Get your political fix from an unrepentant political junkie.
August 22, 2015
Americans do well with moderation. It is in our national DNA. It is also a by-product of the freedom of expression and allowing different perspectives in the public forum.
In foreign policy, non-interventionism is the moderate stance, and it has served Americans well in her four hundred or so years.
As British subjects, American colonists were compelled to fight for the British crown, until they felt compelled to defend themselves against the king’s army. After centuries of European conflicts dragging Americans into war, national independence yielded a non-interventionist foreign policy for the infant nation. George Washington advised in his farewell address to avoid longterm alliances with foreign powers and maintain neutrality, referring to the on-going battle between England and France and its effects on the political climate in America.
John Quincy Adams crafted the Monroe Doctrine in response to Europoean threat in the Western hemisphere, establishing an assertive U.S. national defense policy by drawing a metaphorical line in the sand along the Prime Meridian. In response to the 1848 nationalistic revolutions in Europe, President Millard Fillmore expressed the prevailing American view that the U.S. must grant to other nations what it wanted for itself, the right to establish “that form of government which it may deem conducive to the happiness and prosperity of it own citizens.”
For 122 years, America remained primarily a non-interventionist country, teetering between isolation and intervention, but striking a balance, as Americans are wont to do. U.S. foreign policy shifted to intervention with the 1898 Spanish-American War, signaling the U.S.’s foray into imperialism, albeit limited compared to her European cousins and rising economic rivals in Asia.
As European cycles of conflict culminated into the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, America and her piddling military force maintained a policy of neutrality, with calls for isolationism, until entering the world war in 1917 for the sake of world democracy and Woodrow Wilson’s “war to end all wars” — an ironic propaganda slogan if ever there was one. World War I’s near destruction of Western culture snapped the U.S. back into its non-intervention stance and calls for isolation, until the next world war, that is.
Geographical buffers protected the U.S. from imperialistic communism and fascism in Europe and Asia until Japan shattered them, and America’s psyche, at Pearl Harbor in 1941. The unprepared U.S. was propelled into another world war seven times more destructive and forever changing her role in the world. After nearly a year of building the neglected armed forces, the U.S. emerged as a leading military and economic power in World War II and thereafter, rivaling the Soviet Union in international relations and influence.