NEWSLETTER
Subscribe now to receive FPJ's free weekly news digest

H.G. Wells And Defending the “Restoration Doctrine”

Michael Singh’s parochial critique in Foreign Policy Magazine entitled “‘Restoration’ is Not an Option: Why America Can’t Afford to Lead From Behind,”[1] attacks Richard N. Haass’s idea of a “Restoration Doctrine”, which in essence is “a U.S. foreign policy based on restoring this country’s strength and replenishing its resources—economic, human and physical.”[2] Singh’s reproach is reminiscent of Winston Churchill’s response to an H.G. Wells’ article penned in 1923, in which he argues for an end of the British Empire and a system of world federal government.

H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells

A staunch defender of the political status quo, Churchill dismissively replied to the suggestion. “We see him (Wells) airily discarding, or melting down, all those props and guard rails on which the population of this crowded and precariously conditioned island have been accustomed to rely…We can almost hear him smacking his lips at every symptom or upheaval in India or in Africa.” In a sense, this is also Singh’s main point of critique. He attributes a certain naiveté, fit for an unrealistic dreamer – not a policy expert – to Haass’s “Restoration Doctrine.” Singh criticizes the supposed sequentialism of Haass doctrine with domestic policy first and foreign policy second. Additionally, according to Singh, Haass suggests the United States disengage in an isolationist manner akin to pre-1941 times by conducting a more modest foreign policy. In Singh’s logic, forward deployment, democracy promotion, and free trade are the first lines of defense of the world’s greatest power. Overall, there is no need for much strategic change–especially a doctrinaire shift.

Singh’s thinking seems to be dominated by a unilateral mindset. A gradual decline of the U.S. is inevitable since we are moving towards a more multi-polar world – a decline largely triggered by a wider distribution of power within the system. Whether Brazil, China, or India will ever catch up with the U.S. is secondary. Haass’s new doctrine, therefore, blows a fresh wind into the faces of those who tend to ignore the tremendous shifts of power occurring in the world and the relative and absolute gradual decline of Western influence. Isolationism is certainly no healthy policy for a great power, but neither are tremendously expensive military adventures funded through credit from abroad and costing the lives of thousands of young Americans for no clear objective.

Singh concludes his piece: “America achieves greatness by setting ourselves to great tasks with great conviction; now is a time to streamline our budgets, programs, and expenses, but not our ambitions in the world.” This is a non-sequitur; one can have ambitions, an ardent desire for rank, and power, but seldom is this reconcilable with balanced budgets and realist foreign policies; after all, ambitions in a democracy need to be fuelled by oversimplifications and often alarmist statements, which lead the country “abroad, in search of monsters to destroy,” to quote John Quincy Adams.

It is also common for commentators such as Singh to argue to equate the growth of democratic government and liberal capitalism with a simultaneous growth of U.S. influence in the world. In pure power politics, this is not true. For example, the European Union quietly has been more successful in the last 20 years than the United States will ever be in expanding democracy and liberal capitalism by peaceful means – a fact rarely mentioned among Washington’s policy makers.

While beating a dead horse with analogies to the British Empire (let alone the Roman Empire!), it is telling that political analysts, scholars, and commentators continuously raise the subject of American decline, debating the nature of America’s status in the world and its foreign relations. The debate itself is affirmative of at least the uncertainty that many politicians and foreign policy makers feel about the future of the United States as the leading great power of the 21st century.

“We cannot alone act as the policeman of the world!” These words were not uttered by a U.S. President or Washingtonian policy maker but by Andrew Bonar Law, British Prime Minister in 1922, attempting to calm the voices of imperial expansion within Great Britain. Short-time presidential contender Donald Trump uttered the same words verbatim when discussing the U.S. engagement in Libya (followed by “I’d just take their oil!”). Current debates on decline are reminiscent of the debates in Britain in the 1920s and 1930s – of course, only ostensibly. What is similar, however, is that from Joseph Chamberlain to Winston Churchill, it took the good first half of the 20th century for British political leaders to finally accept the abandonment of imperial schemes in a changed world. It will also take U.S. commentators and politicians a couple of decades to genuinelyacknowledge a new reality (the process only started in the 1970s). Paying lip service to phrases such as President Obama’s “The era of U.S. unilateralism is over” without offering new policy prescriptions of how the United States can best weather this new climate is ludicrous at best and dangerous as worst. Multi-polarity is a fact. The world will be increasingly less interested in U.S. ambitions and resources even if liberal democracy is the way of the future.

Singh is therefore wrong to criticize Haass for arguing that the U.S. cannot shape the international system by retrenchment and the adaptation of a restoration doctrine. In the long run, the United States will have a tougher time achieving its foreign policy objectives, not because of any particular policy, but because of the uncertainty and wider distribution of power that accompanies a multi-polar world. A restoration doctrine will lead to a more careful husbanding of resources and a slower, more ‘elegant decline’; Singh’s idea of continuing foreign engagement will lead to a more rapid fall. In that respect, the absence of concrete agendas rather than a belief in the undying strength of the United States will be the true mark of reactionaries in the future.

In early 20th century Great Britain, anti -imperialist commentators and politicians were often thought to be affected by the parochial disease of “Little Englandism” -  foreign policy solely focused on the well being of the British Isles at the expense of the empire – essentially an euphemism for isolationism.  Yet like the propagators of “Little Englandism” – Richard Haass does not believe active engagement beyond national borders is unimportant; rather he believes that the chief threat to the United States comes from internal domestic weakness; not from more distant enemies.

The Churchill – H.G. Wells-esque debate of Haass and Singh on the future of the country will continue in the United States – indeed in the West – for some time. As stated before, however, that the debate is happening alone is already indicative of what the future may hold. In one of his lectures, the German philosopher Georg Friedrich Hegel reminisces about the predictive power of philosophy: “One more word about teaching what the world ought to be: Philosophy always arrives too late to do any such teaching…” The same can be said about sound foreign policy advice. Once we recognize the writing on the wall it might very well be too late, although Haass appears to be more aware than most policy makers of what the future will hold.

 


[1] http://shadow.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/07/26/restoration_is_not_an_option_why_america_cant_afford_to_lead_from_behind

[2] http://www.cfr.org/us-strategy-and-politics/bringing-our-foreign-policy-home/p25514

Print Friendly

About the Author

Franz-Stefan Gady is an associate at the EastWest Institute. 
  • THE

    We see how Italy is among several European Union Countries that are have financial difficulty, because of Government Debt.

    There is a variety of opinion among experts as to how to deal with this, and they range from defaulting, leaving the Euro zone currency, restructuring the Debt, and borrowing the Money to pay back the Debt.

    I know next to nothing about Economics, Banking, and Finance, and therefore each Country should seek advice from their Own Impartial Group of Loyal Experts, rather than their Politicians or their Government Departments and Corrupt and Biased Media.

    What I know is obvious to most People, is that those European Union Governments with Debt should not waste Money, and they should look to save Money wherever possible.

    I will use Italy as an example and say that if they had paid the Banks the Money they Criminally wasted on Libya, then they would be in a better financial position.

    We know that Italy was the Country that has to deal with the Refugee Problem that was created as a direct result of the Illegal and Immoral Libyan War, and that this Money could have been put toward reducing Italy’s Debt.

    They could have used all that Money to reduce the Principle of the loan, which will shorten the term of the loan, and which will in turn allow for the possibility to make their repayments smaller in the future.

    An additional source of saving Money could if all Continental European Union Countries purchased Russian weapons, because they would receive these at a lower cost.

    These savings can then be used to lower the Principle of the loan, and that will shorten the term of the loan, and which will in turn allow for the possibility to make their repayments smaller in the future.

    Russia has a proposal for a new European Security Agreement that should replace outdated institutions such as NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

    Continental European needs to understand that they are in the same region of the Planet, and that they need to Cooperate with each other.

    We have seen how America has set up a Politburo of the Central Committee of both Houses of Congress that works along the same lines as the Politburo of the Central Committee Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

    The Cunning and Deceptive American Puppet Politicians of the American Plutocrats and Banksters have Euphemistically called this Dictatorial Politburo a Super Congress.

    Part of the Debt Ceiling Legislation is set to make Obama a Dictator out because it mandates the creation of a Council of 13, who are the President, along with 6 Senators and 6 Congressmen, which will supersede the American Congress.

    We all know that the former American Politician Anthony Weiner had inappropriate images of himself on the internet, and that the American Politician Louis Magazzu just Resigned from Politics after Nude Photos of him appeared on the Internet.

    This was done by the American Plutocrats and Banksters for several reasons, and one is to deflect attention away from America’s even larger unserviceable Debt Crisis, and America’s Jobs Crisis.

    Another reason is to Deceive the American People that Plutocrats and Banksters only need Nude Photos of their Puppet American Politicians to keep them Puppetized, rather than having them Secretly Filmed in Acts of Bestiality and Paedophilia.

    How Cunning and Deceptive the Plutocrats and Banksters of America are, but they have the Hardworking American Taxpayers’ Money to pay for the best Liars and Deceivers who can Deceive the Hardworking American Taxpayers to direct more Money towards the American Plutocrats and Banksters.

    The Anglo-American Plutocrats and Banksters have Full Spectrum Dominance, and that means that the Anglo-American Plutocrats and Banksters Control the Entire Show of their Puppets, Globally.

    The approach that the Anglo-French Plutocrats use in Democracies is the Carrot and the Stick Approach, and the Carrot is of Course Fortune and Fame.

    With things this risky, and with the gamble so great for the Dictatorial Anglo-American Plutocrats and Banksters, then only those American Politicians that have Secretly been filmed in Acts of Bestiality and Paedophilia would be Candidates, and only they could be Trusted to Always Obey the American Plutocrats.

    If ordinary People would settle for less than this type of Guarantee, then all I can say is that they are True Idiots in every aspect of the word Idiot.

    If an American Politician is known to have committed Bestiality, then, they would not be re-elected, but they would also not go to jail for committing Bestiality.

    However, just to make sure, the American Plutocrats would want their Puppet American Politicians to be filmed in Acts of Paedophilia, so that a Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald situation could exist to prevent any one of the numerous Corrupt and Bribed American Puppet Politicians from going to Court and revealing some of the Dirt on the Plutocrats and Banksters of England and America.

  • THE

    The current problems in Kosovo are the result of a carefully planned response by America and its Client in Pristina that was unnecessarily and deliberately engineered, and used the Illegal Custom Stamps of the Kosovo Albanians are their pretext.

    It would not surprise me in the least if the Double Dealing Tadic and Company knew of this plan, because Tadic and Company know that they must give Kosovo away to join the European Union, even though America Euphemistically refers to this as Serbia having Good Relations with other Europeans.

    It appears that it is Only Serbia and the Serbian People who are Obligated to practice Good Relations with other Europeans, and even while America and other Nazi Europeans are committing decades long Physical, Economic, and Cultural Genocide of the Serbian People.

    If the European Union is worth joining, then they should demand that the Kosovo Albanians start Lobbying, and Lobbying Hard for the Lying, Hypocritical, Criminal European Union to give Serbia the SAA Agreement that has been signed and was promised.

    Serbia could never possibly even think of Recognizing Kosovo unless the Kosovo Albanians have proven the they want Good Relations with other Europeans, and that would be shown by the Kosovo Albanians Lobbying Hard and being successful at ensuring that Serbia has its SAA Agreement.

    After Serbia has its SAA Agreement, because of the work of the Good Neighbourly Kosovo Albanian Lobbying, then Serbia will never recognize Kosovo, because that would not be showing Good Relations toward other Europeans who Lobbied for the SAA Agreement to be given to Serbia, because such Good Neighbours will be given Autonomy as Serbian Citizens.

    This is why all European Union Countries are invited to revoke their Recognition of Kosovo Albanian Illegal Unilateral declaration of independence, and this invitation is there for all other Countries, including America.

  • THE

    The Albanians need to know that a time will come when the Stronger Continental European Countries that includes Russia might decide to perform Economic Genocide on all Albanians in Europe.

    What this means is that if Kosovo ever becomes Mono Ethnically Albanian before it becomes Independent, then this will be the predicament for the Albanians.

    America, because of Politically Correctness reasons will not allow the Albanians and Non-Albanians to have Coordinated and Agreed to Total Racial Segregation of Albanians and Non-Albanians.

    We all know that the Kosovo Albanians want a Mono Ethnic Albanians Kosovo, but the Albanians of Europe do not want Economic Genocide that will result in the end of the Albanian Race in Europe and possibly the World, unless Albania takes all of Europe’s Gypsies, and England’s Coloured People and Black People.

    What this means is that Albania needs to Revoke their recognition of the Kosovo Albanians Unilateral declaration of independence, so that America can leave Kosovo Completely and Permanently.

    After that Belgrade and Pristina can come to some agreement, and I suggested that 67% of Kosovo be given to Albanians as a homeland for these Racist Criminal Troublemakers who may bring Economic Genocide upon themselves and all Albanians Globally, if they do not submit to Autonomy as Serbian Citizens until America and NATO leave Kosovo Completely and Permanently.

    Serbia needs to start telling the Americans that they are Filthy Criminal Liars, and War Criminals, and that they are invited to Revoke their support for Kosovo Albanians Unilateral declaration of independence, and that their Puppets should also follow Proper Principles.