The untimely warThere are often times when I wish that I had begun this weblog sooner than late 2004. If I had, many of you would be able to make a note of the fact that before the Iraq War had begun, I was absolutely opposed to the idea that the United States needed to enter combat there. I warned of the mounting losses that would occur, and I constantly reminded some very good friends of mine who were determined to march to Hell and back with the President on this issue that since the Truman administration, U.S. involvement in Near Eastern affairs has been tainted by partiality toward Israel, and this is the root of nearly all American difficulties in the region. Much of the reason we are assailed by Arab terrorists from without and found both Iran and Iraq to be our enemies (as well as being extremely unpopular with the "man on the street" in the Arab world) is because it is perceived that we are not a friend to Arab people-not just Muslim Arabs but Christian Arabs also-because we will support the Israelis at all costs and ignore their manifold human rights abuses while we attack Iran, Iraq and other Arab countries for their human rights abuses. It should also be pointed out that it was a Democrat, Harry Truman, who first recognized the State of Israel over the objections of many Congressional Republicans and his own State Department.
In making such a recognition, the U.S. showed a willingness to take sides in a dispute that was destined to create enemies where none had previously existed. Some of you are saying "but Oatney, Israel is our friend." Yes, but had we taken the opposite side, all of the Arab states would have worshiped us-that doesn't mean we should have. We entered into business that was none of our concern, and we are still paying the price for it. The deed was done, however, and being people of our commitments, we are bound to carry through with that recognition and all that comes with it.
Israel has an old enemy in that part of the world-Iraq. Iraq's defeat certainly would help the Israelis a great deal, yet we do not see them sending large numbers of troops and money to support this effort. I warned many people over and over again that our men and women would bear the brunt of the burden, and that our so-called "friends" would abandon us like men leaving a jobsite at 5:00pm on Friday. I warned that the war was unwise, untimely, and unnecessary. Unwise because our forces were already deep into a war in Afghanistan. Untimely because despite repeated promises, the administration had done little to increase American troop strength or peacetime military spending-certainly nothing like the Reagan era-and we weren't ready for a two-front war. Unnecessary because the fact was that because we were already aggressively policing the region (no fly zone, anyone?) Saddam was well-contained. I also remember telling several people who asked my opinion in the days leading up to the outbreak of war that it could cost the Republicans control of part or all of Congress, and if the war was not brought to an end in 2008, it could cost the GOP the Presidency.
However, I also believed that if war came, we must then give our men and women in uniform our full support to carry out their mission. I still believe this today...and the war did come.
Unfortunately, things have panned out in much the way that I thought they would. I did not wish this to be the case, because I do not wish calamity upon our forces, but victory after victory. I do not wish for the Republican Party to lose control of Congress, because I believe it will lead to terrible domestic policy decisions that could wreak havoc on the constitutional framework of the Republic itself. However, we cannot expect that poor decision making and support for bad policy will not come back to bite us at some point, whether this November or at some future time. Our own President spends and often governs as if he were a liberal Democrat, yet people who have reputations as champions of conservatism just shrug their shoulders, turn their backs, and continue to prop up his ineffective leadership.
If Al Gore were President and he was governing the way that President Bush presently does, Republican leaders in Congress would be calling for his head.
We need to re-examine the way we do foreign policy business. No, I don't mean we need to consult the United Nations more-to Hell with the U.N. What the conservative movement, the Republican Party, and America as a whole need to do is to return to the time-honored principles of the Founding of this country as it relates to foreign policy. What are those principles?
From George Washington's Farewell Address:
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens,) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove, that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government. But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defence against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.
The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connexion as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.
Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.
Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality, we may at any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.
Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?
It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.
You could substitute "Europe" for any region of the world in those words, but the principle is the same. Defend American interests first, put America first, and do not entangle yourselves in the political and military affairs of others. Nearly all of our foreign policy difficulties in the world can be traced back to 1917 when Woodrow Wilson decided that a European War was America's business. Look at the international mess we have created by not doing something as simple as following the advice of the Father of our Country.
Many years ago, it used to be the custom on February 22nd (Washington's Birthday) to read the Farewell Address alound in the House and the Senate. Is it any wonder why that custom ceased to be?