Friday, January 06, 2017

What Part of Support Friends and Oppose Foes is Unclear?

Doug Bandow has a column that demonstrates why I dislike the National Interest and CATO on foreign affairs. In his eagerness to gain Russia as a friend, he basically does what President Obama has done for 8 years--prioritize giving in to foes to make them friends, while stiffing actual friends.

Bandow basically comes off as an insulting jerk toward anyone that wants to oppose our enemies.

He spends most of an essay supposedly about how to use a Nixonian approach to dividing China and Russia with those insults, a description of the Nixon opening to China, and with serial excuses for why Russia should worry about American intentions.

Seriously, countries and people want freedom and America is at fault for supporting them in their fear of Russia and Russian oppression.

If countries didn't desperately want to get into NATO because of that fear of Russia, nobody would have joined NATO.

If people didn't want to rise up to achieve freedom against pro-Russian autocrats, there would have been nobody to support.

Isn't the problem Russia? Why are we to blame for their, ah, more selective appeal? We did not create Russian hostility.

And then comes the tiny policy suggestion that we emulate Nixon and split the budding Russian-Chinese team.

How? Who knows after reading that article:

America is a great power. But it should not needlessly create enemies and encourage them to ally with each other. If Donald Trump succeeds in improving relations with Russia, he would have the salutary side effect of discouraging creation of a common Russo-Chinese front against the United States. Richard Nixon’s China policy offers a model for the incoming Trump administration: Make up with at least one of the important powers potentially arrayed against America. The United States should not feel the need to take on the rest of the world.

His statement of the obvious is hard to argue with. He clearly thinks that we should make up with Russia as the priority to avoid "creating" too many enemies.

Nixon had the ability to focus America and China on a common enemy the Soviet Union to suppress American-Chinese friction.

Pray tell, what is the common powerful enemy that looms over Russia and America that could push us together?

Or what is the common enemy that could push China and America together, as long as Bandow doesn't care?

There is no common enemy that each of us needs the other to face down at the moment. Without that, the appeal to a Nixonian strategy is pointless.

And if China and Russia are committed to territorial aggression at the expense of our friends and allies, the only way to ally with one over the other is to appease one of the two and accept their aggression against our friends and allies in one of the hemispheres.

If we do that, the power we gain from having either Russia or China as an ally rather than a foe (from their power and the ability to focus our power away from that new ally) will lose ground as allies pull away from us, convinced we can't be trusted to help them against our new friend.

Mind you, I'm all in favor of China focusing inland where Russia wants to dominate their former republics to get China focused on anybody but America and our regional Pacific allies. I've long been in favor of this approach, which increases frictions with Russia.

But this is way different than Bandow's appeasement approach dressed up as Nixonian brilliance that blames America for the hostility and so gives in to one foe to hope they will help us with the other foe.

Haven't we tried that as a general policy for 8 years under President Obama?

I'd rather focus on exacerbating their problems with each other to break their budding anti-America focused friendship without surrendering national objectives or abandoning allies to do so.