Syria has become the disaster for a generation and Iran wants to lord over the Middle East along with anywhere else it can get its grips into a region or government by whatever means necessary. In Eastern Europe a resurgent Russia continues seizing Ukraine and Putin still believes the downfall of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. Make no mistake; Russia seized Ukraine and South Ossetia illegally by force – against the post-World War II order where disputes are more than likely settled at the United Nations or through recognized diplomatic channels. In this regard California policymakers, elected officials and high-ranking commission members need to stop the anti-Trump campaign.
China still flexes its muscles in the South China Sea and only the U.S. steps up to lead through the chaos. The Pacific Ocean and East Asia are in California’s economic and security backyard. South America is also seeing disaster unfold with ungovernable regions in Central America, and Mexico’s disastrous narco-drug wars are directly affecting southern California. Venezuela is also on the brink of collapse. If Venezuela falls, South America could be looking at what Libya has become in North Africa – a breeding ground for this hemisphere’s version of ISIS – and ISIS is still on the march. It’s also not unheard of to think the ruthlessly sophisticated Mexican drug lords could use Venezuela’s oil the way Axis powers used fuel from conquered countries to further their ambitions. The ramifications of Venezuela falling are truly damning for California, and now Russia wants to claim Venezuelan oil assets (CITGO) in California over unpaid loans to Russian oil company, Rosneft.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former Prime Minister of Denmark and Secretary General of NATO, argues effectively in his new book, “The Will to Lead” that only one country can lead the world out of the abyss – the United States of America – and I’d add only one state has the engineering ability and technological know-how to lead a renaissance in defense weaponry so America can lead – California. Mr. Rasmussen states, “There is only one nation (U.S.) in the world capable of putting out these fires.”
Californians will argue this isn’t fair. Why can’t other nations take the lead against tyranny? But after the Obama administration’s “leading from behind” policy and the isolationist tendencies of the U.S. before WWII these two historical facts illustrate why America and California can’t leave the world stage. According to Mr. Rasmussen, “Only America has the diplomatic reach, financial resources, and military firepower to lead the world against the Autocrats, rogues states, and terrorists.” When America doesn’t lead and confront evil, World War I & II, 9/11 and the failed Libyan invasion transpire. Does any credible source, organization or government believe anyone, but America, could’ve stopped the Soviet Union during the Cold War? It was California factories, manufacturing and technology, which led this victory for the world. The facts are overwhelming in favor of America and California leading the world, otherwise the human rights California believes in, as epitomized by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, won’t be realized.
Forget ideology and regime type and purely on a military and intelligence reach – only America – has the means and necessary resources to defeat worldwide alliances, failed MENA nations, and worldwide powers like Iran, China, ISIS, al-Qaida and Russia. Unless these terrorist entities and nation-states are defeated, deterred, isolated or balanced by the U.S., then freedom will give way to despotic, autocratic rule. If you are skeptical about American power or exceptionalism, then research the governing possibilities that exist in Africa, the Middle East, East Asia and South America to defeat today’s problems. Moreover, the world has a refugee problem because of brutal, stifling regimes in the MENA region and Central America. Not because these people want to leave their homelands for no reason at all. There literally aren’t opportunities for most of them and if you are a child or women you have almost zero human rights. When confronted with these facts do the California legislature, local policymakers and Governor Brown still want this vitriolic, anti-Trump rhetoric to continue? As Tom Brokaw said, “Rage isn’t a policy.”
Mr. Rasmussen further extrapolates what happens when America doesn’t lead. Moral greatness of other European nations wither, rising powers with hegemonic ambitions take the forefront, and refugees proliferate the EU. In March 2014 when Russia invaded Ukraine that was the first European land-grab since the end of WWII, and was during the popular heyday of America shrinking back from her global responsibilities. Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry decried the invasion in these terms: “Unbelievable act of aggression. And you just don’t, in the 21st century, behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on a trumped-up pretext.” Those forceful words (but only words) didn’t coax the Russians into different behavior, or return Crimea. If anything the Russians have only grown more emboldened to misbehave.
This type of thinking by the former secretary of state is dangerously naïve, though admirable, speaking those words publicly. Yet admiration and feel-good statements didn’t help the Ukrainians. Now Syrians, Iranians, Chinese, Venezuelans and many African people’s can also relate to feel-good sentiments that never help them leave poverty or other hopeless circumstances. And in today’s global world, California and the technological prowess of Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach in Los Angeles have to step to the forefront and confront these challenges while working with the Trump administration whether they like it or not.
Wars such as WWI and WWII – where approximately 77 million people died – could’ve been avoided with forceful American leadership. Only America led by California’s manufacturing and aerospace industries defeated Germany twice, routed Imperial Japan, crushed the Soviet Union during the Cold War and with California leading America can defeat the above-mentioned tyrannies devastating billions worldwide.
The post WWII order will cease to exist unless America leads, and California stops its fascist-like hatred of the president. Here’s why: Europe is too weak and divided and no Asian power is strong enough or has the diplomatic clout to balance and deter China. Additionally, the Libya mess is a direct result of America not taking the leading role, and the Europeans retreating after overthrowing the Libyan government.
Only America has the understanding of leading while not taking land, crushing people’s dreams, and being a power than just wants to be left alone. America conquers, and then gives back its conquests. This reason means America is the only country in the world with the moral authority and military might to confront today’s evils: sex trafficking, terrorism, and nuclear proliferation by powerful regimes. Again I ask, who else will lead like America – and does it for the sake of peace and prosperity – no one. And California could then be at the forefront of environmental issues that are important to California citizens. This is an opportunity to confront evil and make the world environmentally cleaner at the same time.
Most world powers today don’t agree with or even seem to understand the supposedly archaic ideas that come from balance of power, deterrence and preemption. In the exact opposite way of thinking currently happening from California’s elected officials they need to work with President Trump while acting with conviction to hold the President’s and Congress’ feet to the fire when it comes to enforcing redlines against murderous governments and terrorists that want to attack California.
Our freedom loving culture will rue the day if we don’t confront bad actors in our Pacific coast neighborhoods. If California wants stability, and vast worldwide economic expansion that has lifted billions out of poverty since WWII, then California has to use their economic might, and engaged citizenry to resist the urge of raging at the president for the sake of rage. The fires blazing in our hemisphere and globally won’t be put out if America continues turning inward and not forcefully taking hold of their world policeman responsibilities. And California would be prudent to support those actions.
Unfortunately for California where reason can prevail (unlike in most of the world) policymakers can’t just sit down with Premier Xi or Ayatollah Khomeini and quote the likes of Voltaire, Montesquieu and Locke while espousing the virtues of European enlightenment, and believe they will take a quantum leap forward in diplomatic affairs. The world is more medieval than we care to admit, but if we don’t return to American realist political enlightenment backed up by American military hardware that Californians built and supported for decades then we will return to that state of man decried by the Dark Ages.
Todd Royal is a geopolitical risk and energy consultant based in Los Angeles.