Sometimes people ask me why I don’t associate with the Democrats or the Republicans. Usually, I give an answer about how the two major parties are too much alike for my tastes. And after this past week, I have another example.
To say President Donald Trump has critics in both major parties is an understatement of Rosie O’Donnell sized proportions. Two such critics are House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senator Lindsey Graham. On paper, these two should be fighting like cats and dogs, but when it comes to the deficiencies in the Trump Administration (in their opinions), they are practically inseparable. One is a whiny partisan hack who wears a dress, and the other is Nancy Pelosi.
Recently, both Pelosi and Graham urged President Trump to not only beef up our military, but to beef up our diplomatic power. Both of them referred to the latter as “soft power.” And when two Leftists use the same term, it piques my interest.
What the Left believes it means – power that derives from peaceful endeavors
What it really means – using words when force would work better
I am not a violent man by nature, but there are times when even I recognize extending an olive branch will not make the other side stop wanting to shoot your hand off. Take ISIS/ISIL, for example. They have a massive hard-on to destroy us, so inviting them over for tea really isn’t an option. Not to mention, their preferred tea is of the TN variety.
This is a problem the Left doesn’t quite understand when it comes to using soft power: not everyone is open to negotiation. When two parties enter into a negotiation, they have goals they want to meet if at all possible. Between countries, these goals typically revolve around not going to war over trifles. Between people, these goals may involve sharing of ideas and profits. Put another way, negotiation requires all parties involved to have a sense of self-interest to avoid conflict.
Now, what if one side doesn’t want to avoid conflict? All the talking in the world won’t make them come to the table and reject their nature, so there needs to be hard power to back up the soft power. Think of a biker who loves getting into a fight. If he has his gang to get his back, he’s going to get what he wants. If he’s flying solo, he might be more willing to listen to reason if he’s faced with a gang armed with sawed-off shotguns, but he might also choose to fight. And that biker happens to be Wolverine…
From a political perspective, having hard power and soft power at your disposal is a good thing, as long as the use of those powers are consistent. And that’s where the current political environment goes off the rails like Joseph Hazelwood running an Amtrak line on the San Andreas Fault. For the past couple of decades, our diplomats have taken the position that being American means always having to say you’re sorry. Even when we’re in the right, our diplomats are apologizing for us being Americans. If we apologize any more, Canada is going to annex us.
So, what happens when the soft power and hard power are at odds with each other? That depends on the leadership of the President. If he leans more towards using hard power, diplomacy will be used only when absolutely necessary. Think of it as the shoot first and ask questions later approach. When the President decides using diplomacy would accomplish more than blowing up the other party’s stuff, words become the ammunition.
Guess what kind of power the previous Administration relied on most. I mean, aside from capitulating to the wrong people while isolating our allies.
With a new President comes a new approach. Donald Trump has already stated he will rebuild our military strength and restore our standing around the world. If he sticks with the approach that won him the Presidency, we’ll see a heavier reliance on hard power, which is not necessarily a bad thing after spending years as the geopolitical equivalent of a 98 pound weakling. I would urge the President not to neglect soft power, but not to let people like Nancy Pelosi and Lindsey Graham make the decisions on where and when to use it.