Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Tag Archives: Foreign Aid

Foreign Policy: From Bad to None

Our enemies are gloating, and our allies are grimly deciding where to go from here.

by Victor Davis Hanson

Barack Obama had a foreign policy for about five years, and now he has none.

3115968002_be17a06f55The first-term foreign policy’s assumptions went something like this. Obama was to assure the world that he was not George W. Bush. Whatever the latter was for, Obama was mostly against. Given that Bush had left office with polls similar to Harry Truman’s final numbers, this seemed to Obama a wise political approach.

If Bush wanted garrison troops left in Iraq to secure the victory of the surge, Obama would pull them out. If Bush had opened Guantanamo, used drones, relied on renditions, reestablished military tribunals, and approved preventive detention, Obama would profess to dismantle that war on terror — even to the point where the Bush-era use of the word “terrorism” and any associations between it and radical Islam would disappear.

If Bush had contemplated establishing an anti-missile system in concert with the Poles and Czechs, then it must have been unwise and unnecessary. If Bush had unabashedly supported Israel and become estranged from Turkey, Obama would predictably reverse both courses.

Second, policy per se would be secondary to Obama’s personal narrative and iconic status. Obama, by virtue of his nontraditional name, his mixed-race ancestry, and his unmistakably leftist politics, would win over America’s critics to the point where most disagreements — themselves largely provoked by prior traditional and blinkered administrations — would dissipate. Rhetoric and symbolism would trump Obama’s complete absence of foreign-policy experience.

Many apparently shared Obama’s view that disagreements abroad were not so much over substantive issues as they were caused by race, class, or gender fissures, or were the fallout from the prior insensitivity of Europe and the United States — as evidenced by a Nobel Prize awarded to Obama on the basis of his Read more →

Nuclear Gangbangers

Hostile countries with nuclear capabilities have the upper hand on the global police.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

The gangster state of North Korea became a nuclear power in 2006–07, despite lots of foreign aid aimed at precluding just such proliferation — help usually not otherwise accorded such a loony dictatorship. Apparently the civilized world rightly suspected that, if nuclear, Pyongyang would either export nuclear481px-Trident_C4_first_launch material and expertise to other unstable countries, or bully its successful but non-nuclear neighbors — or both.

The United States has given billions of dollars in foreign aid to Pakistan, whose Islamist gangs have spearheaded radical anti-American terrorism. Ever since a corrupt Pakistan went nuclear in 1998, it has been able to extort such foreign-aid payouts — on fears that one of its nukes might end up in the hands of terrorists.

By any measure of economic success or political stability, without nuclear weapons Pakistan would not warrant either the cash or the attention it wins.

An observant Iran appreciates three laws of current nuclear gangbanging:

1. Nuclear weapons earn a reputation.

2. The more loco a nuclear nation sounds, the more likely it is that civilized states will fear that it is not subject to nuclear deterrence, and so the more likely that they will pay bribes for it to behave. Gangbangers always claim they have nothing to lose; their more responsible intended targets have everything to lose.

3. As of yet there are no 100 percent effective nuclear-defense systems that can guarantee non-nuclear powers absolute safety from a sudden attack. The nuclear gangbanger, not the global police, currently has Read more →

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