It appears that neo-conservatives are now in control of the Trump White House.
The bombing of the Assad regime in Syria announced to the world the US was still in the business of micromanaging global political outcomes through the selective use of violence (a profoundly anti-conservative notion).
That's bad news. The US record on military adventurism and regime change over the last few decades has been stunningly bad.
Worse, it's a gross misallocation of resources comparable to disasters of Soviet decision making in the 80's. How bad is it?
- The 59 Tomahawks the US fired at Syria (to pound sand at an abandoned air base) will cost ~$75 million to replace.
- The cost of fixing the water system in Flint Michigan (yes, it still hasn't been fixed) is pegged at ~$55 million.
Looked at another way...
The US spent ~ $2 trillion ($6 trillion including interest) for an optional and unnecessary war in Iraq. $2 trillion is enough to:
- build a permanent colony on Mars or
- rebuild the entire US air and rail system from scratch or
- provide catastrophic health insurance for every American citizen for four years... paving the way for real healthcare reform.
This gross misallocation of resources suggests that true American greatness is the real casualty of American military adventurism.
A casualty of a toxic foreign policy establishment that only defines greatness in terms of micromanaging the world through the selective use of violence.
How do we fix this failure? One answer is neo-isolationism. The premise of neo-isolationism is that America's best role in the world isn't as a superpower. Our best role is as an example. A continuous demonstration to the world of what is possible.
This means that our greatness isn't found in micromanaging the ageless hatreds and enmities of the past, found in abundance in the Middle East, it's found in creating the future here at home and sharing that insight with the world. It's found by discovering, through trial and error, the best ways to maximize human potential in a world being driven forward by new technologies and globalization. It's found by creating a new future that benefits the greatest number of people in the best possible way, rather than merely enriching elites like much of the world.
- Pioneering a broadly prosperous future using technological innovation is our traditional role. We did it with electricity, cars, telephones, and aircraft in the past. We can still do it for the Internet, robotics, and AI.
- It's a role the rest of the world is less well suited to accomplish due to deadweight loss of historical and cultural friction (although on its current path with identity politics, the US is catching up).
- It's a role we are much better suited for than as a tired, old world empire exercising military force to micromanage political outcomes. Contrast the rigidity of mind and spirit found in the ranks of DC's policy establishment to the flexibility and innovation found in the tech world.
Yes. It's time for a change. But the path to American success doesn't start with pounding Middle Eastern sand with million dollar missiles... it starts here at home.