MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Foreign policy’

JOHN KIRIAKAOU: What Would Biden’s Foreign Policy Look Like? Just Look at His Supporters – Consortiumnews

Posted by M. C. on October 12, 2020

Negroponte made a point in the interview of saying that he had disagreed with Biden on important (unspecified) issues over the years, but that Biden was “an experienced politician,” “a middle of the road kind of person,” and “a wise gentleman.” He said, for example, that he supported warrantless wiretapping of American citizens after the 9/11 attacks.

https://consortiumnews.com/2020/10/06/john-kiriakaou-what-would-bidens-foreign-policy-look-like-just-look-at-his-supporters/

By John Kiriakou
Special to Consortium News

Many of us are counting down the days until we can throw President Donald Trump out of office, out of Washington, out of our lives, and out of the daily news cycle.  With the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, there’s even more immediacy to replacing Trump.  But what would we get with a “President” Joe Biden? What would a Biden foreign policy look like?

Earlier this month, a group of Republican former senators and congressmen endorsed Biden for president, saying that he was better equipped that Trump to run the country.  At around the same time, a large group of intelligence and foreign policy professionals, most of whom had worked for Republican presidents, also endorsed the former vice president.  That sounds pretty impressive.  But let’s look at what it really means.  It means that they believe Biden will continue an interventionist, neoliberal, pro-war foreign policy.

John Negroponte 

John Negroponte, on right, as former Secretary of State Colin Powell displays anthrax vial at UN Security Council, Feb. 5, 2003. Former CIA Director George Tenet on left. (Wikimedia Commons)

Former Ambassador John Negroponte is one of those intelligence professionals who endorsed Biden. Negroponte is the Darth Vader of American foreign policy of the past half-century. 

Negroponte was ambassador to Honduras during the Iran-Contra affair, through which covert funds from the CIA made their way to the contra rebels; ambassador to Mexico as the drug cartels consolidated their power against a corrupt government there; ambassador to the United Nations as the U.S. sought to go to war with a knowingly false narrative of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction; ambassador to Iraq during the U.S. occupation of that country; and director of national intelligence during President George W. Bush’s torture program. 

Nobody has ever accused Negroponte of being a progressive in any sense of the word.  He loves war and has proven happy to jump into it with both feet.  And he happily and publicly endorsed Biden.

Please Contribute to Consortium News’
25th Anniversary Fall Fund Drive

Negroponte recently told the Daily Beast what was behind his endorsement.  The interview says as much about Biden as it does about Negroponte.  At the outset, Negroponte said, “All roads lead to Trump, and I’m just not sure the country can withstand another four years with a man who has shown such disregard for the office.”  I agree. Just about every Democrat does.  Donald Trump is a bad guy.  But it’s not as simple as that.

Warrantless Wiretapping

Negroponte made a point in the interview of saying that he had disagreed with Biden on important (unspecified) issues over the years, but that Biden was “an experienced politician,” “a middle of the road kind of person,” and “a wise gentleman.”  He said, for example, that he supported warrantless wiretapping of American citizens after the 9/11 attacks. 

Presidential candidate Joe Biden in Henderson, Nevada, February 2020. (Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons)

The statement was incomplete, however. Biden also supported warrantless wiretapping, voting for the Patriot Act while a senator in 2001, voting repeatedly for its subsequent reauthorizations and then opposing weakening the measure while he was vice president in the Obama administration.

There are other reasons that Negroponte and a bevy of Republican former intelligence and foreign policy big-shots have moved to Biden. 

The former VP opposes a troop drawdown in Europe, saying that such a move would embolden the Russians, for example.  He supports a more engaged military policy against China in the South China Sea.  He supports an extension of President Barack Obama’s policy of maintaining military bases in more than 100 countries, including Forward Operating Bases across Africa.

Literally the last thing I would do is to urge anybody to vote for Donald Trump.  The president has been a disaster in every sense of the word and in both foreign and domestic policy.  The country can’t take four more years of a Trump presidency.  But Biden is no panacea. He’s a center-right placeholder.  Negroponte confirmed that.

If you think things will change in foreign policy under a President Biden, think again.  It’ll be the same old expansionist, militarist policy that we had under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.  So go into the voting booth with your eyes open.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act—a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

What will be the foreign policy of the next US President?, by Thierry Meyssan

Posted by M. C. on September 11, 2020

The two programs for the Trump and Biden candidacies are not similar to those of previous candidates. It is no longer a question of adjusting the United States to the changing world, but of defining what they will be. The question is existential, so it is quite possible that things will degenerate and end in violence. For some, the country must be a nation at the service of its citizens, for others it must restore its imperial status.

https://www.voltairenet.org/article210762.html

by Thierry Meyssan

The U.S. 2020 presidential campaign pits two radically different visions of the United States: empire or nation?

On the one hand, Washington’s claim to dominate the world by “containment” – a strategy articulated by George Kennan in 1946 and followed by all presidents until 2016 – and on the other hand, the rejection of imperialism and the desire to facilitate the fortunes of Americans in general – a strategy articulated by President Andrew Jackson (1829-37) and taken up only by President Donald Trump (2017-20).

Each of these two camps wields rhetoric that masks its true practice. Democrats and Republicans pose as heralds of the “free world” in the face of “dictatorships”, as defenders of racial, gender and sexual orientation discrimination, and as champions of the fight against “global warming”. The Jacksonians, for their part, take turns denouncing the corruption, perversity and ultimately hypocrisy of their predecessors while calling to fight for their nation and not for the empire.

The two camps have in common only the same cult of force; whether it is at the service of the empire (Democrats and Republicans) or the nation (Jacksonians).

The fact that the Jacksonians unexpectedly became a majority in the country and took control of the Republican Party adds to the confusion, but should not confuse trumpism with what the Republican ideology has been since World War II.

In reality, Democrats and Republicans tend to be well-to-do people or professionals in new technologies, while Jacksonians – like the “yellow vests” in France – are rather poor and professionally tied to the land from which they cannot escape.

For the 2020 campaign, Democrats and Republicans are united behind former Vice President Jo Biden. He and his supporters are extremely voluble about their intentions:
- “The Power of America’s Example”, by Joseph R. Biden Jr., Voltaire Network, 11 July 2019.
- “Why America Must Lead Again. Rescuing U.S. Foreign Policy After Trump”, by Joseph R. Biden Jr., Foreign Affairs, March/April 2020.
And especially the statement by senior Republican national security officials to Democrat Biden :
- “A Statement by Former Republican National Security Officials”, Voltaire Network, 20 August 2020.
On the contrary, Donald Trump is evasive in writing:
- “Donald Trump Second Term Agenda”, by Donald Trump, Voltaire Network, 24 August 2020 (foreign policy is the small paragraph at the end of the text).

In my view, the main disputes are not stated, but are constantly implied.

JPEG - 81.6 kb
As a television host, Donald Trump dreamed of giving the country back to the people as President Andrew Jackson did.

The Jacksonian agenda

As soon as he took office, Donald Trump questioned the Rumsfeld/Cebrowsky strategy of annihilating the state structures of all the countries of the “Broader Middle East” without exception and announced his wish to bring home the troops lost in the “war without end”. This goal remains at the top of his priorities in 2020 (“Stop Endless Wars and Bring Our Troops Home”).

As a result, he excluded the Director of the CIA and the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee from regular meetings of the National Security Council. In so doing, he deprived the supporters of imperialism of their main tool of conquest.

See:
- “Presidential Memorandum: Organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council”, by Donald Trump, Voltaire Network, 28 January 2017. And “Donald Trump winds up “the” organization of US imperialism”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Anoosha Boralessa, Voltaire Network, 31 January 2017.

There followed a battle for the presidency of this council with the indictment of General Michael T. Flynn, then his replacement by General H. R. McMaster, the exceptionalist John R. Bolton, and finally Robert C. O’Brien.

In May 2017, Donald Trump called on U.S. allies to immediately cease their support for jihadists charged with implementing the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy. This was the Riyadh speech to the Sunni heads of state and then to NATO heads of state and government. President Trump had declared NATO obsolete before changing his mind. However, he obtained not the abandonment of Russia’s policy of containment, but the halving of the credits used for this purpose and the allocation of the funds thus preserved to the fight against jihadism. In doing so, it partially stopped making NATO an instrument of imperialism and turned it into a defensive alliance. It has therefore demanded that its members contribute to its budget. Support for jihadism, however, was pursued by the supporters of imperialism with private means, notably the KKR Fund.

See:
- “Presidential Memorandum: Plan to Defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”, by Donald Trump, Voltaire Network, 28 January 2017.
- “Donald Trump’s Speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit”, by Donald Trump, Voltaire Network, 21 May 2017.
- “Remarks by Donald Trump at NATO Unveiling of the Article 5 and Berlin Wall Memorials”, by Donald Trump, Voltaire Network, 25 May 2017.

Hence his watchwords: “Wipe Out Global Terrorists Who Threaten to Harm Americans” and “Get Allies to Pay their Fair Share.

Like the Democrats and Republicans, the Jacksonian Donald Trump is committed to restoring the capabilities of his armies (“Maintain and Expand America’s Unrivaled Military Strength”). Unlike his predecessors, he did not seek to transform the Pentagon’s delusional management by privatizing one department at a time, but rather developed a plan to recruit researchers to compete technologically once again with the Russian and Chinese armies.

See:
- “National Security Strategy of the United States of America”, December 2017. And “Donald Trump’s National Security Strategy”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 26 December 2017.

Only Donald Trump’s desire to regain primacy in missile matters is supported by Democrats and Republicans, although they do not agree on how to achieve it (“Build a Great Cybersecurity Defense System and Missile Defense System”) : the tenant of the White House wants the USA to equip itself alone with these weapons that it can eventually deploy on the territory of its allies, while its opponents want to involve the allies in order to maintain their hold on them. From the point of view of the Democrats and Republicans, the problem is obviously not withdrawing from the Cold War disarmament treaties to build a new arsenal, but the loss of means of diplomatic pressure on Russia.

A professional politician, Joe Biden hopes to restore the imperial status of the former First World Power.

The program of Democrats and non-party Republicans

Joe Biden proposes to focus on three objectives: (1) reinvigorate democracy (2) train the middle class to cope with globalization (3) regain global leadership.

- Reinvigorate democracy: in his words, this means basing public action on the “informed consent” of Americans. In doing so, he used Walter Lipmann’s 1922 terminology, according to which democracy presupposes “manufacturing consent”. This theory was discussed at length by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky in 1988. It obviously has nothing to do with the definition formulated by President Abraham Lincoln: “Democracy is government of the people, by the people, for the people”.

Joe Biden believes he is achieving his goal by restoring the morality of public action through the practice of “political correctness”. For example, he condemns “the horrible practice [of President Trump] of separating families and placing the children of immigrants in private prisons,” without saying that President Trump was merely applying a democratic law to show its futility. Or he announces that he wants to reaffirm the condemnation of torture that President Trump justified, without saying that the latter, like President Obama, has already banned the practice while maintaining life imprisonment without trial in Guantánamo.

He announced his intention to convene a Summit for Democracy to fight against corruption, to defend the “Free World” against authoritarian regimes, and to advance human rights. In view of his definition of democracy, it is a question of uniting allied states by denouncing scapegoats for what is wrong (the “corrupt”) and promoting human rights in the Anglo-Saxon sense and especially not in the French sense. That is to say, to stop police violence and not to help citizens to participate in decision-making. This summit will launch an appeal to the private sector so that new technologies cannot be used by authoritarian states to monitor their citizens (but the USA and its NSA can always use them in the interest of the “Free World”).

Finally, Joe Biden concludes this chapter by highlighting his role in the Transatlantic Commission for Electoral Integrity alongside his friends, former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who overthrew the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, and Michael Chertoff, former US Secretary of Homeland Security, who put all US citizens under surveillance. Not forgetting John Negroponte who organized the Contras in Nicaragua and Daesh in Iraq.

- Educating the middle class to cope with globalization. Joe Biden believes that the politics that have been pursued since the dissolution of the USSR have led to the rapid disappearance of the middle class, and that training the remaining middle class in the use of new technologies will prevent the relocation of their jobs.

- Renewing U.S. leadership. In the name of democracy, this means stopping the rise of “populists, nationalists and demagogues. This formulation helps us understand that democracy, according to Joe Biden, is not only the fabrication of consent, but also the eradication of the popular will. If demagogues pervert democratic institutions, populists serve the popular will and nationalists serve the community.

Joe Biden then specifies that he will stop wars “forever”; a formulation that seems to support the same goal as the Jacksonians, but differs in terminology. It is in fact a question of validating the current adaptation of the system to the limits imposed by President Trump: why make US soldiers die abroad when one can pursue the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy with jihadists at a lower cost? All the more so since when he was only an opposition senator, Joe Biden gave his name to the plan to partition Iraq that the Pentagon was trying to impose.

A verse follows on the enlargement of NATO to include Latin American, African and Pacific allies. Far from being obsolete, the Alliance will once again become the heart of U.S. imperialism.

Finally, Joe Biden pleads for the renewal of the 5+1 agreement with Iran and disarmament treaties with Russia. The agreement with President Hassan Rohani aims to classically divide Muslim countries into Sunni and Shia, while the disarmament treaties aim to confirm that the Biden administration would not envisage a global confrontation, but the continued containment of its competitor.

The program of the Democratic Party candidate and non-party Republicans concludes with the assurance of joining the Paris Accord and taking leadership in the fight against global warming. Joe Biden specifies that he will not give gifts to China, which is relocating its most polluting industries along the Silk Road. On the other hand, he omits to say that his friend, Barack Obama, before entering politics, was the drafter of the statutes of the Chicago Carbon Emissions Trading Exchange. The fight against global warming is not so much an ecological issue as a matter for bankers.

Conclusion

It must be said that everything is opposed to a clarification. Four years of upheavals by President Trump have only succeeded in replacing the “endless wars” with a low-intensity private war. There are certainly far fewer deaths, but it is still war.

The elites who enjoy imperialism are not ready to give up their privileges.

So it is to be feared that the U.S. will be forced to go through an internal conflict, a civil war, and break up like the Soviet Union once did.

Translation
Roger Lagassé
Be seeing you

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

‘I Pity The Fool’: Mr. Max Boot on Joe Biden’s Foreign Policy ‘A-Team’ – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on August 28, 2020

If you think Bolton was bad…

https://original.antiwar.com/Danny_Sjursen/2020/08/27/i-pity-the-fool-mr-max-boot-on-joe-bidens-foreign-policy-a-team/

Dream with me.

Imagine an America where even marginal accountability reigned. A land of appropriate consequences for war-criminal cheerleaders. A country where going 0 for 4 on “freedom” wars – Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria – got pundits and policymakers sent down to the minors. Heck, one might make some strategic moves in a town like that.

Alas, we live in the world as it is: whence one of the nation’s leading newspapers – the Bezos’-billionaire-owned Washington Post – would dare deign to hire such a fedora-topped neocon-retread-shell as Max Boot as columnist. Then, surely symptomatic of the upside-down society wrought by Trump-derangement syndrome, the Post recently had the gall to proudly publish that warmonger’s latest screed: “Trump relies on grifters and misfits. Biden is bringing the A Team.”

In his latest broadside, Boot offers his best Mr. T impression to celebrate Uncle Joe’s “A-Team” – and overall propensity to “surround himself with good people,” all of them supposedly “effective operatives.” He saves special praise for the “veterans of high-level government service” on Biden’s foreign policy team.

Here again, we should look to the language. I, for one, find the prospect of Washington “operatives” running war and peace less than reassuring. But before digging into the shortcomings inherent in each of the four figures he highlighted, here’s a brief reminder of why Max and his opinions should’ve “got the boot” long ago:

  • Let’s start with my own introduction to this king of the chickenhawks: his then celebrated 2002 book, The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power – in which Max played unapologetic neo-imperial visionary and recruiting sergeant for an American reboot of a European colonial constabulary. He even, un-ironically I might add, lifted the title from the English chronicler of empire, Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “White Man’s Burden.”
  • He once worked with an infamous Bush-doctrine, Iraq War, architect-outfit: the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) think tank.
  • Ever the faux-historian, Max drew all the wrong conclusions and lessons from the Vietnam War, in his more recent 2018 book, The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam. Old David Petraeus – surprise, surprise – found this work “wonderful,” although, according to a real subject scholar, its endnotes “contain few, if any, materials from Vietnamese sources.” The Road Not Taken belongs squarely in the – popular with mil-civ-counterinsurgents crowd – school of we could’ve, would’ve, should’ve “won” in Vietnam (and, by extension, Iraq, Afghanistan, et. al.) “if only” [insert implausible alternative tactic excuse here].
  • Oh, and he’s supported every war for the past half century – including some he thinks should’ve but weren’t fought – and has hardly met a regime he wouldn’t like to change.

Now, for the core members of Biden’s ostensible A-team of always-an-Obama-bridesmaid deputies, and just a few reasons to doubt each’s competence, character, and Trump-corrective capacities:

  • The presumed A-Team leader, Obama’s Deputy Secretary of State and Deputy National Security Adviser, Tony Blinken:
    • Though, admittedly – like Biden – more right than most in that administration on the Afghan surge folly, he played nice and helped craft a compromise policy, which, he later bragged “helped competing Afghan political blocs avoid civil war, and achieve the first ever peaceful democratic transition in that country’s history.” How’s that turned out?
    • Blinken was a key architect and muddled messenger for Obama’s ever-shifting, never-plausible, and utterly ill-advised Syria regime-change-lite policy.
    • After leaving office, he teamed up with Michèle Flournoy (another unnamed Biden-top-prospect) at the consulting-firm (and Obama-alumni agency) WestExec Advisors – which helped Silicon Valley pitch defense contracts to the Pentagon. Blinken was also a partner at the private equity firm Pine Island Capital Partners. Tony’s a human revolving-door of interest-conflicts!
    • A resident Russiagater, “arm-Ukraine” enthusiast, and Israeli hard-right apologist on Biden’s campaign advisory team, he categorically declared that his boss “would not tie military assistance to Israel to things like annexation or other decisions by the Israeli government with which we might disagree.” Good to know that international legal constraints and common decency are already off the Biden-table in Palestine – no doubt, Bibi Netanyahu took notice.
  • Then there’s Obama’s ex-director of policy planning at the State Department, Jake Sullivan:
    • He was a senior policy adviser for hyper-hawk Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign. There was even chatter back then that he’d been a frontrunner for national security adviser upon her anointment.
    • Before becoming Vice President Biden’s national security guru in 2013, he was considered uber-close (pun-intended) to Secretary Clinton – at her aside on trips to 112 countries, and even reviewing chapters for her book Hard Choices in his spare time. A Vox profile dubbed Sullivan “the man behind hawkish Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy.” Think Libya; think Syria.
    • Out of office, and after Clinton’s defeat, he joined Macro Advisory Partners and represented Uber in its negotiations with labor unions. Incidentally, he’s wedded to Maggie Goodlander, a former senior policy advisor to that militarist-marriage of Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman. Perhaps that’s why Anne-Marie Slaughter, who ran the State Department’s policy planning office in Obama’s first term, called Jake “the consummate insider.”
  • Next on Boot’s list is career diplomat and – sure to excite old Max – George W. Bush’s former undersecretary of state for political affairs, Nicholas Burns:
    • During the Bush II years he – like its greatest Democratic Party cheerleader, Joe Biden – supported the 2003 Iraq invasion.
    • What’s more, NATO added seven new members and provocatively expanded towards Russia’s very borders in his tenure as alliance ambassador.
    • He left the foreign service in 2008, but graciously stayed on as special envoy to finalize the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal – that pact being proof-positive that nonproliferation has always been selectively applied by Washington..
    • Nick happens to be on the board, or affiliated with, an impressive range of hawkish Washington hot-spots, such as: The Atlantic Council, Aspen Institute, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Cohen Group – this last one a lobbying organization for arms manufacturers. He also gave paid speeches at Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, State Street, Citibank, and Honeywell.
  • Lest it seem Boot only touted a Biden boy’s club, there’s also the former first female deputy CIA director – though Trump ironically one-upped her boss Barack by placing Gina Haspel at the Agency’s helm – Ms. Avril Haines:
    • Well, about the only thing you have to know about this A-Teamer is that she chose not to discipline any of the CIA agents implicated in the senate’s tell-all torture report, then was part of the team redacting their landmark indictment.
    • As for her supposed Trump-corrective chops: Haines supported Gina Haspel’s nomination as CIA director, even though she’d been directly implicated in CIA torture.
    • Plus, as a reminder of the duality of (wo)man, she is a fellow at Columbia University’s Human Rights Institute and consulted for the “Trump-favorite” data firm Palantir, which emerged from the CIA itself.

So really, here’s a crew of Hillary-hawks and Obama-bureaucrats without many truly fresh ideas among them. They don’t want to crash the system that birthed Trump and an age of endless wars – they are that system. The only really redeeming quality of the bunch: some helped craft the eminently reasonable Iran-nuclear deal. Count me less than enthused.

Unlike Might Max and his chickenhawk crew, time was that I fought and lived beside a real life special forces A-team (Operational Detachment-Alpha) in the villages of Kandahar, Afghanistan. Mr. Boot fetishizes folks he hardly knows; I know and respect them enough to reject the disrespect of romantic-caricature. The fellas my cavalry troop shared an outpost, raised a local militia, and seized towns with, were some brave bastards – they were also flawed and fallible. We failed together in style: tactical casualties of an impossible mission dreamed up by the likes of Max Boot, and – at the time – futilely prolonged by many members of Biden’s A-Team then on the Obama squad.

Boot was the big (bad) ideas guy, Biden’s posse – Tony Blinken, Avril Haines, Jake Sullivan, Nicholas Burns, and even Michèle Flournoy – these are “company men,” polite imperialists just smart enough to run the machine, and just dumb enough not to question its putrid products. Max reminds us – not incorrectly – that if “more people in [Trump’s] White House knew what they were doing, at least 172,000 Americans might not be dead.”

Yet, in a classic crime of omission, he lets Biden’s shadow squad off the hook for their own morbid-complicity: had they not supported and shepherded an Obama Afghan surge that even their boss sensed was hopeless, 1,729 U.S. troops – during Barack’s tenure – might not be dead. They included three of my own scouts, who – like our unit – were only unexpectedly routed to Afghanistan because Biden’s boss chose to surge in the “good war” there:

  • Gustavo A. Rios-Ordonez, 25, of Ohio – a Colombian national attempting to gain his US citizenship via military service, and father to two young daughters.
  • Nicholas C. D. Hensley, 28, of Alabama – a father of three on his third combat tour.
  • Chazray C. Clark, 24, of Michigan – who left behind a wife and stepson.

Those young men – and two dozen others wounded in action that year – were proud members of my ill-fated team. They deserved better than the Biden-bunch that Boot bragged are “seasoned professionals, ready to govern on Day One.” So too do some 8,600 of their brothers and sisters still stuck in Afghanistan, and many more sure to serve in whichever harebrained scheme Uncle Joe’s side of the duopoly dreams up.

It hardly needs saying, but most of The Donald’s defense deputies haven’t been stellar. Actually, most were establishment Republican or neocon retreads – or born-again war criminals like Eliot Abrams – themselves. Trump’s a monster and so are his misfit managers, blah blah blah. But let’s not pretend Biden’s band waiting in the wings shall be our salvation. Nor delude ourselves that Boot’s promise they’ll be “cleaning up after a Republican president,” will amount to any real cleanse of Washington’s militarist system.

Mr. Boot pings Trump from the right, but he also ought heed warning from the that classic lefty Cornel West – who advised we “tell the truth” about “Brother Biden.” An Uncle Joe administration with an “A-Team?” Give me a break.

I wouldn’t fill a kickball squad with this crew…

Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. Army officer, contributing editor at antiwar.com, senior fellow at the Center for International Policy (CIP), and director of the soon-to-launch Eisenhower Media Network (EMN). His work has appeared in the NY Times, LA Times, The Nation, Huff Post, The Hill, Salon, The American Conservative, Mother Jones, ScheerPost and Tom Dispatch, among other publications. He served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. His forthcoming book, Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War (Heyday Books) is available for pre-order. Follow him on Twitter @SkepticalVet and see his website for speaking/media requests and past publications.

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : Pompeo’s Iran Failures Make War More Likely

Posted by M. C. on August 24, 2020

Unfortunately for America, he followed through with this policy in 2018. Though he promised that by pulling out of the deal the US would get a far better deal in its place, the truth is Trump’s Iran policy has produced nothing but negative results. The Iranians have not knuckled down under the weight of Pompeo’s pressure, and putting regime change specialists like Elliot Abrams in charge of Iran policy has just moved us closer to an unnecessary war.

Iran is not a threat to the United States, no matter what lies the neocons put forth.

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2020/august/24/pompeo-s-iran-failures-make-war-more-likely/?mc_cid=2556336bb2

Written by Ron Paul

The US foreign policy establishment has for decades been dominated by neoconservative interventionists and falsely-named “humanitarian” interventionists. These people believe that because the United States is the one “exceptional nation,” no conflict anywhere in the world could possibly be solved without our butting our noses into it.

One of President Obama’s few foreign policy successes was to work with European countries on a deal that would see a reduction of sanctions on Iran in exchange for a series of Iranian moves demonstrating its abandonment of a nuclear weapon.

The American neocons as well as the hardliners in Saudi Arabia and Israel were furious at the compromise, but for a couple of years it showed real promise. Trade between Europe and Iran was increasing and there was no evidence that Iran was reneging on its obligations. Even American companies were looking to Iran for business opportunities. Whenever goods flow between nations, war becomes less likely.

President Trump has had problems with policy consistency throughout his first term in office. But, unfortunately, his few policy consistencies have been the most ill-advised ones. On the campaign trail Trump relentlessly attacked Obama’s Iran policy and promised to pull the US out of the JCPOA Iran agreement.

Unfortunately for America, he followed through with this policy in 2018. Though he promised that by pulling out of the deal the US would get a far better deal in its place, the truth is Trump’s Iran policy has produced nothing but negative results. The Iranians have not knuckled down under the weight of Pompeo’s pressure, and putting regime change specialists like Elliot Abrams in charge of Iran policy has just moved us closer to an unnecessary war.

Iran is not a threat to the United States, no matter what lies the neocons put forth.

These past two weeks the weakness in the US “maximum pressure” policy toward Iran has been exposed for the world to see. First, Pompeo spent the summer lobbying European nations to support a US motion in the UN Security Council to extend an arms embargo against Iran. As Iran has been judged in compliance with the Iran deal, the arms embargo is scheduled to be lifted in October. Pompeo’s diplomatic skills did not produce the desired results: not a single party to the Iran nuclear deal voted with the US to extend the embargo.

Undeterred, the Trump Administration is now determined to trigger the “snap-back” sanctions on Iran, which means if Iran is judged to be in violation of the Iran nuclear agreement all the previous sanctions would snap back into place.

But there’s a problem with this: because the US has formally withdrawn from the Iran agreement it has no legal standing to trigger the “snap-back” of UN sanctions on Iran. If you take your marbles and go home, you don’t get to still dictate the rules of the game.

Last week Pompeo attempted to trigger the “snap-back” and was laughed out of the room by the countries who have remained in the deal.

US policy toward Iran is an unwise consistency and the Trump Administration is hopelessly floundering on the bad advice of the neocons. They want nothing more than war on Iran. But the American people do not. It’s time to end this failed policy of confrontation with Iran.


Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Foreign Policy We Need | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on August 7, 2020

Trump has shown that conservatives aren’t necessarily eager to go to war, even if they remain entirely too trusting of Republican presidents who want to take them there—including the current occupant of the Oval Office under the wrong set of circumstances. That is a good first step, but it is far from sufficient. Conservative restrainers must stop being passive observers in a foreign policy debate Trump and their libertarian allies have already joined. It’s well past time for a conservative foreign policy of peace. 

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/time-for-all-conservatives-to-make-peace-with-the-antiwar-mission/

Restrainers on the right must stop being passive observers in a debate Trump and their libertarian allies have already joined.

Sen. Rand Paul (Gage Skidmore), President Trump (U.S. Coast Guard) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (Gage Skidmore)

Four years after the once unthinkable election of a Republican president who called the Iraq war a “mistake,” America still needs a genuinely conservative foreign policy of realism and restraint.

Hegemonists and hyper-interventionists are being challenged for the first time in two decades, perhaps as never before in the post-Cold War era. The folly of their never-ending, no-win wars is evident to voters, prime-time cable news hosts, diplomats, academics, even the veterans and active-duty soldiers who have fought in them. A new generation of conservative thought leaders is coming of age that turns the thinking that prevailed under George W. Bush on its head, yet the Right is still underrepresented in the fight against the hawkish dead consensus and the GOP’s governing class lags well behind.

There is a progressive critique of U.S. foreign policy that is gaining adherents, even if the Democratic Party nominated a conventional liberal hawk to challenge Donald Trump for president of the United States. Joe Biden represents the death rattle of the fading New Democrat politics of the 1990s, with its ever-present fear of being seen as less ready to go to war than the Republicans, a cry of electoral desperation and a reluctance to go into a competitive general election with an overtly socialist standard-bearer. Biden is himself responsive to trends within his party, including on matters of war and peace, even if he is too likely to appoint to critical national security positions the same set of officials who ruined Barack Obama’s foreign policy. Bernie Sanders’s team of relative realists is more likely to be the party’s future.

But there are millions of Americans for whom the progressivism of 2020 does not even claim to speak. Tulsi Gabbard’s fate—she won some delegates in American Samoa, and was kept off the debate stage as voting drew closer—shows that the modern Democratic Party prioritizes wokeness over war. Left-Right “transpartisan” coalitions can accomplish important things together, as the congressional resolution demanding an end to the war in Yemen shows. They have also become inherently unstable under Trump, who is an asset to making antiwar arguments to conservatives but anathema to liberals.

There has also been considerable resistance to the neoconservative hegemony that dominates Republican foreign policy thinking, making it possible once again to vote in good conscience for a GOP presidential candidate without the reservation that the installation of a center-right commander-in-chief will inevitably lead to a repeat of the Iraq war or worse. But much of this pushback, welcome as it is, comes from libertarians. The American political coalition that is more skeptical of statism, and has been since at least Ronald Reagan if not Barry Goldwater, needs to be reminded that war is as likely to end in failure or produce unintended consequences as any other government program. Too often, Republicans treat the Pentagon as an honorary member of the private sector and exempt its endeavors from the scrutiny they would apply to bureaucrats of any other stripe. But federal employees actually do a better job of delivering the mail than delivering democracy to the Middle East.

Libertarians have done yeoman’s work in turning the neocon foreign policy monologue of the 2000s into a real dialogue. Especially invaluable has been the contributions of two families, the Pauls and the Koch brothers. When the history of early 21st century conservatism is written, their names will be at least as important as the Kristols and Podhoretzs. But at the present time, libertarianism does not appear to be a governing philosophy that can win a national election and therefore seriously contest for control of U.S. foreign policy. The younger generation of conservatives who reject interventionism run amok should not be forced to choose between prudence in immigraton policy or foreign affairs, an endless repetition of a Reagan economic program better suited to the 1980s than 2021, or going abroad in search of monsters to destroy in pursuit of imaginary WMD and equally fictitious democratist fantasies, based on ideas that were terrible then and now, this time covered in a veneer of focus-grouped populism.

Yet the new national conservatism has produced exactly one reliable populist Republican politician who has shown a willingness to vote according to Trump’s foreign policy campaign promises when the going gets tough: Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. The foreign policy of Sen. Josh Hawley remains a work in progress, though a potentially promising one; Sens. Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio remain as hawkish as ever, however Trumpian they have become on other issues. Rep. Walter Jones, who arrived at antiwar conservatism from a non-libertarian starting point, is dead. Rep. Jimmy Duncan is retired. This is a smaller group than the handful of libertarian Republicans standing athwart the neocon war machine yelling stop.

♦♦♦

Trump himself bears a great deal of responsibility for this unmet challenge. He has largely delivered the foreign policy of second-term George W. Bush, an improvement only over the first-term variety, though he seems a great deal less pleased about it. He has cycled through defense secretaries and national security advisors, but the endless wars have not yet come to an end. The most important former Trump official and ally who has moved in the right direction on foreign policy is Jeff Sessions; the president is actively campaigning against his return to the Senate. He has not started any new wars, but he has risked escalating some old ones—and, most dangerously, fanned the flames of tension with Iran.

That doesn’t mean Trump’s better instincts on foreign policy have been meaningless. Without them, the Qasem Soleimani killing earlier this year could have easily metastasized into a full-fledged Iraq-style war with Iran. He would not have sacked John Bolton, whom he should never have hired in the first place. He has kept the debate over the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and Syria from fading into the background as falling bombs become ambient noise. He has eroded ISIS’s gains without massive new deployments to the Middle East and has stopped short of fighting every side of the Syrian civil war. Trump has also laid bare many of the leftist assumptions that undergird contemporary neoconservatism and sent prominent neocons, whose muggings by reality had apparently worn off, back to their ancestral homes in the Democratic Party.

What Trump hasn’t done is implement a new foreign policy that differs sufficiently from that which gave us the tragedies of Iraq and Libya or create a new talent pool of qualified federal officials who could help a future Republican president do so. With the possible exception of Gaetz, he has not even put the Republicans most aligned with his preferred foreign policy in the best position to succeed him. What does it profit us to move some troops around in northern Syria only to wind up at war in Iran, or to lose Jennifer Rubin as an intermittently conservative blogger at the Washington Post only to gain a President Nikki Haley?

Trump’s biggest positive contribution, like that of TAC founding editor Pat Buchanan before him, is to demonstrate that there is a real constituency for a different policy within the Republican electorate. To be sure, some of it had to do with their credibility with grassroots conservatives and GOP-aligned demographics. It was difficult to caricature Trump or Buchanan, like Jim Webb across the aisle, as uninterested in American national security or interests. They were not, hysteria about Russia or Iraq notwithstanding, “unpatriotic conservatives” in the eyes of rank-and-file Republicans. They were seen as unimpeachably pro-American.

As antiwar conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson explained it in another context, the American people do care if the president keeps them safe. “You can regularly say embarrassing things on television,” he said. “You can hire Omarosa to work at the White House. All of that will be forgiven if you protect your people. But if you don’t protect them—or, worse, if you seem like you can’t be bothered to protect them—then you’re done. It’s over. People will not forgive weakness.” Trump in 2016, like Buchanan in 1996, passed that test in Republicans’ eyes in a way that a liberal George McGovern and most libertarians never could. Ergo Trump sits in the Oval Office while McGovern lost 49 states and the Libertarian Party has never won more than 3.3 percent of the national popular vote.

But it wasn’t just the messenger. The message was a fundamentally conservative one, even if not the stereotypical saber-rattling Republican argumentation. The United States is a great country, but not an embryonic United Nations.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Our Foreign Policy Nightmare: Vice President Susan Rice | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on July 28, 2020

…investigative journalist Gareth Porter, in an interview with The American Conservative. Porter pointed to Rice’s influence on the Obama administration decision to bomb Libya and Syria, as well as her push for escalation in Afghanistan and her support of aid to the Syrian rebels. “In each case I would argue she was coming out either against Obama’s clear-cut instincts or preferences in White House meetings or in a situation where he was hesitant,” and that she was part of the pressure he received from “a coalition of hawks” in the administration.

Biden is the place holder for the next real progressive/war party choice. Will the VP candidate be Goldman Sachs real presidential choice?

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/our-foreign-policy-nightmare-vice-president-susan-rice/

Libya, Syria, Afghanistan—Rice was at the table for every Obama debacle. And she has no solid positions of her own.

US President Barack Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice during a NATO summit on July 8, 2016 in Warsaw, Poland. (WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Susan Rice, former national security advisor to President Obama, is reportedly under consideration for the vice presidential slot in presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s administration. Biden is currently considering four black women to be his vice president, among them Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Rep. Val Demings of Florida, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Rep. Karen Bass of California, and Rice.

Biden said he will make his final decision in early August ahead of the Democratic National Convention which will take place in Milwaukee from Aug. 17 to 20.

All the women Biden is considering have had “some exposure to foreign policy and national defense issues,” Biden has said, and he wants someone who can serve as president at a “moment’s notice” and with whom he is “simpatico.”

Rice, whose office was next door to Biden’s during Obama’s second term, checks all those boxes.

“The most important attribute that I have is almost two decades of experience in senior ranks of the executive branch,” Rice told the Washington Post.

While VP contender Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) has been accused of planting negative stories about potential rivals in the media, Rice has been keeping her name in the news by writing regular op-eds in the New York Times and appearing on a spate of TV shows.

In The New York Times, Rice wrote that Trump “is utterly derelict in his duties, presiding over a dangerously dysfunctional national security process that is putting our country and those who wear its uniform at great risk. At worst, the White House is being run by liars and wimps catering to a tyrannical president who is actively advancing our arch adversary’s nefarious interests.”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Rice accused Trump of “doing nothing” about Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. On the “Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” she trashed Trump’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Obama administration gave the Trump administration a playbook for a possible pandemic, Rice said, and she personally participated in a tabletop exercise with the incoming Trump cabinet where they discussed the possibility of “a novel SARS-like virus emerging from China,” said Rice.

All that preparation, she said, “seemed to be for naught, because a couple of years into office, President Trump dismantled the office that I set up on global health security; they trashed that playbook or stuck it in some drawer, some shelf and never pulled it out. For two months, January, February and part of March, [Trump] really denied the reality of this virus, equated it to the seasonal flu … and by that time, it was already well-embedded in our country.”

Whether it’s due to her strengths as a potential VP candidate or her criticism, Rice’s reappearance on the national stage earned the Trump administration’s ire, and senior Trump officials have returned fire. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed Rice on Fox News for what he called her “history of going on Sunday shows and lying;” this week, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Rice had issued a “stand down” order on Russian cyber attacks and did nothing to combat Russian election meddling.

Rice may be about to reprise her role as “the right’s favorite chew toy,” as one commentator dubbed her back in 2012.

Following the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, Rice appeared on the Sunday morning talk shows and recited CIA talking points. Those points, which were based on intelligence assessments at the time, turned out to be incomplete and misleading, and Rice was accused of being “incompetent,” “untrustworthy,” and soft-pedaling terrorism. She has also been criticized for her decision to unmask the identities of senior Trump officials, which President Trump called a crime.

Rice, who was Obama’s national security advisor at the time, told House investigators that she asked for the unmasking in order to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York late in 2016. Her explanation satisfied influential Republicans on the House committee that investigated.

“I didn’t hear anything to believe that she did anything illegal,” Florida Republican Rep. Tom Rooney told CNN of Rice’s testimony, which is classified.

Although it was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, not Rice, who played the lead role in the decisions that led to the Benghazi attacks, Rice has been widely panned in conservative media as responsible for the embassy attack. A Biden selection would give Republicans an opportunity to resurrect Rice as their bogey-woman. But with Democrat voters, there’s a possibility those attacks could backfire, and the left could spin them as Fox News baselessly attacking a blameless black woman.

Whether Rice is chosen as Biden’s vice presidential pick or not, she will likely have a great deal of influence within a Biden administration, particularly on foreign policy. She had a seat at the table during some of the Obama administration’s most momentous decisions. She was Obama’s ambassador to the UN during his first term; during his second, she served as national security adviser. What, if any, lessons did she learn?

What would U.S. foreign policy look like with Biden and Rice working in the West Wing again?

“Even if she is not chosen as Biden’s VP, Rice would be in line for Secretary of State, or another position of that elevated nature. I’m aghast at the thought of her becoming president, because she’s such a hawk,” said historian and investigative journalist Gareth Porter, in an interview with The American Conservative. Porter pointed to Rice’s influence on the Obama administration decision to bomb Libya and Syria, as well as her push for escalation in Afghanistan and her support of aid to the Syrian rebels. “In each case I would argue she was coming out either against Obama’s clear-cut instincts or preferences in White House meetings or in a situation where he was hesitant,” and that she was part of the pressure he received from “a coalition of hawks” in the administration.

Obama ultimately overruled Rice on Syria, a decision that she says was the right call.

Here’s how she describes it:

“Ultimately, we would fail to garner the necessary support for a congressional authorization to use force. Republicans and Democrats had acted precisely as I predicted. Ironically, it turns out, I was right about the politics; but President Obama was right about the policy. Without the use of force, we ultimately achieved a better outcome than I had imagined.”

It is difficult to imagine a situation worse than Syria, where nearly half a million have died in a civil war that has been ongoing since 2011.

This incident is illustrative; has Rice learned from her mistakes?

Her nearly 500 page memoir Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For, published in 2019, meticulously documents a great deal. Rice is careful to thank nearly everyone she ever worked with, including the White House chef!

Unfortunately, she studiously avoids drawing overarching policy conclusions. Rice, a Stanford graduate and Rhodes scholar with a Ph.D. in international relations, is simply too smart to jeopardize her future Washington career ambitions by offending or criticizing anyone she might have to work with again. Her book is, therefore, a typical one by someone hoping for a position in a future president’s administration.

“Susan Rice is right in the middle of the road, when you think about foreign policy hands in DC,” said John Glaser, director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, in an interview with The American Conservative. “She has a lot of high level experience in foreign policy, but I’ve never been able to detect a way she stands out as a unique thinker, in that she had something to say about the way she’d prefer the U.S. to go. She says things that are plastic, packaged to be right in the center of the foreign policy consensus in D.C. That’s how I see her: run of the mill, not an extraordinary pick … If she were VP, our foreign policy would not be different than what we’ve seen the past 30 years.”

Given that Biden is campaigning on a “return to normalcy,” the foreign policy of the last 30 years isn’t necessarily something that Biden views negatively.

A Biden-Rice presidency would seek a return to the Paris climate accords, the JCPOA Iran deal negotiated during Obama’s second term, and would expand and strengthen NATO. They would likely avoid engaging in any new ground wars like Libya or Syria. Biden and Rice would be more hawkish on Russia, and if Rice’s latest op-eds are any measure, they would likely be more assertive with China as well.

“But, I worry that at the end of a Biden administration, we will still be arguing about getting out of Afghanistan, and (about) stopping the bombing of places like Iraq,” Glaser said.

about the author

Barbara Boland is TAC’s foreign policy and national security reporter. Previously, she worked as an editor for the Washington Examiner and for CNS News. She is the author of Patton Uncovered, a book about General George Patton in World War II, and her work has appeared on Fox News, The Hill UK Spectator, and elsewhere. Boland is a graduate from Immaculata University in Pennsylvania.  Follow her on Twitter @BBatDC.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

George Washington Tried To Warn Americans About Foreign Policy Today – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on July 13, 2020

Subvert American democracy and manipulate US foreign policy, and you can loot America’s treasury, turn the US military into your personal bodyguard, and gain Washington’s support for reckless war-mongering.

https://original.antiwar.com/doug-bandow/2020/07/12/george-washington-tried-to-warn-americans-about-foreign-policy-today/

Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, unkindly characterized the foreign policy establishment in Washington, D.C., as “the Blob.” Although policymakers sometimes disagree on peripheral subjects, membership requires an absolute commitment to U.S. “leadership,” which means a determination to micro-manage the world.

Reliance on persuasion is not enough. Vital is the willingness to bomb, invade, and, if necessary, occupy other nations to impose the Blob’s dictates on other peoples. If foreigners die, as they often do, remember the saying about eggs and omelets oft repeated by communism’s apologists. “Stuff happens” with the best-intentioned policies.

One might be inclined to forgive Blob members if their misguided activism actually benefited the American people. However, all too often the Blob’s policies instead aid other governments and interests. Washington is overrun by the representatives of and lobbyists for other nations, which constantly seek to take control of US policy for their own advantage. The result are foreign interventions in which Americans do the paying and, all too often, the dying for others.

The problem is primarily one of power. Other governments don’t spend a lot of time attempting to take over Montenegro’s foreign policy because, well, who cares? Exactly what would you do after taking over Fiji’s foreign ministry other than enjoy a permanent vacation? Seize control of international relations in Barbados and you might gain a great tax shelter.

Subvert American democracy and manipulate US foreign policy, and you can loot America’s treasury, turn the US military into your personal bodyguard, and gain Washington’s support for reckless war-mongering. And given the natural inclination of key American policymakers to intervene promiscuously abroad for the most frivolous reasons, it’s surprisingly easy for foreign interests to convince Uncle Sam that their causes are somehow “vital” and therefore require America’s attention. Indeed, it is usually easier to persuade Americans than foreign peoples in their home countries to back one or another international misadventure.

The culprits are not just autocratic regimes. Friendly democratic governments are equally ready to conspiratorially whisper in Uncle Sam’s ear. Even nominally classical liberal officials, who believe in limiting their own governments, argue that Americans are obligated to sacrifice wealth and life for everyone else. The mantra seems to be liberty, prosperity, and peace for all – except those living in the superpower tasked by heaven with protecting everyone else’s liberty, prosperity, and peace.

Although the problem has burgeoned in modern times, it is not new. Two centuries ago fans of Greek independence wanted Americans to challenge the Ottoman Empire, a fantastic bit of foolishness. Exactly how to effect an international Balkans rescue was not clear, since the president then commanded no aircraft carriers, air wings, or nuclear-tipped missiles. Still, the issue divided Americans and influenced John Quincy Adams’ famous 1821 Independence Day address.

Warned Adams:

“Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.”

“The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force…. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit…. [America’s] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace. This has been her Declaration: this has been, as far as her necessary intercourse with the rest of mankind would permit, her practice.”

Powerful words, yet Adams was merely following in the footsteps of another great American, George Washington. Obviously, the latter was flawed as a person, general, and president. Nevertheless, his willingness to set a critical precedent by walking away from power left an extraordinary legacy. As did his insistence that the Constitution tasked Congress with deciding when America would go to war. And his warning against turning US policy over to foreign influences.

Concern over obsequious subservience to other governments and interests pervaded his famous 1796 Farewell Address. Applied today, his message indicts most of the policy currently made in the city ironically named after him. He would be appalled by what presidents and Congresses today do, supposedly for America.

Obviously, the US was very different 224 years ago. The new country was fragile, sharing the Western hemisphere with its old colonial master, which still ruled Canada and much of the Caribbean, as well as Spain and France. When later dragged into the maritime fringes of the Napoleonic wars the US could huff and puff but do no more than inconvenience France and Britain. The vastness of the American continent, not overweening national power, again frustrated London when it sought to subjugate its former colonists.

Indeed, when George Washington spoke the disparate states were not yet firmly knit into a nation. Only after the Civil War, when the national government waged four years of brutal combat, which ravaged much of the country and killed upwards of 750,000 people in the name of “union,” did people uniformly say the United States “is” rather than “are.” However, the transformation was much more than rhetorical. The federal system that originally emerged in the name of individual liberty spawned a high tax centralized government that employed one of the world’s largest militaries to kill on a mass scale to enforce the regime’s dictates. The modern American “republic” was born. It acted overseas only inconsistently until World War II, after which imperial America was a constant, adding resonance to George Washington’s message.

Today Washington, D.C.’s elites have almost uniformly decided that Russia is an enemy, irrespective of American behavior that contributed to Moscow’s hostility. And that Ukraine, a country never important for American security, is a de facto military ally, appropriately armed by the US for combat against a nuclear-armed rival. A reelection-minded president seems determined to turn China into a new Cold War adversary, an enemy for all things perhaps for all time. America remains ever entangled in the Middle East, with successive administrations in permanent thrall of Israel and Saudi Arabia, allowing foreign leaders to set US Mideast policy. Indeed, both states have avidly pressed the administration to make their enemy, Iran, America’ enemy. The resulting fixation caused the Trump administration to launch economic war against the rest of the world to essentially prevent everyone on earth from having any commercial dealing of any kind with anyone in Tehran.

Under Democrats and Republicans alike the federal government views nations that resist its dictates as adversaries at best, appropriate targets of criticism, always, sanctions, often, and even bombs and invasions, occasionally. No wonder foreign governments lobby hard to be designated as allies, partners, and special relationships. Many of these ties have become essentially permanent, unshakeable even when supposed friends act like enemies and supposed enemies are incapable of hurting America. US foreign policy increasingly has been captured and manipulated for the benefit of other governments and interests.

George Washington recognized the problem even in his day, after revolutionary France sought to win America’s support against Great Britain. He warned: “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. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Biden vs. Trump on Foreign Policy – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on May 9, 2020

We won’t know what’s in them until the election has passed.

https://original.antiwar.com/Reese_Erlich/2020/05/08/biden-vs-trump-on-foreign-policy/

We all know that President Donald Trump’s foreign policy has been a disaster. But is Joe Biden’s any better?

Trump promised to stop America’s endless wars but has stationed some 80,000 troops in the Middle East. He pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord, and imposed harsh sanctions and even sent drones to assassinate a top Iranian Revolutionary Guard. But Iran still has more political influence in Iraq than the United States. His administration negotiated an agreement with the Taliban, only to see it rejected by the US-installed Afghan government.

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee, sharply criticizes Trump but, unfortunately, continues to defend many of the failed policies of the Obama Administration.

During Biden’s time as Vice President, the White House went from fighting two active wars (Afghanistan and Iraq) to seven (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, drone war in Pakistan, and escalation in Somalia).

Biden now says he disagreed with some of Obama’s interventionist policies, most notably in Libya. Today Biden calls for easing Iran sanctions, returning to the Iran nuclear accord, and reestablishing relations with Cuba.

“Biden represents the return of the classical foreign policy establishment,” Alan Minsky, executive director of Progressive Democrats of America, tells me. “Biden is running a campaign as a restoration candidate.”

But given significant changes in the world’s balance of power, it’s not all that clear what Biden could restore.

A changing world

Many corporate, State Department, military, and intelligence officials – otherwise known as the Deep State – hate Trump for his nationalist, America First policies.

The President imposed tariffs on allies around the world. He’s questioned the need for NATO. China and Russia have grown stronger economically and politically on the world stage, even after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even card-carrying members of the Deep State acknowledge Washington has no reason to keep fighting in the Middle East. Martin Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel, says what’s “been hard for many in the American foreign-policy establishment, including me, to accept: Few vital interests of the US continue to be at stake in the Middle East.”

In a major mea culpa in The Wall Street Journal, Indyk admits, “[A]fter the sacrifice of so many American lives, the waste of so much energy and money in quixotic efforts that ended up doing more harm than good, it is time for the US to find a way to escape the costly, demoralizing cycle of crusades and retreats.”

Whoever wins the election in November will face an economy wracked by recession, an electorate wary of more long-term military interventions, and other countries determined to go their own way.

What kind of foreign policy will that produce?

Biden boasts

Biden boasts of his foreign policy credentials. He chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2001-2003 and 2007-2009. While generally hewing to interventionist Democratic Party policies, he has taken some independent stands, for example, by voting against the 1991 Gulf War.

By far Biden’s most reprehensible stand was his strong support for the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. As documented by Professor Stephen Zunes in The Progressive, Biden forcefully supported the war, but later claimed he opposed it. (Of course, Trump lied about his support for the war as well.)

When the Iraqi occupation failed in the mid-2000s, Biden infamously called for splitting Iraq into three parts along sectarian lines, so the United States could continue imperial control at least in Kurdistan.

Even today, Biden favors maintaining some troops in the region, using the excuse of fighting ISIS. “I think it’s a mistake to pull out the small number of troops that are there now to deal with ISIS,” he’s said.

Biden hasn’t learned the lessons of the Afghan war either. After nineteen years of failed war and occupation, he still wants to maintain some troops in the country.

“I would bring American combat troops in Afghanistan home during my first term,” Biden tells the Council on Foreign Relations. “Any residual US military presence in Afghanistan would be focused only on counterterrorism operations.”

But whoever wins in November will have to face the new reality: People in Afghanistan and the United States are fed up with the war. All foreign troops will have to withdraw.

Venezuela

Besides his bad record in the Middle East, Biden continues to support US domination in Latin America. Both Trump and Biden call for the removal of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, for example. Last year they supported efforts by Juan Guaido, the former head of the National Assembly, to anoint himself president.

The Venezuelan government accuses Washington and Guaido of trying to overthrow Maduro by armed force. Rightwing, former military officers tried to assassinate Maduro with a drone strike last year. Then on May 4, a group of mercenaries – including two US Army vets – landed on the Venezuelan coast intending to overthrow Maduro and install Guaido in power. The coup plot was organized by a Florida private security company. It has the earmarks of a US intelligence operation, although not surprisingly, Trump denies it.

While Biden has not formally called for regime change in Venezuela, neither has he criticized the armed coup attempts. And he favors economic sanctions to cripple the economy, saying: “The US should push for stronger multilateral sanctions so that supporters of the regime cannot live, study, shop, or hide their assets in the United States, Europe, or Latin America.”

In my opinion and that of many others, Bernie Sanders offered a far better foreign policy program than Biden. But Biden may at least restore the Iran nuclear accord, normalize relations with Cuba, and take steps to end the Yemen War.

But one thing is for sure. Those who oppose America’s wars of aggression should take to the streets in peaceful protests no matter who wins.

Be seeing you

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Libertarian Case for Bernie – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on April 16, 2020

Sanders may have 3 admirable qualities but only foreign policy is anything close to being Libertarian.

No libertarian can support Bernie’s economic policy. Socialism will cost our country hundreds of billions in terms of lost productivity. But his foreign policy prescriptions will likely save trillions. Not only in the cost of weapons, but also in terms of lives saved.

Considering the choices we are allowed, you gotta take what you can get.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/04/walter-e-block/1293-63-the-libertarian-case-for-bernie/

By

There are several reasons for my stance.

1. Courage

Bernie has the courage of his convictions, something not all that prevalent amongst our politicians. He has never “run away from” any of his heartfelt principles. He didn’t “run away from” the economic philosophy of Socialism, in 2016 and before, when it was far less acceptable than it is now, thanks in no small part to his own advocacy of this system. He never “ran away from” his backing, not for allowing ex-convicts to vote in elections, but also prisoners now incarcerated, despite the extreme unpopularity of this viewpoint. Nor has he shrunk from his positions on any number of other issues which are extremely out of favor in many quarters: abortion, taxing the wealthy, labor unions, $15 minimum wage, Medicare for all, free college tuition, etc. Senator Sanders knows full well that if he garners the Democratic nomination he will have to face an electorate a large part of which vociferously disagrees with him on these issues. Does he pull his punches? To ask this to answer it: of course not.

In fact, I can think of only one thing, well, person, from whom he does indeed “run away from”: me. We were both members of Brooklyn’s James Madison High School track team a few decades ago and ran in the same long distance events. Senator Sanders was one of the best track athletes in the entire city at the time, I was a mediocre runner. We both began every race at the same starting line, but when the gun sounded, he soon “ran away from” me.

2. Desert

I don’t say my old buddy Bernie deserves to become President of the United States.  But he certainly warrants the nomination of the Democratic Party. Why? In a word: Hillary. The leaders of this party in the 2015 run-off pressed their big fat thumbs on the balance wheel of justice in her favor until they blistered. If Bernie had enjoyed fair treatment in this nomination race, he might well have beaten Hillary. In the event, she won, but there will always be an asterisk placed next to her victory in this regard. Fair is fair. If there are any reparations for this unseemly practice, it would be to award Bernie the nomination.

3. Foreign policy

Of all the major candidates, Bernie has by far the best policies in terms of U.S. relations with other countries. Everyone else acts almost as if you don’t want to risk a nuclear exchange with Russia, you are practically an agent of that nation. Not Bernie. This Vermont Senator has also

. voted to end U.S. funding for the Saudi war in Yemen

. voted to decrease U.S. military aid to Israel

. inveighed against U.S. efforts to topple the Maduro regime in Venezuela

. come out against our “long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American countries

Speaking in 2017 at Westminster College, he opposed U.S. interventions in Iran, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Vietnam. He advocated adopting a policy predicated on “partnership rather than dominance.” He challenged the notion of “American exceptionalism.”

Here’s Bernie on Hillary: “I do question her judgement. I question a judgement which voted for the war in Iraq; the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of the country.”

More from Bernie on this crucially important issue:

. “A sensible effective foreign policy recognizes that our safety and welfare is bound up with the safety and welfare of others around the world.”

. “Every person on this planet shares a common humanity. We all want our children to … live in peace.”

He descried

. “… almost 7,000 young Americans being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and tens of thousands coming home wounded in body and spirit from a war we should never have started.”

. “… hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan dying in the same war.”

. The fact that “… we already spend more on defense than the next 12 nations combined…”

He supported Eisenhower’s warning about the takeover of the “military industrial complex.”

Bernie is not a radical libertarian on this issue. He favors the United Nations. My old high school buddy never quite calls for bringing all the U.S. troops home, every last one of them, but of all the major Democratic contenders, he is clearly closest to the libertarian ideal of non-interventionism, anti-colonialism, opposition to imperialism. The U.S. has almost 700 military bases in almost 130 foreign nations. The Vermont senator would sharply move us in the direction of sanity.

4. Economics

No libertarian can support Bernie’s economic policy. Socialism will cost our country hundreds of billions in terms of lost productivity. But his foreign policy prescriptions will likely save trillions. Not only in the cost of weapons, but also in terms of lives saved.

Go, Bernie! Well, compared to Biden, in any case.

Be seeing you

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796

Posted by M. C. on April 15, 2020

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.

https://www.mountvernon.org/education/primary-sources-2/article/washingtons-farewell-address-1796/?cmp_id=258225311&adg_id=43839672445&kwd=george%20washington%27s%20farewell%20address&device=c&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIjtPr2oDh6AIVChgMCh0BgQGNEAAYASABEgKIyPD_BwE

FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS:

The period for a new election of a citizen, to administer the executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed designating the person, who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprize you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you at the same time to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me, have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped, that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives, which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement, from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence impelled me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice, that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty, or propriety; and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

The impressions, with which I first undertook the arduous trust, were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say, that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more, that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied, that, if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe, that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment, which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude, which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; than, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete, by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing, as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation, which is yet a stranger to it

Here, perhaps I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

The unity of Government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very Liberty, which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee, that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the Palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion, that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of american, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the Independence and Liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts, of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those, which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the Union of the whole.

The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds, in the productions of the latter, great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The South, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated; and, while it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior communications by land and water, will more and more find, a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort, and, what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any other tenure by which the West can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connexion with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in Union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of inestimable value, they must derive from Union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighbouring countries not tied together by the same governments, which their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty. In this sense it is, that your Union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the union as a primary object of Patriotic desire. Is there a doubt, whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are authorized to hope, that a proper organization of the whole, with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to Union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those, who in any quarter may endeavour to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes, which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern, that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by Geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavour to excite a belief, that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart-burnings, which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those, who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head; they have seen, in the negotiation by the Executive, and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event, throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the General Government and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to the mississippi; they have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties, that with Great Britain, and that with Spain, which secure to them every thing they could desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the union by which they were procured? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren, and connect them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a Government for the whole is indispensable. No alliances, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions, which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a Constitution of Government better calculated than your former for an intimate Union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This Government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true Liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish Government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established Government.

All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the constitution, alterations, which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments, as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard, by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that, for the efficient management of our common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution, in those intrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories, and constituting each the Guardian of the Public Weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way, which the constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for, though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric ?

Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is, to use it as sparingly as possible; avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts, which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen, which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should cooperate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind, that towards the payment of debts there must be Revenue; that to have Revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised, which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and Morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt, that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages, which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its Virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices ?

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. The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The Nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the Government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The Government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of Nations has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite Nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, (who devote themselves to the favorite nation,) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent Patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practise the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the Public Councils! Such an attachment of a small or weak, towards a great and powerful nation, dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

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; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing, with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view, that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course, which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.

How far in the discharge of my official duties, I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my Proclamation of the 22d of April 1793, is the index to my Plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your Representatives in both Houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.

The considerations, which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe, that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the Belligerent Powers, has been virtually admitted by all.

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.

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me, a predominant motive has been to endeavour to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency, which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope, that my Country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man, who views it in the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations; I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat, in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.

George Washington
United States – September 17, 1796

Written by George Washington, to “The People of the United States of America”, he wrote the letter near the end of his second term as President, before his retirement to his home Mount Vernon. Originally published in David Claypole’s American Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1796 under the title “The Address of General Washington To The People of The United States on his declining of the Presidency of the United States,” the letter was almost immediately reprinted in newspapers across the country and later in a pamphlet form.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »