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American Retreat And Global Chaos

As you may have noticed, the world appears, at present, to be falling apart, quickly and violently.  The global order is failing, and violence and turmoil are on the rise.  The daily headlines paint a dispiriting picture to say the least:  civil war in Iraq; civil war in Syria; civil war in Libya; near-civil-war in Egypt; Russian aggression in Ukraine; Chinese aggression in southeast Asia; Iranian adventurism throughout the Middle East; and, of course, war between Israel and Hamas.

It might seem easy – and tempting – to blame Barack Obama for much of this chaos.  After all, he has presided over the global collapse, and his policy of American withdrawal has likely complicated global affairs over the last several years.

At the same time, it’s worth remembering that evil is ever extant in the world, and temporal peace is, unfortunately, an illusion.  More to the point, it’s not as if Obama inherited a world overflowing with goodwill or an electorate willing to tolerate ongoing American interventionism.  Indeed, the basic direction of Obama’s foreign policy is one which the American voters demanded.  After seven-plus years of war, almost five of which were on two fronts, the American people were tired of sending their young men and women, not to mention billions and billions of their dollars, off to fix problems in foreign lands and then being called “invaders,” “occupiers,” and “war mongers” for their efforts.  And when they elected Barack Obama – twice – the implicit agreement was that the wars would end and America would finally “come home.”

The problem with this plan, reasonable though it might seem, is that the American military had been the world’s de facto peace force for the nearly seven decades following the defeat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan and the concomitant collapse of the European global order.  Nobody wanted America to be the “world’s policeman,” as so many detractors put it, but the fact of the matter is that the post-war world needed policing, and only the Americans were both able and willing to do so.

Until now.

In the absence of an assertive American global presence, the world and its most heinous actors have been left to their own devices.  Most Americans probably figured that someone else could handle the job of fighting the good fight on behalf of the world’s downtrodden.  But then, most Americans likely didn’t figure that their nation’s global role was as much self-interested as it was altruistic, and that America’s withdrawal from global affairs would lead to a drastically-reduced ability to direct events to its own benefit or to the benefit of the “global community,” whose interests nearly mirrored American interests.

More to the point, most Americans were also likely unaware that the void left by their departure would be filled by . . . well . . . no one.  For decades now, American’s have been told that the “global community” can police itself; that it has the institutions and the moral authority both to articulate its own interests and to demand compliance with those interests.  As we are learning – or relearning, as the case may be – this is a bald-faced lie.  Indeed, the so-called “global community” has never been anything more than an ambitious but highly-ideological conglomeration of interest groups put together by a handful of hard-core leftist one-worlders who never intended to confront active tyranny nor expected that such tyranny would persist.  They created an organizational structure that lacked any authority, moral or otherwise, from the very start, and which has grown more and more corrupt and ineffectual with each passing decade.  All of which is to say that when the Americans withdrew from the world, they left nothing but a vacuum.  And as any schoolboy knows, nature abhors a vacuum.

It is worth noting, that the organization that was founded in order to assure the safety and well-being of the global community, the United Nations, was founded under somewhat dubious circumstances.  President Franklin Roosevelt, in his waning days and in search of a neo-Wilsonian, globalist legacy, entrusted the creation of the post-war world order to a handful of his most trusted and most valued advisors.  It just so happens that many of those advisors were men whom Josef Stalin considered truly “useful idiots” and at least two of whom – Harry Dexter White and Alger Hiss – were outright Soviet spies.  Hiss, likely the most infamous Soviet agent unmasked during the Cold War, was not only the Secretary General of the San Francisco United Nations Charter Conference, but was largely responsible for the drafting of that Charter, which remains one of the key governing documents of the global community today.

It is also worth noting that the UN’s history of peacekeeping has been spotty at best.  More worryingly, the UN has often caused much more trouble in the places it visits than it actually solves.  As the inimitable Mark Steyn noted over a decade ago, the UN’s peacekeepers are perhaps the last people you would want put in charge of anyone or anything one actually cares about.  To wit:

Is the UN good?  Well, I’m not sure I’d even say that.  But if you object to what’s going on in those Abu Ghraib pictures – the sexual humiliation of prisoners and their conscription as a vast army of extras in their guards’ porno fantasies – then you might want to think twice about handing over Iraq to the UN.

In Eritrea, the government recently accused the UN mission of, among other offences, pedophilia.  In Cambodia, UN troops fueled an explosion of child prostitutes and AIDS. Amnesty International reports that the UN mission in Kosovo has presided over a massive expansion of the sex trade, with girls as young as 11 being lured from Moldova and Bulgaria to service international peacekeepers.

In Bosnia, where the sex-slave trade barely existed before the UN showed up in 1995, there are now hundreds of brothels with underage girls living as captives.  The 2002 Save the Children report on the UN’s cover-up of the sex-for-food scandal in West Africa provides grim details of peacekeepers’ demanding sexual favors from children as young as four in exchange for biscuits and cake powder.  “What is particularly shocking and appalling is that those people who ought to be there protecting the local population have actually become perpetrators,” said Steve Crawshaw, the director of Human Rights Watch.

Today, of course, the UN’s highest-profile mission is in the Palestinian territories, where it is ostensibly seeking to ease the suffering of the Palestinian people and offering to serve as an honest broker in the facilitation of peaceful relations between the Palestinians and Israelis.  It is hard to imagine, however, that any organization could be more poorly equipped to administer these tasks than the United Nations.
It doesn’t really matter on which side of the Israeli-Palestinian issue you fall, whether you support Israel wholeheartedly or, conversely, think that Israel is an aggressor, depriving the Palestinian people of the right to self-determination.  The notion that the United Nations could serve as a force for the peaceful resolution of this crisis is absurd.  Even if one ignores the UN’s history of bias against Israel and its historical collaboration with Palestinian radicals, the most recent news from the Middle East is enough to suggest that peace cannot be brokered by this organization, which has actually become a facilitator and advocate of violence in this already violent part of the world.  Even as the UN Security Council has been busy working away on ceasefire proposal after ceasefire proposal, the UNRWA (United Nations Relief Works Agency) has admitted that at least three of its schools have been used to store Hamas missile caches.  The UN, of course, has decried this violation of its “neutrality,” but the historical record is fairly clear that the UNRWA has been anything but neutral in this conflict.

Americans may not like it, and the rest of the world may complain about it, but the world needs a policeman.  And that policeman cannot be a manifestly-corrupt and biased organization whose own origins are of a dubious nature.  The world needs an honest broker and a power player who can not only facilitate amenable solutions to global problems but who can enforce those solutions if need be.  The humiliation of Secretary of State John Kerry this past week, as he tried and tried, unsuccessfully, to get anyone in the Middle East to pay even the slightest attention to him, serves as a warning to the United States and the global community.  American retreat from global affairs may have seemed a welcome relief after years of nation-building, but American isolation serves no good end.  America suffers a loss of prestige while the global community suffers in loss of lives.  As trite and tiresome as it might sound, the world needs its policeman.  Now, more than ever.