Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Little Utopian Thinking, Conservative-style

This could rightly be called the Pournelle Doctrine, as it's 90% congruent with the writings of Jerry Pournelle. It's a vision of America as leader, not dominator. One can always dream.


Quoting John Adams, the U.S. President says, “We are friends of liberty everywhere, but guardians only of our own.” America rescinds the Bush Doctrine of transformation in the Muslim world, leaving the internal governments of the Arab world to the aspirations of their people. However, America retains the right to invade and punish any nation found to actively support terrorism. Reconstruction and aid will be based on the behavior of the successor government and its willingness to restrain radical elements in its midst.

In practical terms, this also means a draw-down of U.S. military commitments in Europe (especially the former Yugoslavia and Germany) and Japan. As a matter of honor, America maintains its bases in Iraq only until the Iraqis are able to withstand incursions from Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia with little to no assistance.

The military has by no means been disbanded, though. The Navy is back up to the Reagan-era levels, with 16 active carrier battle groups and an ability to strike nearly anywhere within 24 hours. American national interests have been made clear to the world: free and safe passage of innocent ships anywhere in the world; no kidnapping of American civilians; no negotiating with al-Qaeda or related groups; free flowing of oil at market prices.

The Army has a new and more straightforward task: manning the ramparts of the new security wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and tightened security fence along the U.S.-Canadian border. With illegal immigration reduced to a trickle and welfare rolls likewise reduced, there are fewer jobs that “Americans will not do,” given the proper incentives.

Attached to this massive shift in immigration and border security has been a top-to-bottom reform of the Transportation Security Agency. No longer political appointees, the senior officers of the TSA are now seasoned professionals with backgrounds in civil or military security. These professionals, in turn, are helping to root out inefficient, ineffective, and intrusive security procedures at our nation’s airports and other transportation facilities. New technologies and better databases, too, are helping to “profile” potential terrorists based on behavior and background rather than “race.”

Domestically, the federal budget is down from its record high of $3 trillion. Even at half that size, better use is being made of it, from massive investments in nuclear power to ground-solar, wind, fuel cell, and space-solar power. These changes have not made OPEC happy, but they have had to learn to content themselves with steady incomes based on petroleum purchases for plastics rather than massive purchases to fuel cars and trucks. The American public breathed a sigh of relief when the last base in Iraq was dismantled after the fall of the Iranian theocracy.

The combined reforms of the consumption tax and flat welfare checks to all citizens have freed up literally billions of dollars once spent on auditors, accountants, and tax assessors. Most taxes are included up-front in purchases and transferred electronically to the Department of the Treasury. Imports face a low 10% tax, which caused much heartache in China and Europe at first. However, once our trading partners saw an end to complicated rules for import duties on specific items, they realized that what they lost on some items they more than made up for in reduced legal and paperwork fees.

Educationally, America has undergone yet another seismic shift. “Opt-out” testing procedures have enabled students to avoid, skip, or drop out of schools, to the vast relief of many teachers frustrated by “No Child Left Behind.” With smaller class sizes, education has now become a more selective (and lucrative) career. Education reform at the state and local levels has enabled the federal government to reduce its financial and curriculum mandates. Some of those reforms have included a requirement that teachers be educated or at least certified in the subjects they teach. This movement has been particularly popular at the elementary and secondary school levels, though some reactionaries at college campuses continue to insist on guaranteed tenure and education-only credentials.

The space-solar power mentioned earlier could not have come about without an active national commitment to space transportation, both public and private. NASA has returned to its old role as explorer and a facilitator and distributor of aerospace technology while the private sector has gone forth to conquer the near-Earth heavens. Military spacecraft and government space stations still exist, but they are quickly becoming outnumbered by the number of private space stations, orbital outposts, and lunar bases harvesting the vast riches of the near-Earth asteroids. And NASA still remains the premier organization for exploring the unknown. While private-sector ventures have just begun supplying the first two Mars bases, NASA continues building its first crewed expedition to Europa, as well as the first orbital cyclotron and first automated probes to Alpha Centauri and other nearby stars.

Overseas, the world was forced to admit that this was a different, and in many ways better, America. No longer imposing its lifestyle or form of government at the point of a gun, it has become content to tend its garden, grow its businesses, raise its families, and pursue its technologies on its own. The tariff changes, education reforms, and commitments to space and energy-efficient technologies have again made American schools, students, and workers valuable commodities, even in the population-stabilized India and depopulating China. It is not “one world,” as the world-government advocates had striven for, but it is, truly, a different world from any seen before.

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