Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Light touch

If government is a necessary evil, then let's have small government. By all means. But what about foreign policy? George W. Bush's Big Stick and Barack Obama's efforts to actually earn his Nobel Peace Prize have each foundered. The refugee problem now being experienced in Europe is easily traced to the chaos in the middle east and North Africa. There has not been a big picture (a la George Kennan) assessment of what can be done.

But an intriguing option is discussed by Professor Henry Nau who writes about "How Restraint "Leads to War" in the current Commentary. This is how he concludes (but read the whole thing):
In summary, pursue democracy, but primarily where it counts the most: on the borders of existing free countries. Be willing to use force to make sure the adversary takes negotiations seriously, but also be willing to compromise, because military power is a means and not an end. And advocate democracy, but a democracy of choice and varying traditions that preserves national sovereignty and nurtures global civil society, not centralized international bureaucracies. Above all, recognize that wars result when America is too ambitious and when America is too restrained.
Are the people we elect even capable of exercising a light touch? I do not know. But I wish they would think carefully about Henry Nau's argument. We have seen that large numbers of people die when we err on either side.