WVWNews reader examine's government role in foreign and domestic affairs
Even before George Washington warned our young nation to avoid “entangling alliances” during his Farewell Address, Benjamin Franklin put the aforementioned idea into practice when dealing with France at the close of the Revolutionary War. He knew, despite such potential, entering unnecessary wars could be the death of our fragile nation. Although they played a crucial role in our victory during the Revolutionary War, Franklin resisted calls to aid the French at our expense via a pact which would have proven counterproductive. Unfortunately, those days of a common sense approach to foreign policy have since passed. After all, Bush is no Washington and Rice no Franklin.
A closer examination of our government’s purpose is necessary if the situation is to improve. Giving money for AIDS medicine in Africa or development assistance to Pakistan, are both terrible ways to give away the peoples money because we do not benefit. The Iraq War, however, is much worse. Our biggest problem is no longer the government taking money from us in order to help others. It is not even the government risking the well-being of Americans to assist other people and nations. The day has come in which our government puts American lives in jeopardy while impeding the interests of foreign citizens and nations.
Is it our governments purpose to take from us in order to build hospitals, schools, and government buildings in Iraq? Is it in the interest of the American people to overthrow heads of state they view as evil? How can one justify forcing democracy on a country as being in our best interest despite the loss of thousands of American lives and several hundred billion dollars without experiencing any benefits at home? The idea of taking from the American people and “giving” to the world has become routine practice from Washington. However, it is not supposed to be this way.
Precedence exists, established by our greatest generation, which runs contrary to current policy and supports the idea that each decision should be in the best interest of the American people. As early as our nation’s original document, Thomas Jefferson stated that a government should be created which will allow for the most happiness.
John Adams echoed that sentiment in the Massachusetts Constitution when he stated, “And whenever these great objects are not obtained, the people have a right to alter the government, and to take measures necessary for their safety, prosperity and happiness.” As President, Adams kept us out of an unneeded war with France during the XYZ Affair despite opposition from some of the most powerful men within his own party.
Our government, therefore, does not have an obligation to perform most of its current functions. In fact, it has forgotten its duty to protect the people and has actually begun to perform the opposite role from which it was originally intended by making us more susceptible to danger due to bad policy.
Our “representatives” have begun to protect the fictitious interests of Iraq at our expense. The opportunity for the American people on the whole to pursue their own happiness decreases drastically due to such policy. The cost is enormous as unnecessary monetary spending results in wasted lives.
While the benefits are non-existent to most Americans, the consequences are both obvious and catastrophic. Over 3,800 soldiers have lost their lives while another 28,000 have been wounded. The monetary cost of the Iraq War at the time of this writing has surpassed $450 Billion. Despite that exceedingly large sum, the American taxpayer has not benefited at all. For President Bush to admit using our money to benefit others runs contrary to his actual duty as he did during the 2005 State of the Union Address in which an Iraqi woman displayed her purple index finger indicating that she had voted. While her life may have improved as a result of American policy, ours did not.
A clear benefit to our country and its citizens should be the result of every decision made by our government. In the case of Iraq, the benefit is visible to very few outside of its most ardent supporters at the War’s onset. It is only those who have benefited most left standing in its support.
Historians have been too friendly to those who have led us into needless wars and far too unkind to those who kept us out. Woodrow Wilson remains one of the best examples of the former and Adams the latter. However, in the interconnected case of George Bush and the Iraq War, the opposite will be true. The failure of current policy will be decided by the people who are affected by wasted money, unimaginable grief, and lost lives which result from empire.
One of the main reasons for the existence of such anti-American sentiment throughout the Middle East is caused by the existence of American military presence in Saudi Arabia such as at the Prince Sultan Air Base. In his 1998 FATWA, Bin Laden acknowledged that American military presence in the Middle East was a major cause of such hatred.
This was a point hammered at by Congressman Ron Paul at the recent Republican Presidential debate in South Carolina to the disdain of the other candidates. Rudy Giuliani, considered one of the top-tier candidates, reacted angrily to Paul’s statement but said nothing of consequence to counter the argument. Unless, of course, stating that one never heard of such a statement and demanding a retraction constitutes as scoring points during debate. In addition to facts based on contemporary history, Congressman Paul also has reason and logic on his side.
Men possess a natural desire to feel that they are protecting the women and children in their respective societies. This is certainly true in such relationships as father and child and husband and wife. When foreign troops enter the scene through force, male adults are likely to feel a sense of embarrassment, failure, and frustration which can lead to a disdain or even a strong hatred for the foreign troops.
The argument that I have used in favor of the death penalty can also be applied to the “wars to promote democracy” in general and Iraq in particular. An individual who takes away ones life, liberty, and the ability to pursue their individual happiness must also suffer the loss of those three basic rights we inherit as Americans. The President wrongly put what he believed to be the liberty and pursuit of happiness of the Iraqi’s over the lives of thousands of American soldiers.
The removal of all weapons of mass destruction from Iraq was originally the stated purpose for the war, as argued by then Secretary of State Colin Powell in front of the United Nations Security Council. As time progressed, the Bush administration realized that the American people were not foolish enough to believe that a country which spent $1.3 billion annually on a third-rate military could possibly pose a serious threat to any individual American or our collective well-being from half way around the world.
A far different reason for the War emerged which resembles a Wilsonian foreign policy philosophy. It became America’s duty to spread liberty and democracy throughout the world. Iraq, it seemed, was the first step in a long and glorious mission to rid the world of evil.
This type of idea which developed within Bush’s close circle was evident as the 2000 election and pre-inauguration events unfolded. Signers of the original Statement of Principles for the interventionist group Project for the New American Century include Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz. Members of this organization believe that we have a responsibility as a nation “to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values” and should play “a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.”
PNAC is of the opinion that creating distant democracies with our values is worthy of American blood. It is, they believe, our way of life which is best for everyone. Of course, they fail to acknowledge that the best form of government depends on a nation’s history, customs, and culture which vary from people to people. A principled foreign policy recognizes that people have a different concept of the ideal society based on their own past. What is the point of having separate countries if a nation’s culture is rendered meaningless by the most powerful which forces their form of government on the world?
Terrible pain and unhappiness, both directly and indirectly, has been forced upon the American people through the lost lives and major injuries of the few and the poorly spent money from the many. The life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of the American people should be at the forefront of every decision made by our government. That is no longer a right we should expect, but one we must demand.