Who, what and where is Senator John Cornyn? Contact him!
Where is John Cornyn? He will not attend Town Hall meetings. He has sided with Obama, the democrats and establishment republicans like McCain coalition telling the American public that the Senators Lee and Cruz plan to Defund Obamacare will not work, when the Heritage Foundation has endorsed it.
Who, what and where is Senator John Cornyn? Contact him!
Contributed by Matthew Parks
The Federalist Today
New York, NY
During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama sharply criticized President George W. Bush for damaging the American name abroad, punctuated by a trip to Germany to address the “people of the world” as a “proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.” He spoke of the need for united efforts against terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change, global poverty, genocide, and the metaphorical “walls” that divide one people from another. Tomorrow, he’ll speak again in Germany, this time as president, but having done surprisingly little to improve America’s standing among the “people of the world.”
At the time Mr. Obama issued his criticism of President Bush, worldwide approval of U.S. leadership was just 34%, according to Gallup polling. A year later, with Mr. Obama in the White House, it was 51%–and the President was fitting himself for a Nobel Peace Prize. But today it is down to 41%, a troubling development–at least within the confines of the President’s foreign policy vision.
“Soft power,” a term coined by Harvard Professor Joseph Nye, is a measure of a nation’s ability “to get what [it wants] through attraction rather than through coercion.” Five years of good will tours, relationship “resets,” apologies, and “leading from behind” make it clear that President Obama seeks to gain “soft power” influence with other nations by presenting to the world, in word and deed, a teddy-bear America: cute, cuddly, and non-threatening–if perhaps a few sizes too large to fit comfortably in a baby’s crib.
The American founders also understood that physical force is not the only useful tool in international relations. But, as we see in Federalist 4, they had a very different notion of what it means to cultivate foreign friendships.
President Obama will speak before Berlin’s famous Brandenburg Gate, which, ironically, was commissioned by the Barack Obama of the founders’ day, King Frederick William II of Prussia. The King wanted a gate worthy of “an Athens on the River Spree,” a teddy-bear Prussia, re-branded after the belligerent reign of Frederick the Great. The gate was topped with a statue of the Roman goddess of victory, driving a four-horse chariot and adorned with a laurel of peace, a classical image the well-educated of Napoleon’s army must have appreciated as they marched triumphantly through the gate less than twenty years after it was built.
Meanwhile, in the backwaters of North America, John Jay (having benefitted from reading Thucydides and Herodotus during his own classical education) was arguing that only a strong Union would protect the United States from foreign aggressors. All the good intentions and statues in the world (nevermind “big data” phone records) mean little without the means and ends that link real victory to real peace.
That such aggressors will exist is at once assumed and demonstrated in Federalist 4 by a brief review of America’s commercial rivalries with Britain and France, among others. More generally, Jay warns that the United States should not expect other nations to “regard our advancement in union, in power and consequence by land and by sea, with an eye of indifference and composure.” Nations, like individuals, often resent the progress of others in power and prosperity, with or without just cause.
Nevertheless, Jay argues at the end of the essay that the United States might, instead, have nations seeking its friendship. How does a nation turn rivals into friends?
The answer is not doing the sorts of things that impress the Nobel Peace Prize Committee. Rather it is by being a nation that others are eager to befriend in the way that second cousins are eager to reconnect with lottery-winning relatives: because it is their interest to do so.
The Founders argued that nations do very little out of gratitude as we would define it in a personal relationship. George Washington’s Farewell Address included a strong warning against expecting favors from other countries. Alexander Hamilton, writing in defense of American neutrality in the war that followed the French Revolution, argued in Pacificus no. 4 that: “It may be affirmed as a general principle, that the predominant motive of good offices from one nation to another is the interest or advantage of the Nation, which performs them.”
This explains why Jay’s foreign policy to-do list looks very different from President Obama’s: “If they see that our national government is efficient and well administered, our trade prudently regulated, our militia properly organized and disciplined, our resources and finances discreetly managed, our credit re-established, our people free, contented, and united, they will be much more disposed to cultivate our friendship than provoke our resentment.”
It is hard to miss how many of our present difficulties are enumerated here.
While the President will attempt to teleprompt cosmopolitan confidence before the subjects of the EU nanny state tomorrow, his peers watching around the world won’t be fooled. They see the bunglings of an Administration whose signature piece of legislation, Obamacare, has been called a “trainwreck” by its friends–and the cravenness of an Administration that would rather blame an American citizen than foreign operatives for the death of its diplomats abroad. They see a ruling class incapable of acknowledging, much less rectifying, our nation’s long-term financial insolvency (including a 30-year deficit recently projected to be $107 trillion). They see an American public demoralized by a seemingly-endless economic slump, now grown suspicious of a government apparently filled with snoops, sycophants, and partisan muscle-men. As Jay put it: “But whatever may be our situation … certain it is, that foreign nations will know and view it exactly as it is; and they will act toward us accordingly.” Meanwhile, the cynics may simply chuckle, wondering, as the United States grows weaker, why Americans could have ever believed they could escape the long shadow of self-serving government.
Nevertheless, Americans once had good reason to believe they could establish “good government from reflection and choice,” even when none of the items on Jay’s list could be taken for granted. Despite their own trials with Napoleon (and his British enemies), they built a nation strong enough and free enough to attract friends and discourage enemies, so that, by 1838, it was not unreasonable for twenty-nine year-old Abraham Lincoln to boast: “All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years…. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
Last week was the 26th anniversary of President Reagan’s memorable speech before the same Brandenburg Gate. Speaking to an Old World that had barely survived one suicide attempt and was still contemplating another, President Reagan issued his stirring challenge: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” The Soviet leader, of course, demurred, but the people of Germany didn’t–the fatal draught from the poisoned cup deferred, at least, to another day.
Regardless of what President Obama says tomorrow, the realities of our weakened condition will remain for the world–and, if we are willing, for us–to see. But equally visible, if we are willing, is the way forward, outlined two and a quarter centuries ago for a people whose own future seemed at least as precarious and uncertain as ours.
Contributed by Matthew Parks
The Federalist Today
New York, NY
The President advocated a common sense principle at the National Defense University last month that he would do well to heed in his meetings with Chinese leader Xi Jinping over the next two days: “We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us.” Though the context was the “war on terrorism,” the principle is universal. Unfortunately, there is little evidence from the summit’s preliminary meetings that the Obama Administration thinks there is any struggle with China that needs defining.
After meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Fan Changlong, soon-to-be former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon argued, “An essential part of building a new model for relations between great powers is ensuring we have a healthy, stable and reliable military to military relationship.” Just how close American-Chinese military relations should be is unclear, given the news a few days later that Chinese hackers have acquired the designs for dozens of U.S. weapons systems critical to American defense operations in the Pacific–a fact Mr. Donilon certainly knew when he made his statement.
Perhaps even more striking, however, is Mr. Donilon’s claim to be “building a new model for relations between great powers.” Here, he was eagerly seconded by Mr. Fan, who advocated “a new type of major power relations.” Which, do you think, was serious?
Fifteen years ago Congress, by a 409-10 vote, authorized the creation of a select committee to investigate Chinese efforts to steal American nuclear technology and information. After the release of the committee’s unanimously approved final report, Meet the Press’s Tim Russert asked its author, then-Congressman Christopher Cox, whether he considered China an enemy of the United States. Rep. Cox replied whimsically that the findings showed that the Chinese government are certainly not our friends. What followed thereafter was the typical Beltway two-step: an administrative reform that “fixes” the problem coupled with a half-hearted prosecution to clean up the past. Then, back to business as usual, as the recent revelations remind us.
Non-western leaders–the Chinese foremost among them–have long since learned how to play nice in front of Western cameras and politicians, spouting fantastic platitudes that bear no relation to their past actions or future plans. The degree to which American presidents fall for this game is in proportion to their belief in the fantasy, which means President Obama has a pretty fair chance of being duped–which, in turn, means that the Chinese have a pretty fair chance of buying more time to close the gap between themselves and the United States while the details of Donilon’s “new model” are being worked out.
Liberal Internationalists like President Obama have, for a century, sought to establish a new world order based upon mutual cooperation among all nations. First the League of Nations and then the U.N. were designed to establish a “new model for relations between great powers.” In fact, the success of the U.N. Security Council depends upon such a “new model” already being in place. How else can an institution function that gives an unqualified veto power to five permanent members–the five “great powers” among the victorious World War II allies (the United States, France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China)? In a world where, in fact, the interests of nations conflict–including American and Chinese–it is no wonder that the Security Council has been serially ineffective, crisis after crisis.
The American public has rather easily intuited this conflict, despite our foreign policy establishment’s confusion. This does not make them inherently hawkish; like their predecessors in the founding generation, they seek safety, not conflict–the first object, according to Federalist 3, of “a wise and free people.” But they do understand that nations can not always choose to be at peace, that they will never attain real peace if they haven’t first defined its nature and scope.
In Federalist 3, John Jay begins a two-essay argument demonstrating the advantages of Union for securing the safety of the American people. Ratification of the Constitution, he reasons, means continuing a Union less likely to provoke or invite war than independent states or multiple confederacies.
The heart of Jay’s case is the claim that national leaders are better situated to take a comprehensive view of America’s interests. Being drawn from a larger pool of candidates, they ought to be more wise than their state-level counterparts, and being less engaged by particular local interests, they ought to be more willing to grant the justice of reasonable foreign complaints.
Of course, this analysis is probabilistic and no guarantee that we will always have wise and humble leaders–all the more so when the more measured view of human nature that informed the American founding has been replaced in part with an hyper-optimistic view promising indefinite human progress. Our current foreign policy establishment, like its predecessors for several generations, considers securing the safety of Americans insufficiently grand and embarrassingly parochial to be its principal object. Unfortunately, in attempting to transcend the Founders’ simple mandate, they have too often rendered our safety less secure.
A sensible approach to US-China relations would begin with four basic premises: that the interests of China and the United States are not the same; that China can be expected to employ any means that will advance its interests; that China will prefer fair means to foul only when the price of the latter is greater than the price of the former; that the United States can only impose a price on Chinese bad behavior if it has both the will and the means. These may be platitudes, but they are grounded in reality, not fantasy.
Such principles were certainly understood by the American founders. The infant United States played a weak hand well during the quarter-century of world war that followed the French Revolution. Alexander Hamilton began by getting America’s economic house in order so that a large national debt and a weak manufacturing base didn’t compromise her political independence. George Washington then announced in his Farewell Address that America would judge foreign regimes by their actions (not, as today, by her ideology), while laboring to build a country whose military means commanded the respect of all.
Having become the world’s leading economic and military power, the United States should have long since attained Washington’s object. And yet North Korea keeps testing missiles and threatening California, Latin American strongmen form anti-America coalitions with impunity, and the Arab “Spring” brings repeated attacks on our embassies and consulates. Forget the great powers: we don’t command the respect of the tinpot dictators. Fantasies die hard, but regimes that hold on to them sometimes don’t even notice while they slowly fade away.
C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity that “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.” Because the American foreign policy establishment, like the rest of our ruling class, has a habit of looking down on the American people and their “simplistic” political judgments, it has failed to recognize the guiding constants of international affairs. As long as this remains the case, our national security will grow more precarious.
Various conservative grassroots contributors.
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