US officials and the mainstream press are aflame with outrage and indignation over Russia’s invasion of Crimea. If only they would feel the same degree of outrage and indignation over what the U.S. national security state, which was grafted onto our governmental system without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment, has done to our American republic.
Isn’t it fascinating how U.S. officials and the mainstream media are able to quickly arrive at a moral judgment condemning foreign interventionism on the part of Russia while, at the same time, blocking out of their minds all the foreign interventionism on the part of the U.S. government for the past many decades?
Have they really forgotten U.S. aggression against Honduras, Grenada, Panama, Nicaragua, Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam? Or do they simply consider those acts of aggression to be good and honorable because they were done in the name of the Cold War and with the fervor of anti-communism?
It’s rather amusing to see U.S. interventionists mocking Russia’s claim that it invaded Crimea to protect Russian citizens. After all, wasn’t that Ronald Reagan’s justification for invading Grenada — that he was protecting American citizens when he ordered U.S. military forces to invade that independent nation?
Or how about the U.S. invasion of Panama? Didn’t U.S. national-security state officials justify that invasion, which killed many innocent people, with their much-vaunted “war on drugs”?
Or about the invasion and war of aggression against Iraq? By the way, where are those infamous WMDs? Or was it out of concern for democracy and for the well-being of the Iraqi people that U.S. forces ended up killing, maiming, incarcerating, torturing, and exiling millions of Iraqis, not one single one of whom had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks?
There is longstanding principle in the law called standing. The principle precludes a party from making certain legal claims. For example, if a party comes into court with what the law calls “unclean hands,” it is held to lack standing to seek equitable relief.
The principle of standing should also apply to international affairs. If anybody lacks standing to complain of Russian interventionism, it’s the U.S. government. Considering the U.S. government’s longstanding policy of foreign interventionism, including invasions, occupations, assassinations, foreign aid to dictatorships, and regime-change operations, it clearly comes into the international arena with unclean hands.
Compare Switzerland. It does have standing to complain about the Russian aggression because the Swiss government, unlike the U.S. government and the Russian government, doesn’t engage in foreign interventionism and foreign aggression. The Swiss government limits itself to the defense of Switzerland. It butts out of the affairs of other nations. It minds its own business.
But because it minds its own business, it’s unlikely that the Swiss government, unlike the U.S. government, is going to go into crisis mode and embroil itself with acts to “punish” Russia.
The Swiss government’s policy of noninterventionism exemplifies the founding foreign policy principles of the United States. As John Quincy Adams intimated in his Fourth of July address to Congress in 1821, lots of bad things happen around the world. There is aggression, there are famines, there are wars, there are tyrants, there are revolutions, and there is suffering.
As Adams pointed out, however, the foreign policy of the United States would be to stay out of all those foreign messes. Instead, the American people would devote their efforts to building a free and prosperous society here at home to serve both as a model and a sanctuary for the people of the world.
Unfortunately, however, in the early 20th century those with a mindset of statism and interventionism took America in a different direction — in the direction of empire and foreign interventionism. Then, with the adoption of the national security state after World War II, Americans were induced, in the name of opposing communism, to embrace Soviet-like policies and programs, including such un-American things as invasions, occupations, torture, drug experimentations on unsuspecting people, hiring of Nazi officials, rendition, partnerships with brutal foreign dictatorships, regime-change operations, ouster of democratically elected regimes and their replacement with brutal dictatorships, and the like.
Consider, for example, the U.S. national-security state’s decision to topple three democratically elected or appointed heads of state and replace them with brutal U.S.-controlled dictators — in Iran, Guatemala, and Chile. Many innocent people lost their lives in those brutal interventions, including two young American journalists in Chile, Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi, who were murdered through the joint cooperation of Chilean and U.S. national-security state officials. Those regime-change operations were actions that were consistent with Soviet methods, not the founding principles of America.
Now would be a good time for Americans to engage in serious self-examination. Now would be a good time to dismantle our own military empire and end our foreign policy of interventionism. Now would be a good time to stop doing the types of things that are inherent to autocratic and totalitarian regimes. Now would be a good time to stop searching for crises that serve as an excuse to expand the power of the military, the CIA, and the NSA. Now would be a good time to return to our nation’s founding principles.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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