Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You got the Belgians running Europe?

I am reading A Journey: My Political Life by Tony Blair. This story about a G8 meeting that President George W. Bush was at had me laughing, so I thought I'd share it with you!

"At the Genoa G8 in 2001 – his first – we had a discussion on climate change. The Belgians at that time had the EU presidency, and so they were also at the G8 table. The then Belgian prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt, is a nice guy and bright, but very Brussels. Kyoto had been agreed and Bill Clinton had signed it, but the US Senate had voted 98–0 against ratification. On assuming office, George had flatly dissed the whole thing. [...] He said what he thought, which was that he wasn’t convinced, either by Kyoto or actually by the basic argument about the changing of the climate. He added that there was no way America could possibly meet the Kyoto targets without doing immense damage to its economy, and he was just not going to do that.
After George had finished, Guy said he understood what George was saying, but really the American problem had a very simple solution, one that would be good for the world, but also immensely beneficial for the inner well-being of the American people: they could cut their emissions significantly if they doubled gasoline prices by raising the taxes on it. Such an action would be bold, it would help wean the American people off their obsession with the motor car, and earn George the high approval of international political opinion, not least in Belgium.
George had arrived bang on time for this first discussion and had not fully said hello to all the participants. He didn’t know or recognise Guy, whose advice he listened to with considerable astonishment.
He then turned to me and whispered, ‘Who is this guy?’
‘He is the prime minister of Belgium,’ I said.
Belgium?’ George said, clearly aghast at the possible full extent of his stupidity. ‘Belgium is not part of the G8.’
‘No,’ I said, ‘but he is here as the president of Europe.’
‘You got the Belgians running Europe?’ He shook his head, now aghast at our stupidity."

-Jeremiah Lorrig

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

CNN Debate: Best Yet

My take:

  • Romney: attacked on all sides and I think it will remind people to stay away. 
  • Perry: attacked and showed his weaknesses but also showed that he'll take on Romney
  • Cain: Still struggling to show depth of content, but didn't collapse if he survives the week he'll stay near the top.
  • Santorum: Shows substance, but also fails to win support
  • Gingrich: Same as Santorum
  • Bachmann: Love that she brought every question back to Obama, but don't think it was her break
  • Paul: Made the people who already love him love him more.

    Who do you think won?

    -Jeremiah Lorrig 

Friday, October 14, 2011

War’s Tarnished Glory

An interesting comment was left on the previous post discussing Ron Paul’s foreign policy. For those who didn’t see it, here it is:
Having read The Savage Wars of Peace, my take on the small-scale wars is thoroughly different. I seem to recall the author pointing out that while, yes, the wars did promote freedom, they were never ideological wars intended to do so. They were simply wars fought to defend or promote American interests. One cannot say the pacification of the Philippines, for example, was intended as the spread of freedom. Rather, it was the spread of America. For the most part, such military action rarely included full-scale occupation. We bloodied countries noses, got what we wanted (like securing a molasses at a reasonable rate) then left.

I think that when we started to claim moral justification for our wars, we took any justification away. I say we should involve ourselves militarily in other places, but for our country, not for our ideas.

When we made it plain that we fought for economic reasons, we didn’t claim our lifestyle was superior, so no one took it personally.
This is an excellent point. Whatever happened to wars waged unashamedly in the nation’s self-interest?

WWI and WWII happened, and showed the western powers that the consequences of their self-interested wars could be devastating worldwide. As a response, the UN Charter was drafted:
  • to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and
  • to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and
  • to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and
  • to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,
There is no room for wars promoting self-interest here. Furthermore:
The Nürnberg Tribunal condemned a war of aggression in the strongest terms: “To initiate a war of aggression . . . is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” It held individuals accountable for “crimes against peace”, defined as the “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing....” When the United Nations General Assembly unanimously affirmed the Nürnberg principles in 1946, it affirmed the principle of individual accountability for such crimes.

It thus appears that wars waged to promote a nation’s interests, rather than waged for a defensive or moral purpose, are frowned upon (if not outright prohibited) by international law.

Now of course, that could lead to either fewer wars where one side has a clear moral upper hand. Or, it could simply lead to everyone attempting to justify promoting their interests under the guise of some moral superiority.

Which has actually happened?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What to Look for in a Candidate

I noticed a problem in the 2010 tea party election. There were people who were right on the issues, but they were bad candidates. What we need to win is candidates who are both good on the issues and good candidates.

So, what should we look for in candidates? What are the things that should guide our choices when we are picking an ideal candidate?

William Frank Buckley, Jr. gave us some guidance when he advocated the now famous “Buckley Rule.” The rule is “Support the most conservative candidate who is electable.

This rule is very helpful to me. But I need a little more detail. So I use the following criteria.

  1. Issues:

    Look for someone who you agree with. Think about what a person's position on an issue tells you about their beliefs. Racism is a bellwether issue for me. For example, if a candidate can somehow support racism it shows me that they have a fundamental flaw in how they value human life. Another bellwether for me is abortion. If a candidate does not understand the value of every human life, they how can I trust them to make decisions that will impact thousands, if not millions of lives.
  1. Experience:
Can this person do the job? Do they have the necessary background in leadership, accomplishment, and handling the pressures of public life?

  1. Character / Temperament:
Character is the mainstay for leadership. How can you tell if a candidate has good character? Look that those closest to them. Their relationship with their family and friends will give you an idea of their personal stability. The other question is will they function well in office? I know many wonderful people. They might be well qualified to do many things. But the question here is whether or not they are capable of dealing with the pressures of public life. Not everyone is.

  1. Are they able to win:
    • Do they understand their audience and can they connect with them?
    • Do they have access to the resources necessary to win? (Are they able to appeal to high dollar donors?)
    • Can they inspire people to work to help them? (Does the base believe in them?)
    • Can they catch the wave of history? Some people cannot tell what is happening in history if it hits them in the head with a brick. Someone with clear vision can see what is happening, and ride that wave.
 I hope this is helpful to you. What do you look for in a candidate?

-Jeremiah Lorrig
As originally published on the Generation Joshua blog: Liberty's Call.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ron Paul vs. Me

Yesterday Congressman Paul came to the Voter Values Summit in Washington, DC. As usual his people showed up in force and cheered even his flubbed sentences. It must be nice to have followers that loyal. Few in politics today can boast such loyalty.

So, I went to his speech to hear what makes him unique from his own lips. He advocated what he called the Just War Theory (Would it be too much to say his version of Just War Theory includes neither justice or war?), but practically speaking it sounds like there is no war is just unless it is in selfish interest.
That worries me. I recently read President George W. Bush's book Decision Points. It is insightful. The first chapter and the chapters on international policy are the best.
When I read his description of 9/11 it was so vivid it brought back emotions and memories. I remember all the good reasons we went to war in the Middle East.

A great book I recommend is The Savage Wars of Peace by Max Boot. It is a history of American foreign policy and the “small wars” (think the halls of Montezuma and shores of Tripoli). It goes into the details of how the United States has actively used military power to help spread freedom for hundreds of years. Starting with Thomas Jefferson sending warships into Middle Eastern ports to stop terrorism on the high seas the book progresses up to Vietnam giving examples of America's historical belief and practice of promoting freedom around the world. This started with the Founding Fathers and has been ingrained in our national character ever since even when we were supposedly “isolationist.”

I am hesitant to recommend movies because everyone has different standards for what is okay on screen. The movie Hotel Rwanda, however, had a huge impact on my views of foreign policy. It is a true story and is told in a very powerful way. As Focus on the Family said in their review,
"By no means is Hotel Rwanda a film children should see (and by no means should it be deemed entertainment for moviegoers of any age). But for the millions of adults and teens who decide to take it in, it's my prayer that they will hold on to those feelings of rage and sorrow much longer than Jack thinks they will."

If good guys aren't there to stop the bad guys, the bad guys will win. As Tony Blair put it, it is an issue of morality.

In short, I believe in the Reagan principle of "peace through strength" tied closely with the Spiderman principle of "with great power comes great responsibly." William Wilberforce explains it well: "You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know." This includes having an international policy that is willing to step in when we can and promote freedom.

An insightful Generation Joshua student asked me how this squares with being responsible with our financial resources.
Obviously, we shouldn't do something if we really can't afford it. That is just foolishness. In fact, everything in foreign policy should always be filtered through the process of analyzing the positives and negatives. There is no autopilot.

One thing to remember, however, is WWII. The country was broke. We were still in the Depression and in debt. But when you
must do something you find a way to do it. We were attacked and and the world was in turmoil, thus we needed to defend ourselves, defeat our enemies, and support our allies. So, we found a way. (In this case War Bonds. HT: Captain America.) 

Money is a concern, but just like all other aspects in analysis you take all the positives and negatives into account and make the best decision you can. Sometimes that is easy, sometimes it is not. But that is the burden of leadership.

Isolationists could benefit from looking at history and remembering that selfishness is not a worthy standard for national policy. Doing what is right when it is in your best interest is not noteworthy, it is when someone does what it right when it costs them something that catches my attention.

This is why I disagree with Congressman Paul's foreign policy positions and was disappointed when I heard his speech.

Have you read The Savage Wars of Peace or seen Hotel Rwanda? Did they impact you? What has influenced your view of American foreign policy?
Related post: Why Not Ron Paul?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Quote of the Day

Prime Minister David Cameron on leftists: "They practice oppression and they call it equality."

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