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Monday, February 21, 2011

America most imperiled not by foreign elements, but by nation-bankrupting, Empire-profiteering domestic ones

A Foreign Policy for The Tea Party

(The American Conservative) -- by Jon Basil Utley --

The British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and even the Romans are examples for America. England’s empire was ruined by the costs of two world wars.

The Ottomans of Turkey depended on borrowed money, the last empire to do so. Rome went down because taxes became so high that citizens welcomed the barbarian invasions as a way of escaping Roman tax collectors. Today, they are gone, but we can learn from their failures.

We may not see ourselves as having an empire, but with some 800 military stations abroad and two unending trillion dollar wars, we do. Even a great and blessed country can become an empire when it extends itself, even with the best intentions, into the farthest corners of the world.

These are perilous times. Our future, in the words of Senator Tom Coburn, “is as uncertain and tenuous as at any point in our history.” The Tea Party represents probably the last hope for reform — for stopping ruinous government spending, reining in our out-of-control bureaucracy, and saving our constitutional freedoms. I believe that our movement must also take a stand for the principle in Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none.”

James Madison’s often quoted dictum, “No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare,” reflected a view that was widely shared by the Founders. That concept was a basis for our Constitution’s provision that only Congress can declare war. Yet, today, America’s presidents start wars as if they were kings in old Europe. (Those wars, it should be noted, were a major reason our forefathers risked all to leave Europe.)

Washington is full of interests that profit from wars; support for wars cuts across party lines. U.S. involvement in the war on Serbia about Kosovo was started by a Democrat president and supported by most establishment Republicans in the Congress. (Outside of Washington, the war had little conservative support. A majority of newly elected Republicans in Congress, freshmen and sophomores, voted against it.)

Barack Obama owes the 2008 Democratic nomination and most likely the election to the fact that he opposed the Iraq war backed by Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush – yet, once in power, he now follows most of the same foreign policies as President Bush. Yearly military spending is far higher even than the $700 billion shown in the budget. An analysis by Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute shows that it is well over $1 trillion — over a million times a million dollars — if one includes intelligence, homeland security, nuclear weaponry, and other hidden items...

Tea Party supporters are solidly pro-defense. They need not be awed by the Defense establishment which is bloated beyond imagination and bankrupting our nation. Washington must prioritize issues and reform spending. Senator Coburn has said that the military industrial complex has made weapons too expensive for America to buy. This is because inputs are spread around congressional districts to make work, such as the F-22 that had parts made in 42 states.

Advocates of high levels of military spending often argue that America should have the same percentage of its economy devoted to the military as during the Cold War. They even compare Islamist radicals to the Soviet Union, with all its nuclear missiles, half of Europe in its servitude, and with vast leftist networks in Europe and America supporting its goals. It is absurd to suggest that the Islamist threat is at or near the level of the Soviet threat.

To a great degree, it is America’s own policies which generated the hatred against us. It is not unpatriotic to suggest so, any more than to say that U.S. welfare policies fostered dependency or that U.S. government regulations pushed banks to issue subprime loans. America is the greatest country in the world, but often our government makes mistakes that harm our legitimate interests.

As Pat Buchanan famously said, “They are over here because we are over there.” Few Americans remember or even know about the memorable inquiry on 60 Minutes (May 12, 1996) by Leslie Stahl to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about the human cost of a half million Iraqi children dying of starvation and disease during the Clinton Administration’s economic blockade of Iraq — a tragedy that occurred after we bombed Iraq’s irrigation, electricity and sanitation systems during the first Iraq war. Albright’s famous answer was, “Yes, we think it was worth it.”

During the Presidential debates, Ron Paul was the lone candidate to spell out the real reasons America is hated and was attacked. Yet today we see President Obama continuing most of the Bush war (and homeland security) policies. He has not even closed a single overseas base. His actions show how powerful and entrenched are the pro-war forces in Washington...MORE...LINK

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