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Mullings by Rich Galen ®
An American Cyber-Column By Rich Galen
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America's Resting Face

Rich Galen

Thursday July 12, 2018

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  • There is a concept of a "resting face." Actually, it is more commonly referred to as the "resting bitch face (RBF)." I'm not clear on whether it occurs with female dogs, but it does appear to occur with men as well as women.

  • It is the face we portray to the world when we're mentally idling in neutral. Very often, we look angry.

  • When it comes to foreign policy, America's RBF is isolationism. We can wail at and rail against Donald Trump's anti-NATO, anti-NAFTA, anti-TPP and anti any other set of letters, but the fact is - that is our natural state.

  • Our national position to the rest of the world is: We'll do what we do; you do what you do, and if we're not in the World Cup, and we don't have to deal with you for another four years, that's OK with us.

  • As far back as 1793 - just four years after the Constitution became the basis of our laws - George Washington issued a proclamation of neutrality when war broke out (again) between France and England. It forbad "citizens to take part in any hostilities in the seas, on behalf of or against any of the belligerent powers."

  • Washington held this position to the end. In his farewell address, he said, "It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world"

  • In 1801, Thomas Jefferson's inaugural address continued the thought: "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none."

  • About 115 years later - even though the U.S. had been at war with just about everyone - including itself in the ensuing years - when, according to Politico.com:
    "World War I erupted across Europe, President Woodrow Wilson declared that the United States would remain 'impartial in thought as well as in action.'

    "At the time, a vast majority of Americans approved of Wilson's policy of strict U.S. neutrality."

  • At the time, World War I was known as "The Great War." As I've said before, until World War II broke out, we didn't know we were going to have to number them.

  • Isolationism in the inter-war period was so strong that, according to the State Department's website:
    [In] August 31, 1935, Congress passed the first Neutrality Act prohibiting the export of "arms, ammunition, and implements of war" from the United States to foreign nations at war and requiring arms manufacturers in the United States to apply for an export license. American citizens traveling in war zones were also advised that they did so at their own risk.

  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was opposed to the Neutrality Act but signed it (and signed its extension a year later) in the face of overwhelming Congressional and public pressure.

  • In both World Wars, America's entry brought to bear our overwhelming capacity to build war machinery, to provide almost unlimited numbers of troops, and extraordinary Generals (John J. Pershing in World War I and Dwight Eisenhower in World War II) to put them to good use.

  • Once energized, America's RBF turned into an angry scowl. Although there is no evidence of it's ever having been said in real life, Japanese Admiral Yakamoto says at the end of the film "Tora! Tora! Tora!"
    "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

  • Korea is still not over. Vietnam ended in failure. Afghanistan is still in bloody turmoil, Iraq hasn't yet been resolved, and all the other mini-wars we've fought have done nothing to change America's RBF from isolationism to adventurism.

  • NATO was established in 1949, again according to the U.S. State Department, "to provide collective security against the Soviet Union."

  • But, like parents drawing an invisible line across the back seat of the family station wagon to keep two brothers from punching one another in the arm, it has also served to keep Europe - which had been at war since before there was a Europe - at peace for the past 70 years.

  • There are very good reasons - both military and economic - to keep NATO and other alliances topped off and strong. If, for instance, we want to impose sanctions against Iran and/or North Korea, we need the European Union and NATO to honor those sanctions.

  • As President Wilson also said - perhaps ruefully:
    "We are citizens of the world. The tragedy of our times is that we do not know this."

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to "resting face," to 1793 Neutrality Proclamation, to isolationism pre-World War I and another link to the pre-World War II period, and an astonishing list of wars in Europe beginning in 5,000 BC.

    The Mullfoto, on the other hand, is an amusing sign from Penn Station in New York City.

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