Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican president, famously said “speak softly and carry a big stick.” If the United States had a foreign policy mantra, I think that would have been it. We spend more on military than any other country. According to the Stockholm Institute Peace Research Institute, we account for 41% of the world’s total military spending. Our spending is as much as the next top spending countries combined! In short, we have the biggest stick in the world. In fact, our stick is so big, it could very easily be considered a tree compared to the sticks of other countries.
When your stick is that big, you can really say or do anything and not appear to be weak. Our leaders could get up in front of Nato, dressed like little girls and have a tea party with their stuffed animals and still no one would dare to call them weak. Why? Because they’ve seen our stick and know that the reality is that we are not weak. They know we can decimate their countries in the blink of an eye.
Mitt Romney blasted President Obama for apologizing to the people of Libya in the wake of that You Tube hate video last month, saying that it made us look weak on the world stage. This is truly one of the most telling statements about this man and how out of touch with reality he is. First off, apologizing for anything takes strength, not weakness. It shows intelligence and compassion. That Mitt Romney, a supposed Christian- the main tenet of which is forgiveness- would shun the asking of forgiveness is yet another sign of this man’s lack of sincerity. Second, and perhaps more important, it shows that Mr. Romney doubts the strength of our military.
We have the biggest arsenal on the planet. Everyone knows that- except, it seems, the conservatives of our own country. They have some sort of patriotic, self-loathing that appears to be manifested in a twisted form of arsenal envy. If they were a girl on diet, they’d be anorexic, so extreme is their perception of our military dysmorphia. Mitt Romney has proposed increasing the military budget by an additional $2 billion- that the Pentagon has NOT asked for!! These conservatives are like the parents who force their morbidly obese children to eat because they are afraid of them starving to death. We could spend every penny on this planet on our military, and it would not be enough to make these conservatives feel safe.
To say that we could ever look weak on the world stage with a military as strong as ours shows a level of either ignorance about the facts or complete and total mental disconnect from reality. After spending as much as we have on our military, when politicians and pundits say we appear “weak” on the world stage, they are essentially telling the American people that all the military spending has been nothing but one big rip-off. Have all those bombs and “security” we’ve paid for been a farce? Is ”military” is some covert term for massively extravagant Pizza and Porn parties in the Pentagon that have cost the tax payers trillions of dollars? ( Actually, that would explain why all the major pizza restaurants back the Republicans.) Of course I am being facetious here.
The fact is we don’t need to worry about looking weak, because we aren’t. And we never will be, provided we can keep things in perspective. Speaking softly is the other part of the equation. Having the strongest military will not necessarily keep any of us safe, without diplomacy. We’re the biggest kid on the block. If we act like the big bully, we will be hated and eventually get our ass kicked when we aren’t looking. But if we treat all the smaller guys with dignity and respect and protect them from the smaller bullies on the block, then they will come to our aid if we ever need them.
There are many things that we could say on the world stage that would make us look bad for one reason or another. But there is nothing we could ever say or do, which would make us appear weak to sane people. As for the insane people, globally, we need to deal with them first with diplomacy and if that doesn’t work, then we need to wield our stick. We can handle the foreign nutcases. They are no threat to us. However, here at home: until we get a comprehensive mental health policy in this country, they are perhaps our biggest threat to democracy. In the meantime, we really need to work to vote them out of congress.