AO/FCF senior fellow Professor Henry Nau writes on conservative internationalism for National Interest, plus some thoughts about the election... and MORE!
American Opportunity
A/O Global Intelligence Weekly: The Return of the Balance of Power
Professor Henry Nau -- a senior fellow here at American Opportunity/Free Congress Foundation -- has written a very worthy article in the pages of National Interest for their Nov/Dec edition, one that emphasizes the wisdom of conservative internationalism in a perilous world. 

As many of you know, Nau's outstanding book outlining the history of conservative internationalism is boilerplate reading here at AO/FCF.  In fact, longtime readers of this newsletter will recall that we engaged in a five-part reading of how conservative internationalism is the wisest course forward: Our emphasis during this five-part series was that a "grand coalition" of Western powers can and should prevail.  Our contest is not strictly an ideological one, but a geopolitical one.  Nor must it be defined in the strict terms of conflict, but rather with the measured leadership of the United States if we are to avoid a Thucydides trap.

From Nau's article in National Affairs:

Globalist leaders need to take a deep breath. National interests do come first in a globalized democratic world. They express the free will of local democratic peoples and institutions. Until global leaders are elected, nations provide the only direct manifestation of democracy in world affairs. And as long as these nations remain liberal, a globalized world has nothing to fear from them.

Nationalism comes in many forms—ethnic (blood), cultural (history), territorial (soil) and ideological (creedal)—but liberal nationalism requires that all of these forms respect republican virtues. These are individual rights, competing political parties rotating in power, independent judiciary and a free press. And, because it opposes authoritarian forms of nationalism, liberal does not always mean more interdependence and centralized institutions like the UN; it also means decentralized, independent national republics with robust private economies and citizens voting to choose and hold their leaders accountable.

In short, globalism means a federalist or conservative internationalism, one premised on limited global government that protects, not usurps, republican virtues. The threat to the liberal order comes not from political shifts within democratic societies from liberal to conservative parties; that’s the normal cycle of democratic politics. It comes from resurgent autocrats in Russia, China, North Korea and Iran who do not tolerate such political shifts. Authoritarianism, not nationalism, poses the real threat to the liberal order.

Nau wisely defines globalism and nationalism as false choices, but rather offers a more realist or federal form that recognizes national interests alongside global co-operation. 

What Nau recognizes is that the liberal democratic order that we have enjoyed in the wake of the Second World War is not under threat because it is weak, but rather because it is strong.  While the political left may object to Trump's foreign policy realism, what the president is attempting to accomplish is a better balance between an self-effacing globalism that fails to appreciate these deep cultural divides and a self-defeating nationalism that would return us to an isolationist benchmark.  Both are extremes; neither caricature encapsulates the true scope of the other side's fears. 

Yet a conservative internationalism that creates peace through strength while appreciating that democracy as a cultural value is precisely the key to fostering it overseas.  Just as Jefferson, Polk, Truman and Reagan all demonstrated to future generations.  Nau's wisdom stands like an owl between war hawks and peace doves, and we here at American Opportunity are very glad to help promote his ideas in the public square. 

More after the jump. . .​
Joim American Opportunity

This is a summary for our readers now that the midterm elections are over.  Except that the midterms aren’t quite over yet. The election was close in many critical elections, and the final results are not yet in.  Most importantly, the pivotal races in Florida still remain in doubt.

The big picture result is that there were wins and losses on both sides.  We all know that there is a severe ideological division in our country. The election results simply show that that political debate in our country will go on for a long time in the future.  

On the whole, the far left wing in this country that has come to control the Democratic Party is disappointed in the results -- perhaps more than they should be.  In their fury, they set their bar too high, desiring a complete repudiation of President Trump and his policies. This they did not get, although the Democratic Party enjoyed a few important victories.

First and foremost, the Democrats won enough new seats in the House of Representatives to take over the majority.  This was a serious (but not overwhelming) win for the Democrats. Many like Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) are itching to send subpoenas and initiate investigations of President Trump.  One suspects that cooler heads will prevail over time, as the American public wants to see some sense of co-operation -- which is one reason the Democrats won their new seats in the  first place.

Alternatively, if the Democrats convey themselves to be obstructionists -- blocking any further progress in the country -- their newly-gained seats will be extremely vulnerable in the next election two years from now.  

Second, the win this year by the Democrats just wasn’t that great.  The party of the incumbent president tends to lose about 30-40 seats in the midterm elections.  Over the past twenty-one midterm elections the president's party loses an average of 30 seats in the U.S. House (39 seats if the president's approval rating is in the low-40s) and lose four seats in the U.S. Senate.  It would appear that the Democrats won enough seats to get the majority -- but only just barely right on the historical average.

The U.S. Senate results are a total reversal of this historic average.  It appears that the Republicans will actually gain seats in the Senate, ending up with about 52 to 53 seats.  The Republicans took U.S. Senate seats from the Democrats in Missouri, Indiana, Florida, and North Dakota, although seats in Florida, Mississippi, and Arizona are still in doubt, while losing one Republican seat in Nevada. When all is counted, the Republicans are absolutely certain to hold control of the U.S. Senate -- potentially into 2022.

On the flip side of the equation, the Democrats did win governorships in very significant states for the 2020 Presidential election -- namely Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico and Wisconsin. The Democrats and their advocates in the press focused on the key gubernatorial elections in Florida and Georgia.  Thus far, they have won neither. Governors are most influential in the election politics of their states, which gives these wins special significance.

In short, the Democrats accomplished much in the election, but they did not achieve a much-hyped repudiation of the president.  Nowhere did the Democrats score what NBC's Chuck Todd called a "defining win" on Tuesday. 

Such an outcome means that Trump ideas on economic growth and foreign policy -- rather than being repudiated -- were in many ways validated in an election cycle that should have met the expectations of the professional left... expectations that never materialized in terms of a repudiation, just a classical rebalancing that Americans have always seen. 

Thus, one constant remains.  The debate for the future of the nation will go on, as it always has.

Some news and articles we recommend for information and discussion purposes, none of which necessarily represent the position of A/O:

As always, American Opportunity is always looking for new resources and topics we can address in detail.  Please feel free to stay in contact! 


Jim Gilmore
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