Tuesday, February 2, 2010
THE END OF THE FRONTIER?
I was perusing sites and I landed upon my friend Z's site. She had a great post about the US ceding its preeminence on internet technology to other countries. There seems to be a pattern here. The NASA manned missions to return to the moon are out, meanwhile India plans a trip of its own. In these economic times that may seem to be prudent, but what disturbs me is that it is a troubling step down the path from American Exceptionalism, to American mediocrity.
In 1890, the census declared the end to the American frontier. This represented the end of the American mindset of manifest destiny, that drove American exploration and led to the settling of the continent from sea to shining sea. In the process the US was on the road to becoming the dominant economic and military power in the world, some would say driven by transplantation of the frontier spirit to technological achievement. This fueled an Industrial Revolution that brought about unparalled inventions.
The list of American inventions is incredible and would take some time to enumerate. Imagine the world without American entrepreneurship and inventiveness, spawned by the freedom to achieve whatever was possible. I think that spirit is being bred out of us by multiculturalism, moral reletivism, and worse, a feeling that Americans should be ashamed of their success.
Following the First World War, Woodrow Wilson committed America to the League of Nations. This ill-fated organization was predicated on the illusion that war could be averted if only the nations of the world would sit down together to talk out and resolve their differences. I'm a little more cynical of Wilson, however, suffice it to say his trust was seriously misplaced, especially as it regards Europe with its long history of incessant warfare. To the point, the League of Nations included Article 10 which bound the signatories to accept the frightening notion that an attack on one League member was an attack on all. Hence, the US would make itself a party and worse, a participant in a war that could result from some perceived slight in some far off land.
Rightfully, many Senators were appalled at the prospect of another world war and America's involvement in it. Especially so soon after WWI. At times of crisis many great men rise to the challenge and this crisis was no exception. Henry Cabot Lodge, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee was adamantly opposed to the involvment of the US in the League basing his objection in no small part to a loss of national sovereignty. He argued that US involvement would represent a forfeiture of the right of the US to plot its own path in foreign policy. To the great relief of many Americans, many understandably isolationist following the horrifying losses in the war, his view prevailed and the Senate refused to approve the treaty.
My worry is that Obama seems to be trodding again on a Wilsonian, one-world, supranationalist path. It seems to me that our national sovereignty is being subjugated to this misguided, discredited policy. The president has signaled a willingness to bargain away our national sovereignty with the publication of his new budget. The president has committed to budgetary policies that signal that he isn't interested in keeping our competitive edge in technology.
His misguided commitment to green jobs, none of which yet exist, is a false idol. He should commit to energy independence and do more than talk about nuclear power and push legislation to allow more off shore drilling. The technology exists to drill with a very small footprint. He should take these steps to ween us off foreign oil, make us energy independent and then and only then do research for alternative fuels. In other words, remove the roadblocks and commit the government to allow entrepreneurs to go about doing what they do best. Achieve. Many jobs will result.
Make us secure, then allow the American spirit of inventiveness to solve the problem of alternative fuels. We went to the moon. Remember?
Wilson's misguided League was flushed once. Let's just leave that policy in the toilet of history where it belongs. National sovereignty. Maybe some isolationism is in order again until we solve our own problems.