How I Would Fix American Foreign Policy
I fear that I shall have to take the helm of the nation, to see that the ship of state founder not on vast shoals of idiots. (This is a full-service column.) You may ask, “Fred, why do you think yourself competent to do this?” To which I reply, "Consider what we have. Do you prefer assured disaster to a gleam of hope?"
Now, to work.
The military: My first step will be to discard strategic imbecility as national policy, thus unemploying a great many strategic imbeciles. Henceforth the armed forces will concern themselves with defending the United States—not Korea, Japan, Afghanist-freaking-stan for god’s sake, nor Europe nor the back side of the moon nor the nether reaches of the Crab Nebula. Just America. You know, that place between Canada and Mexico.
Now, how much military to we need to defend America, as distinct from remote galaxies and places no one in his right mind can spell? Very little. To invade the US properly, you need a border with it, which means Canada, which doesn’t want the US, and Mexico, which doesn’t need an army to get it. The other way to invade is with a Shores of Iwo Jima fleet with some manner of John Wayne on it, being fiercely inarticulate and photogenic. No other country has, is building, or wants such a fleet, and if they did land-based aircraft would make a gorgeous barbecue out of it way the hell and gone out to sea. We don’t really need a navy at all, actually, navies being at best obsolescent and, in our case, usually getting us in trouble. These days, the fleet chiefly looks ridiculous threatening places that pay no attention to it.
Afghanistan: I would apply the exit strategy enunciated by the great James P. Coyne, who taught Clausewitz everything the old Kraut knew. The strategy is, “OK, on the plane. Now.” The simplicity is breathtaking, its effectiveness certain. We’ve got no business being there, we’re killing people who don’t need killing, and nothing good can come of it.
Iraq: See above. Further, I will withdraw from South Korea, Japan, and NATO, on the grounds that they either have no enemies or can defend themselves perfectly well. NATO in particular only involves us in disaster, or we involve it in disaster, and I see no point in continuing to breast feed it.
Next, I will give the navy three months to get anything it profoundly values out of Guantanamo, where we have no business being, and then lift the embargo, which is an expression of adolescent temper. I will then treat Cuba as what it is, an island of people no worse than any other, who do not need stupid mistreatment by a large bratty neighbor. This would improve relations with Latin America, a good idea since we are decreasingly able to behave with normal meddlesomeness.
Next, I will essay the unthinkable for American diplomacy, if it be such, namely cultivating some slight understanding of how others see things instead of always sending the Marines. I know, I know: I risk being called a commie homo prevert, and accused of hating America, and not being brainlessly truculent in the name of endocrine patriotism. But I will make this sacrifice for my country.
For example, Iran, which mysteriously seems not to like us. Why might Iranians not appreciate our enthusiasms for democracy and human rights? In 1953 the wretched CIA, always making trouble for us, overthrew the elected ruler and installed the Shah, a brutal bastard. What did we care? We were surfing at Malibu. Then we supported our good ally Saddam Hussein against Iran in a bloody war started for us by Saddam, and now we freeze Iran’s assets and threaten to bomb it, and we wreck its perfectly legal atomic program with funny viruses. How could that upset them? Baffling.
So I’ll invite their Maximum Leader Ahmadinnerjacket to the fuehrerbunker on Pennsylvania Avenue. He is a murdering, repressive thug, like most of ourallies, and deserves the same courtesies. I will sy, “Listen…Shall I call you Ahma, or do you prefer Mr. Dinnerjacket?... anyway, I can’t see any reason in all sprawling creation why Iran needs to be our enemy. Let’s stop. It’s stupid and, worse, boring. So we’ll drop these dumb-ass sanctions and quit threatening you, and if you are doing something bad, stop, and you mind your business and we’ll mind ours—I know this part is inconceivable, but we’ll do it. Is that a concept, or what?”
The principle here is that we don’t need to be enemies with most of the people we are enemies with, but if we didn’t have enemies we wouldn’t know who we were or what to do in the morning. Or how to get funding for the Five-Sided War Box.
Latin America: Here I will adopt another revolutionary principle, namely Don’t get in their faces if you don’t have to. More bluntly, under my rule we will keep our long intrusive noses out of other people’s shorts. Stop telling Bolivians they can’t chew coca leaves, which they have done forever, since it’s none of our damn business what Bolivians chew. Rocks, grass, hog entrails, it’s their call.
Now, I don’t want to go too deeply into theoretical physics here but: Recently a couple of supposed American agents of ICE, the immigration blackguards, were ambushed deep in Mexico, and one killed. Hooha erupted, and the FBI is going to investigate. The Mexican press asked the obvious question, which is Why is Mexico afflicted by so many meddlesome gringo goofballs? It’s our country, they say.
Anyway, MIT recently published an extensive peer-reviewed paper establishing that if you aren’t in Mexico, or Iraq, you can’t get killed there. It’s physics. Show me one person killed in Mexico who was somewhere else at the time. Under my rule, we will stay where we belong. Which is to say, very few places.
Finally, I will adopt the realpolitik notion of backing the right horse. American policy to date has been to support the most sordid torturing dictator it can find, while singing America the Beautiful and Koom Bah Yah and We Shall Overcome. What if, instead of engaging in almost carnal intercourse with every godawful Central American general, whose hobby is pulling fingernails off Indians for the benefit of American corporations. we insisted that the United Fruits of the world (in the botanical sense) pay a decent wage, absorbed the additional twelve cents a pound for mangos, and had the Guats or whatever love us? Smart, yes. Happen? Not under that daffy blonde and her rat pack of Neoconservative dwarves. Under my administration, watch.
I shall take my rightful power soon. As soon as I finish this bottle of Padre Kino.
Fred Reed has worked on the staff of the Army Times, The Washingtonian, Soldier of Fortune, Federal Computer Week, and The Washington Times, and has been published in Playboy, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Harper's, National Review, Signal, and Air&Space. He has served in the Marines, worked as a police writer, technology editor, military specialist, and as an authority on mercenary soldiers. See Fred's homepage, Fred On Everything.
Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.