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Prosperity

The New Grand Strategy for 2012

February 20th, 2012 // 2:50 pm @

1.     Two Speeches

Several years ago I spoke at a seminar on international affairs and I predicted that in the next few years the United States would adopt a new Grand Strategy. I outlined America’s historical Grand Strategies, from Constitutionalism (1789-1820) and Manifest Destiny (1820-1900) to Nationalism (1900-1945) and later Internationalism (1945-2001).

I pointed out that our Grand Strategy is the way we define our major national goals for the decades ahead, and that after 9/11 we were on track for a new Grand Strategy. We discussed some possible Grand Strategies that could come, and we brainstormed things we hoped to see in the Grand Strategy of the 21st Century.

The same year, in another speech on a different occasion, I showed how many of the predictions found in one publication, Foreign Affairs, keep ending up as official U.S. policy. I cited numerous examples from articles in Foreign Affairs and showed how within five years of publication their recommendations were adopted. I marveled that one publication could have such an effective track record, and recommended that everyone in attendance subscribe to and read this magazine.

Of course, as I said in the speech, not all the authors in Foreign Affairs agree on every detail, and in fact they engage in a great deal of debate. But, again, is it amazing how often policies recommended in Foreign Affairs end up being implemented in Washington.

Then, just this year, the messages of these speeches came together in an interesting way. In the January/February 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, a new article outlines a new Grand Strategy for the United States. Although I don’t agree with many of the details in this latest Grand Strategy, the track record of Foreign Affairs promises that this will, in fact, be the Grand Strategy of the United States in the decades ahead.

I believe that this will be the major 21st Century challenge for the future of American freedom.

2.     Grand Strategy Drives the Nation

The power of a Grand Strategy can hardly be overstated. When a nation adopts a Grand Strategy, it dominates national policy and influences all national choices over time. Few, if any, policies go against or are even allowed to compete with the accepted Grand Strategy.

And while not everyone knows what a Grand Strategy is, the intelligentsia of both parties tend to follow the Grand Strategy with the energy and passion of religious doctrine. They may disagree on many things, but they both adhere to the Grand Strategy.

So what is the new Grand Strategy of the United States? The answers are outlined in an article by Zbigniew Brzezinski: “A New U.S. Grand Strategy: Balancing the East, Upgrading the West”.  Students of American policy will remember Brzezinski as the U.S. National Security Advisor from 1977 to 1981 and as a long-time writer on U.S. international strategy.

3.     Our New Grand Strategy

Things have changed drastically over the past decade, Brzezinski assures us, and by 2012 a new Grand Strategy is overdue. The outlines of this new plan include the following:

  • The “central focus” for the United States in the years ahead is threefold: (1) revitalize the U.S., (2) help the West expand, and (3) create a balance in the East that will allow China to successfully rise without becoming an enemy.
  • The expansion of the West will create a democratic free zone from North America and Western Europe to a number of other nations, including Eastern Europe, Russian, Turkey, Japan and South Korea.
  • In the East, U.S. power and influence will attempt to create a cooperative relationship between China and Japan and keep Chinese-Indian relations from turning to violent conflict.
  • To accomplish all this, the U.S. must become a better “promoter and guarantor” of unity and simultaneously a “balancer and conciliator between the major powers of the East.”
  • To have any credibility in these roles, the U.S. must effectively “renovate itself at home.” This requires, says Brzezinski, four things: (1) better innovation, (2) improved education, (3) a balance of American power and diplomacy, and (4) a better focus on quality political leadership in Washington.
  • One of the most important changes ahead must be an effective improvement of relations between the United States and the European Union. The two sides of the Atlantic have been drifting apart since the fall of the Berlin Wall, but this trend must be reversed. Otherwise, growing conflicts between the United States, the European Union, and Russia could weaken the West and cause it to splinter and become increasingly pessimistic. This would also promote a more contentious China.
  • The U.S. should decrease military power in Asia and emphasize increased cooperation with China.
  • Taiwan will at some point have to reconcile in some way with China.

Unfortunately, there are a number of problems with this new strategy. If this is the outline of the years ahead, the U.S. will definitely face an era of deepening international confusion and tension.

Despite this reality, the historical track record of Foreign Affairs suggests that this is the Grand Strategy we will follow. If this occurs, voters will elect one party and then the other, and remain frustrated when the on-going Grand Strategy of our international affairs keeps our economic and other national policies going in the same direction.

Adoption of this Grand Strategy is a path of inevitable decline, regardless of what the experts say. Election after election, we’ll seek real change but see whoever is in the White House continually push our nation in the same negative direction.

4.     Significant Flaws

Specifically, this new Grand Strategy has at least the following major defects:

  • An abandonment of support for an independent Taiwan, even through a subtle shift of attitude as suggested, amounts to a significant reversal of America’s historical loyalty to our allies. Such a change will undermine our credibility with other nations and further erode Washington’s credibility with American voters.
  • The attempt to bridge differences between the United States and European nations in this Grand Strategy takes the tone of the U.S. becoming more like these nations—rather than influencing these countries to adopt more freedom-based values historically espoused by the U.S.
  • Adoption of this new Grand Strategy may amount to a de facto appeasement of China. If China is, in fact, following a savvy strategy of replacing America as the world’s dominant super power and transporting its fundamental values around the globe, then this would be nothing less than a disastrous policy. And even if China is a good-faith seeker of more global participation, cooperation and open trade, it certainly wants to spread its central values and ideals—nearly all of which are antithetical to freedom.
  • The emphasis on increased business innovation and improved education in this strategy seem to rely on increased government spending and intervention in our economy rather than policies that incentive increased free enterprise, innovation, hiring and entrepreneurialism. This is yet another attempt to move away from traditional American values and adopt instead the government-run mercantilist practices of European and Asian economies.
  • The focus in this policy is a shift from internationalism (a policy of interactions between sovereign nations with America as a world leader) to globalism (where the United States submits its actions to the decisions of international organizations).
  • Note that while we have changed the Constitution through Amendments less than thirty times in over two hundred years, it has been changed in literally thousands of ways through treaty (and these changes are seldom noticed by most Americans). While treaties were used to skirt the Constitution many times under the Internationalist Grand Strategy since 1945, this new Globalist Grand Strategy will make this the major focus of its policies, totally ending Constitutional rule in the United States. This is not an exaggeration but rather a technical reality.

In short, this new Grand Strategy is a de facto end to the traditional American Constitutional system. If it is fully adopted, and all indications are that this is what is occurring, our free system is in immediate jeopardy.

I am an optimist, and I believe that the best America and the world have to offer is still ahead. Yet in a nation of laws, in a society where the fine print of contracts, statutes, judicial dicta, executive agency policies and treaties are our higher law, this new Grand Strategy promises to rewrite our entire system in a few agencies dominated by unelected international experts and almost entirely out of the public’s eye. This is not a republic or democracy, but a true technocracy.

Again, the result will be elections where we vote our passions but where little changes no matter which candidates win each campaign.

In such a world, the fine print in our treaties will run the show, though few will realize what is happening or understand why our freedoms and economy are constantly in decline no matter which party we put in charge of Washington.

It is hard to overstate just how significant this current change is in our world. Freedom is literally at stake.

5.     Solutions

We don’t need better leaders or public officials as near as much as we need better citizens. Historically, the American founders knew that freedom could only last if regular citizens had the same level of education as our Governors, Senators, Judges, experts and Presidents.

When any nation is divided between, on one hand, a class of political experts who read and understand the fine print of what is really happening and, on the other hand, the rest of the people who don’t read or get involved in such intricate details, freedom is inevitably lost.

There are no exceptions to this in history.

We will either become such citizens, or our freedoms will be lost.

If this is too much to ask of modern citizens, then freedom is too much for us to handle. Just consider what Samuel Williams, a Harvard professor in the American founding era, said about the average education of American children in 1794:

“All the children are trained up to this kind of knowledge: they are accustomed from their earliest years to read the Holy Scriptures, the periodical publications, newspapers, and political pamphlets; to form some general acquaintance with the laws of their country, the proceedings of the courts of justice, of the general assembly of the state, and of the Congress, etc.

“Such a kind of education is common and universal in every part of the state: and nothing would be more dishonorable to the parents, or to the children, than to be without it.”

Such people were deep readers. And the freedoms they fought for and maintained showed it. The only way to get back such freedoms is to once again become such citizens. What is needed, regardless of what the experts in Washington do, is a widespread grassroots grand strategy of becoming the kind of citizens and voters who are truly capable of maintaining freedom.

 

(For more on how to become this kind of citizen and reader, see the book A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille.)

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Blog &Culture &Current Events &Entrepreneurship &Foreign Affairs &Generations &Government &Leadership &Liberty &Prosperity &Statesmanship

The Amazing (Ironic/Tragic) Debate

November 19th, 2011 // 2:15 pm @

There is a truly amazing debate happening right now in the United States. It would actually be comical if it weren’t so potentially tragic for America’s future. This debate is not any—or all—of the Republican Presidential Debates. Nor is it some formal debate taking place on television, the Internet or a university campus.

It is a cultural debate, a large-scale argument playing out in millions of discussions online, thousands of opinions and rants from the talking heads in the media, and – most dramatically – fought indirectly between the Tea Partiers and the Occupy Wall Street crowds.

Most of this debate is taking place in emotional and passionately charged ways, rather than in clear, concise intellectual dialog. Still, a quick look at the two intellectual arguments is instructive.

Some say that the divide between the rich and the rest is increasing each year. More to the point, the structural division between the upper classes and the other classes is becoming less porous and less elastic. Social mobility—which was once the American keynote—is steadily eroding.

A majority of Americans now feel that their children will have a lower standard of living than they did; many feel that the rising generation in China will have more opportunity than our American youth. The American Dream is over in this view, and things seem likely to get worse before they get better—if they ever get better.

I wrote about this reality a few years ago in my book The Coming Aristocracy, and it remains one of the most significant challenges of our time. It is presently a major catalyst of current trends and of our evolving future. Unless things change direction, an aristocracy is coming to America. Indeed, it is already almost entrenched.

In a typical debate, the opposing view would argue that such a divide is not occurring, or that it is a good thing for America – or even that it is a minor trend that will be offset by some larger reality. But this is no typical debate. In an interesting twist, all sides of the current amazing debate accept this truth—the divide between the rich and the rest is real, and it is a major challenge in our century.

The debate is about how to fix this problem.

One side of the debate wants government to solve the problems, the other side wants government to get out of the way so the people can resolve things. It’s More Government against More Free Enterprise.

The More Government side argues for higher taxes, more government relief, increased government spending, more government jobs programs, increased government training options, improved government education, and more regulations. It is summed up in the title of Thomas Frank’s recent article in Harpers: “More Government, Please!”

In contrast, the More Free Enterprise side promotes fewer government regulations, reduced or at least no hikes in taxation, lower corporate rates to boost America’s competitiveness in the world economy in the, decreased government spending, less government borrowing and printing of money, and smaller government.

This side wants the era of big government to truly, finally, be over,[i] or, at the very least, for us to realize that our government must stop shutting down or undermining the free enterprise incentives that are the basis of all historical prosperity and freedom.

The More Government side tries to convince the nation that the Free Enterprise side “Hates Government,” or “Hates the Poor.” Too many on the Free Enterprise side characterize the ideas of the More  Government side as “Hating Freedom” or “Hating Small Business.” Both of these characterizations are flawed.

Many who argue mainly for government solutions also feel deeply the need for government to be checked and balanced, while many who support answers mainly by private enterprise feel great pride and trust in the potential for good by our government and consider its success vital to society. Most people on both sides care about freedom and also want to help the underprivileged and struggling. Most people on both sides want government and business to be successful. Most people from both sides want the government to be fiscally responsible. They just have an honest disagreement about the best way to do these things.

Some want to label one side of the debate Democratic and the other Republican, but this simply isn’t the case. Government spending, government programs, and the regulatory load increased drastically—drastically!—under the Republican administrations of Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Bush and Bush and also under the Democratic leadership F. Roosevelt, Johnson, Carter, Clinton and Obama. Note that these things also increased under Truman, Kennedy and Reagan, but at least these three presidents made a loud and energetic case for proper limits on government. In short, both political parties have proven effective supporters of the More Government side of the debate.

The one big difference, the most fundamental divide, between the More Government and More Free Enterprise sides is this: one believes we need more government force right now, the other that we need more freedom and incentives right now.

For this reason, I am on the side of free enterprise.

The government has a vital role to play in our society. Without it, none of our freedoms will last. But government power must be wisely limited, and the best articulation of the right level of limits on our government is found in the U.S. Constitution. More to the point, the government today may or may not be too big, but its massive regulatory load and anti-business policies are clearly hurting the economy and fueling an increased class divide in society. They are keeping our economy down because they don’t incentive economic innovation or growth.

The reason I call this debate “amazing” is simple: It is both surprising and indeed shocking that anyone who has read history can believe that force is a more effective way to freedom than free incentives. One side of this debate seems committed to using government force to fix our economic problems, even though all through history free economies, minimal regulation and limited governments have consistently been the forerunners and partners of economic success and high economic mobility.

It is simply amazing that we still haven’t figured this out. Perhaps the most astonishing thing about this debate is that anyone still argues that more government force in our current model will spread more freedom, prosperity, or social mobility. There is no historical evidence for this, and overwhelming evidence of the opposite.

Freedom works. Why is anyone arguing that we give more support to government force? If the Republican Presidential Debates, and the ongoing responses from the White House, are about real solutions, they will be all about the government effectively incentivizing free enterprise. If the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street events are about real solutions, they’ll promote ways to more effectively incentive free enterprise.

As long as government force is the dominant factor in our economy, things are going to get worse. The Bush-Obama economic environment we live in combines stifling regulations with massive government spending and uncertainty about what Washington will do next. This dis-incentivizes growth, hiring, and investment in the U.S.; meanwhile, business moves to foreign economies with better incentives.

Unemployment lingers above 9%, and the real number when we include all who are underemployed is pushing 20%. The mortgage bubble may not have reached its lowest collapse, and inflation or deflation appear imminent. In response, the White House now recommends more government spending, regulations and programs.

This is a truly amazing debate. The more the government regulates and spends, the worse the economy fares. As a result, the government seeks to spend more. And a lot of the American people think this is a good idea.

Many Americans were shocked into political activism by the Great Recession, where the average household lost 3.2% of its income.[ii] Since the Great Recession ended, during the so-called Recovery, the average household has lost an additional 6.7%.[iii] Are we simply scared into submission? Are we crying out to the government to fix things, because we are deeply terrified that nobody else will? Is that why so many people believe that government force is more likely to boost our economy than free enterprise?

The amazing question remains: Given all of history, how can anyone take the Force side of the current great debate?

Seriously?

 Endnotes


[i] Bill Clinton, who said that the era of big government is over, has addressed a number of these same challenges in his book, Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy. There is much to agree and also disagree with this book, and it is an important read for interested Americans.

[ii] Harpers, December 2011.

[iii] Ibid.


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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Aristocracy &Blog &Current Events &Economics &Entrepreneurship &Generations &Government &Prosperity

19 Questions Answered in FreedomShift

August 13th, 2011 // 1:56 pm @

  1. Following historical cycles and trends, we have recently experienced a significant recession and major unemployment. According to the patterns of history, what is the third major economic challenge which is just ahead? (Learn what it is so you can prepare for it before it comes.)
  2. Based on the lessons of past generations which faced major economic problems, what are the twelve things every family should do to deal with the economic challenges ahead?
  3. What are the three major choices which American citizens need to make to overcome our nation’s economic problems and restore economic growth and increased freedom?
  4. Where did Tocqueville say that the greatness of America lies? (The answer may surprise you.)
  5. What exactly is a FreedomShift and how is one accomplished?
  6. What is “the Law of the Vital Few?”
  7. How is this law drastically changing America today?
  8. What are the three top problems that are keeping America from fixing its problems right now?
  9. What are six predictions of the Anti-Federalists from the founding generation that have come true today and are causing major problems in Washington D.C.’s ability to lead the nation?
  10. Is our society being run by the cultures of our Elementary Schools, High Schools, Colleges & Corporations, Government Officials, or the Adults in our society?
  11. How can we move back to adult culture, especially in Washington?
  12. What are the three major groups in the Republican Party, the three major groups in the Democratic Party, and the other major groups running our nation politically?
    (We are much more complex than the historical two-party system that dominated during the Cold War, and only those who understand these splits in the parties will know what is really going on in the nation.)
  13. Who is the new group that is literally running the United States now? (Hint: it’s not the Tea Party, socialists, environmentalists, the religious right, liberals or even conservatives. The answer is surprising and deeply important.)
  14. What are the nine types of people who run both of the two major political parties?
  15. How will they impact the election of 2012?
  16. What should we expect in the upcoming election?
  17. What are the eight kinds of freedom, and which have we already lost in America?
  18. Which of the eight are we now losing?
  19. What does this loss mean directly for your family and the economy?

These challenges can be dealt with positively, but only if we know what is coming in the decade ahead.

For the answers to these questions and more on how “regular” people like you and me have all the power to refresh our liberties, read FreedomShift: 3 Choice to Reclaim America’s Destiny, available in paperback, pdf and Kindle editions. (Audiobook version, read by the author, coming soon!)

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Aristocracy &Blog &Citizenship &Community &Culture &Current Events &Economics &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Government &Independents &Leadership &Liberty &Mini-Factories &Politics &Prosperity &Tribes

An Old Joke

July 13th, 2011 // 9:01 am @

Just One Wish

A society without adequate entrepreneurship will see little, if any, progress.

Disney’s Aladdin & the Genie

The old Cold War-era joke is told of an American, a Frenchman, and a Russian, lost in the wilderness, who find a lamp and rub it.

Out comes a Genie.

He offers them each one wish, for a total of three.

The American pictures the large ranch owned by the richest people in the valley where he grew up, and wishes for a ranch ten times its size, with flowing streams and meadows full of horses and cattle.

His wish is granted and he is transported home to his new life.

The Frenchman pictures the farm and cattle of the largest estate from his home province, and pictures one just like it.

Again, his wish is granted.

Finally, the Russian pictures the land and herds of the rich family in the steppes where he grew up, and wishes that a drought kill the cattle, dry up the grass, and bankrupt the aristocratic family.

This play on old stereotypes isn’t really very funny, though it brings big laughs with audiences of producers.

They get it.

The Frenchman, thinking like an entrepreneur, wants the good things that life provides, and is willing to go to work to produce them.

The American, who thinks like an entrepreneur and an investor, is willing to go to work also, but wants to see his assets create more value.

The Frenchman wants value, the American plans for value, increased market share and perpetual growth.

In contrast, the stereotypical-punchline “Russian” in this parable can only think of one thing—getting even with those who seem to have more than him.

This is the same as Steve Farber’s lament about the sad state of our modern employee mentality—where “burn your boss” is a slogan of millions of workers who see their employer as the enemy.

Even Washington sometimes likes to join the blame game by pointing fingers at Wall Street, Main Street and everyone in business.

Initiative, vision, effective planning, the wise use of risk, quality execution—all are the contributions of entrepreneurs and investors.

Without them, any society will decline and fall.

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Blog &Business &Culture &Economics &Entrepreneurship &Mini-Factories &Producers &Prosperity

The American Caste System

July 5th, 2011 // 6:57 am @

The American framers overcame domination by an elite upper class by establishing a new system where every person was treated equally before the law. This led to nearly two centuries of increasing freedoms for all social classes, both genders and all citizens—whatever their race, religion, health, etc.

During the Industrial Age this system changed in at least two major ways.

First, the U.S. commercial code was changed to put limits on who can invest in what. Rather than simply protecting all investors (rich or poor) against fraud or other criminal activity, in the name of “protecting the unsophisticated,” laws were passed that only allow the highest level of the middle class and the upper classes to invest in the investments with the highest returns.

This created a European-style model where only the rich own the most profitable companies and get richer while the middle and lower classes are stuck where they are.

Second, the schools at all levels were reformed to emphasize job training rather than quality leadership education. Today great leadership education is still the staple at many elite private schools, but the middle and lower classes are expected to forego the “luxury” of opportunity-affording, deep leadership education and instead just seek the more “practical” and “relevant” one-size-fits-all job training. This perpetuates the class system.

This is further exacerbated by the reality that public schools in middle class zip-codes typically perform much higher than lower-class neighborhood schools. Private elite schools train most of our future upper class and leaders, middle class public schools train our managerial class and most professionals, and lower-class public schools train our hourly wage workers. Notable exceptions notwithstanding, the rule still is what it is.

Government reinforces the class system by the way it runs public education, and big business supports it through the investment legal code. With these two biggest institutions in society promoting the class divide, lower and middle classes have limited power to change things.

The wooden stake that overcomes the vampire of an inelastic class system is entrepreneurial success. Becoming a producer and successfully creating new value in society helps the entrepreneur surpass the current class-system matrix and also weakens the overall caste system itself.

In short, if America is to turn the Information Age into an era of increased freedom and widespread economic opportunity, we need more producers.

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odemille 133x195 custom Why are We Still in Recession?Oliver DeMille is a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.


Category : Aristocracy &Blog &Business &Culture &Economics &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Generations &Liberty &Mini-Factories &Mission &Producers &Prosperity

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