When George Washington retired from office in 1797, one of his warnings to the new nation was the necessity of avoiding foreign entanglements. Our young nation need not be dragged into the swirling riptide of European politics that so often pitted various alliances of England, France, Spain, Holland, Austria, Prussia, Russia against other combinations of the powers. In 1822, when some thought that we should insert ourselves into the Greek struggle for liberty against the decaying Ottoman oppression, John Adams reminded us that it was not the business of our nation “…to go abroad looking for monsters to slay.” But in 1960, an exuberant John Kennedy proclaimed that we were prepared “…to pay any price, to bear any burden” in the defense of our liberty and interest.
Today we are likely committed around the world to treaties and alliances that, if invoked together, might well require us to fight on both sides against ourselves. In a truly Hegelian nightmare of unfolding contradictions, our malignant proliferation of entanglements doubtlessly has both Washington and Adams spinning in their graves and defies even the witty cuteness of Kennedy to resolve. Like Brer Rabbit and the tar baby, our meddling and our thrashing about simply further tie us into situations where we have no real business.
Look at Europe! More than sixty years after the end of World War II we are still committed to defending a stable, prosperous group of nations that is more populous and wealthy than are we against and enemy that evaporated nearly two decades ago. further, we have unwisely extended the old NATO treaty frontiers far to the east and have unnecessarily provoked the Russian remnant of the old Marxist empire. We even allowed ourselves to be dragooned into a Balkan civil war and into murdering Serbs because the Europeans were too refined to commit their own slaughter.
Look at Japan! Why are we committed to defending the second largest economy on the planet against no real enemy? Especially after Toyota achieved a triumph over Detroit that makes Yamamoto’s success at Pearl Harbor pale to insignificance? Japan is wealthy enough to defend itself and is neither practically nor ethically entitled to the cover of the American military aegis.
Look at China! The re-emergence of China as a great power, a nation that stands to become the premier economy in about 25 years, and a nation that will doubtlessly attempt to reassert itself as the Middle Kingdom, has only recently been looked at as anything other than a supplier of cheap sneakers, tainted food products and pirated software. The PRC owns the single largest chunk of our foreign-held debt and Washington’s chief concern is that their minister of finance will continue to send someone to buy big at the Department of the Treasury’s latest debt auction.
Look at the Middle East! We are embroiled in an unnecessary, ill-advised war in Iraq, we are stumbling toward yet another direct confrontation with Iran. Why are we in the process on trying to impose a pax americana in the region? Other than oil, we have absolutely nothing in common with the region; however, the price of oil has taken on a life of its own despite what we may have planned. I think we can still guarantee that we will have $130/bbl oil even if we do not spend $400 billion/year to keep an army there.
Look at Israel! American foreign policy is too closely coupled to that of Israel. We need to be shed of them and they of us, so that each can rationally pursue its own interests without getting wrapped around the axle with the other or with the Arab/Muslim world. Perhaps it’s time to have the neoconservative movers and shakers of the PNAC and the new American imperium – several prominent members of which hold both US and Israeli passports – to decide which house they are honestly serving?
Look at Afghanistan! Why are we worried about troop levels in Iraq when the original battlefield against terrorism has been largely ignored. If we truly want to avenge ourselves on the alleged perpetrator of 9/11, shouldn’t we be surging troops to Afghanistan until Osama bin Laden – assuming that he is actually still alive – cannot break wind without a US source hearing it, smelling it and being able to determine what he’d been eating recently? Our sole objective in Afghanistan should be OBL’s head on a pike, to be displayed at Ground Zero.
Look at Mexico! Mexican politicians campaign in this country, soliciting votes for Mexican elections. The Mexican president presumes to tell us what we may and may not do to secure our borders lest we offend him. Mexico says its soil is sacred, but ours is negotiable. If we need to be shooting foreign infiltrators, what better place than those caught sneakng acrss our border. If we will accept collateral damage, how about collateral damage to the safe-houses and assembly areas on the Mexican side of the border that harbor illegals and paramilitary units raiding our soil?
We do not need to be the world’s policeman! We need to take care of our own first, take care of critical allies second, and we need to tell the ash and trash that the free ride ends here and now.
Whoever ends up squatting in the White house come next January 20th, he need to adopt the prudent advice of an extremely successful British expert on foreign policy, Viscount Palmerston, who shrewdly even coldly observed that “[England] has no eternal enemies and no unchanging alliances, only eternal and unchanging interests.”
American officials and American policy must serve American interests first.
T. J. Flapsaddle