27 March 2006

Precepts of Jacksonianism

Jacksonianism? That *looks* absolutely horrible! This entire english language idea of adding '-ism' to a school of thought or such like is actually nice in concept, but ends up with all sorts of awful looking things... But I do digress.

Well, I will start with Steven den Beste on this, as he was the first to bring this to light for me, so these are more or less must reads to know where I am coming from:

Wilsonianism and how Europe fumbled it so badly they got a Second World War.

Jacksonian Foreign Policy and warfare. And this lovely quote that sums up so much...

Will we forgive the Islamic nations, and work to remove the source of their anger? Will the United States begin to address "root causes" and work to remove them? You betcha, but only after the war has been won. Jacksonians remove the danger first, and only then work to make sure the danger never arises again. But a Jacksonian never rewards an enemy, never ever appeases one. Until the war has been won, "root causes" are a distraction. This is the reason why "if you kill Americans, you're dead meat."
Measured Response to threats. And the mirror of the Walter Russell Mead article from The National Interest on the Jacksonian Tradition. A must read! And so is the rest of Mr. den Beste's Essential Library. And an excerpted quote form Mead's article...

For the first Jacksonian rule of war is that wars must be fought with all available force. The use of limited force is deeply repugnant. Jacksonians see war as a switch that is either "on" or "off." They do not like the idea of violence on a dimmer switch. Either the stakes are important enough to fight for—in which case you should fight with everything you have—or they are not, in which case you should mind your own business and stay home. To engage in a limited war is one of the costliest political decisions an American president can make—neither Truman nor Johnson survived it.

The second key concept in Jacksonian thought about war is that the strategic and tactical objective of American forces is to impose our will on the enemy with as few American casualties as possible. The Jacksonian code of military honor does not turn war into sport. It is a deadly and earnest business. This is not the chivalry of a medieval joust, or of the orderly battlefields of eighteenth-century Europe. One does not take risks with soldiers’ lives to give a "fair fight." Some sectors of opinion in the United States and abroad were both shocked and appalled during the Gulf and Kosovo wars over the way in which American forces attacked the enemy from the air without engaging in much ground combat. The "turkey shoot" quality of the closing moments of the war against Iraq created a particularly painful impression. Jacksonians dismiss such thoughts out of hand. It is the obvious duty of American leaders to crush the forces arrayed against us as quickly, thoroughly and professionally as possible.

Truer words were never spoken!

Jacksonians on International Law. And Mr. den Beste on why Jacksonians look askance at 'international law'...
This is, in fact, exactly the Jacksonian nightmare about international relations; where the "rules" themselves are being set by others unilaterally for their own benefit, to our detriment. It's really very simple: I don't abide by any international law that I don't specifically agree to, because if I provide a blanket promise to abide by such laws then you can use that to control me. In fact, I as an American citizen don't have a blanket obligation to obey any law passed by Congress, because if they try to pass laws which infringe my constitutional rights then the laws themselves are invalid.

The usual Jacksonian response to this kind of international situation when it becomes intolerable is to stick a middle finger into the air, and then cock a weapon and aim it. I expect something comparable to that this time. There won't be any open expression of contempt as such so much as that the US will ignore those arguments completely. (Which is, in fact, an even greater expression of contempt.)

Agreeing to help standardize relations between Nation States amongst them is not the same as handing over authority OVER those Nation States to a third body. You play nice and so will we, but if you try to use your interest to over-ride mine via a third party in international affairs, do watch out. Nation States are called Sovereign States for a reason.

More on Jacksonian Foreign Policy. Europe quivers. Some choice quotes...

Jacksonians don't consider the pacification of Germany to be the result of law or diplomacy. They think that it's the result of American military occupation. To put it simply, European peace was made possible by an American threat of war, fifty years of occupation by several American divisions and other military assets. That was the critical difference between 1920 and 1946; in 1920 American Wilsonians tried using diplomacy and the concept of international law and cooperation and friendship and trust, and failed. In 1946, American Jacksonians used military power instead, and succeeded.
Yes, Americans being present in post-War Germany meant that there was an actual force to keep order, look over things and give supervision. And damn well back it up. We were *not* going to go through a THIRD World War because of German expansionism and totalitarianism. So many do forget that little thing.

And a thousand years of Western European war was ended by American military occupation. (Which is why Jacksonians find European preaching against our military might to be ironic and deeply hypocritical. Europe has disarmed and ceased to rely on military power, but it was only capable of doing so because of American military strength. Europeans didn't need armies to threaten each other because they were all being threatened by us as a neutral outsider.)

Jacksonians do not think that international frameworks and international cooperation are impossible or unnecessary. But Jacksonians believe that such frameworks should be limited, concentrated, and closely monitored. Cooperation is possible without trust if it is backed with vigilance and the will to retaliate for cheating. (Retaliation can take many forms, of course; it's not exclusively military.)

And to Jacksonians, trust is foolhardy. There are a lot of good people out there, but there are also a lot of bastards, and if you turn your back someone will stab you in it. "Trust, but verify" is a purely Jacksonian watchword. Those who act honorably will be treated honorably, but those who cheat will be crushed
And as to *why* Ronald Reagan won with a landslide? Jacksonians *disgusted* with the Democratic party that not only supported the withdrawal of troops from South Viet Nam, but then, in Congress, cut them OFF from further aid. All aid. The Democratic Party is seen as wanting an ally of the United States to fail and be crushed by a totalitarian regime and become Communist. Currently Jacksonians are disenfranchised because neither political party tries to address them.

Basically, Jacksonians believe that others will play fair, but some of them will only do so as long as they know they're being watched.
This is what I call "Adult Supervision" on the international scale. But drives down to the Citizenry, too.

Jacksonians don't have any interest in spreading their philosophy around the world. It isn't evangelistic; indeed, the entire concept of trying to actively spread that or any other philosophy around the world is deeply repugnant to pure Jacksonians. Jacksonians are anti-imperialistic.

The whole point of Jacksonianism is "You leave me alone and I'll leave you alone. You play fair with me and I'll play fair with you. But if you fuck with me, I'll kill you."

To Jacksonians, it is entirely possible to create an adequate world framework of consistent and fair behavior, sufficient to support trade, through vigilance and the threat of reprisal (military or otherwise). Going beyond that to a world government as such is neither necessary, desirable nor even possible, and the best case is where there is as little international framework and governance as can be: only the bare minimum required but no more. Anything beyond that will eventually be abused by someone, so it's better to do without it.
So, when I form up a Jacksonian Party it is an oxymoron. But my view is that we are currently in a Zero Party System. Even the basics of civility and, indeed, the entire concept of a compact amongst Free People to rule themselves via the Constitution is being destroyed. What is being pushed to REPLACE the Constitution is Transnational Progressivism. And the outgrowth of the idea that there should be an authoratarian system over all nations feeds directly into Transnational Terrorism, which seeks to achieve an authoritarian state or states via the destruction of the Nation State system.

Transnational progressivism is fundamentally authoritarian; it believes in the rule of the enlightened few over the unwashed masses, for their benefit. They are stupid and cannot be permitted to make up their own minds, and the enlightened few will do the right thing for them despite themselves. It is profoundly repugnant to every value I hold as a Jacksonian and a supporter of the fundamental principles on which the American system was founded.
Jacksonianism is Individual oriented, expecting accountability for rights as individuals realize they are responsible for the outcomes of their actions. Transnational Progressivism is elitist in conception, to put elites in power of the plebians. Transnational Terrorists want to put THEMSELVES in the position of the elite dictating to the masses. Do read more of the den Beste article and linked articles to decide for yourselves. And then check out his look at the logic, or lack thereof, of those who argue for things even when they are proven to be wrong on initial assumptions.

At this point I will let you absorb the concepts of Jacksonianism and how they impact the lives of each of us as an evil and pernicious idea that Groups of People should wield power over mere individuals is impacting our society. Negatively impacting it, if I may say so.

No comments: