Lightening Skies: The Case for Optimism

As Americans focus on their sexual obsessions – which are curiously linked to their politics – and accuse each other of inciting violence (when organized political violence continues to be confined to the far left wing of the NeverTrumper fanatics), back in the real world the sky is lightening.

Despite President Trump’s wrongheaded decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty – which the US has been threatening to do since the George W. Bush years – it’s likely that what we’re seeing is a scenario similar to the prelude to the Singapore Summit. Accusations, even threats, followed by hard bargaining – and possibly a deal. The announcement of the treaty withdrawal was followed by indications that Trump will meet Putin in Paris on November 11. The occasion: the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I, a conflict that destroyed the flower of European civilization and ushered in the barbarian doctrines of national socialism and Bolshevism.

As the Allies imposed harsh terms on the Germans, including onerous reparations, the humiliation of the defeated was complete – but there would be a price to pay for such unforgiving triumphalism, as Weimar Germany mutated into a monster whose toxicity exceeded all boundaries and previous experience.

Could it happen again?

Not in Germany, but farther east, where the defeated remnants of the Soviet empire face sanctions and military encirclement by the West. My answer is that, at this point, unless Trump succeeds in his longstanding effort to improve Russo-American relations, it’s almost inevitable that an openly authoritarian regime with revanchist goals will arise. Of course, our Western commentators think Putin is the new Hitler they’ve been pining for, but Putinism – a modernized Czarism – is liberal pacifism compared to what’s coming.

The Paris Summit will no doubt be attacked by the usual suspects, and by some former anti-interventionists whose NeverTrump stance has so distorted their thinking that they are now reduced to jeering at the most significant attempt to build a comprehensive peace since the end of the Cold War.

This crowd has been harping on the efforts of the John Bolton faction to get us into a shooting war with Iran. Yet the Khashoggi affair has decisively collapsed the Saudi-led campaign to demonize Iran and present the Kingdom as a bulwark against nonexistent Iranian aggression. Looks like the task of dragging us into yet another Middle Eastern war will be left to the Israel lobby – whose job will be quite a bit harder than last time.

When Trump was elected the hysterical ninnies of the supposedly “antiwar” left told us that World War III was upon us. The same Congressional Democrats who oppose every attempt by Trump to get along with nuclear-armed Russia were declaring that Trump’s finger on the button constituted an imminent threat.

Two November’s later and the President is juggling three major efforts to resolve longstanding international standoffs: in Korea, in relations with Russia, and, yes, even in Afghanistan. Talks with the Taliban via the Gulf sheikhs, are reportedly ongoing.

In addition to this three-pronged program to disentangle us from the worst of the world’s woes, there are numerous trade negotiations with our alleged “allies,” who – along with their American cheerleaders – seem to think that “free trade” means free entry for them and no entry for American products. Trump is rightly disabusing them of this curious notion.

Tariffs are simply taxes on US consumers and special favors for industries whose well-known inefficiencies will become even more prominent. They hurt the very people who voted for Trump: the Walmart crowd, where the aisles are thick with goods made in China, Vietnam, and Korea. They benefit almost no one – and yet the mere threat of them is apparently enough to break the protectionist blockade that has snarled international trade. Trump’s hardball approach to trade talks led to opening up European and Korean markets to American goods.

The US holds the trump card, if you will, due to the nature of the very bad deal we made with our allies, client states, and protectorates. In return for allowing American soldiers on their territory, these outposts of empire were given free access to our markets, with their own markets effectively closed.

Trump has reversed the terms of this unbalanced arrangement, openly wondering why we’re defending half the world while they’re picking our pockets. Why do we need US troops in Korea? Trump is the first President to ask such a heretical question, and it’s shaking the foreign policy Establishment because that means the old deal – we occupy their country, they occupy our industries – is now off.

In short, the inward-looking nationalism of Trump and his supporters is the best possible news for opponents of our foreign policy of global intervention. Whatever erroneous economic and social policies this administration may carry out, the orderly dismantling of the burden of empire will automatically reduce the size and power of government regardless of Trump’s intentions – or anyone else’s.

Ignorant of any meaningful history, our political class automatically associates nationalism with, say, Prussian militarism, or its demonic successor. They imagine they’re living in a novel by Upton Sinclair. They have such contempt for their own country and history that they don’t even know where they are.

The American Revolution was a miraculous victory for a cause that has triumphed nowhere else on earth: the libertarian principle of individual rights guaranteed by a state whose boundaries are strictly limited. The Revolution, a war of national liberation, resulted in the founding of a regime of liberty: American nationalists fought and won the first and only libertarian revolution.

This is a nationalism where the crucial difference between the Nation and the State must be recognized: the former is the natural product of culture, language, history, and other sensibilities too numerous to list, while the latter is a nonproductive accretion, thought by many to be an evil necessity – a debate I happily avoid.

Yes, I realize that in this age of angst, my message of lightening skies goes against the conventional wisdom of dark skies and thunderstorms ahead. Yet I think that those who are capable of some degree of objectivity will see the logic of my optimism.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

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Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is editor-at-large at Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].