by Charles Whitaker
The truth is well understood in the United States as anywhere else: the Americans are already able to make their flag respected; in a few years they will make it feared. —Alexis de Tocqueville
1945. The bombings of spring and summer were ferocious. The United States struck the main islands of Japan repeatedly, hoping to "soften-up" the people and their leaders for a late summer invasion. The Emperor's palace burned. On one night alone, March 9, the residents of downtown Tokyo shook as 234 thundering bombers dropped 1,167 tons of incendiary bombs on them. The toll that night was 83,973 civilians dead, more than all the combat deaths America suffered in the Korean and Vietnam wars combined.
The campaign lasted five months and destroyed about 900,000 Japanese civilians—a number more than twice the total combat deaths America has sustained in all her foreign wars. The campaign culminated in the nuclear air bursts over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in midsummer.1 Those two bombings themselves destroyed another 175,000 people immediately and about the same number later on through the direct effects of radiation. Leaflets dropped earlier to warn the population to flee the cities spoke of "a rain of ruin the like of which has never been seen on earth."2
Wielding a bigger stick than Theodore Roosevelt ever dreamt possible, America was displaying her warrior culture for all to see—and fear. Roosevelt's "big stick" maxim shows his understanding of a basic reality: A big commercial power needs a big military. Historically, military might has always backed up commercialism; navies remove pirates from sea routes, and armies protect land routes and trade centers. Today, America's global military protects America's global economy. It should not come as a surprise then to learn that in 1998 America
spent as much on defense as its NATO allies, South Korea, Japan, the Persian Gulf states, Russia and China combined. . . . Since the end of the Vietnam War . . . the United States has deployed combat forces in, or used deadly force over, Cambodia, Iran, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Sudan, Afghanistan, the South China Sea, Liberia, Macedonia, Albania and Yugoslavia. This is a record that no other country comes close to matching. . . . American troops have a stronger "warrior culture" than do the armies of other wealthy countries. Indeed, of all the NATO countries other than Turkey and Greece, only Great Britain today has anything like the American "war lobby"3
No wonder former Army Chief of Staff Dennis Reimer declared his service to be "the 911 force for the global village."4
What are the roots of America's deep-seated warrior culture? What place does that culture play in America's role as globalism's prime mover? God provides the answers in the Bible.
Ancient Manassite Warrior Culture
Before the children of Israel entered the Land of Promise, the folk of Gad, Reuben and half the tribe of Manasseh appealed to Moses to let them settle in the grazing lands of Transjordan, east of the Jordan River. Moses acquiesced to their request on the condition that "all your armed men cross over the Jordan before the Lord until He has driven out His enemies from before Him" (Numbers 32:21). Later, Joshua reminds the people of these tribes of the bargain they had struck with Moses:
Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this [east] side of the Jordan. But you shall pass before your brethren armed, all your mighty men of valor, and help them. . . . (Joshua 1:14)
This was precedent breaking! Numbers 2:3-9 shows that, in the long wilderness trek, Judah (with Issachar and Zebulun) led the march: "These shall break camp first" (verse 9; see also, Numbers 10:14). Joshua's change in the order of march must have appeared to him only good strategy. Manasseh must have proven itself a formidable fighting force in Joshua's experience.
Manasseh did not renege. Joshua 4:12-13 tells us that "about forty thousand" men of Reuben, Gad and the eastern half-tribe of Manasseh "crossed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho." Considering the victories of the Israelites, Manasseh must have carried the big stick very well.
Nor was the other half-tribe of Manasseh, which finally settled to the west of the Jordan River, made up of wimps. As he was parceling out the land, Joshua describes Machir, a Manassite leader, as "a man of war" (Joshua 17:1). In verse 17, Joshua encourages a griping (western) Manasseh and Ephraim, telling them, "You are a great people and have great power. . . ." In verse 18, he continues:
. . . the mountain country shall be yours. Although it is wooded, you shall cut it down, and its farthest extent shall be yours; for you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots and are strong.
Joshua was fully confident that Manasseh could defeat its enemies, even though the Canaanites, having entered the Iron Age, then deployed a military technology far superior to that of the Israelites.
Manasseh maintained a challenging military capability for many years. I Chronicles 5:18-22 describes a war in which the eastern half-tribe of Manasseh, along with Gad and Reuben, were victorious over various Gentile peoples. The Israelite troops were "valiant men, men able to bear shield and sword, to shoot with the bow, and skillful in war" (verse 18). Their leaders were "mighty men of valor, famous men" (verse 24).
The record of David's coronation in Hebron bears witness that Manasseh's warrior culture was alive and well about a thousand years before Christ. Of the 304,822 troops sent by the various tribes to this august occasion, 158,800, or 52.6% were from Ephraim and Manasseh (along with Gad and Reuben). I Chronicles 12:23-40 tells the story. Joseph appears to be a major contributor largely due to his warrior culture.
Modern Manassite Warrior Culture
Today, this long-standing Manassite warrior culture seems alive and thriving:
Never before—including even the glory days of the Roman Empire—has one military so towered over all others on the planet. And certainly never before has the U.S. military exercised such political power in times of real peace.5
Another commentator, also unable to avoid comparing the current United States' military stature to that of the Romans, makes much the same point:
Probably not since classic Rome or ancient China has a single power so towered over its known rivals in the international system. Today only the U.S. military retains the ability to reach into any region in the world within mere hours.6
Presently, with no serious challengers at all, the United States military is 22 times larger than it was in 1939, at the outset of World War II. This fact leads other nations, even some allies, to suggest that it is not rogue nations, but "the United States, rather, that poses the military threat to others."7 Such power tempts Americans—citizens and leaders alike—to adopt a self-righteous, almost better-than-thou, stance, considering themselves to be
the indispensable nation, the sole superpower, the uniquely responsible state, or the lone conscience of the world. . . . Zbigniew Brzezinshi . . . speaks openly of America's allies and friends as "vassals and tributaries."8
Globalists are not notable for their humility. Madeleine Albright avers that the United States "stands taller" than other nations, enjoying a better perspective than others because she is able to scan horizons beyond the vision of others.9 The United States reminds those from foreign nations that she is "number one" every time they telephone America. The international dialing code for the United States and Canada is "1." Let no one forget that America is "the chief of the nations" (Jeremiah 31:7).
The world's nations "anywhere else," as de Tocqueville pointed out so many years ago, have come to recognize America's martial spirit and to respect and fear—and resent—it. Other nations have taken note of the warrior culture deeply ingrained in the hearts of Americans. They have learned that, while we may be slow to act, when push comes to shove, the United States will respond with a stick that is quite a bit bigger than anyone else's. The result: America's warrior culture has given her "immense advantages in international affairs."10
Like their counterparts of antiquity, modern-day Manassites march to war in the van of the other nations of Israel, as in the case of the Gulf War. Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, uses another metaphor, placing the United States at the hub of the nations. She told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the United States has "kind of open[ed] the whole system up. . . . America's place is at the center of this system. . . . The United States is kind of the organizational principal [sic] of the international system.11
Manasseh at the Hub
From her catbird seat at the center of the international system, America today supports vast networks of financial, economic and military organizations to ensure that the system—America's system—works. Whether it be the IMF riding rough-shod over Russia or the Air Force deploying cruise missiles in Sudan, whether by economic coercion or military force, the United States is now wielding her "big stick" in an attempt to push nations around the world together (Deuteronomy 33:17) into a united world system.
A properly functioning [international] system requires rules. The ordained role of the United States is to impart to this emergent system the discipline and cohesion that will enable it to work. As . . . President [Clinton] explained last year, [in a speech to military officers, America's role] . . . lies in "helping to write the international rules of the road for the twenty-first century, protecting those who've joined the family of nations and isolating those who do not." . . . The President has designated the Department of Defense as chief enforcer. . . . [Its] mission is primarily a constabulary one. Absent American military power, the system will break down and globalization will fail. . . . Any suggestion that the United States is not measuring up to its obligation to enforce the rules might call into question its claim to be the hub from which the spokes of the international system extend. . . . The defense establishment seeks to stifle opposition to the American version of globalization by institutionalizing U.S. military supremacy.12
Some nations—generally called "rogue states"—do not want to join the club. Algeria, North Korea, Iraq, just to name a few, have international agendas outside the interests of the United States and, we are told, outside the comity of nations she has built. Their actions threaten the stability of an international system that America has increasingly defined as "the only way to go." Compliance with international norms is becoming necessary. Mr. Clinton continues:
No nation, rich or poor, democratic or authoritarian, can escape the fundamental economic imperatives of the global market. No nation can escape its discipline. No nation can avoid its responsibility to do its part.13
As a result, America is using her "big stick" more frequently. Her foreign policy, to the dismay of some allies and rivals alike, is highly proactive and assertive. Continues the same analyst:
. . . Force has become the preferred instrument of American statecraft. The deployment of U.S. forces into harm's way . . . has become commonplace. The result has been the renewed, intensified—and perhaps irreversible—militarization of U.S. foreign policy. . . . The result has been a spectacular outburst of military activism—not campaigns and battles, but myriad experiments in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace enforcement; the repeated use or threatened use of air power to warn, coerce or punish. . . . "Diplomacy and force are two sides of the same coin," President Bill Clinton declared in a speech at the National Defense University.14
Today, no one even tries to hide the connection between militarism and America's economic interests. Mr. Clinton
himself has bluntly declared that "growth at home depends upon growth abroad." . . . Market expansion is not an opportunity; it is a necessity. Thus, for example, the administration's blueprint for national security—"A National Security Strategy for a New Century," released in 1998—states categorically that "we must expand our international trade to sustain economic growth at home." . . . To function properly, a system based on the principle of openness must have some mechanism for maintaining order.15
America's warrior culture, then, is not anything new. Nor, really, is the "big stick." What might be new is America's commitment to utilize that stick so readily in her support of globalism.
If, economically, the United States is the world's most important country, militarily it is the decisive one. Thomas Friedman puts the point simply: the world is sustained by "the presence of American power and America's willingness to use that power against those who would threaten the system of globalization. . . . The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist." But, the fist is in full view. On its military forces, the United States outspends the next seven biggest spenders combined. When force is required to keep or to restore the peace, either the United States leads the way or the peace is not kept. . . . The United States is the only country that can organize and lead a military coalition. . . . America continues to garrison much of the world and to look for ways of keeping troops in foreign countries rather than withdrawing them. . . . The 1992 draft of the Pentagon's Defense Planning Guidance advocated "discouraging the advanced industrialized nations from . . . even aspiring to a larger global or regional role." The Unites States may at times seek help from others, but not too much help, lest it lose its leading position in one part of the world or another.16
Manasseh and Babylon
The "system" of which Madeline Albright and others speak is the international system. It is Shemite, rooted in the religious, economic and political ideas of the children of Shem. Right now, it is not centered in Europe, but in Joseph, which has held sway over it for more than two centuries, the first and second ages of globalization.
It is, as well, the Babylonish system, a world system against God. The leaders of Joseph, and of Israel at large, are confident that this system of theirs will work to produce universal prosperity and peace. As such, they view theirs as a worthwhile effort to push capitalism and democracy on other nations worldwide. Against their confidence stand three witnesses: The word of history, the "more sure word of prophecy" (II Peter 1:19), and the personal and corporate experiences of God's people in the past decade or so. Of these in their order:
1. Historically, mankind has witnessed the calamitous failure of the first era of globalization in the "war to end all wars," the First World War. Make no mistake about it: That war was not of marginal importance. Eliot Cohen is right to call it the "dominant event of [the 20th] century." His magnificent prose sounds a clarion warning to those who think that the second age of globalization will end any differently than did the first. The First War killed more than 10 million soldiers and
smashed the Austro-Hungarian, Turkish and Russian Empires, and administered lasting shocks to their British and French counterparts. It created the conditions for the political success of communism and, ultimately, Nazism as well. In the bloody womb of its conduct and consummation sprouted the seeds of another, even more ferocious and pitiless global war that broke out less than twenty-one years after the first one ended, and that completed the wrecking of an entire system of world society and politics. It marked the entry of the United States onto the stage of world power even as it augured the collapse of the Powers of Western Europe. . . . The war stands . . . as a warning that the progress of mankind cannot be conceived of as something smooth and inevitable. . . . Unthinking optimism about the capacity of modern man for decent adjustment of his differences surely died in the trenches, alongside the choking and blasted young men who fought there. Ever afterwards, those who believe that humans have, at last, escaped the coils of international conflict have had to make their arguments with a nervous glance over the shoulder at the shadow cast by the ossuary of Verdun—that warehouse of soldiers' bones. . . .17
2. God's Word, a second witness, is is even more reliable than history. Jeremiah asserts that prophet and priest will encourage the populace, "saying, "Peace, peace!" when there is no peace" (Jeremiah 6:13-14).
In verse 19, God continues, predicting that the fruit of the peoples' plans will bring desolation: "Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people, even the fruit of their thoughts."
Verse 20 is particularly interesting in the context of international trade. An unrighteous people cannot please God, though they offer to Him expensive, exotic gifts from distant countries: "For what purpose to Me comes frankincense from Sheba, and sweet cane from a far country? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet to Me."
3. Finally, the witness of our own experience instructs us that global integration is tenuous at best. In less than a decade, those of us who knew the "old church" have witnessed its ostensible cohesion—its worldwide integration—quickly give way to the overwhelming, unrelenting forces of disintegration. So precipitous was its dissolution that we find reason now to question the real depth of its earlier cohesion. Like a mirror repeatedly dropped, the church fragments and fragments again. Globalization is here today, gone tomorrow.
What we have all experienced in the church of God the whole world will soon experience. Globalism is generating a reaction, the backlash of disintegration, which threatens to tear the social and economic fabric of the world to shreds. Surprisingly, this backlash, tribalism—not globalism—will characterize this decade! We will address the nature, scope and dangers of today's "new tribalism" in the next installment.
1 Walter Russell Mead, "The Jacksonian Tradition and American Foreign Policy," The National Interest, Winter 1999, p. 5. Mr. Mead is senior fellow for United States Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.
2 The People's Chronology, "Nagasaki."
3 Mead, ibid., p. 5 (emphasis added).
4 Quoted by Philip Gold, "The Essentials of Self-Preservation: What Our Military Can't Live Without," Policy Review,December 2000/January 2001, p. 33. Mr. Gold is director of defense and aerospace studies at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute.
5 Eliot A. Cohen, "Why the Gap Matters," The National Interest, Fall 2000, p. 38. Mr. Cohen is professor of strategic studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University.
6 Charles W. Maynes, "The Perils of (and for) an Imperial America," Foreign Policy,Summer 1998, p. 36. Mr. Maynes is president of the Eurasia Foundation. Brzezinski's comment appears in The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives. In this book, he argues that America should emulate Rome in the approach and execution of her foreign policy. America should seek "to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected and to keep the barbarians from coming together."
7 William Pfaff, "The Praetorian Guard," The National Interest, Winter 2000/2001, p. 57.
8 Maynes, ibid., p. 36.
9 Quoted by William Pfaff, "The Question of Hegemony," Foreign Affairs, January/February 2001, p. 221.
10 Mead, ibid., p. 5.
11 Andrew J. Bacevich, "Policing Utopia: The Military Imperatives of Globalization," The National Interest, Summer 1999, p. 5. Mr. Bacevich is professor of International Relations at Boston University.
12 Bacevich. ibid., pp. 10-12.
13 Bacevich. ibid., p. 10.
14 Bacevich. ibid., pp. 5-6.
15 Bacevich. ibid., pp. 9-10.
16 Kenneth N. Waltz, "Globalization and American Power," The National Interest, Spring 2000, p. 46 (emphasis added). Mr. Waltz is a research associate of the Institute of War and Peace Studies and adjunct professor at Columbia University.
17 Eliot A. Cohen, "Counting the Dead," The National Interest, Fall 1999, p. 110. Mr. Cohen's comments are part of his review of Niall Ferguson's book, The Pity of War: Explaining World War I (New York: Basic Books, 1999).