As well, his stance of being friendly with all nations but in alliance with none is, in my strong opinion, dangerously isolationist and unwise. That position may have served America well before the 20th century, but in today’s world of faster then sound travel, mass communication and weapons of mass destruction, American cannot afford to “go it alone.” As well, America must actively support the few remaining free nations in the world. To not do so will ultimately bring destruction upon the world and America herself.
This afternoon, I attended a local gathering of Patriots for a class on the Constitution. It occurs every Thursday from noon to 1pm. Today’s lesson centered on foreign policy. While our founding fathers were quoted (such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others), no strict Constitutional law was. It was more of a meeting based on a particular version of conservative opinion. In this one instance, I am going to have to disagree with what was presented. The following will be my reasoning as to why.
George Washington’s farewell address covered a few different issues. The first, and primary, would be his explanation for refusing a third term to office. Another issue concerns the conditions of the Union and his encouragement to the members of such. Yet another concerned Patriotism and conduct towards other nations. It is regarding his comments on what we now call “foreign policy” that I wish to pay particular attention.
Many people such as Ron Paul point out a comment Washington made concerning how the United States should keep a neutral position towards other nations. Washington exhorted us to not favor any particular one, but to:
Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.
He also stated:
In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated.
Washington’s reasoning is sound and wise. Yet one thing is never mentioned concerning his farewell address. People are quick to bring up his exhortation to stay neutral, but fail to mention his other exhortation. He stated:
`Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; - emphasis mine
George Washington knew that there would come a time where it would be impractical to remain completely neutral. There would be times when America would have to remove herself from her “isolationist shell” and form alliances. Yet even with that he warned:
Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.
The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without any thing more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.
During his time, weapons of mass destruction were unknown. Travel was done either via foot, horseback or ship. Mountain ranges and oceans were true boundaries that were difficult to overcome. In a very real sense, the world was closed off. The United States itself found it’s eastern and southern boundaries protected by the Atlantic Ocean. To the west and north were vast landmasses - not heavily populated. Neutrality was an excellent stance, and one that America should attempt to adhere to, as much as possible, in this day and age.
Yet the dawn of the 20th century brought about an industrial revolution. Suddenly, ships that were powered by the wind (and sometimes coal) now were able to access diesel fuel. As such, the capabilities of ocean going traffic increased immensely. Motorized vehicles soon found themselves dominating horse and train travel. Then, the aircraft was invented.
Almost 100 years later, America’s involvement in the first World War is still a topic of debate. It revolves around whether or not America should have joined with the allies. Some propose the case that our involvement only increased the duration of the war and it’s casualties. Others proclaim that it was a necessary “evil.” Regardless of current opinions, the facts are that America did indeed join in this war.
After the war, the United States found itself entering the Great Depression. This was a very trying time for the country, and it’s resilience was tested in a way never before experienced. Yet her strong citizens persevered. America, however, did remain active in the world arena of politics.
Yet world politics were changing. Fascism was raising it’s ugly head in Europe, and Communism was finding a foothold in Russia. Japan was experiencing it’s own industrial revolution and was fast becoming a power to be acknowledged.
Technology was advancing in leaps in bounds. Aircraft were becoming faster and more powerful. Battleships soon became national symbols of pride, and Germany advanced submarine technology. Suddenly, the world was much smaller – and more dangerous.
Germany, still hurting from it’s loss in the first World War, was looking for a way to regain it’s national pride. It wanted to expand it’s territory, and at the same time, remove “undesirables.” In 1939, it launched a blitzkrieg offensive, effectively starting World War 2.
During this time, Japan was seeking to increase it’s military and industrial power. Yet, as it is an island nation, lacked the natural resources for this to happen. So Japan began to look elsewhere and laid it’s eyes upon China. It too launched a military campaign of conquest, and committed many horrible atrocities against the Chinese.
During this time, Great Britain went to the defense of it’s ally, France, as the German war machine continued it’s unstoppable advance. In a secret pact, America agreed to supply England in it’s war effort. While doing this, it also imposed sanctions on Japan. America would not support it’s brutal war on China.
In response, Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. This action brought the United States fully into the war. During which, many nations were freed from the grips of dictators.
During World WW II, technology advanced in leaps and bounds. Jet aircraft were finding their wings in the sky, and the power of the atom was realized. America emerged as a world super power with a robust economy and large military force. Some say that the war actually helped rescue America from the Great Depression.
As well, the return of Israel as a nation became a reality. While during the purges of Hitler and Stalin many people of differing backgrounds were slaughtered, it was the Jews who bore the brunt. The vow of “never again” became the rally cry of Jews throughout the world. After thousands of years, the nation of Israel was reborn with the United States being the first country to recognize it’s right to exist.
Most people are aware of the history since then, so I do not feel it necessary to delve into it. Suffice it to say, technology advances have continued to increase in leaps and bounds. Space is no longer an unattainable goal, while the power of the atom was fully realized. The sound barrier was broken, and with the advent of electronics and the information age, it is now a common occurrence to communicate with others from the far side of the world.
Yet with all of this has come increased dangers. We no longer live in an isolated society. Weapons of Mass Destruction are, unfortunately, a reality. Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East and is constantly under attack. Islamic fascism has reared it’s ugly head and seems hell bent on world domination. With all of this going on, it is fool hardy for the few remaining free nations to “go it alone.” This, I feel, is what Washington was referring to when he commented on America staying neutral for as long as she was at liberty to do so. America is no longer at such a liberty.
Though in truth, we should cut ties with the United Nations and NATO. We should not have our soldiers in over a hundred different countries acting as a police force. We should not be surrendering our national sovereignty in any form, be it militarily or economically. Yet to leave countries such as Israel to fend for themselves is criminal.
As well, it is very unwise to think that we can be friends with all nations. A common saying in personal relationships is that you can never make everyone happy all the time. This also includes international relations. The Islamic threat is very real, as well as threats from rogue nations such as North Korea. China is as a dragon that has woken up, and Communism is still a very strong threat. We must not think that through dialogue or the giving of “gifts” that we can obtain their favor. Indeed no. As the world is no longer isolated, free nations must band together for survival. To do so otherwise will ultimately lead to the demise of America and freedom herself.