Geopolitics and the Constitution

Discussion in 'Politics' started by fromtheright, Sep 24, 2005.

  1. fromtheright

    fromtheright
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    To what degree does the Constitution limit us in what some would call "playing geopolitics", but would I would argue is dealing with the realities in a complex world filled with challenges and threats to our well-being? There are many here, I would think, who might argue that the Founders' concern against standing armies and/or entangling alliances should limit our involvement around the world.

    IMO, the Constitution does no such thing. It merely limits the budgeting for the military (no more than two years as I recall), and sets the institutional checks on command. It says nothing about strategy or how we should deal with the world around us.

    We are faced with new and shifting challenges around the world. Obviously, jihadists are our most pressing concern. Their position and threat, though, is buttressed by a set of alliances, however loose, with rogue states. Those rogue states' themselves have different relationships with European states, Europe as a political entity, and with China. Europe itself increasingly sees its position as a counter-weight to our own strength and unilateral capabilities and interests and seeks its own relationships with others such as Russia and China. China's economic and military position grows stronger. Does the Constitution limit us in dealing with these players? Should the Founders' perception of our best interest govern us separately from the Constitution to the extent the two differ?
     
  2. poncho

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    What were the founders past experiences with the same pressures and threats?

    There was England France and Spain, three empires seeking to expand here that weren't above using the native population in America to srpead terror among the colonists to scare them into submission to the crown or even use it to exploit divisions among the colonists themselves to weaken their resistance to the crown.

    I don't see how the basic conditions of today are all that much different from the 1700's. bigger scope, few more players, more powerful arms and it's televised to all corners of the earth 24/7.

    Read the second paragraph of the Declaration of Indepedence a few times then go through the list of injuries and usurpations substitute the word "my government" for the word "He". Then think about each of those things they considered to be an injury and compare it to the government we have now.

    What do you see?
     
  3. fromtheright

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    poncho,

    What were the founders past experiences with the same pressures and threats?

    Excellent question. One response was Jefferson's "unilateral" response to the Barbary pirates by going over there and kicking their butts (if I have my history correct) rather than the European appeasement policy (speaking of not being able to get away from habit!) of paying tribute.

    Other differences are that our economic reach is global, and therefore our legitimate interests are too. And to the extent that other nations are allied with us (and yes, share our values), we should work with those nations and ally with them. Of course, such alliances and interests aren't completely parallel, as they are separate nations, such as India's position relative to China, and Israel's geographic position of being surrounded by enemies. Our reliance on global markets and sources further requires our global presence and actions.


    Read the second paragraph of the Declaration of Indepedence a few times then go through the list of injuries and usurpations substitute the word "my government" for the word "He. Then think about each of those things they considered to be an injury and compare it to the government we have now.

    With all due, and abiding, respect, I believe it is a separate issue, though certainly an interesting question.

    [ September 24, 2005, 03:01 PM: Message edited by: fromtheright ]
     
  4. billwald

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    Agree there is no constitutional limit. The Lincoln Revolution made the Declaration of Independance inoperative. God is on the side with the most canon. Try to secceed as see what happens.
     
  5. KenH

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    I agree, ftr.
     
  6. poncho

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  7. fromtheright

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    Thanks poncho and Ken. You two (and Joe B.) had a lot to do with inspiring this thread. Poncho, I know you and I differ on the neo-cons, and I think Ken, Joe, and I pretty much agree, but I think one thing we all share is a deep reverence for the Constitution, and the Founders (Madison is my favorite). Believe it or not, I mostly agree with the first quote from Madison. It disturbs me to see Congress delegating its power and responsibility to the President. However, I also agree with the Iraq war. Perhaps this is one area where I may not hold to as high a standard in sticking with the Constitution (which bothers me) because I believe the President is the voice of America foreign policy and must be able to respond to threats to our security. It sickens me but a perfect example of the need for that is Congress's carping after we had been deliberately and savagely attacked on September 11. They had the power and duty to declare war on al Quaeda or international terror but waited on the President to act.

    I would also add that I don't want to turn this into a debate on declaring war, or the war in Iraq but hope to broaden it to the conduct of foreign policy in general.

    Madison also speaks truth in the second quote but it also smacks somewhat of a Pollyannish view in that he seems to ignore that war is sometimes thrust upon us. In the modern era it is thrust upon us as being the lone superpower with the capability to respond to threats to our interests.

    Parenthetically, am reading a very interesting book by Robert Kagan Of Paradise and Power, with a subtitle about America and Europe in the New World Order. I know that phrase alarms some, but Kagan does not speak as favorably disposed to European union, but is rather commenting on European weakness as a motivator in their distancing themselves from the United States. It's a very small but very interesting book.

    Looking forward to further comments. Others I didn't name are more than welcome to join in also.
     
  8. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    The Constitution is unclear at best on geopolitics. We can get a glimpse of the time , however, by looking at President Washington's Farewell address. Look HERE to see it.

    Among the thoughts:

     
  9. poncho

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    Thanks C4K,

    I found the lead in opinion interesting in the the link you provided.

    I take this as Washignton being able to recognize the divide and conquer tactics of the empires he was familar with as well as those of politcal parties. I find the history of the American revolution is as much a study of the tactics used by the European crowns which are still in use today as it is the strategies of the individual battles. I like to think Wasington had a clear vision of how the rulers or Kings of England Spain and France sought to expand and maintain their empires through coercion subterfuge and terror and wanted America to have no part in that sort of bahavior.

    I look at the history of empires, and the actions of the elite in those times, the warnings from our founders, and how our own government as well as others are acting today and honestly I don't see much difference between us and the empires of old.

    I realize that the actions of the elite haven't changed. What has changed, to my way of thinking is that in comparison to our founders we are unlearned in the ways of world power and how that power is sought gained and maintained.

    This is why I lean on the Declaration of Indepedence to get an idea of what indepedence is.

    When I go through the list of injuries and usurpations I can see where our government is and has been engaged in many of the same usurpations that King George was guilty of. Not only is this government inflicting injuries abroad but on our own people as well.

    I see the same old plays from the same old playbooks over and over and over again.
     
  10. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    While I see the merit of the D of I for its stated purpose, it was not a document of the United States as we know it. It was simply a declaration. I don't see merit in it as governance.

    Washingtons Farewell Address was made when the country was nearing a decade of existance as a nation. I place much more merit on it as a commentary on the early United States.
     
  11. poncho

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    I understand what your saying and I would have to agree it is not a document as we know them. For me the D of I is important in two respects. It gives a general idea of independence and the injuries that were thought to be detrimental to good governance.

    It's more of a mindset of the times to reflect on more than anything else I guess for me anyway.
     
  12. fromtheright

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    C4K,

    We can get a glimpse of the time , however, by looking at President Washington's Farewell address.

    That is exactly my point: are we governed in any way, except by example, by President's Washington's advice? His opinion that particular agreements of the time are unnecessary, in fact, leaves it open for us to gauge the utility of particular agreements.

    The United States must "act for ourselves and not for others."

    Don't "the others" include George Washington when it comes to deciding international priorities and how to deal with foreign powers? No, I don't subscribe to thinking of our Founders as "the dead hand of the past"; nor do I agree with Jefferson's "the earth is for the living". I think that due and VERY high deference is to paid them when it comes to their thoughts on the meaning of the Constitution. I take second place to no one in my awe and regard for the Founding Fathers. We should also not ignore what Washington taught us about foreign policy (I wish students were still required to read his Farewell Address--and much more, including the Federalist Papers), but today's world presents unique challenges and I don't believe that we are necessarily bound in our dealing with those challenges by either the Constitution or our Founders.
     
  13. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    I agree, noyt bound, but we do well to consider their words.
     
  14. fromtheright

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    Agreed.

    Not to take us afield, but just curious, as this was touched on in another thread: Would we also do well to remember Washington's injunction:

    Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness -- these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
     
  15. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    Just saw a comment that will break this spirit of harmony FTR... ;)

    I do think we are bound by constitutional constraints. I am a STRICT constitutionalist, in case you haven't figured that out yet ;) .
     
  16. fromtheright

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    C4K,

    Thanks for catching that. I phrased that terribly. By the Constitution, I meant more of what I meant earlier in the thread, that the Constitution says nothing about how that policy is to be conducted, except insofar as there are limits set in the separation of powers. I guess I should have said we are not bound by it because it doesn't speak to foreign policy. I very much share your strict constructionism, I just don't think there is anything in the Constitution that applies, except as noted.
     
  17. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    In that case I think, believe it ir not, FTR and C4K may actually be in total agreement on a topic [​IMG] ;) !
     
  18. fromtheright

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    Whew! I thought the only thing we would agree on is that Huntsville is a great place to live!
     
  19. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    Well, that one is so obvious that ANYONE would agree with it [​IMG] !
     
  20. fromtheright

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    But, seriously, I think that one important thing we share is a commitment to a strict construction of the Constitution. I can much better debate someone who believes that than someone who holds to the slippery notion that the Constitution is a "living" document, whose meaning changes with the times. Actually, there is something wonderful in debating someone who shares that respect for the Constitution because both sides are seeking what the Constitution means.
     

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