By Todd Royal
In number 51 of the Federalist Papers, James Madison writes, “If Men were angels no government would be necessary.” A strikingly similar sentiment to thousands of years ago when the Jewish prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart of man is exceedingly wicked, who can know its evil ways.”
The world, led by the West has tried appeasement, isolationism, and moral equivalence to avoid war; instead of a Cold War type of coalition that President Harry Truman began to check the Soviet Union. We are reaching a precipice where ISIS is still thriving, Aleppo is in ruins, Crimea was annexed, Ukraine was invaded, and the world does nothing.
This view that appeasement and minding your own business will make troubles and problems go away is naïve at best, and a precursor to the beginning of World War III at worse. Somewhere in between is a world where billions are still living under dictators with no hope in sight.
Where are the words of Kennedy, Reagan, and Walesa crying for even one soul living under deplorable conditions? They are nowhere to be seen or heard from these days. If the world doesn’t wake up, and leave its listless slumber, then the echoes of 1933 will be replaced by a Russia-Chinese-Iranian axis that will make the previous axis look small in comparison. No more commerce, no more globalization, no more growth thru fiscal or monetary policy dominating the front pages of our news – wars that we have never seen, or imagined – will take over our lives and our countries.
It is time for the world to arise, and that’s why the world needs to be strong again for individual freedom, national sovereignty, functioning governments, and begin to check and aggressively retaliate against this decade’s axis of evil: Russia, China, and Iran. Those three menaces are now leading the world in terrorism, environmental degradation, and hegemonic behavior in the fragile Middle East.
International relations expert Professor Robert D. Kaufman of Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy, speaking on China’s own bid for hegemony, says: “East Asia is the most important power center of the 21st century.” Sage words, yet the U.S. has its Asian allies very worried after doing nothing when China brazenly stole US military hardware outside Subic Bay, near the Philippines in international waters.
US and allied restraint doesn’t endear the Chinese to the West, but only encourages more outlandish, provocative behavior. Asian allies should be more than worried, and prudence calls for Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines to consider their own positions with China while pursuing larger military budgets that include a nuclear deterrence.
And the world further better wake up to the fact that China has their own proxy, North Korea, more dangerous than Iran’s proxies – Hamas and Hezbollah – that have caused nothing but misery and destruction. North Korea, with China’s blessing, now has a nuclear arsenal capable of reaching Europe and North America. The world needs a strong response to China. That is the only thing Beijing will understand.
What appeasement also does is not assess your enemies through the lens of deterrence, balance of power, and a vibrant NATO coalition that should have stood up to Putin years ago. Simply put, “Putin is not our friend.” To think otherwise is laudable for the amount of foolish thinking that requires.
He’s a bloodthirsty, greedy, former KGB colonel who was never going to let democracy and rule of law thrive in his country. The Russians made a Faustian bargain of so-called security for autocratic rule. Now, mob-like conditions exist, and you are either a billionaire autocrat with the Kremlin’s blessing, or you are an exile who at some point has spoken out against this regime’s criminal behavior like Garry Kasparov.
But does the world care? It sure seems we do at this point.
Why the North Koreans are so dangerous is the very reason the Iranians become more and more dangerous. Another Faustian bargain here though, that if a Western country gives enough money and incentives, rogue regimes will stop their bad actions. Nothing could be further from the truth, whether it’s the North Koreans or the Iranians. Agreements, deals, or even cold, hard cash will never change these regimes. They only understand the barrel of a gun or an aircraft carrier knocking at their doorstep.
That’s the cold, hard, ugly reality of geopolitics. You don’t have friends, only interests that align and the willingness to enforce behaviors that lead to individual freedom and thriving economic markets. That is usually it, and moreover believing a nation is nothing more than interest is better left for the religious, and not the astute nation that wants a winnable peace.
The Iranians haven’t changed their ways since the P5 +1 agreement, if anything, they have gotten worse; and now the UN solidifies their actions by saying it is okay for them to build nuclear submarines since 99 U.S. Senators voted to resume sanctions. The Europeans were incorrect in the early 1930s about the threats they faced, and they are wrong now. The world needs strength, not capitulation.
What’s more worrisome than the activities of China, Russia, and Iran is how leading Western voices, such as the eminent President for the Council on Foreign Relations; Richard N. Haas continue to misunderstand the threats the world is currently facing.
Mr. Haas recently wrote a beautiful article titled, “The Case for Sovereign Obligation.” He writes movingly about how the world needs to come together in what he affirms as World Order 2.0. A world “That includes not only the rights of sovereign states but also those states’ obligations to others.” The Peace of Westphalia, international order, and responsibility to protect (R2P) with all three sovereign doctrines speaks of an:
“Obligation a government has to its own citizens that, if ignored, are supposedly enforceable by other states through measures up to and including military intervention.”
Mr. Haas should be commended for writing these words from such a prestigious institution, but they don’t address how do you intend to make China, Russia, and Iran live up to these heightened, lofty ideals? The Council on Foreign Relations has written repeatedly on the nobility of the P5 +1 agreement, and how it is working when in reality it isn’t. Who doesn’t want the agreement with North Korea and Iran to work and avoid bloodshed? Any sane, rational person – that’s who.
But what our pre, during, and post-World War II order taught us are regimes bent on destruction only understand force, and winning the peace is key, not half-measures, or haughty Westphalian orders without mechanism to ensure adherence. This current order is unraveling, and when sometime allies – Turkey and Russia – have broken trust, as witnessed by the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, then bloody responses will be in order.
What a connected global world has done is to illuminate apathy and hypocrisy by the West, and free forming societies in Asia. Enemies of freedom and order are using globalization to spread their malicious influence. Unless the West finds the words of Churchill when he said: “We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us,” then unabated violence will continue.
If the free world doesn’t begin to reflect those values, and back them up with at least the threat of force, then more Aleppos will be laid to waste. And next time, who’s to say the cities won’t be Paris, New York, or Tokyo. Beijing, Tehran and Moscow would only be too happy to make that a reality. We can no longer say we don’t know, or understand the threats now facing free people.