When America became careless about defining the purpose of government, foreign policy changed. Guaranteeing the inalienable rights of individuals should be the prime role of government, and national sovereignty is recognized as proper for this purpose.
However, once this goal of guaranteeing and protecting the individual becomes muddled, as it certainly has, vague reasons are given for the existence of the state. Behind all the muddle is usually the age-old temptation of some to use power to control others.
This is done in moral terms by claiming that the needs of others are the concern of us all. Likewise, the goal of achieving international power, both financial and military, is done with moral overtones-such as “making the world safe for democracy.” Foreign aid-although its real purpose is to enhance the riches of foreign dictators, international bankers, and some American industrialists-is pawned off as aid to the people of the impoverished Third World.
This philosophy of internationalism has lead to a tremendous growth in foreign welfare, especially since 1945, and a foreign policy of internationalism that has virtually removed the sovereign conviction of guaranteeing the individual rights of American citizens. Instead of making the world safe for democracy, a goal set by Woodrow Wilson, the world is no longer safe, especially for American citizens traveling abroad.
The combination of liberalism’s naive belief that the world can be made a better place through socialist redistribution of wealth and the desire of certain international bankers to control the world through one-world government has brought us to a dangerous period in our history. Today the proposals of the Council of Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission have much more impact on policy than the Constitution. Sadly, world socialist order is of prime concern, not individual liberty, as it should be. This mixture of misplaced liberal idealism and the bankers’ goal of world domination, forces capitalists and communists to do business together on many occasions.
Many American arms manufacturers, as well as other “Rambo” Americans, have an insatiable hunger to perpetually have a fearsome enemy. Therefore, on the surface, it always looks like we are about to go to war with the Soviets while, behind the scenes, we continue to fund the very enemy who “threatens” to invade our hemisphere.
Internationalism is enhanced by this war-monger policy, and individual liberty is diminished. The Constitution is forgotten, as is the traditional American foreign policy practiced for more than a hundred years of minding our own business and providing security for America.
It is bad enough to see the loss of liberty for which the Founding Fathers fought so valiantly, but to watch a foreign policy that has led to perpetual war for America presents a great danger to us all.
Just as with economic interventionism, each government action in the affairs of other nations causes more problems than it solves. Instead of achieving peace, perpetual conflict occurs. Instead of expressing gratitude for our foreign largesse, the recipients of American aid become resentful. Instead of achieving a greater national security, America becomes more vulnerable and weak.
The odds of getting assistance from our allies to protect our security if we are threatened are infinitesimal, as compared to the possibility of our sons dying for someone else’s security. The odds of our being involved unnecessarily in another unwise foreign military venture continues.
Johnathan Kwitny, in Endless Enemies, documents numerous occasions when our intervention has led to a failed military operation and hostility toward America. In contrast, he demonstrates that when we pursued a neutralist course, our interests were better served, relationships were better, and it cost the American taxpayers a lot less.
Sadly the debate is never between a constitutional foreign policy and interventionism; it is clearly a debate between factions of interventionism. Both sides assume great wisdom and propose solutions to the problems of the world, while ignoring American security and the right of her citizens. However, the public justification for all U.S. intervention is that this intervention benefits the American citizen.
The conservatives argue continually for more military expenditures and aid to the anti-communist regime; the liberals argue for less total military spending, but plenty of aid for the pro-communist nations.
Members of Congress generally accept that there are only two options available to us, refusing to admit that these options are only variations of a single interventionist foreign policy. Our goal should be to make certain that a third option, the constitutional principle of nonintervention, is emphatically heard in the debate.
Since we can never get a consensus of which faction to support in other nations, one group of Americans is unjustly forced to subsidize the other’s preferences. If the purpose were only to serve the direct interests of American citizens in our homeland, the whole discussion would never arise. There is no reason to force the liberal to finance Somosa or the conservative, the Sandanistas. Securing peace, preserving liberty, and protecting the life and property of American citizens are the only legitimate functions of government equally beneficial to all. It should be, for that reason, noncontroversial.
Not only is it unfair to pass on the cost of meddling in the affairs of other nations to the citizens who disagree with the policies pursued, when intervention leads to hostilities, the commitments involved are very serious indeed.
Literally, we put the lives of our youth and the youth of future generations on the line. There is no moral justification for this. Military treaties obligate future generations to commitments that only individuals of that generation should fulfill.
We should reassess all out military treaties. They are called “mutual security” treaties, but no one expects our allies to come to our assistance if we are attacked. Events in Korea, Vietnam, Libya, and Iran show how insignificant the support is that we get from our allies. We have been forced to stand alone and bear all the cost of our defense and most of the cost of the defense of our allies.
There is no moral justification for one generation’s committing another generation to pay higher taxes, to suffer more inflation, to sacrifice the lives of their youth (uprooted through conscription) for needless armed conflicts. With a noninterventionist foreign policy, citizens would never be forced to subsidize or die for any special interest. Taxes could be used only to secure peace and freedom for America.
Under these conditions of nonintervention, of course, individuals would never be prohibited from volunteering and contributing their own monies to any foreign cause. Our government is the only legal dealer in weapons of war, usually at a high cost to American taxpayers, as well as danger to our security. Thus the wishes of citizens are violated with every transaction. Americans who want to privately help anti-communists in Cuba, Afghanistan, El Salvador, or Nicaragua should be free to do so, and yet they are not.
The first major change in our foreign policy occurred at the turn of the century. President McKinley initiated the change leading us into the Spanish-American War. Woodrow Wilson made the most radical departure from our traditional noninterventionist foreign policy; he sought to:
… make the world safe for democracy … America’s duty is to stand shoulder-to-shoulder to lift the burdens of mankind in the future, and show the path of freedom to all the world. The American flag is henceforth to stand for self-possession, for dignity, and for the assertion of the right of one nation to serve other nations of the world. America is now rich enough and free enough to look abroad for great tasks to perform. Our duty is to serve the world.
The idea that it is our government’s duty to serve the world and that we have great tasks to perform throughout the world, is an example of an outrageous and irrational idealism.
Even though World War I was the first major break from our traditional position of nonintervention, the Spanish-American War conditioned our people to accept our new role as world police.
Walter Karp, in his outstanding work The Politics of War, points out that “it was the very alliance that Republicans had forged with Wall Street which required the protection of war and a forward foreign policy.”
Karp describes vividly how our new-found interventionist policy maneuvered us into the unnecessary Spanish-American War.
Karp, in his book, also describes our involvement in World War I and Wilson’s participation with tremendous skill. Although most of us have been taught that Woodrow Wilson was one of our five great Presidents, it is unlikely that one would come to this conclusion after reading this book. Karp documents how Wilson maneuvered us into World War I in 1917. Wilson’s grandiose assumption that he could “make the world safe for democracy” and fulfill our “duty to serve the world” prompted the wounding and killing of hundreds of thousands of young American soldiers, bringing needless sorrow to millions of American families.
Not only is this maneuvering into war a horror, Karp’s description of how Wilson suspended personal freedoms at home, an inevitable consequence of warmongering, is frightening.
In times of war, personal freedoms are threatened at home.
In times of war, personal freedoms are threatened at home. That is why a proper foreign policy is so critical: so that freedoms at home are never again threatened. We have been able to recover some of the freedoms taken from us in times of war, but the real danger is that someday under war conditions, preparation for war, or economic chaos brought on by inflation-our freedoms will be permanently lost.
Wilson once wrote that the sovereignty of the American people was “…a mere legal fiction.” Personal liberty was a mere legal function to Wilson as well.
Twenty-three years after World War I ended, America entered the Second World War, largely as a consequence of Franklin Roosevelt’s interventionist foreign policy. An excellent description of this can be found in Charles Callan Tansill’s Back Door to War. From this outstanding historic documentation of what transpired prior to the war, it is clear that the United States deliberately provoked the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor for economic reasons. Since the United States had broken the Japanese code, Roosevelt knew exactly what the Japanese were planning. FDR did nothing because of his own political ambitions and his desire to unify the country in support of the war. By the early 1940’s only a small minority stood on principle and objected to our becoming allies with Soviet murderers.
Our role as international police became an accepted fact when the policy of internationalism, enhanced by our United Nations membership, involved us in Korea and Vietnam as the result of treaty obligations. This policy ignored and denied the rights to life and liberty of the young men who were maimed or tragically killed. The Korean and Vietnam Wars were conducted without even asking for congressional approval.
The policy of compulsive meddling worldwide has created nothing but trouble and confusion for America. The most recent scandal, involving weapons to Iran for the release of hostages and the secret and illegal funding of the Contras in Nicaragua, is a perfect example of how foolish the policy of interventionism can be.
For years American taxpayers were forced to subsidize the Shah under the pretense that America’s security depended upon it. The truth is that this funding protected privileged business interests in Iran. With the overthrow of the Shah, all this changed. The taking of American hostages by the Iranians and the failure of Carter to secure their release was the major reason Carter lost so badly in 1980 to Ronald Reagan.
Our announced policy toward the Iran-Iraq War is one of neutrality. But now we find, and it really should be to no one’s surprise, that we have been aiding both Iraq and Iran. Our government leaders maneuver continuously to remain in a position of influence, regardless of which faction controls a foreign nation, friend or foe, so that the interests of the bankers and certain industrialists will be served.
Those who insist that we must “protect” Iran from the Soviets never explain why the concern is so great when we see the miserable failure of the Soviet military machine in neighboring Afghanistan. Nor is it explained why we now are allies of the Soviets in support of Iraq.
The Middle East, in the last forty years, has soaked up billions of dollars in the name of American security and peace. The more we give Israel, the more we must give their Arab enemies.
The height of this folly was vividly and tragically dramatized on October 23, 1981, with the killing of the 241 Marines in Beirut when their barracks were destroyed by radical Moslems. The terrorists probably were aided by Iran and supplied with explosives sold to them by Israel, originating from the United States and paid for by American taxpayers.
The epitome of our bungling foreign policy was revealed when it became known that the Marines standing guard had rifles but were permitted no ammunition because it was thought that any careless killing could precipitate a crisis. Others argued that they were not permitted ammunition because they were incapable of handling their rifles. These absurdities boggle the mind, and yet the American people did little to put an end to it.
This senseless loss of life did nothing to prompt the reassessment of our foreign policy. Instead it led to a sure victory over the “aggressive” military power of Grenada-made up of 200 military personnel. The American people, unfortunately, could not see that both actions were the result of the same flawed policy. The Grenada invasion was heralded as a great triumph and applauded by the vast majority of American people. The truth is that neither the medical students nor the administrator of the medical school ever requested the rescue. The military argument for invasion was shallow. If the airbase in Grenada ever became a threat to the United States, a single missile fired from a ship offshore could destroy it in minutes.
An interesting briefing occurred at the height of the Grenada crisis. Our State Department met in closed session with the Republican members of Congress, including myself, on the day after the invasion. Two political messages emerged from the meeting: one, make sure the administrator of the hospital makes no more public statements that do not show strong support for the rescue mission; and two, have some students express gratitude by kissing the ground on their return to the United States. The next day the tone of the administrator changed as he publicly expressed support for the rescue mission and, amazingly, a few students responded on arrival to the United States by kissing the ground.
The overwhelming “victory” in Grenada was less than a brilliant military operation. There were no Cuban troops of any significance. The landing was changed from 2 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. because the U.S. authorities were uncertain of night operations. Nineteen U.S. soldiers were killed, seven by friendly fire.
The invasion of Grenada is hardly the victory the American people were led to believe.
Extremely poor communications between the branches of the military were encountered. The press reported that one U.S. commander could not get through to his superior and ended up using his credit card to call Ft. Bragg for help. Intelligence reports were faulty and were of no practical use to the invasion.
Worst of all, and typical of our tragic foreign policy-in the midst of the Grenada invasion designed to make the world safe for democracy by stopping the spread of communism-President Reagan, behind the scenes, was forcefully lobbying for specific aid to “Communist-dictators” through additional IMF funding.
The invasion of Grenada is hardly the victory the American people were led to believe.
The United States supported the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon with the relentless bombing of Beirut. While the bombs were still falling on Beirut, a foreign aid bill was brought to the House floor. Aid to Lebanon, at the request of the Administration, was tripled so that Beirut could be rebuilt for “humanitarian reasons”. “Here we were, already appropriating more money to rebuild the devastated cities destroyed by bombs for which Americans had also paid. This surely was a policy of madness! During this period of time Israel captured 400 Lebanese Moslems and has since then illegally held them in captivity-one of the major reasons for the ongoing hostage crisis we still face.
In 1985 the worst terrorist act occurred in Beirut which killed 80 and injured 200 innocent people. Reliable evidence proves that the act was carried out by a Lebanese intelligence unit trained and supported by our CIA. Their goal and mission was to kill a Shiite leader suspected of terrorizing the U.S. installations.
Our involvement in the Middle East has also contributed indirectly to the deaths of 248 soldiers in an aircraft accident in which a DC-8 crashed in Gander, Newfoundland, in December 1985. The plane was returning from the Gaza strip, on Israel’s southern border, where soldiers had been serving on a peace-keeping mission for the United Nations. The aircraft accident investigation panel revealed direct causes to be: a failure to de-ice, overweight, and a power failure. The aircraft was leased from a fly-by-night charter airline to save money. Unbelievably we spend $300 billion a year on national defense (or foreign meddling) and we cannot afford decent aircraft to transport our troops. A policy designed to guarantee American security would never permit such senseless tragedies.
The U.S. policy toward Libya further confirms our irrational foreign policy. Under Reagan we have been determined to pick a fight with Khadafi, defying him with naval and air maneuvers in the Gulf of Sidra. As we try to emphasize our right to navigate in international waters near Libya, we totally reject the territorial waters of Nicaragua by mining their harbors. The World Court rulings against the U.S. were ignored by the Reagan Administration, yet the President insists that international law is legitimate in the Gulf of Sidra. The most important point, however, is that the Gulf of Sidra has nothing to do with U.S. security.
The bombing of Libya while sending arms to Iran-who has been much more involved in international terrorism-reveals the schizophrenic nature of our foreign policy.
Bombing a foreign capital, and killing innocent civilians, including a young daughter of Khadafi - even if the opinion polls support the action - is an act of war and not authorized by our Constitution. Action of this sort cannot be construed as necessary to protect American security. The bombing was, however, an historic first-it was scheduled in time for the evening news in the United States!
The bombing can hardly be considered a military success. Of the 18 F-111’s deployed, only 11 completed the mission; one was shot down. Thirty-eight percent of the planes could not fly the 2800 miles over undefended territory. The craziness of flying such a distance (10 hours roundtrip), when the same mission could have been accomplished more effectively from aircraft carriers, can only be explained by the desire to give the Air Force a little “glory” as well as the Navy. Others have argued that the reason for the long flight was to force our allies to “fish or cut bait” with our policy on terrorism.
It is interesting to note that after forty years of massive foreign aid to Europe, of hundreds of billions of dollars, both military and economic, our allies “cut bait.” We received no assistance from Greece, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey, or France. Some investment!
All this expense (which added nothing to our defense and made us more vulnerable) for allies who couldn’t care less. Instead of pressuring the allies to go along with some of our extravagant involvements overseas, we need to “cut bait” and leave Europe and the Middle East. We’d be a lot safer and richer for it.
The sad part about our bombing Libya is that a tin-horn dictator has caused America to betray her principles. In an effort to gain support for “getting Khadafi,” a deliberate government campaign of disinformation was carried out. This campaign was similar to the disinformation that led to the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and the subsequent killing of 60,000 American soldiers in Vietnam.
This “Rambo” attitude of our politicians reflects the insecurity and loss of confidence in ourselves. It does not reflect a positive American patriotism like some would have us believe. American patriotism should reflect a positive belief in freedom and prompt actions that guarantee individual liberty.
If motivated by American patriotism, government action would have been different in the Miroslav Medvid affair. Medvid is the Russian sailor, who jumped the Russian freighter in October 1985 as it sailed up the Mississippi. When the United States authorities were returning him to the Soviet vessel, he again leapt out of the U.S. Border Patrol boat. He was captured and, under great duress, was again forced to return to the Russian vessel. The United States officials told the public that Medvid “changed his mind and wanted to go back.” The U.S. interpreter, however, disagreed and said Medvid sincerely sought freedom. A positive conviction of American patriotism would have prompted quite a different response from us.
The ironies of our foreign policy are endless. We have troops in over 120 countries of the world and support, financially and militarily, both sides of most of the current military conflicts.
Our politicians’ enthusiasm for foreign aid is not shared by a majority of the American people, nor does it conform to the Constitution. It is frequently justified by a flawed understanding of the Marshall Plan. The $1.7 billion foreign aid gift to Western Europe between 1948 and 1952 is usually given the credit for European recovery after the War. Under occupation from 1945-1948, the economy of Europe remained weak and the Marshall Plan coincided with some policy changes. An imposed economic policy by the United States on Europe between 1945 and 1948 kept the economy weak. But in June 1948 Ludwig Erhard abolished all Allied economic controls and devalued and stabilized the German mark, and the economy surged. Because foreign aid arrived at the same time, American politicians have demanded the credit and used this program to perpetuate this technique of serving some American businesses and banking interests.
In reality, the Marshall Plan never contributed to more than five percent of one European country’s gross national product, while occupational cost remained at fifteen percent. This subsidy was minuscule compared to the economic growth statistics of the 1950’s. The argument that a dollar shortage existed in Europe and an injection of funds was needed is an old Keynesian argument used to justify foreignaid expenditures. The bad policies of inflation and economic control, imposed by the U.S. after the war were the real culprits. In contrast to the argument that the Marshall Plan was market-oriented, we find (under close scrutiny) the rules discouraged free enterprise, served the special interests of some American industries, and did nothing to enhance free trade with the other Western nations. There are other numerous absurdities that have resulted from our foreign policy:
Corazon Aquino in 1986, addressed the U.S. Congress. The speech was so impressive that within hours the House voted $150 million in additional aid to the Philippines. Aquino responded by saying, “It wasn’t enough.”
Marcos received billions from us over the years with no accounting or control of expenditures. The question no one can answer is how the Philippines have made us more secure in the last thirty years.
After the bombing of Libya, Khadafi’s navy responded by bombarding the island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean. It was then that we discovered we had U.S. Coast Guard personnel on this island-guarding our coastline, I guess.
We have 340,000 troops in Europe and over 200,000 elsewhere around the world. It costs $140 billion a year to protect Europe and $50 billion a year to defend Japan. It costs approximately $1000 to maintain each man per day overseas. This assistance permits a competitive edge for our allies, who are well ahead of us technologically, and contributes to our trade deficit. Our only response has been to promote protectionism, making the problem worse. Overall foreign policy has never been seriously considered as the basic flaw, like it someday must.
We placed economic sanctions on South Africa at precisely the same time President Reagan approved subsidized wheat sales to the Soviets. The sanctions were a liberal political stunt; the subsidies to the Soviet Union were meant to help U.S. wheat farmers and secure the election of the Republican Senate-which it did not. While bombing Libya to deter terrorism, we negotiated with Syria and acted as partners with Israel in its massive ongoing arms trade.
The CIA, not known for its intelligence-gathering skills, has 16,000 agents - 2,500 added under William Casey and two-thirds added during the last decade. This agency is only 40 years old and its activities, which include clandestine and ruthless intervention in the affairs of other nations, is neither morally nor constitutionally justified.
Author Dan Smoot, in a letter to me, stated,
There is no place in a governmental system of a constitutional republic for an agency that meddles in the affairs of foreign nations. Even if the CIA were in the hands of patriots whom I like, I would still feel, as I have felt since 1946, that it should not be. Whatever seeds such an agency sows, the harvest will be detrimental to our nation.
Dan Smoot is a brilliant constitutionalist and a student of history. His fears of the CIA have been legitimate as we continue to see the disastrous results of the CIA involvement around the world.
The National Security Council (NSC) was set up in 1946 to coordinate and advise the President on foreign affairs. The National Security Council was never meant to carry out activities along with the CIA as revealed by the Iran-Contra scandal. It is ironic now to see the appointment of David Abshire to a Cabinet-level post to “coordinate the effort” to resolve the confusion the scandal concocted by the NSC has caused. The one net benefit from the Iran-Contra scandal has been the derailing of a dangerously aggressive foreign policy, clandestinely orchestrated by the CIA.
Not only has our twentieth-century foreign policy failed, it continues to be a serious threat to all of us. It has contributed significantly to our national bankruptcy and has done nothing to enhance our national security. Reevaluation is a must.
A foreign policy of nonintervention should be a topic of serious debate in 1987-1988, the 200th Anniversary of our Constitution. It is an opportune time to consider the reinstatement of a principled noninterventionist American foreign policy.