Archive for August, 2011

Foreign Policy 2013

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011


In the Context of Renaissance Conservative Thought & Theory

Supplement to “The American Creative Surge”, July 2011 Version

Link –

A Free Nation among the Nations

Renaissance Conservatism holds that the overriding concern of all free nations, prominent among them the United States of America – the leading model, should be the mutual support, promotion and protection of creative civilization, in its manifold forms. Such an ambitious project requires more of us in the current international environment than passive attention.  After all, we are foremost among those rare free, stable, creative countries, all of which find themselves hampered, assailed or attacked by authoritarian bureaucracies, kleptocracies and various, quasi or predominantly socialist economic states.  Much of the world – not excluding many free countries – hovers on the cusp of economic and political collapse.  With all our flaws, America is freedom’s best, real-world hope.

The focus on life-affirming creativity (in the broadband sense that folds in exploration, artistic and technological innovation, and incorporates the necessary conditions of stable freedom) is the 21st century’s answer to the 20th century’s failed authoritarian socialist model. Creativity in the expanded sense just described is as essential to the survival of civilization as the capacity for fruitful adaptation is to any biological system. Productive nodes of creativity tend to surface in protected zones of comparative freedom and security. Inovative creative accomplishments flourish among small cells of highly creative individuals.  Authoritarian bureaucracies attempt to capture and control these nodes, inevitably smothering them and destroying their value.

Creativity is a bottom-up phenomenon. Authoritarian bureaucracies are its systemic enemy. Nation states historically have provided protected cells in which creativity has been allowed to flourish (examples abound from Renaissance Florence to Silicon Valley).  Recognizing their value, modern authoritarian regimes often try to appropriate, bleed or control all of the creative communities within their reach. The suppression of creativity inevitably results.  It is instructive that whenever a truly authoritarian regime takes power anywhere in the world, its creative communities seek to relocate themselves by moving to other, freer states.

In  the current international environment and for the foreseeable future, efforts to enforce a sort of general homogeneity among the nations, withering away the protective benefits of national boundaries, all in the service of dangerously vague notions of cooperation, are deeply counterproductive.  The abolition of the nation state will not serve the larger goal of promoting the life-enhancing human creative enterprise

My use of the term cell in the context of nation states and their creative communities was intended.  In any multicellular organism, the integrity of the cell walls is essential to the survival of the organism. The capacity of individual nations to enjoy differential success or failure is essential to human survival.  To be sure, we need nation states to cooperate peacefully, when possible, but we really need states and their creative communities to protect themselves separately.  Consider that in the utopian world order wherein all national boundaries will be absent, all human communities will become equally vulnerable to economic, political, cultural and biological pathogens.

It follows that the sovereign nation state remains the fundamental player in all international relations, starting with the USA.  But as a sovereign free country, the United States must deal with all the players.  But we need acknowledge as fully legitimate only those freedom-respecting states that follow the pattern of consensual government, under law, that protects the core set of liberties essential for a creative civilization. Our participation in robust treaty arrangements between and among such free states is appropriate when that is in our national interest and otherwise prudent. But it necessarily follows that no essential part of US sovereignty is ever to be surrendered to any presently constituted international agency or institution.  US membership in the United Nations (a primitive, Third World dominated construct), is necessarily provisional, reserving not only our plenary right to withdraw at a moment’s notice, but a bright line demarcation of US sovereignty such that no incursion by the UN, its agencies (including the International Criminal Court) in derogation of US sovereignty or the rights thereby guaranteed to its citizens will be accepted as even nominally legitimate, and no such incursion can be ever be tolerated on a practical level.

So…history has made us a beacon of freedom in an imperfect and unstable world.  The world will not go away.  The world will not leave us alone.  And our foreign policy cannot be conducted without teeth.  This was true at the time of our nation’s founding; it was true when we were attacked at the onset of World War II; it was true during the Cold War; it was true when we were attacked on 9-11-01.  It is true now. We are not the world’s police force, but without the military capacity to occasionally stand up as the biggest cop on the block when our interests require it, we will become the world’s biggest failed experiment in sustained freedom.

The most serious mistake we can ever make would be to assume that our nukes make us safe.  Our second most serious mistake would be to assume that we can do without nukes as long a single such weapon exists in the world within reach of an enemy of freedom.  The overarching goal of our foreign and national security policy is not to achieve a peaceful world – though we welcome the intervals of real peace as providence allows.  Nor is it a world in which everyone lives together in the drear harmony of the defeated, dispirited and uniformly oppressed.  No, the goal of our policy is to bring about a world that is safe for the exercise of life-affirming creative freedom; and pending the arrival of that day, to provide and expand the safe havens of freedom wherever and whenever we can, starting with in own backyard.

The ABC’s of Military Intervention

[A] Bulls Eye Analysis

Every military intervention, short of a self-defense emergency and the category of clandestine, short-term special operations, gets a careful convergence analysis: Three sets of policy norms must agree before wars are undertaken.

The large circle:  This circle hold only those military undertakings that protect and further US national interests in concrete, real-world terms, i.e., access to resources, protection of vital allies (vital in the same real-world sense) and threat abatement to the US proper and our core allies.

The included circle: Our military undertakings must be consistent with the Moral Law (see the author’s article, Thugology 101 at –, to wit – (1) that set of clear moral restraints, including no enslavement, no theft, no unnecessary damage to innocent civilians and no genocide; and (2) the set of moral imperatives appropriate to any robust creative civilization, especially the duty to oppose evil (especially as it threatens creative life-affirming freedoms in the world), to promote and protect all safe nodes of creative civilization whenever and whenever otherwise consistent with this analytic model.

The Bulls Eye: US wars must be prudent and practical as opposed to those disastrous grandiose gestures of history (thinking of Woodrow Wilson’s grossly oversold, “War to end all wars”).  All such undertakings present unintended consequences, and the attendant risks need to be minimized.  So the final included circle contains a set of hard-nosed constraints, including the commonsense prudential concerns, among them undertaking the necessary pre-intervention mobilization, a wise management of popular expectations, carefully avoiding ineffectual gestures, and above all a realistic capability assessment – guarding against the misallocation of limited resources and minimizing the risk of self-defeating blowback.  Note that urgent self-defense of the homeland is an exigent variant in which these considerations are condensed much as EMT’s condense fine medical judgments in the field.

Only when all three circles clearly overlap should any serious military intervention be undertaken by the USA.  As noted, the task of direct self-defense against any urgent significant existential threat to the USA  is an exercise in triage, the first step of which is to muster the most robust and effective response possible in order to buy time for mobilization and the following steps.

[B] Plenary US Sovereignty

Ultimate strategic control of any military intervention must unambiguously rest with the USA as a truly independent sovereign power.  Cooperation with allies, as in the WWII tradition, is a permissible model.  But yielding any meaningful operational and strategic control of US armed forces to a foreign institution is the anti-model.  The Korean War was a problematic hybrid, taken at a time when the UN was essentially a US puppet, but the necessary compromises presented constraints on US action and complications in military decision making that foreshadowed the disastrous mismanagement of the Vietnam War.

[C] The Credibility and Honor Imperative

Real world wars always present changed circumstances that sometimes can lead to the premature end of any military intervention.  Three principles must govern any such withdrawal:

1. Retain the credibility of United States armed force, avoiding the appearance (or reality) that our military can be driven from the field by intimidated politicians, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  Recall the maxim that winning an unwise war is still preferred to losing one. And note how these concerns affect the prudential layer of analysis undertaken before initiating military involvement.  And also note that the delayed “end game” of an unduly protracted military conflict may require levels of force that were rejected at the outset as morally or practically unavailable.  President Truman’s necessary use of nuclear weapons in WWII is instructive here.

2. Retain ally credibility, i.e. – never forsake those who risked their lives in our common cause.

3. Preserve military honor, as in the US Marine ethos – until they are home, no warrior is left behind and as in the suffer no final defeat spirit of Douglas (I will be back) MacArthur, and Winston (blood, sweat & tears) Churchill, whose weaponized rhetoric steeled an entire generation to endure the long course to – victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.

Jay B Gaskill is a California Attorney.  His website, The Policy Think Site (, links to his profile, articles, books and blogs.


Tuesday, August 16th, 2011


Analysis and a Prediction


Jay B Gaskill

Welcome to

The DOT 2 DOT Blog

As Published On

→The Dot to Dot Blog: http://jaygaskill.dot2dot


→The Policy Think Site:

All contents, unless otherwise indicated are

Copyright © 2011 by Jay B. Gaskill




The author’s permission to publish all or part of this article is needed.

License to print copies for use in group discussions is usually given on request.

For all permissions, comments or questions, please contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at


Analysis and a Prediction

By Jay B Gaskill

“Six months ago, it still seemed as if Republican primary voters might be choosing a sacrificial lamb to run against Barack Obama. Now it looks as if they might be choosing the next president.”

Ross Douthat in yesterday’s New York Times

As I wrote a friend, after reviewing Obama’s poll numbers back on June 30th – they are much worse now than then – if today were October 30, 2012, Mr. Obama’s staff would be actively looking for other work.

In a bleak economy, the GOP test for a winning a nominee is simple one:  (a) not the incumbent (b) no burning negatives. A candidate’s religious affiliation – including a traditional LDS formation) will not be a burning negative.  Even with lukewarm conservative support, Governor Romney will win (recalling that in 1967 many liberals would have supported his father without any Mormon qualms), unless the US economy is in a strong economic recovery. During a weak or problematic recovery (think of high inflation and tepid growth, for example), the POTUS  race becomes closer, and the campaign energy of the challenger becomes more important – this confers a possible advantage to Governor Perry, unless Mitt Romney is able to sharpen his campaign.

The candidates I might prefer are not running (Rudy Giuliani or Harry Truman) because one is dead and the other is playing dead.

Scale matters.  Boutique candidates, and those promising figures on the political horizon who have not yet successfully navigated large scale organizational life or who arrive on stage with a script but no understanding of  direction, production and distribution are still minor players in the real world, however talented and appealing we may think they are.  As an aspiring politician, Mr. Obama wrote his own script, then as a junior senator from Illinois, he scripted an idealistic presidential campaign, then as president he tried to script the entire national narrative – recovery, renewal, a bright new day.  But somewhere between script, performance and production, things went deeply awry.  Scale matters. Executive experience and practical judgment deeply matter.

Governors Romney and Perry meet the minimum qualifications for sufficient chief executive experience. But any relatively new member of congress from either chamber (this includes Congresswoman Bachmann) simply have not acquired the chops provided that he or she otherwise has not managed some complex project of the appropriately massive scale.

Running campaigns, as such, do not count as executive experience on the level required by the presidency.  Mr. Obama abandoned the fashioning of his “stimulus” bill and the attempted national health care overhaul to partisan hacks because he lacked the experience and judgment to do otherwise.

Inspirational rhetoric cannot operate as an adequate substitute for the acquisition of the thousands of real world contacts, trust relationships, and the demonstrated competence in managing the push and pull of institutional politics that is acquired by, say, governing a large state, a municipality, an international event or an extended military engagement. The baseline executive requirements for POTUS were outlined, explained and defended in an article MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS FOR POTUS.  Here’s a key excerpt –



The presidency requires a certain minimum level of real world experience, to wit:

  • A full term as an active, effective, involved Vice President, AND/OR
  • Long term legislative service in a major leadership position, such a House Speaker or Chair of Ways and Means, coupled with meaningful executive service in another position, AND/OR
  • A Governorship or comparable executive position, ideally more than one term, of a major state or city (see below), AND/OR.
  • Comparable business executive experience coupled with significant government service, such as a military leader, or in one or both of the two first tier Cabinet positions Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State.

Here is that link:


The executive experience of Congresswoman Bachman is and of Senator Obama was imaginary.  Whatever their other merits or demerits, Senator Obama should not have been considered for the presidency and Congresswomen Bachmann is equally unready for the country’s highest and most critical executive position.

Having been swept in on a tide of hope, Mr. Obama may well be swept out on a tide of disappointment.  The American electorate in 2012 will be impatient.  They will consider two linchpin questions:  Has the Obama presidency demonstrated sufficient success that another four years is warranted?  Is the proposed replacement up to the job of making things better?  The trends tell us to expect a “no” answer to the first question.  Whether the GOP can regain the presidency depends on the answer to the second.