America First: A Critique of the United States' Global Role
by D. Evan Hollemans
As the people if the United States approach the twenty-first century, it is time for many serious decisions to be made. The direction in which this country will go is an important issue that all people must come to grips with. In an increasingly shrinking world, these decisions become increasingly necessary. There are several issues facing America today, and each of these issues could seriously effect the well being of it's citizens. Among the most important of these issues is the position of the
United States in the world today. Should the U. S. continue costly interventionist policies around the globe? Is it in this nation's best interest to fund military expeditions in over 100 countries around the world? Or, could it possibly be time for the American military juggernaut to cut the cord with the many countries that are now more than capable of handling their own problems. Now is the proper moment for the United States to refrain from being the world's police force. Although it would be
a major change from current policies, it is more important now, than it has ever been, for the government to realize that it can't possibly patrol the actions of every nation on Earth. Therefore, in the best interest of the American people, a strategic plan for global military disengagement must be adopted as soon as possible.
For the majority of the twentieth century, an international organization called the United Nations has increasingly gained influence over world politics. This organization has slowly gained its' power, and now, with over 180 member nation-states worldwide, it is quickly becoming the principal governing body for the human race. At first glance, this would appear to be a very noble venture indeed, but the facts speak quite the contrary. Although there are a plethora of associated countries, the United States is forced to maintain over twenty percent of the United Nations' entire operating budget. With this large funding, it would seen that the U. S. would have a large influence over the actions of the United Nations, but it is almost exactly the opposite. Americans are forced to compromise land (The UN "owns" approximately 43,000,000 acres of what once was U. S. Soil), rights, and military prowess for the advancement of the UN. With other such nations abusing their obligations to the UN, it is an unreasonable request to assume that the United States uphold such high standards, when other countries are so blatantly abusing and manipulating individuals on a global scale.
In the early 1990's, the United Nations felt it prudent to intervene in the African nation of Somalia in a full scale "peacekeeping" mission. As all humanitarian missions do, this venture began "in the best interest" of the world, but as they always do, the United Nations quickly forced the situation into even more despair than it previously was. The entire situation in Somalia prompted the resignation of many top UN officials due to the travesties which were being perpetrated by the "peace keepers" wearing blue helmets. Military representatives of the United Nations would routinely torture civilian children, forcing them to do unspeakable things, such as eating worms and vomit. They would also routinely cage innocent children until they baked in the summer heat. What the American people need to ask themselves is, is this the kind of organization that they United States wishes to be associated with? After realizing what a failure Somalia was, the United Nations pulled out, and allowed the country to be overrun and carved up into petty fiefdoms by various warlords. Although this is merely one example, the United Nations, as an organization, is constantly sticking its' fingers into regional conflicts, making things worse than they were to begin with, and then leaving. These atrocities, unfortunately, are unavoidable. Such intervention is not the answer, especially in domestic disputes, in which the U. S. has no reason to become involved. The best that the United States can do, as a nation, is make sure that such atrocities are avoided within its' own borders. With a heavy interventionist policy, enemies are created abroad, and citizens can no longer travel safely around the world. Every American quickly becomes the target of terrorist activity. This is not a course of action in the best interest of the American public.
The United Nations, as an organization, is a direct threat to the sovereignty of the United States of America. The millions of men and women whose blood was spilled for what American currently have will be for naught, as the UN continues to gobble up U. S. sovereignty. Although it might seem absurd at first glance, when one looks at the facts, it is clear to see that the UN represents the ultimate "big brother", advocating ideals ranging from how many children an individual can birth, and what parents can or cannot do with that child, to seizing all firearms of private citizens around the globe. Mere years ago, advocates of such a totalitarian philosophy would have been branded as tyrannical, yet today they are heralded as heroes. If the United States is to continue along the path of freedom and prosperity under which it was founded, organizations such as the United Nations must be stopped from pressing such an anti-individualist stance, which so many apathetic citizens openly digest on a daily basis. It is the responsibility of those who do wish to maintain a sovereign United States to educate those who would otherwise allow themselves to become assimilated into the UN mindset.
Another recent tragedy bestowed upon the international community has been under the direction of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Of course, the major international story that has been peppering the news lately is the crisis in Kosovo. In order to see what role NATO should take in this situation, the historical reasoning behind NATO is the first thing that must be closely examined. During the cold war, NATO was formed as an organization to protect the interests of a group of closely allied nations. In order to combat hostilities from the Soviet Union and it's satellite countries, NATO was to be a defensive organization, in which each member would treat an attack on a fellow member as an attack on itself. It becomes numbingly clear that this organization was formed solely for defensive purposes against the Communist power of the Soviet Union.
With the Cold War over, and the new Russian democracy struggling to get off the ground, the necessity of NATO is in the balance. NATO was formed solely for Cold War defense, and now, it must resort to bombing sovereign nations in order to create an acceptable identity. Once again, this is clearly unacceptable, particularly when NATO is once again solely supported by the United States. The original "NATO" forces in the Balkans, if they are even deserving of that label, consisted of 9 U. S. Ships, 200 U. S. planes, and 1 British submarine. Apparently the other dozen countries of NATO simply forgot they had an obligation to be involved in this debacle. That is not the only disturbing part of this mission. NATO is bombing a sovereign country, which is a complete breach of all principles upon which NATO was founded. This is merely an example of how a situation can snowball if the people give the politicians an inch. How can the United States continue to support such an alliance when other nations are obviously freeloading at the expense of American money and American lives? Thus, the ultimate fate of NATO must be questioned. Now, former Warsaw Pact countries such as Hungary are being allowed to join this alliance which was formerly comprised of extremely tight knit allies. NATO is obviously a very outdated organization, which no longer has a role in the world, and therefore must come up with excuses to flex it's military muscle.
Taking the Kosovo situation from the standpoint of the average American, one must ask what vital interest is at stake? As far as one can tell, the United States has no reason to be involved in such a foreign conflict, and the only thing being set is a horrible precedent of international intervention whenever a civil conflict erupts. As Ted Galen Carpenter said in his 1996 essay, "Toward Strategic Independence", a vital interest is one that is essential to the continuation of the United States as a cohesive country, not simply something that may be convenient. The notion that Kosovo holds a vital American interest is a very disturbing one.
Although what is happening to ethnic Albanians certainly is a travesty, this is a regional dispute that could easily be settled by those directly involved. The European Union collectively has a gross national product of five trillion dollars a year, and over two million soldiers. This problem is in Europe's backyard, and since Europe has been bailed out by the United States twice in this century, it is time for them to use the power they have to take care of their own regional disputes. It, however, the United States is content on intervening in this situation, it sets the stage for intervention in every petty foreign conflict around the globe. There are constant human rights abuses in China, and squabbling has gone on for years in Northern Ireland. The Palestinians and Israelis have been in conflict for decades. Where is the line drawn? When the U. S. shows a willingness to intervene in this situation, it opens the door for intervention in other small, regional conflicts in which there is absolutely no interest to the United States.
The interventionist policies of the United States can only have negative effects domestically, as well as abroad. Time after time, innocent American civilians are put at risk due to the policies of their government. Such international meddling invites fringe terrorist groups to target Americans. Although some might argue that this is the price the most powerful country on Earth must pay, it is avoidable, as well as unnecessary. With the U. S. military prancing around the globe, those who are stepped upon immediately target every American citizen when they choose to travel abroad. It is not right that the people of the most powerful nation on Earth should have to travel the world in fear of their own lives. What is even more absurd is the fact that they are exposed to danger solely because of faulty foreign policy.
Such interventionist policies not only expose citizens to unneeded danger, but they also stretch the thinning ranks of the U. S. military much farther than is safe and practical. With military force in over 100 nations around the globe, a serious problem arises in regards to defense of the U. S. borders. Therefore, the security of the United States is caught in a catch-22. The military is around the globe, meddling in other people's business and creating enemies abroad. In the mean time, the security of our borders are compromised. With the military struggling to find recruits, it is not in the best interest of the U. S. to be maintaining such a policy. Feeding innocent American lives into a grizzly foreign war is no the wisest course of action for the government to pursue.
With the creation of such enemies abroad, the security of the United States is greatly compromised, and serious issues at home are ignored. Although there are many issues plaguing the United States, these issues seem to take a back seat when it comes to helping foreign countries. Although it may be viewed as somewhat selfish, most taxpayers believe their money should go towards the advancement of the United States, and not towards petty projects abroad. In 1997, the equivalent of 780,000 household's taxes went to aid South Korea's economy, even though their economy is the eleventh largest in the world. Chinese officials are allowed to infiltrate the highest levels of American security and walk off with the most treasured of secrets, receiving absolutely no punishment whatsoever. These are serious problems which need to be addressed immediately. It is unfortunate that the government feels it is more important to monitor disputed border regions in Ecuador than it is to protect the vital nuclear technology of the United States.
It is more important now, than it has ever been before, for the United States to end the policy of intervening in every foreign squabble, and begin concentrating on more pressing issues on the home front. There are several nations around the globe which are more than capable of handling their own problems, but an historic precedent has been set, in which everyone looks to the U. S. for assistance when someone cries wolf. Not only is this taxing on the American people, but it also prevents these countries from excelling, and progressing as they normally would otherwise. The statistics on Europe alone are staggering. When such a powerful political and military entity must seek aid from the United States, something is seriously wrong. There must be a very important reason that Europe did not intervene in the Balkans, when the problem was sprouting up around them. Instead, a demand is made to the United States to send a powerful war machine to take care of business, which is absurd.
Any level headed American will realize that a return to 18th Century, "isolationist" policies is impossible, and would be quite risky. However, this does not mean that the United States cannot accept a scaled down role in the realm of policing the globe. Building a "fortress America" is not eh goal, and neither is cutting all ties to the outside world. There does, however, come a time when a country should realize that it is abusing it's power, and is becoming the nanny to every other nation on Earth. This is not the course of action that should be pursued. Putting young, able, American lives on the line in petty foreign disputes is horrendous. Killing innocent people, in a conflict which there is no clear U. S. interest is such a horrible thought, but it is increasingly becoming a reality as more and more situations arise, in which the U. S. is there to blow the self-righteous horn of freedom and democracy.
Economic relations and prosperous trade do not rely on a strained military. There is a large difference between an isolationist, and an anti-interventionist. An isolationist, obviously, wants to cut all ties with the foreign world, and build up a powerful, self-serving United States. An anti-interventionist, on the other hand, realizes the importance of trade and economic commerce with other countries. It is a very realistic thought that the United States should be able to adopt such a policy. American citizens are being bled dry by big government, and it is unfair to everyone. Continuing the current interventionist policy only hinders economic prosperity, as nations opposed to American intervention will quickly close all doors to what they have to offer.
In conclusion, the United States of America is the most powerful nation on the globe. Although many claim that such a title immediately empowers the beholder to certain responsibility, this is a false notion. The United States did not achieve such a status overnight. A rich history of anti-interventionist policy is what allowed Americans to prosper as individuals. There is no longer a Communist threat from the Soviet Union. Countries all over the globe are opening themselves up to democracy. It is time for the United States to realize that it has a lesser role in global politics. American citizens do not want to live in a world where their children are in danger of being killed overseas. Americans do not want to live in a world where they must fear for their lives when they travel abroad. The readopting of a "live and let live" libertarian philosophy is just what the doctor ordered. Creating a welfare state is not the answer to everyone's problem.
Mr. Hollemans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org