The New Jingoism, Part 2


noun \ˈjiŋ-(ˌ)gō-ˌi-zəm\

the feelings and beliefs of people who think that their country is always right and who are in favor of aggressive acts against other countries; extreme chauvinism or nationalism marked especially by a belligerent foreign policy

[Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary]


The “New Jingoists” insist that we have only two options: “manly” war, or “sissy” cowardice. The possibility of a third way is simply dismissed.

Reasonable people of good will may disagree about whether, or when, we should resort to military action. And yet, even those who believe in the possibility of a “just war” normally agree that it should be the last resort – not an immediate response to every conflict. Surely every other avenue should be explored first? And surely our long-term foreign policy should make a priority of preventing the kinds of situations that drag us to the brink of catastrophic violence?

For example, shouldn’t we be devoting at least as much of our resources to diplomacy, development, international coalition-building, and humanitarian aid as we are to increasing our war chest? Well, the 2015 budget proposal for the Department of Defense is approximately $495.6 billion. The State Department’s annual budget proposal for 2015 is $46.2 billion. That’s right, we’re already spending ten times as much on preparing for and waging war as we are on building for peace. And the New Jingoists want us to widen that gap even further.

And shouldn’t we be investing in a strong, assertive network of Ambassadors and their diplomatic staff, who are (or should be) the standard-bearers of American foreign policy? Well, David Ignatius of the Washington Post recently reported on our failure to appoint and support U.S. Ambassadors:

Even by Washington standards, the Senate Republicans have hit a new low for hypocrisy. They denounce President Obama’s inaction on foreign policy — and simultaneously refuse to confirm his nominees for U.S. ambassadors to such hot spots as Turkey, on the front lines against the Islamic State, and Sierra Leone, epicenter of the Ebola outbreak.

(So the next time a Republican chicken-hawk blasts Obama for “having no foreign policy,” you might ask him or her how an administration is supposed to conduct foreign policy without a robust force of trained, experienced diplomats with “boots on the ground” around the world?)

What about some targeted and creative economic diplomacy, as advocated by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times recently? Both Putin and ISIS are crucially dependent on exploiting high-priced oil or gas to finance their aggressive agendas. Yet the United States continues to ban exports of our own crude oil. If we lifted that ban, the price of oil would fall, and both Putin and ISIS would instantly see their revenues plummet. This could be accompanied by tax reforms placing a predictable premium on carbon, which in turn would encourage investment in clean energy sources. As Friedman puts it: “Draining our enemies’ coffers, enhancing security, taxing environmental degradation — what’s not to like?”

The violence and instability in the world today are very real, and very scary. We cannot afford to ignore them. But don’t let the New Jingoists tell you that unilateral American military action is our only option.


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