When Should America Go To War?
This is a time of monumental decision making on the part of leaders of the United States. The impact of their decisions will no doubt have a great affect on many of our families in America in terms of our children going to war, our economic welfare, our safety right here in the United States, and the future of freedom both in the U.S. and around the world.
Do we know what our Founding Fathers would say if they were here today? What advice would Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Jay, Madison, or Monroe have for President Bush if he would hear their voices today? Perhaps we know what they would say because we know what they said in their day. Here are three principles which constantly run through their writings:
- A free people will not survive unless they stay strong, morally and militarily.
- "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations - entangling alliances with none."
- The United States has a manifest destiny to be an example and a blessing to the entire human race.
America: A Chosen Land of Destiny
Students in public schools today miss out on one of the most exciting concepts a citizen of this country can learn - that the land of America is a land specifically reserved and chosen by God for the great mission of bringing freedom to the entire human race. Innumerable quotes can be given from the people, the clergymen, and the statesmen at the time of the founding of America to substantiate this point. ( God's Hand in the Founding of America: As Acknowledged by the Early Clergymen of the United States , available from NCCS). However, this teaching has been deliberately deleted from our public schools' history textbooks beginning around 1900.
Historians have called this Founders' vision "Manifest Destiny". It was a strongly held conviction that the U.S. would enlarge its boundaries from sea to sea and then, by example, would flood the Western Hemisphere with freedom and then the whole world. This is the way John Adams expressed it:
"I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in Providence for the illumination of the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth." (All quotes from The Five Thousand Year Leap)
America Has Enough and To Spare
The feeling among the colonists was that Providence has blessed this land so abundantly that is could exist and progress independently - without having to depend on Europe or Asia for anything. Listen to John Jay:
"Providence has in a particular manner blessed it (America) with a variety of soils and productions and watered it with innumerable streams for the delight and accommodation of its inhabitants. A succession of navigable waters forms a kind of chain round its borders, as if to bind it together, while the most noble rivers in the world, running at convenient distances present them with highways for the easy communication of friendly aids and the mutual transportation and exchange of their various commodities."
As civilization progressed, astonishing natural resources were discovered such as coal and oil which helped fuel more advanced technology. Everything we needed was right here in the Western Hemisphere! Geologists tell us now there is enough coal and oil to keep us going for centuries.
Of course, certain environmentalists and politicians have managed to keep a lid on most of it. No doubt, there are some rare elements not yet discovered in this hemisphere which we now buy from nations in Europe, Asia, and Africa but which are not necessary to sustain life. Many believe such elements are also in the Western Hemisphere but just have not yet been located.
America Has a Conditional Promise of Protection and Safety
In addition to the blessing of abundance, colonial Americans also felt God extended to them a special protection from their aggressive enemies. They knew, however, this protection was not unconditional. They had to do their part in recognizing His guidance and blessings to them.
During the War of Independence, George Washington wrote to Congress 67 times telling them that the hand of God was with them in helping to win various battles. Even at the final battle at Yorktown, the British troops sought to escape Washington's troops by ferrying across the bay in boats. Suddenly, a strong wind arose driving them right back into Washington's hands. Cornwallis was heard exclaiming "Even God is on Washington's side!"
The Colonists, however, were quite aware of the fact that God would not continue His protection unconditionally. Samuel Adams expressed:
"The sum of all is this, if we would most truly enjoy the gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people; then shall we both deserve and enjoy it. While, on the other hand, if we are universally vicious and debauched in our manners, though the form of our Constitution carries the face of the most exalted freedom, we shall in reality be the most abject slaves."
Stay Out of International Quarrels and Disputes
As American influence and prestige rapidly grew, early leaders were united and fixed in their position against forming entangling alliances with any foreign power unless a direct attack on the United States made such alliances temporarily necessary. This was the Founders' doctrine of "separatism". Some have labeled this position "isolationism" but such a term implies a complete seclusion or being completely incubated from other nations. Actually, the intent was just the opposite. The Founders desired to develop a wholesome relationship with all nations but they wished to remain aloof from sectional quarrels and international disputes.
"Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship"
Much of President Washington's Farewell Address dealt with foreign relations. He, no doubt, had the wisdom to know the subject would be confusing to future generations. Listen to some of his advice:
"Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all ...give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence.
"Our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand, neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce but forcing nothing; establishing with powers so disposed, in order to give to trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate."
In other words, America should enjoy and develop a wholesome trade with other nations, but we should never develop such a dependency upon such trade that we will ever have to use force to continue it. We must always remain independent enough to allow for abandonments or temporary changes caused by the instability of foreign governments.
"Entangling Alliances with None"
"Nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate, antipathies, against particular nations and passionate attachments for others should be excluded..."
"Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the others. Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to surrender their interests."
Washington then made clear why America must remain "separate".
"Europe (and now we could add Asia) has a set of primary interests which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged infrequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities ... Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interests, humor, or caprice?"
Jefferson reiterated the same principles in a letter to James Monroe:
"Our first and fundamental maxim should be, never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe. Our second, never to suffer Europe to intermeddle with cis Atlantic (western hemisphere) affairs. America, north and south, has a set of interests distinct from those of Europe, and peculiarly her own. She should therefore have a system of her own, separate and apart from that of Europe. While the last (Europe) is laboring to become the domicile of despotism, our endeavors should surely be to make our hemisphere that of freedom."
The Monroe Doctrine, which told the aggressive and quarreling monarchs of the Eastern Hemisphere to stay out of the Western Hemisphere and that America would stay out of their business, was a correct reflection of the doctrine of separatism held by the Founders.
"Separatism" Replaced by "Internationalism"
For over 100 years, America showed the world by example what a free people could do for themselves and millions of people flocked to our shores. Then, in the midst of unprecedented prosperity which became the envy of the world, some very powerful influences within the United States, particularly in financial circles, wanted America involved in the thick of things world wide both economically and politically. The doctrine of "separatism" was gradually replaced by the belief in "internationalism". Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh asked the American people to reconsider this tragic mistake which pushed us into World War I. In 1923 he wrote:
"Take for example our entry into the World War (in 1917). We did not think. We elected a president for a second term because he said he `kept us out of war' in his first term. We proved by a large vote that we did not want to go to war, but no sooner was the president re-elected than the propaganda started to put us to war. Then we became hysterical, as people always have done in war, and we believed everything bad against our enemy and believed only good of our allies and ourselves. As a matter of fact, all the leaders were bad, vicious. They lost their reason and the people followed...
"We cannot properly blame the people of any of the European nations, unless we blame ourselves. None of them were free from danger of the others ... We, however, were not in danger, statements by profiteers and militarists to the contrary notwithstanding... The greatest good we could do the world at that time was to stay out, and that would have been infinitely better for ourselves, for we could have helped the world had we conserved our resources. There never was a nation that did a more unstatesmanlike thing than we did to enter the war. We came out without establishing a single principle for which we entered.
"The one compelling duty of America is to put its own house in shape, and to stand upon an economic system that will make its natural resources available to the intelligence, industry and use of the people. When we do that, the way to world redemption from the folly of present chaos will stand out in our country so clearly, honestly and usefully that we shall be copied wherever peoples do their own thinking."
America - The World's Peacemaker or Policeman?
When World War II erupted in Europe in 1939, most Americans hoped we could somehow resist the temptation to become involved. A few voices were being raised, warning against participating in another World War. One of these had been an Under-Secretary of State and an Ambassador to Mexico. His name was J. Reuben Clark - one of the greatest constitutionalists of his century.
In 1939 Ambassador Clark gave some insightful remarks in favor of the U.S. being a great world peacemaker instead of a great world policeman. Said he:
"America, multi-raced and multi-nationed, is by tradition, by geography, by citizenry, by natural sympathy, and by material interest, the great neutral nation of the earth. God so designed it. Drawn from all races, creeds, and nations, our sympathies run to every oppressed people. Our feelings engaged on opposite sides of great differences, will in their natural course, if held in due and proper restraint, neutralize the one (with) the other. Directed in right channels, this great body of feeling for the one side or the other will ripen into sympathy and love for all misguided and misled fellowmen who suffer in any cause, and this sympathy and love will run out to all humanity in its woe...
"One of the great tragedies of the war (World War II) now starting is that every people now engaged in it have been led into it without their fully knowing just where they are bound. The people themselves are largely innocent of this slaughter. As the great neutral of the earth, America may play afar greater part in this war... It is our solemn duty to play a better part than we can do by participating in the butchery...
"...having in mind our position as the great world neutral, and remembering that the people of these warring nations have been led into this conflict largely unwittingly, and therefore are largely blameless, we should announce our unalterable opposition to any plan to starve these innocent peoples involved in this conflict - the women, the children, the sick, the aged, and the infirm-and declare that when actual and bonafide mass starvation shall come to any of them, no matter who they are, we shall do all that we properly may do to see that they are furnished with food...
"If we shall rebuild our lost moral power and influence by measures such as these which will demonstrate our love for humanity, our justice, our fair-mindedness ... we shall then be where ... we can offer mediation between the two belligerents.
"America, the great neutral, will thus become the Peacemaker of the world, which is her manifest destiny if she lives the law of peace."
The Founders Would Ask Some Tough
Questions about Our Foreign Involvement
If Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Jay, Madison, and Monroe were here today, they would likely ask our leaders question such as these:
- Why do you make war with foreign countries without the people's representatives declaring war as required by our Constitution?
- If your interest is to protect freedom, why haven't you helped other nations who have been invaded by hostile neighbors?
- If your interest is oil, why haven't you allowed the development of the rich reserves in your own hemisphere?
- If Saddam Hussein is such an evil person, don't you think his own people, and the neighboring Arab states, and perhaps even Israel would deal with him eventually?
- Why have you helped build up Iraq and her military capability in past years?
- Why do you feel you have to throw American money and lives into enforcing the United Nations "resolutions", knowing that most U.N. members don't respect you and such coalitions have meant nothing but misery in the past? (Korea and Vietnam)
- If you are victorious in these wars, what will happen when you leave - you do plan on leaving don't you?
- Who is providing the money to fight this war? You are already borrowing money from the big banks and going deeper into debt to them just for your expenses at home.
- Do you still have faith in God, as we did, that he will preserve and protect your land from your enemies if you spend your time and resources building moral and virtuous citizens at home?
- Do you know that the spirit of freedom is stronger than any military force? Why not let your light shine as a peacemaker rather than as a policeman? Think of how many families in your land will be spared grief, sorrow, and total disruption of happy family lives?
Many of us pray for our leaders, that they will have God's direction in deciding the best course of action to preserve American liberty.
Earl Taylor, Jr.