Colman: IS THE AMERICAN WORLD ORDER IN JEOPARDY?

What is the role of the United States in world politics?  Is it as a military force, an economic force or as a model for capitalism, showing nations how to become prosperous, with freedom.  President Trump has determined that members of NATO have to pay their own way.  He believes the United Nations is a waste of time and continued the policy of taking us out of the World Trade Organization

What
Trump sees is that the United States can innovate, manage and build better than any other nation.  He is making us a “trade” nation.  In the old days it would be called a Mercantile State.  He believes freedom and prosperity comes from honest and fair trade.  We prosper and the world prospers.

This is a dramatic transformation of the role of our nation.  That is what the trade war with China is about and the about to be singed Mexico, Canada and U.S. trade agreement.  Event Brexit helps us and freedom.  When Britain is free of the totalitarian European Union, they will prosper.  Within days of Brexit watch as Prime Minister Johnson and President Trump sign a new trade agreement—with both countries profiting.  The world is changing—and that is a constant.

IS THE AMERICAN WORLD ORDER IN JEOPARDY?

By Richard Colman, Exclusive to the California Political News and Views,  12/12/19  

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

–George Santayana

  John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), a British aristocrat and economist, has been reviled as the father of inflation, deficit spending, and big government.

 During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, Keynes called for huge government programs — such as the building of roads, schools, water projects, and hospitals — to end the disastrous unemployment levels in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere.  A disciple of Keynes ideas was President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

 Keynes has relevance in today’s world in which the Republican President, Donald Trump, has been criticizing America’s allies in Europe and Asia.

 During prosperous times, Keynes argued for balanced budgets and limited government spending.

 Keynes was part of the Bloomsbury Set, a group of influential British artists, intellectuals, and writers such as Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey.  Keynes was not a communist or socialist.  Keynes was a member of the British House of Lords.

 Regarding Keynes, rumors have persisted that he was an anti-Semite.

 Keynes (who name rhymes with “rains”) has often been considered the most influential economist of the 20th century. 

 However, other 20th century economists — such as Milton Friedman, Friedrich von Hayek, and Ludwig von Mises — have argued that modest growth of the supply of money, the money in people’s pockets and bank accounts, is more influential in producing good economic times than government spending.  These other economists are considered part of the Austrian School because some of them lived and worked in Austria.  Friedman was born and raised in America.

While no one can be sure who is correct about economic policy, Keynes got one thing correct:  He predicted the emergence of Nazi Germany.

One hundred years ago (on Dec. 8, 1919, to be exact) Keynes published a book critical of the Versailles treaty that ended World War I.  The treaty, Keynes argued, would result in dire economic consequences for defeated Germany and for other nations in Europe.

The victors in World War I (Britain, France, the United States, and other nations), imposed painful reparations (repayments) on Germany for its role in participating in World War I. 

After the war, Germany was on the edge of mass starvation.  From 1918 to 1923, Germany experienced hyperinflation.  What cost one German mark in 1918 cost one trillion marks in 1923.  In the early 1930’s, Germany experienced an economic depression that led to millions of jobless Germans.

The depression affected other nations, including Britain, France, Japan, and America.

What Keynes saw in his 1919 book was a future disruption in Europe that would result in a greater European catastrophe in future years.  The coming disaster was fascism in Germany (as well as Italy and Spain) and, later, German aggression against neighboring countries.

 At the time he wrote his book, “The Economic Consequences of Peace,” Keynes was an obscure official working in the British Treasury.  His book was hardly noticed at first.  Later, the book became very popular, selling over 100,000 copies.  The book made Keynes, only 36 at the time of publication, world famous.

 In America, the election of Warren G. Harding in 1920 brought isolationism to the nation.  In his campaign, Harding called for a “return to normalcy.”  America withdrew from an international role.

 On Jan. 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany.  He blamed Germany’s bad economy on a so-called international conspiracy of Jews.  Hitler annexed Austria in March 1938.  Later in 1938, he took over the Sudetenland, a Germany-speaking region of Czechoslovakia.  On Sept. 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland, launching World War II in Europe.

 American policy began to change around 1940.  In the spring of 1940, Nazi Germany attacked and defeated France and nearby nations.  At the time Germany attacked France,  Winston Churchill became prime minister of Great Britain.

 Franklin Roosevelt, influenced by Churchill, supported military aid to Britain, a nation attacked by Nazi Germany in mid-1940.

 At the time (again, around 1940), most Americans were against any involvement in Europe’s war.  Many Americans argued that the nation should follow President George Washington’s advice, which called for America to stay away from European entanglements.

 America’s post-Harding isolationism continued through 1941, when Franklin Roosevelt decided to offer, through a program called Lend Lease, aid to Britain, which Nazi Germany had been attacking by air.  Roosevelt, a great communicator, told isolationist America that Lend Lease was equivalent to lending a hose to a neighbor whose house was on fire.  After the fire, Roosevelt argued, the owner’s hose would be returned.  American public opinion began to swing in Roosevelt’s direction.

 In the election of November 1940, Roosevelt, running for an unprecedented third term, was pitted against Wendell Willkie, a Republican presidential candidate who supported Roosevelt’s internationalism and the president’s plan to aid Britain.

 American isolationism disappeared right after Japan, on Dec. 7, 1941, attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  On Dec. 8, 1941, America declared war on Japan.  A few days later, Germany declared war on America, and American responded with a declaration of war against Germany.

 After Nazi Germany was defeated in 1945, two American secretaries of state, Gen. George Marshall, the prime choreographer of America’s military effort in World War II, and Dean Acheson, a prominent lawyer in Washington, D.C. as well as a government official involved in foreign policy, vowed not to repeat the mistakes committed after World War I. 

 Together, Marshall and Acheson proposed the rebuilding of America’s defeated foes in Europe and Asia.  Harry Truman, who became president after Roosevelt’s death in April 1945, argued that America should convert the war’s defeated foes into responsible democracies.

 From 1945 to the present day, the Marshall-Acheson doctrine has provided an American-based world order.  America has allies in Europe and in such Asian nations as Japan and South Korea.  Except for some military action in 1999 in the former Yugoslavia, Europe has had peace for 75 years.  In 1963, Germany and France signed a friendship treaty.

 The question Americans have to ask themselves is this:  Will President Donald Trump’s seeming indifference to America’s allies lead to an unraveling of a 75-year old, American-based world order?  Or will disputes among European nations and among America’s allies in Asia lead to some sort of unraveling — an unraveling of the kind that occurred after World War I?

 The Republican Party has previously debated isolationism versus internationalism.  In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower, a World War II hero and an internationalist, fought the isolationist Sen. Robert Taft (R-Ohio) for the Republican presidential nomination.  Taft had the support of many, perhaps a philosophical majority, of Republicans.  After a bitter fight, Eisenhower won the nomination.

 Eisenhower, a highly popular figure among the American people, offered the possibility of a Republican presidency after Republican presidential candidates lost five consecutive presidential elections:  in 1932; 1936; 1940; 1944; and 1948.  Eisenhower won the 1952 election in a landslide. Eisenhower, in an even bigger landslide, was overwhelmingly re-elected in 1956.

 Now, some six decades after Eisenhower left office, the Republican Party is arguing about whether or not to return to some sort of isolationism.

 The 2020 election could have consequences lasting for decades.  America’s allies are asking:  Can we still count on the United States to be a world leader for democracy?

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. Tracker Bob says

    Trump is actually returning a sharing of international responsibility to many nations that have for many decades looked to America as the source of protection and paying for it. That has led to many countries, while accepting American protection, making very derogatory and hateful comments about America. As they now have to put in their agreed upon share of the cost of protection they are still not happy campers. Now they share in protecting themselves and others – many of whom they consider enemies. They could leave NATO but that would mean they are totally on their own or under control of a country that takes nearly total control.

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