By Doug Marks
In arguing that our country should embrace non-intervention as our international policy, I have endured insults, verbal abuse, condescension, and blatant slander from people who claim to be constitutional advocates. I have been called a whining bitch, a pussy, a coward, childish, ignorant, and dozens of other highly offensive things just because I don’t believe that we need to engage in military actions that have nothing to do with defending this country. I am a veteran and understand military defense, when are we going to use it?
Non-intervention, according to the dictionary, is the “Failure or refusal to intervene, especially in the affairs of another nation” and this was the basis of American foreign relations from the earliest days of the Republic. It was the wise policy of our founders, and it was by the bedrock principle that no foreign state had the right to interfere with our trade, or to impress our seamen that we went to war against Britain in 1812.
As our national self-confidence grew over time it fueled expansionist and even imperialist ambitions, however, it seems we were all too eager to abandon these sound precepts defined at our beginning. Historically, the Mexican War was a thinly-disguised land-grab, the annexation of Hawaii a shameful and patently illegal Anschluss. Against Spain we were nothing other than bullies, pounding an old and tired victim simply because we lusted after her Empire.
Did we, as a nation, honestly have the moral high ground in these conflicts? Are we any more justified in our many military engagements and deployments today? Who benefits from our overseas adventures? How many are being hurt? By what right do we assume the role of world policeman and guardian of international morality?
Woodrow Wilson defended his reversal of judicious, non-interventionist policies (“There is such a thing as being too proud to fight”) by telling us that we are responsible for making ‘the world safe for democracy’; but why should we so violently force onto others a system alien to their culture and customs that we, ourselves, do not even follow? Ours is a bureaucratic republic, a bloated Behemoth far from the idyllic system that Jefferson envisioned. Is it any wonder that even our friends suspect that our motives are less about world freedom than self-interest, domination, and control? If a country does not hew to our line, we cut off its aid and trade, embargo its food supply, exclude it from the international community, and attack it when it invokes the right of self-defense. We place it in such a strangle-hold that we harm thousands of its innocent people, and strong-arm it into following our demands. Though we claim that our policy is to enforce the rule of law, it is in fact coercive, self-serving terrorism that we justify as necessary for the moral good – while it provides our enemies with the recruiting tool of their dreams.
International relations have always been complex, and every country is entitled to pursue and defend its own, legitimate, interests. Every country has the right to establish trade relations, to join in alliances for mutual defense, to protect its citizens abroad. When most international interaction is frankly commercial rather than ideological in nature, at least it respects the other’s place and status, peace abounds. Let politics enter the picture and that which was open, candid, and mutually beneficial becomes hypocritical, underhanded, and clandestine in its means and goals.
The patriotic urge is always to get our way, no matter whom we may hurt. I am not denying that there is a lot of evil in this world but what I am saying is that unless and until that evil actually enters the United States, we need to mind our own business. Of course we were attacked on 9/11 where 2977 people died as a result of that attack; but those who attacked us were a handful of Saudi Arabian extremists, not the Iraqi Air force, the Afghan Army, the Iranian Navy, or ISIS commandos; yet it’s in Iraq and Afghanistan that we’re fighting, it’s ISIS we’re bombing, and it’s Iran’s nuclear program we’re prying into. Are we looking to avenge the deaths of 9/11, or are we involved in the next crusade? To date over 6000 soldiers have fallen, and tens of thousands of others are seriously wounded in body and mind. It is a grotesque distortion to maintain that these losses are vindicated by 9/11.
We’ve declared war against a tactic and mounted aggression against a religion. These are not the Dark Ages, we are not Crusaders, and if God wills anything of us it is to love others not attack them! Our current path leads nowhere; we’re fighting wars with nothing to win and no way to win it. There can be no end, and retribution cannot be achieved.
Gandhi once said something to the affect that an eye for an eye just makes everyone blind. We have been blinded by self-serving political manipulation, and it is time to regain our sight. If all you zealots want war, then grab a rifle and stand to post; but do not sit safe at home while you send those who sincerely want to defend FREEDOM to foreign lands, or engage those who have done us no harm. We are acting as the largest international terrorists in history, which is totally against the principle of our country.
At this point, the question comes to mind whether and why we even need a large standing army? The bloodiest war in our history was during the Civil War which was not fought not by the U S Army, but largely by units commissioned and armed by the various state governments, raised among neighbors who elected their own officers, fought gallantly under their own flags, and returned to their farms after the Appomattox engagement. While the Civil War clearly demonstrated that, no standing U S Army was necessary, the lesson was not lost on the now vastly expanded and strengthened Federal Government that effective militarily forces, loyal to their states and commanded by their governors, were a threat to its dominance and a temptation to secession. Thus the renowned 69th New York, the Black troopers of the 54th Massachusetts, the 7th Illinois and the rest of its comrade regiments of the Iron Brigade, the proud Virginians of Jackson’s Stonewall Brigade who would not be moved at First Manassas, all disappeared into the maw of the U S War Department to become a standing army; an army not intended to meet the assault of foreign enemies, but to defend the unrivaled power of the Federal Government.
However, while standing armies and high-seas battle-fleets diminish temptations to defy Federal authority, they undergird the irresistible temptation to poke our noses into the affairs of others. Our policies are aggressive, not defensive; they are intended to advance our (supposed) interests, not to protect them, and they incur not the respect of the international community, but resentment, jealousy, and generational enemies. If we are ever to curb this urge to bully and terrorize, and grow as a race, we need to stop these engagements and lead by example – through peace, and trade, and not intimidation nor force. We need to stop thinking that we are defending national interests with overseas adventures because our nation is the United States, and our legitimate interests lie within our borders. Ask any of those who spew the phrase, we are protecting national interests, exactly what those interests are; I bet you will get no answer because our national interests are not being served.
A non-interventionist policy does not mean we stick our heads in the sand and wait to be attacked, nor does it deny that there are evil forces trying to destroy us. It means that, as a matter of national policy, we leave others to handle their own problems. If another nation needs help, then let them buy that help on the open market. Let us not go rushing in to provide arms, material, and the best fighting men in the world – and then hand the bill to the American people.
As far as our military strength goes, I believe we need to have the most powerful, best equipped, most technologically advanced, and best trained military force in the world; a mighty host designed, dedicated, and deployed to repel any attack, defeat any invader, and defend our shores, our cities, and our people.
By not involving ourselves in other nations’ quarrels, and staying out of political conflicts that, at most, only marginally affect us and by returning power to the states and to the people, as the 10th Amendment directs, we may see a time, in a few generations, when a standing army will be outdated. The human race may finally grow and become less dependent on government, less ready to go to war, more self-reliant, and finally achieve real peace and genuine freedom.