Old Diary

Rogue Nation

You would think that it’s a good thing to be patriotic.  In many cases I’m sure it is.  But I’m not so sure patriotism allows one to look at their nation or their personal views very objectively.

Rogue Nation: a state that does not respect
other states in its international actions.
renegade state,
rogue state

In my younger days I used to hear the expression Rogue Nation fairly often. Being a guy who is chronologically challenged I can’t tell you if I’m thinking of the 70’s or 80’s or when that might have been (I simply lose track of how long ago things happened — time being a rather nebulous concept in my brain).

Americans  used to apply that term to the countries that were opposing the U.S. and International norms.  But over the years it seems a.) that the term has fallen into dis-use and b.) that who it applies to might need to be reconsidered.

Currently the U.S. has soldiers engaged in military actions in some 70 nations around the world. We give foreign aid in a not-very-subtle attempt to influence foreign governmental policy.  We sell arms to innumerable countries to help them maintain their control over their nation, or to exert control over other nations.  We have been involved with coups in other nations and we have supported dictators any time our industrial or resource needs have suggested.  Recently the U.S. has been taken to task over our own issues of human rights and poverty.  We incarcerate more citizens than any other nation.

How these actions have not caused us to be considered a rogue nation simply elude me. Perhaps it’s partly because we have played well with the other power players on the planet.  The Nato Alliance, the G7, there are a lot of little groups of people, powerful people, and nations, powerful nations that we have courted until recently.  Playing well with others has “earned” us a little leeway in our blatant interference, and it helps if we have a strong military.   But there are ways in which our strong recent history can backfire and it’s clear that Washington isn’t paying much attention to our national liabilities.

Think, for just a moment, back 20 and more years ago to the time when the two Irelands were embroiled in continual bloodshed.  There were numerous attempts to reach a political solution but nothing did more to quell the violence and to stanch the bleeding on both sides than the opening of trade, the freeing up of trade, between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  Once it became in both sides best interest to get along much of the violence trickled away.  Money is a powerful mover and citizens on both sides of the border enjoy prosperity!

Today the U.S. is on the cusp of a Trade War with the better part of the rest of the world. The thing is, a great many companies are not U.S. or foreign.  They exist on both sides of many borders and any pretext to how we are going to influence other countries by raising tariffs is simply an exercise in distraction, because multi-national companies aren’t going to sit back and take losses to their bottom line if they can move production to another country and continue doing business as before.  Prices will go hirer for the country raising tariffs, and to be sure there will be retaliatory tariffs, but business will go on as usual.  Some multi-national corporations are larger then entire countries, and the biggest of them won’t be deterred by short-term governmental dictates.

It happened in WWI and WWII that U.S. companies continued to support Germany even during the worst of the fighting  and during those days when the outcome of the war was less than certain.  Large businesses like Bayer A.G. had ties on both sides of the conflict and continued making money and prospering in spite of and because of the war. Those kind of traitorous actions were little spoken of a lot during the war or after.  The participants did not go to war crime tribunals (perhaps they should have).  Business socked away it’s profits and many of them continue to this day — ready to profit from conflict over tariffs, or conflict over land, or conflict over resources.  Business exists to make a profit, not to worry about national boundaries.

Could it happen that Europe gets tired of a rogue President, and a so-called ally they can’t rely upon?  Could the U.S. end up being a global pariah?  I don’t know.  But I’m sure we are closer to that today than we were in 2016.