Beinstein column: A new strategy for peace and prosperity
The Scriptures tell us “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” And yet as John F. Kennedy was reported to have remarked in “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters,” we live in an age that celebrates military glory, not mercy and peace. And yet it is only when we make right with ourselves, will we be able to make right with the world.
With respect to obtaining peace abroad, Ronald Reagan demonstrated peace through strength really can work. By investing heavily in his Strategic Defense Initiative, for example, he bankrupted the Soviet Union and there with it ended a system so evil that it literally re-enacted the crucifixion on believing Christians.
Remarkably enough, he did all of this without ever launching a single missile. And he also did it under the guide of a humble and merciful spirit. From the very beginning, he prayed for Gorbachev and Soviet leadership. He listened to Russia’s criticisms of our capitalist system. And he wanted to further reduce our nuclear weapons, minimizing the chances of a self-destructive nuclear war. In short, Reagan eschewed the archetype of a military hero.
Today, communist China poses another kind of threat to anyone who wishes for a gentler and more merciful world. As Democratic peace theory holds, war becomes significantly less likely between two democracies than between free and unfree countries. And there is no doubt China is an unfree country. Its citizens are prohibited from voting in elections, they have no rights to a free press, and every form of worship must be registered with the government — the concept of religious liberty is a total fiction to the People’s Republic of China.
Nevertheless, the dream of a freer China is no fantasy. With an increasing amount of wealthy Chinese children receiving Western educations, perhaps the world will be blessed with a Chinese Gorbachev, a man committed to giving his people more freedoms and rights. Perhaps we can repeat Reagan’s strategy and outmilitarize them to such an extent that their world ambitions, by definition, will have to come to a screeching halt. Or perhaps their system of communism will collapse under its own weight. One thing is clear, however: History will judge us kindly only if we help move China in the direction of liberty and avoid any kind of military conflict with them.
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Meanwhile, the only reason Islamic terror can continue to the extent it does is because of the money we provide through our trade in oil. Whether it is through a combination of returning to a tariff-based system or developing green energy to the point where oil becomes irrelevant, the world cannot sleep calmly until Orthodox Muslims are deprived of the resources that allow them to kill “the infidel.” Then, their backward dreams of establishing another caliphate will truly become extinct.
International peace, of course, becomes an abstraction to many of us still looking to make ends meet. In years past, high-school educated men could easily support their family on a job at the factory. Now, oftentimes, the best bet for many laborers is the $9 per hour job at Walmart. This in turn frequently makes it necessary for the woman to work, creating an empty home, and, along with it, a myriad of future problems for our young kids.
The highest priority of our government, therefore, has to be the attainment of sufficient work and bread for all. Socialism has never yielded any fruits, and work is not only good for an economy but it is also good for the soul. And yet, government needs to create the conditions that maximize the amount of middle-class jobs available to the citizenry.
Again, this can be partly achieved through looking at tariffs. It can be partly achieved by improving infrastructure, making it easier for people to engage in commerce around the country. And it can be partly achieved by reducing burdensome and unnecessary regulations. But one thing is clear: A people unhappy at home cannot also dually be a shining light for peace and justice around the world.
In his “Strategy of Peace” address at American University, President Kennedy said, “When a man’s ways please the Lord … he maketh even his enemies be at peace with him.” With so many people feeling so alienated from American life, our ways are not pleasing to anybody, the Lord or our enemies.
And yet if we follow the advice of Jefferson and Lincoln of limited government, of a quality education for all, of internal improvements, of incentivizing Americans to buy goods from other Americans, of rewarding work and not sloth — we surely will be touched by the better angels of our nature. And when we are, the dream of those ancient puritans who made that long, dangerous trek across the Atlantic will finally come true, “we shall be as a city upon a hill,” a light unto the nations.
Alex Beinstein of Carbondale was a Republican primary congressional candidate in 2016 challenging incumbent Scott Tipton. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent.
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