Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination sparked World War I. (Illustration Credit: Achille Beltrame)

The New Franz Ferdinand: Our Shortsighted Policies

By Timothy R. Butler | Posted at 9:43 PM

The worsening of our global situation, including two sparks that appear more volatile than an unfortunate duke meeting a bullet ever could have been, should be a wake-up call. Our politicians have driven us to the brink of a world war by their myopic plans forged by reelection efforts and not our (or the world’s) good.

On the right, those responsible for the most hot air emissions, such as Reps. Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Green and Lauren Boebert, dangerously want to rewind to 1930s-style isolationism. Sure, focusing on “American First” by retreating within our borders sounds good, but how did that go last time?

Not well: Pearl Harbor was the answer.

Yet, our present age’s isolationists bang the same drums today, as if largely ignoring the conflicts in Ukraine and, to a lesser extent, Israel, can put “America First.” Misguided as this was one hundred years ago, it is far more dangerous today in a world where we are — whether we like it or not — globally connected.

There is an irony to the isolationists’ arguments which are fired off using their Chinese-assembled (from globally sourced parts) phones and computers. Like it or not, there are no “American-made” options in our digital age for many of the devices we count as essential.

Today’s electronics, both the luxuries and the necessities for our health and safety, are global products. No bloviating about making our companies produce the goods here can change that, at least not for many years. Nor are we as a people willing to pay the inflated prices such a mandate would generate.

Constant cyberwarfare attacks remind us, too, that not the country as a whole, but every single one of us is constantly on the border of the broader world. A century ago, one could go a lifetime without interacting internationally. That is no longer possible.

The wholesale isolationism of those who say, “Quit supporting foreign conflict and just build a border wall,” is impossible. The present hot conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, along with the still cooler Taiwanese situation in Asia cross the lines of our global dependence as much as Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s meeting with a bullet crossed European alliances.

Separating out the conflicts and picking favorites is similarly untenable. Many of those isolationist voices are pro-Israel, but in a twisted form of logic, anti-Ukraine. They oppose supporting Ukraine against Russia’s genocidal invasion despite America’s decades-old security commitment to the beleaguered target of Putin’s aggression.

The Biden and Trump administrations’ dangerously naive approach toward Afghanistan, arguably the worst foreign policy misstep for the US since the collapse of South Vietnam, is at the heart of much of this mess. Those two administrations, in a rare fit of bipartisanship, gifted the land our men and women had fought to vanquish the Taliban from back to the same Taliban. Yes, the very Taliban that incubated the most significant attack on United States soil since the War of 1812.

If Pearl Harbor was the fruit of 1930’s isolationism, what does a new isolationism that re-empowers the forces behind 9/11 unleash? The Trump-Biden Afghan policy was an isolationist’s daydream realized and we do not yet know all the chaos it will unleash on our world.

We do know it disastrously signaled to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and his dictatorial best friend Xi Jinping of China to amp up their own malevolent ambitions. An America that can’t be bothered a stationing a small group of troops to stand against an Islamist regime that actively wants to kill us surely won’t risk “blood and treasure” to protect an Eastern European nation like Ukraine or Asia-Pacific Island like Taiwan, right?

The citizens of those places feel death’s foul breath over them and our choices have extended that shadow.

Now, that horrid shadow stretches over Israel. This is not a new conflict, for the players are the same: Russia has cozied up to Iran to fuel its fight in Ukraine. Anyone who thinks that the Russian-Persian military sharing effort is not intertwined with the Iranian-backed “resistance” — read genocide — against Israel isn’t paying attention.

Speaking of not paying attention, the ever-detached from reality Squad members on the far-left certainly fit that bill. They have spoken against the secular, democratic State of Israel, casting the terrorists as the victims. They should live under Hamas’s and Hezbollah’s laws and terror and see how great those Islamist groups seem then. I’ve already noted that Presidents Trump and Biden willingly became benefactors to a likeminded regime, but no keen observer would accuse either of them of paying careful attention.

Anyone who does pay attention, however, knows Russia needs to be in a position where it cannot help Iran and Iran needs to be in a position it cannot help Russia.

The Gaetz type of politicians who want to help Israel but not Ukraine, defeat their stated desire to support Israel by their incomprehensible hatred towards a democratic government fighting the same foes. If the United States withdraws support to Ukraine in direct refutation of those 1990s assurances that led to Ukraine’s denuclearization, we will cement our disastrous Afghanistan policy as our operating procedure. When allies expect us to break our word, so will our opponents, and that will add fuel to their authoritarian fire.

A victorious Russia would green-light Chinese conquest of Taiwan, with America’s democratic allies Japan and South Korea dangerously within reach thereafter. A Russian victory would likewise free Putin’s regime to better assist (read “payback”) its new friend Iran at the cost of Israel, as well.

Strengthening major, dictatorial adversaries of America, and free peoples everywhere, might even further embolden that old foe of the Taliban to try a new attack on our soil.

(Good thing we overthrew them in Afghanis— oh, wait.)

The only logical response to this mess is a comprehensive approach that sees border security, Ukraine policy, Israel policy and Taiwanese policy as parts of the same puzzle. The Biden proposal to bring these different war fronts together makes sense. Not “sense” for Democrats or Republicans, but for anyone who doesn’t want global war and prefers freedom to tyranny.

We need to get beyond soundbites, X-Tweets and feel-good soundbites about protecting the homeland. Despite the alluring appearance, these policies will not feel good or protect the homeland.

They lead only one place: global war.

Timothy R. Butler is Editor-in-Chief of Open for Business. He also serves as a pastor at Little Hills Church and FaithTree Christian Fellowship.

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