WASHINGTON, D.C. — 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
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 – well over a million
times a million dollars – if one includes intelligence, homeland
security, nuclear weaponry, and hidden items.
And an October 29th Washington Post report on the $80 billion intelligence
community exposed duplicative work and incredible waste, with some
50,000 reports yearly and nearly a million persons holding top secret
security clearances. In the wake of the report, not a single Republican
congressional leader voiced a word of support for reforming the intelligence
Overseas, the State Department’s “public diplomacy” effort
(also known as “winning hearts and minds”) is a notorious
failure, as one might expect given that, for example, the department
has only two or three diplomats who speak Arabic well enough to debate
our foreign policy on local television.
Meanwhile, tens of billions in foreign aid programs also show incredible
waste, with some of this aid from the U.S. taxpayer being used to prop
We go it almost alone in our wars and now are about to expand the
war in Afghanistan into Pakistan as well, where America’s once great
popularity has now plummeted. A recent Pew Research poll indicates
that two thirds of Pakistanis now consider America their enemy. And
our supposed victory in Iraq is such that few American businessmen
dare to visit, fearing for their lives from families wanting vengeance
for the deaths of relatives and for other suffering caused by war.
Most trade and oil contracts in Iraq are going to other nations, not
the U.S., and the country’s two million refugees include most
of the nation’s Christians, their businesses ruined and their
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.
LOOTING OUR OWN TREASURY
“Follow the money!” is always a good rule. Wags in Washington
comment how most empires loot conquered nations. Instead, in America,
it is our own Treasury which gets looted. Look now at the proposals
to spend billions on missile defenses for Europe against Iran. The
Europeans don’t think it’s worth the cost, so Washington
is offering to pay for all of it.
Did you know that we spend some half a million dollars per year for
each soldier we maintain in combat?
If America is to survive and thrive, we must cut back on our forces
abroad. The perpetual warfare must end. Bankrupting our country makes
us neither safer nor better liked in the outside world. It also costs
us our liberties as our government shreds the Fourth Amendment in an
impossible quest to achieve a perfect level of safety.
Defense, Medicare, and Medicaid are where most money is spent (and
wasted). If the defense budget is declared off-limits by Tea Partiers
and their allies, meaningful budget cuts are impossible.
Therefore, I propose that the Tea Party’s foreign policy be
based on these principles:
1) We must treat all nations fairly. We must not create or motivate
2) We must maintain our economic strength and vitality, and not waste
money on military efforts that are unnecessary or counterproductive.
3) We must work with allies and other nations. As Winston Churchill
noted, “There is only one thing worse than fighting with allies,
and that is fighting without them.”
4) We must maintain our moral bearings which once gave us great strength
in the minds of all the world’s downtrodden. We must become again
that “shining city on a hill,” with freedom and prosperity
that appealed to all mankind.
Sun Tzu, the legendary Chinese military tactician, said the key to
victory was to “Know thyself and know thy enemy.” We must
understand our own limitations, we must make every possible effort
to understand our enemies’ motivations and beliefs, and, most
important, we must realize that democracies cannot run empires. Ultimately,
we must be a republic, not an empire.
Jon Basil Utley archives
with permission from the March 2011 issue of Tea Party Review. Subscriptions
to Tea Party Review, the magazine for the Tea Party movement, are
available at TeaPartyReview.com.
Copyright (c) Jon Basil Utley and Tea