In Chapter two Romney analyzes what he sees as the reason past empires have risen and then fallen. In this chapter he analyzes what he sees as the two countries and one movement seeking World domination at the expense of American power. Many of those countries and movements seeking World domination have their roots in the past.
First, he points out the since the United States became a World power it has always been a force for the rule of law and justice. It continues to be a stabilizing force in the World advocating individual liberty, democracy and free markets over those who favor tyranny and closed economic systems for the benefit of those in power. Other powers have not sought to extend the principles of liberty and justice. ( He forgets that the concepts he talks about are European ideas spread through out the World by their effforts to create colonies. Thus they planted the seeds for their own imperialist decline. The most notable example was the the English colonies that later became the United States. Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution are based on ideas taken from European thinkers and philosophers and brilliantly used to to create these unique documents by the American colonists.)
The three entities that are pursing power and possibly World or regional domination at present are China, Russia, and the Jihadists. Of course all these groups seeking power have been around for a long time and have always been a power in some form regionally if not on a World basis.
China has risen again out of its long sleep and is building its military capability. It has nuclear weapons, missiles, nuclear submarines and a growing navy. It is consolidating what it considers the past parts of its country like Tibet and has designs on Taiwan and other places including islands in the bordering seas which have come important because of possible oil and gas deposits.
He notes that militarily it is not the equal of the United States nor is it likely to be in the next twenty years. However it will soon become the dominant power in its region of the World and a force to be reckoned with regionally. Also it may soon be able to neutralize our power in Korea, Taiwan and even Japan.
Thus they will be a threat to American power in that part of the World even though they contend that their military plans are for defense. Therefore we should endeavor to bring China into the community of nations and seek to build strong relations with them as a partner in bringing peace and stability in the World. (However China is not a democracy and is still controlled by the Communist Party. It has no free press and practices censorship among other things. Leaders of the party change and new leaders may have more aggressive goals than the current leaders. This is especially true as competition for the World’s dwindling resources intensifies. However historically Russia and Japan have been have been its enemies not the United States.)
Romney sees the changes under Putin as making Russia less democratic and the press less free as it was under Yeltsin. Also Russia is re establishing its influence and power over bordering states either economically in the case of Europe, it controls most of Europe’s gas supply, or in the case of Georgia by military invasion. Romney believes Russia, under Putin, is trying to regain its past powers and trending more towards a dictatorship albeit not a Communist style one. (Russia’s fortunes seem to depend on the price of oil and gas and while they will remain a significant power in the world it is unlikely they will seek World domination or could even if they wanted to. Like the Chinese they have too many economic problems at home or in their own region of the World to become a likely challenger to the United States dominant position as the preeminent power in the World.)
Romney sees a significant drive for world domination by Islamic Jihadists. This would include Iran. Islamic Jihadists have been around a long time and at one time an Islamic Caliphate stretched from the Balkans through the Middle East across North Africa to Southern Spain. Romney sees the terrorists and the more radical Islamic countries like Iran, Yemen and Sudan as trying to reestablish that empire.
(While the great danger from these entities is that they will obtain nuclear weapons and use them against the West which could result in a limited nuclear retaliation. However a full scale nuclear war is unlikely because it would wipe out life on Earth as we know it. The West would most likely respond conventionally at first then with nuclear weapons in a limited way if necessary. However it is a serious matter because terrorists not controlled by a nation state have no stake in the status quo and therefore may believe they can use limited nuclear terrorism with impunity. This seem to be the real danger in the World not the waxing and waning of Russian and Chinese power but the proliferation of nuclear weapons among non nation groups like the Jihadist terrorists and others . Again Romney’s focus is not on the donut but on the hole.
If we don’t stop rogue nations like Iran, North Korea and even rogue elements in Pakistan from disseminating nuclear technology to Jihadist terrorist groups serious consequences for the West and their cities could result and maybe the world environment. After a nuclear event with nuclear fallout some parts of the World or all of it would no longer sustain human life.
Also Iran, with nuclear weapons, will become the dominant power in its part of the world threatening the Worlds access to the regions oil and gas. Further Iran may attack Israel either directly or more likely through a surrogate terrorist group armed with a nuclear weapon. If Israel preemptively attacks Iran World peace will be in serious jeopardy. Contrary to what Romney’s saying Russia and China are both allies in the prevention of nuclear proliferation as they have as much to lose as we have. While they are economic competitors, Russia in oil and gas, China in manufacturing, this is part of the free market philosophy, economic competition not military competition, you don’t attack your customers or suppliers.)
This book is beginning to sound more like a Sarah Palin rant than a serious and insightful discussion of issues.
WHERE I COME FROM
The Flawed Analogy
In this chapter Romney attempts to analogize the American experience with other empires and civilizations that have declined in the past. This is a lesson in what we should do to avoid becoming a second or third rate power. For instance the Ottoman and the Portuguese Empires, built on conquest and pillage, declined as a result of the failure to embrace new technologies. China, once the most powerful nation on Earth, which invented paper and gunpowder and launched the World’s most powerful navy, turned inward sealing itself off from the world, new ideas, technologies and as a result declined intellectually and economically. Great Britain also once the World’s most powerful economy with the largest navy failed to embrace new technology. (Some say its colonial system was an unsustainable financial burden plus the fact it bankrupted itself in two world wars.)
The point he is that the empires’ either were unsustainable economically or in the face of advancing technology and changing conditions failed to embrace new ideas or adjust to changed conditions which others did more successfully.
He also points out that often the class in power was unwilling to embrace new developments and ideas because the status quo benefitted them but was detrimental as a whole to the societies they led. Kim Jong Il and the Castro brothers must know by now that the communist economic system is unsustainable and damaging to their countries yet they are unwilling to open their doors to free trade, democracy or capitalism in any form because this might lead to the end of their power.
Comparing the U.S. to these former empires and others is really not that productive. Empires rise and fall because the economic system that supports that power is unsustainable in the face of new technologies embraced by more open countries.
As expected the present day comparison is made between China and the Western Industrialized Societies led by the United States. Romney thinks that we must meet the challenge China poses head on or we will also become a second rate power . (However China’s power is based on its decision to open itself up to trade and more importantly providing cheap labor. It has not given up its political system. This move has benefited about 300 million of its people but another 700 hundred million remain in rural poverty.
How it will deal with this remains to be seen although it has many projects to embrace new technology and to improve the lot of the 700 million left out of the present boom. Otherwise it will probably face more internal, political unrest than there is at present.
India has many of the same problems as China; a rural society converting to an industrial and technological one although it appears to be less entrepreneurial than China. Despite the fact it is the world’s largest democracy it also has millions of people who have been bypassed by the improvements made when it abandoned a centralized economy for a free market one.)
Pure Democracy Is A Flawed System
Romney quotes Ronald Reagan who was quoting an unknown Scottish philosopher when he said that democracies have the seeds of their own demise because when the voters discover they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury this leads to financial collapse and then dictatorship. ( We don’t have this problem because we are not a pure democracy. The Senate among other factors does not represent the popular vote but the propertied interests. The Supreme Court answers to no one, apparently, for its decisions.)
(The Scottish allusion, vague as it is, apparently is a reference to Social Security and Medicare which are supported by taxes on the wages of eventual recipients as well as employers for today’s beneficiaries. Not exactly like a direct usurpation of the public treasury. However this sounds like another argument for tax cuts on the wealthy that are not conducive to preserving one of Americas’ greatest strengths, a large and prosperous middle class.)
Romney states a free and strong America will have leaders who will recognize the threats to our power and to take measures to meet those threats. Globalization, terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons to hostile groups are some of the major threats facing the country. However another major threat is from politicians like Bush II and perhaps Romney and the crowd they bring into office with them who are intent on reducing taxes on themselves and exploiting the natural resources of the country for their own gain. The middle class shrunk and more people fell below the poverty line under Bush II. (Romney misses the point a free and strong America is based on a large, free and prosperous middle class who produce, educate and elect the best leaders not vice versa.)
Energy and Climate Change
(In the long run whether America remains the dominant power in the world is based on how we deal with energy and how we evolve from fossil fuels like oil a finite commodity, which is now in the control of hostile nations in the Mid East and Russia. Iran and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez are major problems. These countries would have no role to play on the world stage if it were not for their oil resources. Then there is climate change caused by fossil fuels. How that condition plays out also will be a decisive factor in world leadership.)
Romney believes we have the resources to meet these challenges, a free press to debate the issues that confront us, a democracy to elect leaders to do the job that needs to be done and the intellectual and economic resources to do the job. (It appears that the Obama Administration is already meeting those challenges better than the last Republican Administration. Whether Romney would do better is a best doubtful.)