strength, would do a lot better.

His One Argument: bin Laden

Let’s start by giving the president partial credit for his one “achievement.” In a true team effort, American intelligence, after years of searching that culminated during the Obama administration, was able to find Osama bin Laden. The president then sent a team of experts into Pakistan to kill him. Still, a number of things still trouble me about this “success.”

First, the president’s beaming over the mission and “spiking the football.” While it’s a comforting thought bin Laden is no longer a threat, call me old fashioned but it does not seem appropriate to throw a party when anyone is killed, even if a confessed terrorist and murderer. The appropriate attitude seems to be one of quiet gratitude, and confidence we were able to accomplish what we needed to protect American citizens from harm. But not elation.

Second, the president’s taking personal credit for the achievement. What happened was a success due to years of work starting in the Bush administration and involving hundreds if not thousands of people from intelligence gatherers to planners of the raid to those who actually executed it. Let’s not forget the president watched it on TV, and was not on the ground personally in Pakistan. He deserves credit as the person at the head of the team, but to the extent he deserves that credit, he deserves as much blame for what went wrong in Libya. And gracious leaders give credit where due. I agree he should be congratulated for making the decision to move forward. He took a risk and it paid off. But I disagree with President Clinton’s assessment that this decision took any special fortitude. I believe Mitt’s right that any president would have made the same decision. So Obama’s credit is for being in the seat at the head of table when the team succeeded, and for calling for the two-point conversion to win the game. He succeeded, and gets the credit for that strategic decision. But it was the team on the field, not him that deserves any glory, and an end-zone dance seems particularly inappropriate.

Third, in his desire to take personal credit, the president shared sensitive intelligence information. He volunteered the identity of the team that carried it out, putting them and their families in danger. And this was one of many leaks, coming per Dianne Feinstein directly out of the White House, of sensitive US information. The president seems willing to compromise security when it suits his political purposes, which I find difficult to condone.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the success of this one mission does not mean Al Qaeda is really “on the run,” as has been claimed by the Dems. They’re still in Afghanistan and now are in Libya. And whatever the president’s policy in this regard, despite bin Laden’s removal, the date of Al Qaeda’s last successful terrorist attack is no longer 9/11/01. It’s 9/11/12.

Now, to more problematic issues: world hot spots

1. Libya. Four Americans are killed in Libya despite pleas for additional security. Reports out of the State Department, the intelligence community and the White House contradict who knew what when. Immediately after the attack the president made a generically deniable statement about not letting terrorism deter us, but spent the next two weeks allowing the American people to believe it’s somehow the fault of our freedom of speech and an obscure YouTube video, using rhetoric that could suggest we somehow deserve what happened. Why? Again President Obama and the Democrats insisted on “spiking the football” over Osama bin Laden’s death at their convention, such that it’s an inconvenient truth that Al Qaeda is not really “on the run,” especially in Libya where the president is trying to take credit for “leading from behind.” Contrary to his assertions, Libya is not a model for American foreign policy success as it is now the site of the first assassination of an ambassador in 30 years.

Judge Jeanine of Fox lets it out here:

(more…)

Romney Heads to England, Israel, Poland: Meeting Cameron, Kenny, Netanyahu, Walesa & More

Governor Mitt Romney is going overseas…

On Tuesday, after delivering a speech in Reno, Nevada to the Veterans of Foreign Wars at their annual conference, Romney will embark on a six-day, full schedule, listening tour to England, Israel, and Poland:

The presumptive Republican nominee and former Massachusetts governor will meet with the leaders of all three countries, other government officials, opposition leaders, and at least one U.S. ambassador. He plans to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics, visit sites of historical significance, and hold public events in at least two of the countries.

Aides say Romney does not view the trip as an opportunity to roll out any new policy proposals. “This trip is an opportunity for the governor to listen and learn, to visit countries that share common values, common interests, and I should say in many cases shared heritage with people here in the United States,” Romney’s policy director, Lanhee Chen, told reporters in a conference call previewing the trip.

… While Romney is likely to highlight differences in his approach to international relations relative to Obama, he is expected to refrain from attacking Obama while traveling abroad.

A preview of The Gov’s itinerary…

England

The Olympic rings are lit up on Tower Bridge in preparation for the start of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England. The Opening Ceremony takes place Friday, July 27, 2012.

Thursday, July 26, 2012:

Governor Romney will meet with British leaders including, Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband, Foreign Secretary William Hague, and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

Friday, July 27, 2012:

Romney will meet with Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Later, he’ll meet with U.S. Olympic athletes and attend the 2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies. USA! USA! USA! (We know the strong passion The Gov has for the Olympics – the spirit of competition – and for the capacity of the games to inspire unity, mutual understanding, and respect across the world. Romney is known for his turnaround of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.) Also, if schedules can be coordinated, he may try to meet with other world leaders who are in London for the Olympics.

Israel

The gleam from the Dome of the Rock reflects the afternoon sun in Jerusalem, Israel. Among the Israeli leaders meeting with Mitt Romney will be Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Sunday, July 29, 2012:

Romney has been to Israel three times in the past, on a family visit in the late 1990s and, in 2007 and 2011, on fact-finding trips focused on security and economic issues.

On this trip, he’ll meet first with Daniel Shapiro, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, who will give him a briefing. Romney will also meet with Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, and will also sit down with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He has met them all on previous trips.

While aides say Romney will not specifically criticize the president’s Middle East policy while he is in Israel, he will continue to make the case for standing with Israel – as he often does on the campaign trail. “America needs to stand by its allies, particularly allies that are under siege like Israel, particularly democratic allies who have such a shared history and shared values with America” Dan Senor, a special adviser on foreign policy, told reporters in previewing Romney’s message.

In an op-ed written yesterday, former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman (GOP) shares the following:

By sheer coincidence, Romney is an old and personal friend of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Romney’s first job after finishing up at Harvard was at the Boston Consulting Group, and Netanyahu was working there at the time and sat in an office down the hall. The two struck up a friendship and have remained close. If Romney were to become president, it would be an extraordinary chapter in U.S.-Israeli relations.

“There is little precedent,” The New York Times wrote recently, “for two politicians of their stature to have such a history together that predates their entry into government.”

Certainly Israel could use a close friend in the White House these days.

Over the last three years, however, the U.S.-Israeli relationship has been troubled.

President Obama does not seem to have personal affection for the Jewish state. He has publicly castigated Israel, including at the United Nations. He was caught on a hot microphone denigrating Israel’s prime minister, and when Netanyahu came to Washington he received him with marked coolness, neglecting to hold the customary joint news conference before asking the Israeli leader to exit through a rear door.

Romney will also deliver remarks while in Israel.

Poland

The skyline over Gdansk, Poland turns a rosy hue at dusk. Governor Romney will meet with Poland’s former President Lech Walesa in the port city.

Monday, July 30, 2012:

Romney’s final destination is Poland, where he will meet with the current leadership, including President Bronislaw Komorowski, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. Romney will also meet with Lech Walesa, the former Polish president and winner of the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize. Walesa, who was president from 1990 to 1995 and oversaw Poland’s transition out of communism, was the one who invited Romney to visit his country.

Ian Brzezinski, another Romney adviser, said the visit to Poland will highlight an important alliance that is “rich in history” — from Polish support for the American revolution all the way through Iraq and Afghanistan, where the country has sent troops to assist in the U.S.-led war efforts. Romney will also point to country’s economic success, which he will say stems from free market principles and capitalism – the themes he pushes on the campaign trail at home.

“This is a country that stands in sharp contrast economically to the rest of Europe where economies are dropping by about 5% or more,” Brzezinski told reporters.

Romney will also deliver remarks and visit historical sights in Poland. The ‘Lech Walesa Institute’ said in a statement that Governor Romney is visiting Poland by special invitation, issued to him at the beginning of the month, by President Walesa:

Poland and Poles are paying close attention to the election campaign in the United States, focused on choosing a leader for the American nation for the next four years,” Walesa wrote in the invitation dated July 4.

Their choice will influence the fate of America and the world.

Walesa refused to meet with Obama last year, saying “It doesn’t suit me.”

Romney’s invitation from freedom-fighter Walesa is, indeed, a high honor.

This will be a memorable week for Mitt and Ann as they find themselves in the international spotlight. It’s another opportunity for world leaders and the good people in England, Israel, and Poland to see that the USA has an opportunity, through Mitt Romney, to elect a strong, seasoned statesman who will once again respect our allies, strengthen our partnerships, and instill renewed confidence in the mighty cause of freedom.

To Mitt and Ann, Godspeed!

Follow Jayde Wyatt on Twitter @YayforSummer

Romney Speaks to Veterans on USS Yorktown, Will Deliver Foreign Policy Speech 10/7/11

Mitt Romney speaks to veterans aboard the USS Yorktown, South Carolina. October 6, 2011 (Photo ABC/News)


Standing aboard the USS Yorktown today, a World War II-era aircraft carrier in South Carolina, Mitt Romney addressed veterans and offered a preview of his foreign policy speech which he will present tomorrow:

“The speech will present a strategy for securing America’s enduring interests and ideals in a world of growing threats, and it will discuss specific policies to implement that strategy. It is a strategy that does not assume American decline, but recognizes that American strength — in our values, economic strength, and military strength — is the best ally peace has ever known. “Andrea Saul a Romney for President Spokesperson said in a statement.” This is a strategy of American leadership, one in which our ties with our allies are strong and our policies clear and resolute.”

From ABC News:

“You would think the President would recognize the importance of the US military,” Romney said. “My view is, we cannot and should not shrink the Department of Defense budget.”

Romney says he would rebuild the Navy, Air Force, and add 100,000 active duty personnel. He also says he would treat veterans the way they should be treated.

I will protect the United States of America by protecting a strong military,” said Romney. “I don’t want to go down the path Europe did by cutting back their military. Europe doesn’t have it right. America has it right. I will not shrink the military budget.”

More:

Romney said he would protect the United States by protecting the nation’s military and cut spending at the Defense Department to reduce waste. But he said the nation would be mistaken to follow the example of European nations, which cut their military and then use the savings for social programs.
[…]
The investment is necessary, he said, because the U.S. faces increased threats from emerging countries such as China, India and Russia as well as threats from unstable nations such as Pakistan, which possess nuclear weapons.






Mitt Romney will deliver a foreign policy speech tomorrow morning (10/7/11) at 10:45 AM ET at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.


With the Citadel as his backdrop (also known as the military college of SC), Romney will deliver his foreign policy speech tomorrow morning (Oct 7th) in the Buyer Auditorium in Charleston at 10:45 AM ET.

On October 3rd, Romney did a radio interview with Sean Hannity. He was asked about his upcoming speech. Listen here.

Later tomorrow afternoon, The Gov will also speak to veterans at 2:00 PM at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, SC.

When/if viewing info becomes available, we’ll post it here and on MRC chat. Check back for updates.

UPDATE: I’ve removed the CNN link; it isn’t working. The speech is also being livestreamed here. Another livestream link may be found here.

UPDATE 2 - Here’s the transcript of Romney’s speech:

Mr. Romney: It’s a great honor to be in South Carolina, where patriotism is a passion that tops even barbeque and football.

And it’s a great honor to be here at the Citadel.

Every great university and college produces future engineers, doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs. Here at the Citadel, you do all that but you have another specialty – you produce heroes. Over 1400 of your alumni have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere fighting the war against terrorism. And sixteen have paid the ultimate price.

Since 1842, every tyrant, petty thug or great power that threatened America learned that if you wanted to take on America, you were taking on the Citadel. That’s a line of heroes that’s never broken and never will be.

This is a true citadel of American honor, values and courage.

The other day I heard the President say that Americans had gone “soft.” I guess he wasn’t talking about how hard it is for millions of Americans who are trying to get a job or stretch a too small paycheck through the week.

As each of you looks beyond this great institution, to the life before you, I know you face many difficult questions in a world fraught with uncertainty. America is in an economic crisis the likes of which we have never seen in our lifetime. Europe is struggling with the greatest economic crisis since the Cold War, one that calls into question the very definition of the European Union.

Around the world we see tremendous upheaval and change. Our next President will face extraordinary challenges that could alter the destiny of America and, indeed, the future of freedom.

Today, I want you to join me in looking forward. Forward beyond that next Recognition Day, beyond Ring Weekend to four years from today, October 7th, 2015.

What kind of world will we be facing?

Will Iran be a fully activated nuclear weapons state, threatening its neighbors, dominating the world’s oil supply with a stranglehold on the Strait of Hormuz? In the hands of the ayatollahs, a nuclear Iran is nothing less than an existential threat to Israel. Iran’s suicidal fanatics could blackmail the world.

By 2015, will Israel be even more isolated by a hostile international community? Will those who seek Israel’s destruction feel emboldened by American ambivalence? Will Israel have been forced to fight yet another war to protect its citizens and its right to exist?

In Afghanistan, after the United States and NATO have withdrawn all forces, will the Taliban find a path back to power? After over a decade of American sacrifice in treasure and blood, will the country sink back into the medieval terrors of fundamentalist rule and the mullahs again open a sanctuary for terrorists?

Next door, Pakistan awaits the uncertain future, armed with more than 100 nuclear weapons. The danger of a failed Pakistan is difficult to overestimate, fraught with nightmare scenarios: Will a nuclear weapon be in the hands of Islamic Jihadists?

China has made it clear that it intends to be a military and economic superpower. Will her rulers lead their people to a new era of freedom and prosperity or will they go down a darker path, intimidating their neighbors, brushing aside an inferior American Navy in the Pacific, and building a global alliance of authoritarian states?

Russia is at a historic crossroads. Vladimir Putin has called the breakup of the Soviet empire the great tragedy of the 20th Century. Will he try to reverse that tragedy and bludgeon the countries of the former Soviet Union into submission, and intimidate Europe with the levers of its energy resources?

To our South, will the malign socialism of Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, in tight alliance with the malign socialism of Castro’s Cuba, undermine the prospects of democracy in a region thirsting for freedom and stability and prosperity?

Our border with Mexico remains an open sore. Will drug cartels dominate the regions adjoining the United States, with greater and greater violence spilling over into our country? Will we have failed to secure the border and to stem the tide of illegal immigrants? And will drug smugglers and terrorists increasingly make their way into our midst?

This would be a troubling and threatening world for America. But it is not unrealistic. These are only some of the very real dangers that America faces, if we continue with the feckless policies of the past three years.

But of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. This isn’t our destiny, it is a choice. We are a democracy. You decide. In this campaign for President, I will offer a very different vision of America’s role in the world and of America’s destiny.

Our next President will face many difficult and complex foreign policy decisions. Few will be black and white.

But I am here today to tell you that I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion: This century must be an American Century. In an American Century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world. In an American Century, America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world.

God did not create this country to be a nation of followers. America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers. America must lead the world, or someone else will. Without American leadership, without clarity of American purpose and resolve, the world becomes a far more dangerous place, and liberty and prosperity would surely be among the first casualties.

Let me make this very clear. As President of the United States, I will devote myself to an American Century. And I will never, ever apologize for America.

Some may ask, “Why America? Why should America be any different than scores of other countries around the globe?”

I believe we are an exceptional country with a unique destiny and role in the world. Not exceptional, as the President has derisively said, in the way that the British think Great Britain is exceptional or the Greeks think Greece is exceptional. In Barack Obama’s profoundly mistaken view, there is nothing unique about the United States.

But we are exceptional because we are a nation founded on a precious idea that was birthed in the American Revolution, and propounded by our greatest statesmen, in our fundamental documents. We are a people who threw off the yoke of tyranny and established a government, in Abraham Lincoln’s words, “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

We are a people who, in the language of our Declaration of Independence, hold certain truths to be self-evident: namely, that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. It is our belief in the universality of these unalienable rights that leads us to our exceptional role on the world stage, that of a great champion of human dignity and human freedom.

I was born in 1947, a classic baby boomer. I grew up in a world formed by one dominant threat to America: the Soviet Union and Communism. The “duck and cover” drills we learned in school during the Cuban Missile Crisis resulted from a threat by a known, identifiable enemy, with clear borders and established leaders. We needed spy planes to find the hidden missile bases in Cuba but we didn’t need them to find Nikita Khrushchev. President Reagan could negotiate with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and sign treaties for which each side could be held accountable. And when we caught the Soviets cheating, we could bring the world’s attention to their transgressions.

Today, our world is far more chaotic. We still face grave threats, but they come not from one country, or one group, or one ideology. The world is unfortunately not so defined. What America and our allies are facing is a series of threatening forces, ones that overlap and reinforce each other. To defend America, and to secure a peaceful and prosperous world, we need to clearly understand these emerging threats, grasp their complexity, and formulate a strategy that deals with them before they explode into conflict.

It is far too easy for a President to jump from crisis to crisis, dealing with one hot spot after another. But to do so is to be shaped by events rather than to shape events. To avoid this paralyzing seduction of action rather than progress, a President must have a broad vision of the world coupled with clarity of purpose.

When I look around the world, I see a handful of major forces that vie with America and free nations, to shape the world in an image of their choosing. These are not exclusively military threats. Rather, they are determined, powerful forces that may threaten freedom, prosperity, and America’s national interests.

First, Islamic fundamentalism with which we have been at war since Sept. 11, 2001.

Second, the struggle in the greater Middle East between those who yearn for freedom, and those who seek to crush it.

The dangerous and destabilizing ripple effects of failed and failing states, from which terrorists may find safe haven.

The anti-American visions of regimes in Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba—two of which are seeking nuclear weapons.

And these forces include rising nations with hidden and emerging aspirations, like China, determined to be a world superpower, and a resurgent Russia, led by a man who believes the Soviet Union was great, not evil.

There is no one approach to these challenges. There is no Wall that the next President can demand to be torn down. But there is one unifying thread that connects each of these possible threats: when America is strong, the world is safer.

Ronald Reagan called it “Peace through Strength” and he was never more right than today. It is only American power—conceived in the broadest terms—that can provide the foundation of an international system that ensures the security and prosperity of the United States and our friends and allies around the world.

American strength rises from a strong economy, a strong defense, and the enduring strength of our values. Unfortunately, under this President, all three of those elements have been weakened.

As President, on Day One, I will focus on rebuilding America’s economy. I will reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts. Time and again, we have seen that attempts to balance the budget by weakening our military only lead to a far higher price, not only in treasure, but in blood.

My strategy of American strength is guided by a set of core principles.

First, American foreign policy must be prosecuted with clarity and resolve. Our friends and allies must have no doubts about where we stand. And neither should our rivals. If the world knows we are resolute, our allies will be comforted and those who wish us harm will be far less tempted to test that resolve.

Second, America must promote open markets, representative government, and respect for human rights. The path from authoritarianism to freedom and representative government is not always a straight line or an easy evolution, but history teaches us that nations that share our values, will be reliable partners and stand with us in pursuit of common security and shared prosperity.

Third, the United States will apply the full spectrum of hard and soft power to influence events before they erupt into conflict. Resort to force is always the least desirable and costliest option. We must therefore employ all the tools of statecraft to shape the outcome of threatening situations before they demand military action. The United States should always retain military supremacy to deter would-be aggressors and to defend our allies and ourselves. If America is the undisputed leader of the world, it reduces our need to police a more chaotic world.

Fourth, the United States will exercise leadership in multilateral organizations and alliances. American leadership lends credibility and breeds faith in the ultimate success of any action, and attracts full participation from other nations. American leadership will also focus multilateral institutions like the United Nations on achieving the substantive goals of democracy and human rights enshrined in their charters. Too often, these bodies prize the act of negotiating over the outcome to be reached. And shamefully, they can become forums for the tantrums of tyrants and the airing of the world’s most ancient of prejudices: anti-Semitism. The United States must fight to return these bodies to their proper role. But know this: while America should work with other nations, we always reserve the right to act alone to protect our vital national interests.

In my first 100 days in office, I will take a series of measures to put these principles into action, and place America—and the world—on safer footing.

Among these actions will be to restore America’s national defense. I will reverse the hollowing of our Navy and announce an initiative to increase the shipbuilding rate from 9 per year to 15. I will begin reversing Obama-era cuts to national missile defense and prioritize the full deployment of a multilayered national ballistic missile defense system. I will order the formulation of a national cybersecurity strategy, to deter and defend against the growing threats of militarized cyber-attacks, cyber-terrorism, and cyber-espionage.

I will enhance our deterrent against the Iranian regime by ordering the regular presence of aircraft carrier task forces, one in the Eastern Mediterranean and one in the Persian Gulf region. I will begin discussions with Israel to increase the level of our military assistance and coordination. And I will again reiterate that Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is unacceptable.

I will begin organizing all of our diplomatic and assistance efforts in the greater Middle East under one official with the authority and accountability necessary to train all our soft power resources on ensuring that the Arab Spring does not fade into a long winter.

I will launch a campaign to advance economic opportunity in Latin America, and contrast the benefits of democracy, free trade, and free enterprise against the material and moral bankruptcy of the Venezuelan and Cuban model.

I will order a full review of our transition to the Afghan military to secure that nation’s sovereignty from the tyranny of the Taliban. I will speak with our generals in the field, and receive the best recommendation of our military commanders. The force level necessary to secure our gains and complete our mission successfully is a decision I will make free from politics.

And I will bolster and repair our alliances. Our friends should never fear that we will not stand by them in an hour of need. I will reaffirm as a vital national interest Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. I will count as dear our Special Relationship with the United Kingdom. And I will begin talks with Mexico, to strengthen our cooperation on our shared problems of drugs and security.

This is America’s moment. We should embrace the challenge, not shrink from it, not crawl into an isolationist shell, not wave the white flag of surrender, nor give in to those who assert America’s time has passed. That is utter nonsense. An eloquently justified surrender of world leadership is still surrender.

I will not surrender America’s role in the world. This is very simple: If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on Earth, I am not your President.

You have that President today.

The 21st century can and must be an American century. It began with terror, war, and economic calamity. It is our duty to steer it onto the path of freedom, peace, and prosperity. My hope is that our grandchildren will remember us in the same way that we remember the past generations of Americans who overcame adversity, the generations that fought in world wars, that came through the Great Depression, and that gained victory in the Cold War. Let future generations look back on us and say, they rose to the occasion, they embraced their duty, and they led our nation to safety and to greatness.

The Greatest Generation is passing. But as their light fades, we must seize the torch they carried so gallantly at such sacrifice. It is an eternal torch of decency, freedom and hope. It is not America’s torch alone. But it is America’s duty – and honor – to hold it high enough that all the world can see its light.

Believe in America.

Thank you, and God Bless the United States of America.


► Jayde Wyatt

America the Exceptional

I recently read a speech given by Charles Murray at the 2009 Irving Kristol Lecture. And I think I can say without hyperbole that it is the best, or one of the best speeches I have ever read. It perfectly articulates the concerns that I have, not just about the Obama Administration, but about the general direction that the United States is heading.

He asks the question:

Do we want the United States to become like Europe?

Now, before you dismiss this as yet another diatribe against socialism, read on. Murray acknowledges that are things to admire about the European system. He also points out that the desire to emulate Europe is not necessarily an evil or sinister master plan:

I am delighted when I get a chance to go to Stockholm or Amsterdam, not to mention Rome or Paris. When I get there, the people don’t seem to be groaning under the yoke of an evil system. Quite the contrary. There’s a lot to like–a lot to love–about day-to-day life in Europe, something that should be kept in mind when I get to some less complimentary observations.

One of the primary reasons that this speech stood out to me the way it did was that often we focus on the European economy when pointing out the weaknesses of the socialist system. High unemployment, high taxes, inflation and low incentives are all part of the European system that we would do well to avoid here in the U.S.

However that is not Murray’s focus. He only mentions the economic issue in passing:

The European model can’t continue to work much longer. Europe’s catastrophically low birth rates and soaring immigration from cultures with alien values will see to that. So let me rephrase the question. If we could avoid Europe’s demographic problems, do we want the United States to be like Europe?

Tonight I will argue for the answer “no,” but not for economic reasons. The European model has indeed created sclerotic economies and it would be a bad idea to imitate them. But I want to focus on another problem.

His focus is cultural. He points out the eroding institutions of family, community and religion in Europe, and fears that a similar fate is awaiting the United States. He argues that a government that eliminates the satisfaction in performing basic human tasks, such as raising children or holding down a job will be a government that destroys fundamental cultural principles that define a society.

Every time the government takes some of the trouble out of performing the functions of family, community, vocation, and faith, it also strips those institutions of some of their vitality–it drains some of the life from them. It’s inevitable. Families are not vital because the day-to-day tasks of raising children and being a good spouse are so much fun, but because the family has responsibility for doing important things that won’t get done unless the family does them. Communities are not vital because it’s so much fun to respond to our neighbors’ needs, but because the community has the responsibility for doing important things that won’t get done unless the community does them. Once that imperative has been met–family and community really do have the action–then an elaborate web of social norms, expectations, rewards, and punishments evolves over time that supports families and communities in performing their functions. When the government says it will take some of the trouble out of doing the things that families and communities evolved to do, it inevitably takes some of the action away from families and communities, and the web frays, and eventually disintegrates.

And that is the heart of the problem. And that is why I am so opposed to the policies of liberalism. Liberalism, or Progessivism would seek to eliminate personal responsibility, personal accomplishment. It seeks to replace the individual with an institution and to define that individual as only a member of a group. “Middle Class”, “African American”, “Hispanic”, “Rich” and so forth. Liberalism tries to define what “happiness” is, when that is obviously an individual pursuit.

The result of allowing the government to become our caretaker, our benevolent mother, our nanny and our provider, is unequivocal mediocrity. Americans have always celebrated greatness. Have always pursued perfection. Indeed, our founders endeavored under the pretense of forming a “more perfect union” when they debated and created the Constitution. Are we willing to trade our greatness for a mediocre security? Are we willing to forfeit American Exceptionalism for European style leisure?

Progressives may be. Liberals might be. Even some Republicans might think that a fair trade.

But not me.

How then do we stop the tide of dependence? Murray concludes:

It won’t happen by appealing to people on the basis of lower marginal tax rates or keeping a health care system that lets them choose their own doctor. The drift toward the European model can be slowed by piecemeal victories on specific items of legislation, but only slowed. It is going to be stopped only when we are all talking again about why America is exceptional, and why it is so important that America remain exceptional. That requires once again seeing the American project for what it is: a different way for people to live together, unique among the nations of the earth, and immeasurably precious.

And that is the key to victory in 2012. The American people need to hear once again how spectacular, how inspired, and how exceptional the United States really is. Policy debates are important. But underlying them is a rich culture founded on the marketplace of ideas, of greatness, of freedom.