U.S. Foreign Policy Is Foreign to Reason

By Michael R. Allen
web posted December 1997

Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who surely possesses the complete respect and mandate of Chinese voters, visited the American mainland last month, and he did everything in America that a genteel liberty-lover might do: he donned a three-cornered hat for a photo, visited the cities where the Revolution was born over 200 years ago, and met with the respected and de facto leader of the free world, the President of the United States of America. What are the foreign policy implications of this visit? There are a few apparent indications of the nature of future Sino-American proceedings: that the U.S. will not actively question the human rights record of China; that the White House policy consists of chastising dictators at home but welcoming them with open arms abroad; and that the best foreign policy to be used is to keep one's hands off of all that is foreign.

The visit of Zemin calls into question the entire American doctrine of foreign affairs, a doctrine held sacred by puissant know-it-alls who believe that foreign policy is actually of any importance and that all that is foreign must be occupied, subsidized, aided, berated, and traded with. The unquestioned policies of the State Department face very little opposition in Congress. The Senate Foreign Relations Chair Jesse Helms has been very willing to play politics with the White House and has not been fervent in opposing foreign engagement. In the House, International Relations Chair Benjamin Gilman is a rubber stamp at best. Gilman took no action when Ron Paul offered a bill to close the Export-Import Bank, which spends $4 billion annually subsidizing trade with nations (including China). Subsequently, the bill, like so many others proposed by the erstwhile Paul, was defeated. 

Another bill by Paul, an amendment to H.R. 1757, that would remove the United States from the United Nations, died by a vote of 54-369. I suppose the only conciliatory fact is that there were at least 54 votes for the amendment. The most unquestioned, unconstitutional hobgoblin is the huge "Foreign Operations" funding bills passed every year by Congress in the appropriations season. These are like really expensive ways of saying "I love you," only by spending someone else's money and giving the gifts to countries we really don't love.

The most recent, for fiscal year 1998 for $12.3 billion, was passed by a vote of 375-49 in the House. This bill is supposedly $4.6 billion less than President Clinton requested, and $86,730 less than in fiscal year 1997. I suppose the humanitarian crowd will now be calling this bill a "travesty" or a "cut" when it is one school superintendent less than this year and four Hollywood celebrities less than Clinton wanted. Boo-hoo. Included in this bill is $705 million for refugees, $1.85 billion in developmental assistance and child survival, $625 million for Russia, and $5.1 billion for those big moochers, Egypt and Israel.

There is a more sensible plan to be considered: open immigration for refugees, send Congress and some handsaws and hammers overseas for assisting development, forbid the Kennedys from hiring baby-sitters for child survival, and send our seniors on whirlwind tours of the three aforementioned countries. Still more sensible is a classic notion that might still be used today: keep your hands to yourself. The White House wants an $85 million tax cut, why not give the public a $12.3 billion cut?

There are more wars started than ended, more stomachs empty than full, and more rights trampled than honored with our meddlesome ways. Withdrawal from overseas would save money, disengage our troops, and reduce our chances of being involved in a major war. Our imperialistic attitude led to intervention in World War II when we could have avoided any tangle by just staying home. By building our weaponry and doling out aid to our allies, we invited Japan to Pearl Harbor. To what result? "American participation in World War II had very little effect on the essential political structure of international politics thereafter . . ." [1]

The Communists replaced the Nazis as a prime threat, and Democrat Harry Truman moved 300,000 American soldiers to Korea in 1950. After this failed escapade, the Communist threat being overblown led to the Vietnam War and its tragic failure. More recently, the U.S. committed troops to fortify the tiny Arabian nation of Kuwait. This action was justified by the government as being important for oil prices. To this I say that, if they wanted to badly, the oil companies should have sent private troops over to the Persian Gulf or they could have developed alternative fuels. Or consumers could use public transit or carpool. The Persian Gulf War was one of corporate and consumer welfare, and it was of importance only to business rather than national security.

Has the isolationist view proselytized many statesmen? Hardly. President Clinton, who went to lengths not to fight in Vietnam, has sent 20,000 troops to the former Yugoslavia. This figure might not seem astounding, but that is only relative to the large military built in this nation. In August of 1776, British General William Howe brought the same number of soldiers to defeat American colonists. George Washington's Continental Army consisted of 23,000 men.

Almost every politicians agrees that disturbing the course of human events abroad is of great moral rectitude. Yet, our foreign policy has only seemed to waste human and monetary resources while only exacerbating existing problems - problems that, like our own domestic quandaries, are problematic enough before external stimuli are added. The world's policeman ought to keep his hands off of bystanders. He should know that it's not polite to grope strangers.

[1] Bruce M. Russett, No Clear and Present Danger, (New York: Harper and Row, 1972) p. 19

Copyright 1997 Michael R. Allen

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