United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered the keynote address at the Claremont Institute's 40th Anniversary Gala as this year's recipient of the Institute's Statesmanship Award.
The Death of the Global Cop
America’s foreign policy drowns at the water’s edge.
What follows is what I consider the main practical consideration for understanding the international predicament of the United States today. This analysis is largely drawn from my handbook, A Student’s Guide to International Relations, and my forthcoming book on the teachings of John Quincy Adams.
Here and now, more than usual, a nation’s relation with others flows less from choices about policy than it does from the character of its people and ruling class. Scarcely any foreign policy is possible for a people who hate one another. All but the most basic functions are beyond being supported by a population—of ever lower intellectual and moral capacity—that has lost confidence in its leaders. Today’s U.S. ruling class is thoroughly corrupt and absorbed in domestic revolution. No serious statesmen would display their own country’s internal divisions as does the U.S. by flying the LGBT flag. It is not reasonable to expect foreigners to take seriously American statesmen who do not take seriously their own country’s unity and interests.
Having witnessed the abandon with which the ruling class abstracted from reality to weaponize U.S. relations with Russia, it is impossible to imagine that it would refrain from doing the same with any other matter that it deemed convenient. U.S. relations with China depend on various Chinese interests’ outright purchase of practical allegiance up and down and throughout America’s political and social hierarchy. The opera buffa with regard to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline shouts that U.S. words and deeds are thin cover for actions actually driven by coincidences of U.S. and German personal interests. In that regard, the coziness between the U.S. and European ruling class simply reflects what concerns both equally, namely fighting off populist pressures against increasingly intolerable mal-government.
Euro/American impotence in Europe has left Russia as the only power in the region that pursues what it considers its interests. Russia’s Sergei Lavrov is probably the world’s most perceptive diplomat today. The combination of U.S. verbal provocations with military deployments that are practical surrenders leaves Poles, Balts, and Ukrainians in an all-too-familiar bind. Likewise, the American ruling class is helpless to check China’s growing overlordship of Asia. The Japanese edge closer and closer to nuclear armament. The U.S. “strategy” toward China—namely, the capacity to send a couple of aircraft carriers to its coast—has not changed in two generations. China’s military buildup has created de facto control that is beyond our capacity to challenge. We may be grateful that China has not yet initiated a casus belli regarding Taiwan that, at best, would remove all doubt of that and, at worst, plunge us into a losing war.
Under the current corrupt leadership and bearing the legacy of two decades of ignorant wars, the U.S. Army and Air Force can scarcely fight, and the Navy is grossly mal-deployed to the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea while having given up bases in the Azores and Iceland. What could the U.S. Navy do were China to try conquering Taiwan? Issuing stern warnings while refraining from fortifying the island with serious missile defense is un-serious. Serious geopolitical analysis, however, is beyond folks who can think only of denigrating their less sophisticated subjects. Fighting that domestic war of conquest consumes them. Until that is over, discussions of foreign affairs must remain theoretical.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.