U.S. Foreign Policy

“. . . wherever the American flag was planted, there tyranny must disappear.

We all have favorite books. One of mine – that I just read for the 4th or 5th time – is U.S. Foreign Policy by Walter Lippmann. It was published in 1943 in the dark days of World War II. A time when 80 million people were killed in the brief span of six years. Lippmann’s premise is that America had no foreign policy following the Spanish American War (1898) until after World War II began. This absence of policy led to the bloodshed in the first half of the 20th Century. President Woodrow Wilson wrongly faulted World War I on a system of alliances. He therefore decided to abandon all alliances (which led to Germany, Japan and Italy developing theirs). Here are a few Lippmann lessons:

Never volunteer to do or not do something — unless there is reason and reciprocity for doing so.

Treating all adversaries alike is a huge mistake. Each one is different.

America cannot escape its history but it can – at fearful cost – misread its history” — Abraham Lincoln.

Collective security can be a remedy and substitute for alliances.

America’s foreign policy must be solvent before it can afford to issue any more promissory notes.

The “vital interests of the nation” – national interest – should guide foreign policy.

China and Russia will be major forces to contend with in the future.

Survival of the nation, its independence and security are a greater end than peace.

When contemplating these and other salient points of Lippmann’s incisive essay, we can see that America’s objective has not been to subjugate other nations to statehood or territorial inclusion. One need only see America’s heroic efforts to raise Germany and Japan from the ashes of war to rebuild, develop economic success and to kindle friendship. America’s military objectives abroad (whether wise or foolish) have always been intended to repel tyranny and cruelty and not to rule over a country or territory. And then we have Russia – whose objectives are to plant the flag — crush opposition, destroy economy, enslave the people and control with an iron hand. And jackboot.

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