Time to reverse course: America is being corrupted by its own power

On April 15, the US, in conjunction with the UK and France, deployed 105 weapons against targets within Syria that the US government claims were part of the Syrian government's chemical weapons program. The stated objective of these strikes was to impede future Syrian chemical weapons capabilities and send a signal to the Syrian regime that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. Even though this strike is practically ancient history now, thanks to the warp speed of our news cycles, the way in which an act of war has been so quickly replaced in the news reflects on the unserious and frivolous attitude with which Americans approach our wars.

Despite the shock and awe of the missile strikes, the entire premise of the US involvement in the Syrian Civil is rather unclear. The Syrian government is widely recognized as winning the war, and even if it were to somehow be defeated it would be inevitable that the myriad of rebel groups would simply continue the war amongst themselves. This leaves few if any options for constructive US intervention into the conflict, a reality recognized by even hardcore advocates of US intervention abroad. After the airstrikes, Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former Obama State Department official and well-known interventionist tweeted, “I believe that the US, UK, & France did the right thing by striking Syria over chemical weapons. It will not stop the war nor save the Syrian people from many other horrors. It is illegal under international law. But it at least draws a line somewhere & says enough."

The United States is able to engage in frivolous bombing that its own supporters say is symbolic and meaningless on a practical level because it is so secure and powerful. Our military might and power projection capabilities exceeded by several orders of magnitude any other power on earth. Our neighbors in the Western hemisphere are all weak, and to the east and the west, we are protected by vast moats in the form of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that no other state has the power projection capability to cross in force. Combined with our large population and productive economy, the United States does not face any external existential threats.

While such security is obviously beneficial, it is both a blessing and a curse as it effectively removes many of the practical effects that check the exercise of American military might. America can go and wreak chaos and destruction in its wake across the Middle East in places like Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria, and not suffer many large immediate consequences in return. There is, of course, the danger of terrorist blowback, but the risk of dying from a terror attack in the US is astronomically low (Cato's Alex Nawrasteh reports that there is only a .00003 percent chance of being killed by a foreign-born terrorist in the US). Millions of refugees and displaced people fleeing from chaos are not crossing the Atlantic Ocean, they are crossing the Mediterranean and disrupting Europe, not America. Aside from tangling with Russia and China in a serious way, the US is pretty much free to do what it wishes around the world and need not fear much in the way of immediate consequences.

Attempts to remake the rest of the world by force of arms have unfortunately not dampened the enthusiasm for trying again and again.

Unchecked power corrupts, and unfortunately, America has fallen into this trap on numerous occasions due to the moralizing and crusading nature that has taken hold of both our domestic and foreign affairs over the course of the past century. In his 1988 book The Present Age, sociologist Robert Nisbet captures this attitude well, saying that “ever since Wilson, with only the rarest exceptions, American foreign policy has been tuned not to national interest, but to national morality."

If one starts with the premise that the United States is a “shining city upon a hill," it is not a huge leap to the idea that the US should sally forth to bring enlightenment to the benighted peoples of the world. What changed around the turn of the 20th century was the realization that, unlike before, America now had the might to undertake such a crusade, the first such foray being the entrance into the First World War --- with the lofty goal of ending war altogether! The abject failure of that goal and all other attempts to remake the rest of the world by force of arms have unfortunately not dampened the enthusiasm for trying again and again.

In The Fellowship of the Ring, Tolkien gives us a clear exposition of the mind affected by power in the form of Saruman of Many Colors. Saruman began with good intentions, as nearly everyone in the world does, but along the way fell prey to what Eric Voegelin calls the libido dominandi, or the will to power. “We must have power, power to order all things as we will, for that good which only the Wise can see," Saruman tells Gandalf. The advocates of intervention who favor perpetual US meddling abroad clearly consider themselves to be ordering all things for the good that only we here in the US can see. In the words of Madeline Albright “if we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future."

Americans must develop internal checks in the form of restraint and self-discipline.

Unfortunately, the exercise of such unchecked power will inevitably lead the US down the path of its own destruction. We may not face any external existential threats, but we face an enormous existential threat in the form of ourselves. Our national debt is through the roof, thanks in no small part to the price tag on our crusading ventures, and even higher than that when factoring in the unfunded liabilities stemming from the welfare state. The Watson Institute at Brown University calculates that America has spent over $5.6 trillion on its wars since 2001. By 2056 they estimate this spending will have accumulated an additional $7.9 trillion in costs via interest on the debt accumulated to fund these wars. Such a fiscal situation is not sustainable forever.

Beyond the bleak monetary situation, America is plagued by a fraying and weak social fabric comprised of atomized individuals and an absolutist strain in our politics which incentivizes more and more heated conflict over control of the federal government --- both conditions which Nisbet considers to be consequences of American militarism. As Nisbet and many others have explained, war leads to a centralization of state power and control that does not decrease when the war is over. Now that our wars are seemingly never-ending, the slightest role back of the surveillance state and other war-time measures seems out of sight. With this wartime centralization comes the decay of the rest of society, as more and more of social life becomes centered around the government, as opposed to the historical situation in which various non-state institutions, most notably family and religion, were separate poles of power within society. In Nisbet's words “threads are loosened by the tightening of power at the center." If such centralization does not stop, our social fabric may eventually simply tear asunder.

Facing no external checks, Americans must develop internal checks in the form of restraint and self-discipline, if we are to steward our power wisely and prevent our indiscretions from bringing about our own downfall.

Zachary Yost is a Young Voices advocate and a freelance writer and researcher. Follow him on Twitter @ZacharyYost.

The great beyond. What does it hide from us? Do unknown lifeforms linger in the dark? In other words, was David Bowie right? Is there life on Mars? The head of Harvard University's Astronomy Department contends that, yes, there is. Well, not that there's life on Mars. I'll explain in just a minute.

In an academic article for the Astrophysical Journal Letters, Dr. Avi Loeb, the head of Harvard University's Astronomy Department, claimed that an alien probe entered our solar system. He claimed that it is masked as the space rock Oumuamua (Ow-moo-ah-moo-ah), "the first interstellar object to enter our solar system." It turns out that "space rock" is way more than a musical genre.

RELATED: Science saves us again: Octopuses are really aliens who crash-landed on Earth

In his own words:

Considering an artificial origin, one possibility is that 'Oumuamua is a lightsail, floating in interstellar space as a debris from an advanced technological equipment.

His evidence? pointed to the space rock's abnormal acceleration, activity which he gathered via the Hubble Space Telescope.

He added that "the lightsail technology might be abundantly used for transportation of cargo between planets."

Sounds a bit like Star Wars, no? Or are you more of a Star Trek fan? Either way, it's an odd thing to hear from the head of Harvard University's Astronomy Department. Typically, we hear these sorts of things from the darker corners of the History Channel.

Well, I'll say that, at this point, I'm not really surprised. It's 2019. I'm not surprised by anything anymore.

"I don't care what people say," Loeb said. "It doesn't matter to me. I say what I think, and if the broad public takes an interest in what I say, that's a welcome result as far as I'm concerned, but an indirect result. Science isn't like politics: It is not based on popularity polls."

Honestly, I believe the guy. Well, I'll say that, at this point, I'm not really surprised. It's 2019. I'm not surprised by anything anymore. Heck, I welcome alien lifeforms. Maybe they can give us some advice on how to get our world together.

The third annual Women's March is approaching, and the movement has shown signs of strife. It's imploding, really. An article in Tablet Magazine revealed deep-seated antisemitism among the co-chairs of the movement, which is funny for a movement that brands itself as a haven of "intersectionality." The examples pile up, and just yesterday there was another. I'll tell you about it in a minute.

The Women's March has been imploding, and it started at the very top. Four women have come to represent the diverse face of the movement, the co-chairs: Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, and Bob Bland.

RELATED: LEFTIST INSANITY: Woman attacked at women's rights rally for exercising her rights

Increasingly, we've learned that anti-Semitism is common among these women.

Teresa Shook, who founded the Women's March has repeatedly asked them to step down: The co-chairs "have steered the Movement away from its true course. I have waited, hoping they would right the ship," Shook wrote. "But they have not. In opposition to our Unity Principles, they have allowed anti-Semitism, anti-LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs."

Tamika Mallory gave us the latest example, by continuing to stand by Louis Farrakhan. Check out Tamika's arrogant, nonsensical response. But the real problem came at the end of Mallory's rambling non-answer.



Women's March Leader Tamika Mallory Doubles Down On Love For Louis Farrakhan youtu.be


Later this week I'll go over the entire controversy on Glenn TV. It's harrowing, really. For now, I'll leave you with this. Critics of 4th wave feminism have argued that the radical identity politics of the left will lead to the exact kind of mistreatment that feminists claim to be against. That argument has been written off as using the slippery slope fallacy. But, as we see with the Women's March, it is in fact a brutal reality.

Remember how serious Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi were last week, when they gave their "rebuttal" to President Trump's address? They made it seem like this government shutdown is apocalyptic. A lot of Democrats have done the same. On social media and CNN at least. Thirty Democrats, however, took a different route. Puerto Rico. For cocktails at the beach.

RELATED: The President won the night, but don't count on the media to admit it

A group of 30 Democrats have turned the government shutdown into a live-action interpretation of a Jimmy Buffet song:

Nibblin' on sponge cake, Watchin' the sun bake.

No, seriously. In the words of Press Secretary Sarah Sanders:

Democrats in Congress are so alarmed about federal workers not getting paid they're partying on the beach instead of negotiating a compromise to reopen the government and secure the border.

A photo of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez at a resort beach has gone viral.

They arrived via chartered jet. They're staying at a seaside resort, and attended the ridiculously-priced and overhyped play "Hamilton," where tickets for opening night "ranged from $10 to $5,000," according to the Associated Press. They even attended several afterparties.

Of course, the official occasion seems legit. They're in San Juan for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC. According to a memo for the gathering:

This year's winter retreat promises to be our most widely attended yet with over 220 guests, including 39 Members of Congress and CHC BOLD PAC supporters expected to attend and participate!

Also in attendance, about 109 lobbyists, from a number of places, including "R.J. Reynolds, Facebook, Comcast, Amazon, PhRMA, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon, and unions like the National Education Association."

Donald Jr. said it well:

And of course no one says anything. I'm not even in government and I'd get killed in the press if I was on vacation right now. Why won't they cover their democrat buddies lobbyist sponsored vacation in the islands???

Maduro takes office and Venezuelans vote with their feet

CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images

Venezuela continues to collapse. A country that used to have the world's largest oil reserves is now in rags. Its money is worthless, with inflation near one million percent. People must work an average of five days at minimum wage just to afford a dozen eggs. But there is one person still pumped about Venezuela's future – its noble president, Nicolas Maduro! I'll tell you why he's still enthusiastic in just a minute…

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro had a stellar 2018. Here are some highlights:

  • Running water and electricity only work occasionally and prices for basic goods doubled.
  • Doctors, engineers, oil workers, and electricians fled the country en masse. Over 48,000 teachers also left the country.
  • Over half a million Venezuelans fled to Peru alone.

Maduro created a new digital currency called the "petro." One petro is supposed to equal the price of a barrel of oil, about $60. U.S. Treasury Department officials call the petro a scam. Who could've seen that coming?

Maduro also announced a 3,000 percent minimum-wage hike. Even Ocasio-Cortez might roll her eyes at that one. Or find it inspiring.

And just yesterday, a Human Rights Watch report detailed how Venezuelan intelligence and security forces are arresting and torturing military personnel and their family members who are accused of plotting against Maduro. The torture includes: "brutal beatings, asphyxiation, cutting soles of their feet with a razor blade, electric shocks, food deprivation, [and] forbidding them to go to the bathroom."

It's so bad in Venezuela that even The Washington Post admits Venezuela's problems are mostly due to "failed socialist policies." But President Nicolas Maduro gave a televised New Year's address calling 2019, "the year of new beginnings." He's pumped, you see, because today he will be sworn in for his second six-year term as president. He was "re-elected" last May in an election that the international community declared illegitimate.

Thirteen nations released a statement last week urging Maduro not to take office and saying they would not recognize his presidency.

Maduro doesn't have many friends left at home or abroad. Thirteen nations released a statement last week urging Maduro not to take office and saying they would not recognize his presidency. This week, the U.S. added more Venezuelan officials to its sanctions list.

In a press conference yesterday, Maduro said:

There's a coup against me, led by Washington. I tell our civilians and our military to be ready. Our people will respond.

I think the people of Venezuela who have the means are already responding – by leaving.