Foreign Policy, Security, Top Stories, US Election, World Affairs

Sanders’ Indifferent City on a Hill

In the months since the outbreak of a deadly global pandemic, Americans have rediscovered the world outside. None of the contenders vying for the presidency in 2020 has articulated a particularly coherent or ambitious global role for America. But the only candidate who seems to understand at least that foreign policy is not a dispensable part of American politics is Joe Biden. It is possible that the appearance of a lethal virus incubated in the wet markets of Wuhan has persuaded voters in the Democratic primaries that Biden is the only viable option in a world of such bleak possibilities.

The current incumbent, of course, is wedded to an “America-First” program—in truth, little more than an irritable mental gesture, to borrow Lionel Trilling’s gruff description of conservatism—that is plainly ill-suited to a superpower in an interconnected world. Trump’s brash pursuit of transactional dealing and short-term self-interest is also incompatible with the design of American power in a democratic order. Meanwhile, the Democratic field, evincing a deep-seated provincialism, has not inspired confidence about its willingness to defend U.S. interests and uphold U.S. values in an increasingly hostile geopolitical environment.

This is most particularly true of Bernie Sanders. There has been no shortage of confusion about the leadership we might have expected from the aging but callow Vermont senator, but some of his defenders have implausibly claimed that his election would make Putin tremble. Sanders himself has promised to scale back America’s power in the world without ceding any of its influence. His surrogates liked to say that downgrading the U.S. military is actually part of an idealistic agenda to defend freedom abroad. In fact, Sanders’ vision betrayed an urge to leave the world alone in the vain hope that the world would return the favor.

A worldview should surely first be a view encompassing the world. But, by even this standard, the vision of many progressives fails to qualify. Their own version of “America Firstism” can be traced back to Randolph Bourne, who, as part of Greenwich Village’s “lyrical Left,” was a leading opponent of American engagement in the Great War. Bourne lobbied against that intervention on the grounds that because “the promise of American life is not yet achieved… there is nothing for us but stern and intensive cultivation of our garden.” Sanders seems to have buttressed Bourne’s injunction with a potent strand of specifically Jewish thought. The Hebrew prophets claimed that if the ancient Israelites honored God by acting justly (that is, if they stopped abusing the poor), He would protect them from Assyrian and Babylonian conquerors. They would live at peace in their land forever and, according to the Book of Isaiah, be a light unto the nations.

These two traditions combine to produce in a presidential candidate a crabbed conception of American purpose in the world—a conception that permits a glimpse of the domestic garden and little else besides. And it has been vividly displayed during both Sanders’ lengthy political career and his latest campaign in his style and substance. The socialist contender seldom missed a chance to belittle the constitutional role of the presidency, as when he suggested that the title of “commander-in-chief” is of no greater import than that of “organizer-in-chief.” One might expect a candidate who claims the mantle of Franklin Roosevelt to grasp the United States’ historic vocation as democracy’s arsenal. But as a consistent opponent of American power, Sanders has stubbornly refused to acknowledge that “anti-militarism” would invariably diminish America’s global influence.

Skeptics on this point should acquaint themselves with the argument of Robert Kaplan’s Imperial Grunts, an illuminating portrait of the network of military bases America maintains in ungovernable spaces to deter its enemies and expand its influence on foreign shores. From Colombia to Mongolia and the Philippines, the U.S. military is not merely conducting counter-insurgency warfare in what Kaplan calls “Injun country,” but acquiring clout in remote backwaters by training local troops to operate under constitutional government.

But Sanders’ prescription for America’s geopolitical conduct ignores all this. Act justly at home and our home will be secure, he assures his voters. In this conception, power—even great power in the age of Pax Americana—is obsolete in global politics. Domestic nation-building offers the recipe for success in the world, or at any rate, avoiding costly entanglements abroad seems to be a recipe for success at home. Sanders and his acolytes often point to the social democratic model of Scandinavia as guidance for domestic policy. However threadbare this narrative, it is no coincidence that Scandinavia has traditionally absented itself from an active role in global affairs (albeit with a fig leaf of humanitarian action), and perhaps this is what truly appeals to Sanders’ disciples.

The yearning for a Scandinavian foreign policy allows less extreme Democrats in the mold of Senator Elizabeth Warren to profess solidarity with the besieged people of Idlib while abjuring the means to break the siege of Idlib. But at the very moment Warren insisted there was no military solution to the Syrian crisis, that crisis was being resolved militarily—by the enemies of the Syrian revolution. Subsequently, Turkey intervened to halt Assad’s advance and brought at least a temporary respite to the crisis—likewise by military means.

Although the professional class that now occupies a dominant position in the Democratic Party is beginning to sweat an economic revolution from below, its wiser heads should recognize that his embrace of a world stripped of American power is no less speculative and risky than his advocacy of Medicare for All. His strong distaste for American power, and a corresponding sympathy with America’s foes, forecloses the possibility of a decent internationalism. This is why, however internationalist it is in theory, the Left frequently fails to be internationalist in practice.

The desire to focus America’s finite energy and resources on creating a more just society at home is not new. But neither is the counter-argument. In A Foreign Policy for the Left, the liberal philosopher Michael Walzer makes a bracing case for what he calls an “internationalism of agency.” Although the default position of leftism has become a strict neutrality in world affairs in deed (if not always in word), there was a time when a policy of national strength and solidarity with the oppressed prevailed on the Left.

The searing experience of World War Two—and of the low, dishonest decade of national weakness and appeasement that preceded it—instructed mainstream liberals of the day that the cause of liberty needed to be defended abroad if it was to prevail at home, and that this could only be achieved with American engagement and, in the final analysis, American power. Human nature and the international system needed to be understood plainly and stoically, and this meant disposing of utopian fantasies about the end of conflict that had disfigured the liberal creed during the interwar years. The architects of American strategy in this period took responsibility for upholding the world order, lest American retrenchment invite further aggression from authoritarians bent on conquest and plunder. Whatever the cost of America’s worldwide imperium, it would pale beside the price tag imposed if the world slipped into another devastating conflict.

To discharge this solemn responsibility, American leaders kept their nation’s military might beyond challenge, and wielded it with confidence. They garrisoned hundreds of thousands of troops overseas, especially in Europe and along the Pacific Rim where the pillars of world order seemed to be the most crucial but also fragile. They fought wars in distant lands unknown to most Americans but vital to maintaining what Truman’s Secretary of State Dean Acheson called an “environment of freedom” in the world. They assured the rights of international trade in the global commons. They amassed arsenals of frighteningly destructive weapons to deter threats to American primacy.

But at some point during the course of the Vietnam War, this armed liberalism gave way to a more insular and reactionary strand of progressive thought: anti-imperialism or even anti-Americanism. It was not merely disarmed of the belief in power, it also often seemed to abandon faith in liberalism itself. In Walzer’s estimation, the modern reluctance to take sides in ideological or martial struggles for power has been a “highly principled failure.” The aversion to forceful action on the world stage is essentially a negative posture. It is often “lazily adopted and rigidly held,” and agitates to “bear witness” (in Obama’s preferred formulation) to the abuse of human rights while resisting the deployment of military power that might prevent the abuse of human rights. This passive view rests on the assumptions that little good can be found in foreign adventures, and that the improvement of humanity begins at home.

Be that as it may, there is an awful lot of humanity to be improved away from home, too—and a great deal of mischief to be found through American abstention. “A wholesale rejection of militarism (and a reflexive refusal to vote for the military budget) is the most common Left position,” Walzer writes. The problem for the Left is that its deep distrust of power is an invitation, as Robert Frost once observed, not to take its own side in a fight. And in this way, the higher goals to which the Left often pays lip service—the promotion of democracy and human rights—are impeded and betrayed. This contradiction often makes modern leftism the author of its own misfortunes. In Walzer’s eyes, it deprives the Left of both political intelligence and moral sensitivity. It has found one of its truest expressions in the provincial figure of Bernie Sanders, would-be steward of an isolated and indifferent city on a hill.

Any inquest into Sanders’ foreign policy proclivities should begin by asking if his posture toward the global order would be any different were he standing for office in, say, Belgium or Brazil. Surely it would not, because Sanders’ mistake is to see America as just a normal country like any other. But America is not a “normal” country, and does not function like one in the world. The effort to make it one for the sake of tending to America’s garden would be ruinous. As a German politician put it toward the end of the 19th century: “What good are the best social reforms if the Cossacks come?”

 

Brian Stewart is a New York-based political writer primarily focused on U.S. foreign and defense policy. You can follow him on Twitter @bstewart1776

Featured Image by Gage Skidmore (Flickr)

Comments

  1. There is a logical error that most foreign policy experts commit, by falling into the trap of binary systems. The situation requires more nuance than simply subscribing to foreign intervention, or not, as the case may be. Two observations need to be made about American power, to understand it’s role and significance. First, that the mere existence of American Power, along the with the implicit threat of it’s use, provokes a host of positive responses, as well a few negative ones. This also extends to America’s use of trade vetoes, given it’s vital economic role in the world.

    But the second observation is the important one, when it comes to formulating a more productive role in the world. Because if it is inevitable that America always wins the war, it is also true that it almost always loses the peace. There seems to a cognitive trap that American politicians vis-à-vis the moral justifications for war. In other words, because America is a force for good, it must always stay to rebuild and model Democracy in it’s own image. This inevitably leads to occupations and the insurgencies they create, except in the rare instances where aggressors have been foolish enough to provoke American action.

    It should suffice to know that war can never be good, or even just. There is no ambiguity here. But sometimes it’s use has the merit of being the least bad, of an exceptionally poor set of choices. With this realisation should come the imperative to explain to the American people that any military should be swift, short and above all, not lead to open-ended commitments. It might require a significant investment in far greater air transport capacity, to provide humanitarian aid in the aftermath of war, but this would also be extraordinarily useful for military purposes.

    With this simple formula recent American history would be entirely different, especially in relation to the oft repeated fiction that Islamic terrorism would not exist without American provocation. American politicians need to stop underestimating the American people and simply explain- war is never just, but it’s often better than the alternative.

  2. It was all going so well until you mentioned Idlib and “the enemies of the Syrian revolution” If there ever was anything like a democratic revolutionary movement fighting against the Assad government, it’s now dead and buried. Idlib is now dominated by violent Jihadists and their Turkish military supporters. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, previously known as Al-Nusra controls that territory and is a franchisee of the same blood thirsty lunatics that attacked America on 9/11. Their revolution is for an Islamic caliphate. Both logic and morality dictate that Washington should give full support to Moscow and Damascus to destroy them. It is a testament to how twisted Americas’ political logic has become that a female Senator can give cover to such people.

  3. What is this globalist nonsense and what is it doing on my Intellectual Dark Web platform? Is there some crippling shortage of globalism? Or is it being censored all over the web? No and no.

    Idlib? Wasn’t that debunked by OPCW as a false flag? Wait, that was Douma. And Aleppo. It’s hard to keep all these operations clear. https://wikileaks.org/opcw-douma/

    Russia didn’t destabilize the Middle East, Russia didn’t overthrow Gaddafi, Russia didn’t arm and train Jihadists in Syria, Russia didn’t create the refugee crisis.

    In 2016, then Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed this policy in a leaked audio conversation, saying that the U.S., rather than seriously fighting the Islamic State in Syria, was ready to use the growing strength of the jihadists to pressure Assad to resign

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4phB-_pXDM

    “the cause of liberty needed to be defended abroad if it was to prevail at home”

    This is a non-sequitur. It makes no sense and is unbacked by evidence.

    “Whatever the cost of America’s worldwide imperium, it would pale beside the price tag imposed if the world slipped into another devastating conflict.”

    Another false statement. The crimes globalists hope to prevent in the future are imaginary. The ones they commit in the present–they are real. Remember our wonderful war in Afghanistan? Turns out it has been based on lies for over a decade. https://newrepublic.com/article/155977/media-ignoring-afghanistan-papers

    China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that’s why they’re ahead of us. In almost every way.

    Globalists are now beginning to discover what many voters intuitively believed back in the 1990s. Building a globalist world order is much more expensive and difficult than it appeared in a quarter-century ago, when America was unopposed. Further, Washington’s foreign-policy establishment is neither as wise nor as competent as it believes itself to be.

    “They assured the rights of international trade in the global commons.”

    This international trade impoverished and ruined the American working class. More of this policy isn’t in the interests of the American people. Coronavirus has made clear that the future of making things lies in our own country, not in outsourcing critical needs and putting our working class in competition with slave labor. That’s one of the reasons the Romans fell.

    It’s an argument that today’s progressive globalists have borrowed from libertarians: immigration or trade that depresses the wages of Americans is still justified if it makes immigrants or foreign workers better off. In other words, f*** you, working class.

    I’ve got an idea: Let’s ruin the profits of the Blackwaters and Lockheed Martins of this world. The US is in a perpetual war for the benefit of the military industrial complex. Not enough money for infrastructure, education, environmental protection, healthcare for all, social security BUT there is always money for wars and increased military spending. The middle class working Americans are being ripped off right and left to fund a globalist world order that will never benefit them.

  4. Let’s say a presidential candidate runs on a platform of absolutely no US involvement, particularly covert involvement in foreign countries . Would this be a vote winner? Absolutely. However would the deep state allow it and just pack up and go home? Not a chance. The deep state is far too enmeshed to go anywhere. Plus what would the army do?

  5. Wouldn’t that make it just, though?

    You earlier joined “good” and “just”. (“It should suffice to know that war can never be good, or even just.”) These words are sometimes but not always the same, I think. Surely some wars can be just while not being good. Just as hanging a murderer may be just, while not being good.

  6. Sanders and his acolytes often point to the social democratic model of Scandinavia as guidance for domestic policy.

    I can think of a number of times that Sanders has expressed personal admiration for several Hispanic Marxist dictatorships (no, I’m not going to link), but I don’t recall any photographs being passed around of him standing next to Scandinavian premiers and economists, and saying nice things about them, by name, on 60 Minutes. (If so, I’ve missed it.)

    In fact, I’m not yet convinced that he even knows any Scandinavians beyond saying hello at a Washington cocktail party. This Scandinavian narrative seems like a complete fantasy.

  7. Right here I lost all respect for this author’s leftist sloganeering:

    “The current incumbent, of course, is wedded to an “America-First” program—in truth, little more than an irritable mental gesture, to borrow Lionel Trilling’s gruff description of conservatism—that is plainly ill-suited to a superpower in an interconnected world. Trump’s brash pursuit of transactional dealing and short-term self-interest is also incompatible with the design of American power in a democratic order.”

    Who is this pompous NY writer I have never heard of. The only thing between us and our demolition by the Chinese Communists is Trump. Has the author ever run a business, been in the military or driven a trunk. His lack of perspective comes from a life isolated in an ivory tower with his own writings and limited reading.
    Heck, if he can insult so blithely, so can I …

  8. No, I see the necessities of war, but just feel our leaders should be a lot wiser in wielding it. In particular we should be wary of open-ended commitments or conflicts that are claimed to achieve moral aims. The concept of sovereign rights guarantees every people a right to self-determinism, democratic or not, and no matter how odious their situation seems from the West’s point of view. We should only declare war when our own interests are threatened and when a legitimate casus belli presents itself.

    Morality only has a role in war at the level of the individual’s conduct and through the mechanism of the Uniform Code. States are morally ambiguous beasts at best, no matter that patriotic zeal might seem to contradict this notion.

    My father, who served is the US Armed Forces, used to say that America could not go to war, unless it first built-up a hate factor.

  9. The left’s "deep distrust of power is an invitation. . . not to take its own side in a fight. And in this way, the higher goals to which the Left often pays lip service—the promotion of democracy and human rights—are impeded and betrayed.

    This article is based on an unexamined assumption – that US foreign policy is designed to promote democracy and human rights. It is not. Sometimes as an aside the pursuit of global hegemony benefits positive values, quite often it does not. Our impact on the Middle East and Southeast Asia, for example, have been apocalyptic.

    The author believes Sanders and the left forsake progressive development by opposing militarism. Ridiculous. It is the lust for power and empire that disrupt improvements at home and abroad.

    We spend 40% of the entire world’s military budget. Regular Americans get nothing but misery for this. It’s the proconsuls and their mouth pieces that benefit. This article is total gas lighting.

  10. Stewart states:

    But the only candidate who seems to understand at least that foreign policy is not a dispensable part of American politics is Joe Biden.

    and

    Trump’s brash pursuit of transactional dealing and short-term self-interest is also incompatible with the design of American power in a democratic order.

    Wow! Did Quillette just turn into the New York Times (Grin).

    First off, all but the most ardent establishment Democrats are not sure that Joe Biden understands much about anything these days. But let’s go to his second statement. It is presented as fact with no discussion, no defense and no evidence to back it up. Trump has been in power for 3.5 years. We need to ask two questions

    1. How has Trump done as regards foreign policy?

    2. Should the mission of the United States be the same as it was in 1945 when we were the only major country not in ruins following the Second War? This is the position that most in the establishment, both Republicans and Democrats, have taken since the end of WWII. It has led to our endless wars in the Middle East and to the ceding of much of our industrial power to China.

    Question 1: There two major rogue states in the world: North Korea and Iran. The ruler of Korea, wanted attention. Trump along with South Korea, gave it to him in a positive way. Trump was the first leader to meet with a ruler of North Korea. North Korea was featured at the Winter Olympics. As a result, tensions have been materially reduced with North Korea for quite a while. No NK will not give up nuclear weapons and Trump will not reduce sanctions. But they have stopped launching missiles over Japan.

    Since 9/11 the major foreign policy goal of the United States has been to fight terrorism. However, we have doing so, with on hand tied behind our back. It has never been a secret that much of the funding for terrorist activities has come from Iran. Iran was directly responsible for the deaths of 100’s of U.S. soldiers during the Iraq War, largely through the export of shaped-charge mines designed to penetrate U.S. armor. They are the primary financiers of both Hezbollah and Hames as well as numerous other terrorist organizations. Obama tried buying them off with the nuclear deal. That was a miserable failure. Iran used the influx of cash, to among other things fund groups in Iraq that carried out numerous attacks against U.S. bases. The Katyusha rockets recently fired on a U.S base likely came from Iran. Before Trump terminated the nuclear deal and imposed major sanctions on Iran, Iran was exporting 2.8 million barrels of oil per day before the sanction were re-imposed. Now they are exporting around 120,000 and the regime has been forced to reduce funding to terrorist organizations.
    As someone who is very active in AIPAC, I get to listing to briefings given to AIPAC officers by very high-level officials in the Israel military and intelligence. I listened to one of the top intelligence officials from Israel yesterday. He stated that the effect of Soleimani’s termination on the reduction of Middle Eastern terrorism was huge. He stated that, Soleimani was a genius and his replacement is nowhere near as good. The official noted that Soleimani’s replacement does not even speak Arabic very well. Add in the destruction of ISIS and it is clear that Trump has done far more to reduce terrorism in the Middle East in four years than Obama did in eight.

    Question 2: It is the second question that is the more important one. In 1945 Europe and Asia were in ruins and it was up to the U.S. to rebuild those countries. World War II was closely followed by the Cold War and the U.S. was the only country that could stand up to Soviet Union expansionism. But the countries have long since been rebuilt and the Cold War is over. So should our role change? Trump was the only candidate in 2016 to suggest that it should. Establishment Republicans and Democrats were aghast. Everyone in the cognoscenti has seen globalism, with the U.S. at the lead as the future. And yes, for members of the cognoscenti, it has been great. I have a house full of cheap shit from China. I pay less to have my lawn mowed today than I did ten years ago. Same with getting my house painted or driveway power washed

    But globalism has had a huge cost. It is called labor arbitrage. The manufacturing cities of the 50’s and 60’s have been hollowed out. Good blue-collar manufacturing jobs have been replaced by far lower paying service jobs. Biden’s answer is to tell displaced workers to learn how to code??? And he’s your man? Tell you what Stewart: Why don’t you try learning a little C++ or Python? But that has been the answer for many in the establishment. These jobs are gone. Get over it. But is that really the best answer. Or should we, as a country, actually care about those who are not members of the cultural elite. When the factory closes everyone loses their jobs, regardless of race, creed, color, or gender.

    Then there are the endless wars. Stewart does not care about them because he will never fight in one. He will never know anyone who fights in one. He will sit safe and sound in his New York high rise and never know what “incoming” means. My son is career military and like many in his profession he spent his time in Afghanistan. To be clear he WANTED to go there. I am inordinately proud of my son for his service, but I can’t help but wonder WTF he was accomplishing. What is our strategy for Afghanistan? To turn a highly corrupt government into Jeffersonian Democracy? Does anyone really think that is going to happen? The Afghans have been fighting the foreign infidel since Alexander the Great. In between wars with the infidels they fight each other. They are a stone age tribal society with no national identity. We will never change them. How much blood and treasure should we be willing to expend to try?

    Nether Bush, nor Clinton, nor Bush II, nor Obama ever asked these questions. Trump was the first. We cannot be isolationists. But neither should we be the protectors of and providers for the world in the name of a policy that passed its “by sell date” a long time ago. There is a middle ground. But Trump is president of the United States. He is not the President of the world. Xi looks out for the interests of China. Why is it a bad thing that Trump looks out for the interests of United States and actually negotiates deals favorable to the United States. Why can’t wealthy European nations like Germany pay more for their own defense? Why have people like Stewart never asked these questions? If Stewart wants to defend the status quo than he needs to come up with a better answer than orange man bad.

  11. Do you really think we have free trade with China??? Really???

    I will l agree that it is free trade on our side. We have been played for fools by China for years

    How is negotiating deals that advantage the U.S. tyranny?

  12. The M1 Abrams battle tank is the most advanced tank in the world. Should we outsource production to China? Should we do it if we have free trade with that country? Most people would answer no. Most would say that we should not trust the defense of our country to a strategic adversary. And I agree!

    But Abrams tanks take a lot of steel and until recently much of the steel used in the United States came from China. In addition to cheap labor and extensive use of coal to keep energy costs down, China very heavily subsidizes core industries like steel to drive world competitors out of business. U.S. companies, which are not subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer, cannot compete. So, if we lose the ability to produce our own steel, we can’t make Abrams tanks.

    Today, first responders are at great risk because they do not have enough N95 masks and surgical gowns. People are sewing them at home. Part of the reason for this is that most are made in China. 90% of the drugs we take are made in China. Europe is about to hand over their cellular network to Huawei, another highly subsidized company despite obvious security issues.

    All decisions to outsource our industries were made on sound business principles. As I mentioned, I have a house full of cheap shit from China. But would good is having cheap toys when fewer of our citizens can afford them. How can we keep our country strong when every product we rely on to do some comes from somewhere else?

    What you call tyranny I call patriotism. I am not against trade. Far from it! The first company I founded was an international geoscience services group. When I sold it, we had 35 scientists and engineers working in seven countries. And personally, Trump’s steel tariffs cost me money. We use a lot of steel in the oil biz, largely tubular goods. But I also understand that things are never simple. Free trade can be, but is not always a win-win situation. The Congressional Research Service Report on the TPP noted that there would be job losses in manufacturing if the agreement went though. Is the TPP fixable? Possibly. But it is hardly “the gold standard” as described by Hillary and it is not a free trade agreement. Tariffs unfair to the U.S. are reduced in many cases but not eliminated. We give up more than we gain. As a country, we have an obligation to protect our core industries from predatory practices by other countries. We should negotiate trade agreements with the country’s interests in mind, not Jeff Bezos’ or Hillary Clinton’s.

    Not all wars are fought with bullets.

    “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” Vladimir Ilich Lenin

    https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R44489.pdf

  13. “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” Vladimir Ilich Lenin

    I love this quote. What did Lenin think they would use for money? They could print all the rubles they wanted but it would be worthless to the rest of the world. They had oil and gold I suppose, but they had to use all the foreign currency they could get to buy food from the West to keep their people from starving. They didn’t have enough left over for enough rope to hang all the Capitalists.

  14. Not true. You could argue the same thing as regards ship and aircraft. but like ships and aircraft, tanks and other armored vehicles are being equipped with active protection systems. Israel’s Trophy system is currently being installed on Abrams tanks

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JI0cYo6rag

    Other companies, such as Lockheed and GD are also developing active protection systems for armored vehicles. In addition we are seeing advances in reactive armor.

    https://www.gd-ots.com/protection-systems/active-protection-systems/

    Is infantry obsolete? Men move slower than tanks. No military expert believes that armor, including heavy tanks, is obsolete on the modern battlefield. In fact the ARMY has been moving towards increased use of armored vehicles (ex. MRAP tactical vehicles) Armor has always been deployed with infantry and more recently, air assets, to ensure survivability. Do you really think that the military (U.S. and other developed countries) does not war game armored assets against sophisticated adversaries or that they have not thought about survivability?

    Tanks will evolve. They may look different in the future. They may be autonomous vehicles. They may use energy weapons. But armor will be with us for a while.

    As for the rest, I never said I was against trade as you seem to think. I said I was for trade and trade deals that help our country and our citizens

  15. Politically speaking I consider myself an independent, but in all presidential elections I choose to participate I have voted for the democratic candidate. In the early aughts I was philosophical inclined to agree with the protests against the Iraq war. While most democrats of any power of substance were for the war before they were against it, I thought it was a bad idea. However given the United States reliance on petroleum inputs into the economy at that time I recognize the very real necessity of the United States involvement in the region.

    Due to the shale revolution the United States has become energetically independent from the Middle East. This allows us much greater leeway in how we engage that region and the entire world as a whole. This means that as a country our military engagements will probable be more limited and tactical in nature. Due to the strikes by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, the surprise by the Chinese in Korea, and the attack by Al Qaeda on NYC; neither political party of the establishment will embrace the pacifism/idealism that are exemplified by Woodrow Wilson’s league of nations and peace in our time. Thus we will maintain our armies and our super ordinate sea power, in case a country is again foolish enough to attack the U.S…

    I brought up Tulsi not because she is anti-war, she is not, on the left she represents the most nuanced view towards war and war in that region, but she cannot pull delegates. On the whole those who identify left, left leaning or leftist are usually more pacifistic (at least until they get power). So, if a democratic candidate makes war and the reduction of war power in the middle-east part her platform but does not pull more than 2% of the vote; I don’t believe there is broad support for anti-war/pacifistic sentiment in the American populous as a whole.

    To give due credit where it is due the bulk of my thoughts and opinions on Geo-politics and international studies arise out of the work of Peter Zeihan.

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