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Clyde Geromez September 30, 2013 English 1010 Tues/Thurs Lost: An Exceptional Nation Over two hundred years

ago George Washington stated in his farewell address, referring to foreign relations, “the great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is . . . to have with them as little political connection as possible.” There has been a lot of talk going around about the situation in Syria. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been accused of using chemical weapons on his own people. The Syrian rebels who want to remove President Assad from office have also been seen to do many unspeakable things to Syrian civilians – Cutting out hearts and eating them, chaining children to fences and making them watch their parents be murdered. These are all horrible things to think about, or even to witness. President Barack Obama has come out stating that there is a “Red Line” that should not be crossed. However, according to Judge A ndrew Napolitano, a former New Jersey Superior Court Judge, there are laws that effect whether or not the United States can go to war based on “the treaties we’ve signed and the body of international law to which we agree.”

1) “When we’ve been attacked. Hasn’t happened, we haven’t been attacked by Syria.

2) “When we are about to be attacked. When the enemy’s at the gates, we don’t have to wait for them to fire the first bullet. When an attack 1

is imminent… Not the case with Syria.

3) “When we’ve been invited into the country of an ally that’s been attacked…[d]oesn’t apply for Syria.

4) “When a country has violated an international norm to which it has agreed, and the U.N. has authorized us to do it” (Napolitano, TheBlaze).

Syria does not qualify as an enemy of the U.S. under any of the abovementioned criteria. President Obama does not seem to mind that in going to war with Syria he is breaking both International and Constitutional Law and could in fact be declared a war criminal by the European Union. Should this happen and the president were to step foot into a nation that is a member of the E.U. he would have to answer for his crimes. Murray N. Rothbard, economist, and a Libertarian political philosopher, in his book For a New Liberty, a book on the Libertarian philosophy, wrote about government tyranny stating: “[T]he libertarian refuses to give the State the moral sanction to commit actions that almost everyone agrees would be immoral, illegal, and criminal if committed by any person or group in society. The libertarian, in short, insists on applying the general moral law to everyone, and makes no special exemptions for any person or group” (Rothbard, For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto pg 27).


The problem we are facing with Syria, that the President and the Federal Government are over-stepping their constitutional authority, is a problem that has been reoccurring since the establishment of the United States Constitution in 1788. Presidents justify military action in a foreign land and obtain congressional backing to further United Sates Nationalism and Imperialism. There needs to be a change in U.S. foreign policy and the U.S. needs to lead by example—not by force—to be able to help other nations better themselves—Should those nations be open to such change. To establish the need of such change one must look into past events— patterns—that have brought the United States to the situation it is in today. On June fourth, 1812 the U.S. invaded Canada with a number of alleged accusations against the British among them being that the British were “encouraging Indians to attack American settlers” (DiLorenzo). However, there was an untold reason for the War of 1812 and that was due to United States Nationalism and Imperialism. According to Thomas DiLorenzo a member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute “The real reason for the War of 1812 […] was an impulse to grow the state with an imperialistic war of conquest” (DiLorenzo). To add salt to the wound, the War of 1812:

“[W]as a disaster — the British burned down the White House, the Library of Congress, and much of Washington, D.C. Americans were saddled with a huge war debt that was used as an excuse to resurrect the corrupt and economically destabilizing Bank of the United States, a precursor of the Fed” (DiLorenzo).


The invasion of Canada, however, is a contested point in U.S. history. Some historians believe that the seizure of Canada was to be used as a barganing chip to stop the above-mentioned Indian attacks. Other historians believe that the capture of Canada was to be able to drive the British out of North America and to obtian some very valuable land. There is eveidence to support both claims and it is possible that both are true as the U.S. has been known to play the “Manifest Destiny” card from time to time. One point still remains, as Thomas DiLorenzo mentions the War of 1812 was disasterous and did lead to some very large problems, predominantly to a large debt, to the Bank of the United States, the Federal Reserve’s ugly antecedent and to an increase in nationalistic beliefs in the U.S. Later in 1845 president James K. Polk, who was hell-bent on a war with Mexico, took office. Knowing that no act of aggression had been commited by the Mexicans, sponsored the notion of preemptive war. Polk therefore acted by sending troops to the Mexican border— territory that was disputed at the time from the annexation of Texas—to provoke aggression from the Mexicans. General Ulysses S. Grant wrote in his memoirs, when he was under the command of General John Tyler, that the troops were to provoke a fight from the Mexicans. He was not sure that congress would declare war, but provocation of, and an attack from, the Mexican government would be enough for President Polk to persue the cause of war (Grant pg. 50). The placing of troops on the Mexican boarder—disputed territory— President Polk achived exactly what he wanted. The Mexicans shot first. Polk


claimed that the Mexicans had killed U.S. troops in U.S. territory. According to author and historian Thomas E. Woods, Jr. in his seminar The Truth About American History, Abraham Lincoln, then a congressman for Illinois, was skeptical of Polk’s claims that U.S. troops had been killed inside of U.S. territory. Lincoln drafted the “Spot Resolutions” which demanded that Polk show exacltly where the U.S. troops had been shot. Unfortunalty the “Spot Resolutions” were never ratified, or debated and the war with Mexico went on. So, the Nationalistic ideals that we face today from government overstepping its authority is not a new thing. There is a constant pattern of destructive Nationalism as presidents and congresses begin to believe they are above the Constitution. Theodore Roosevelt took office in September of 1901 after the death of William McKinley. He was truly the overly-manly man who loved the “sport of hunting, killing, and then gutting his prey, at times exalting at the gore” (Napolitano). Roosevelt relished the thought of the United States being involved in war, any war in fact Roosevelt thought “I should welcome almost any war, for this country needs one” (as qtd in Napolitano pg187). When he was the Assistant Secretary to the Navy Roosevelt stated “I’d give all that I’m worth to be just two days in supreme command. I’d be perfectly willing then to resign, for I’d have things going so that nobody could stop them” (as qtd in Napolitano pg187). In 1898, after much nagging from Roosevelt, United States declared war with Spain with the excuse that it wanted to help Cuba win its independence. In his book Theodore and Woodrow: How


Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom Judge Napolitano explains that not only were troops sent to Cuba, but so was Roosevelt and his team of “Rough Riders”. Later, when Theodore Roosevelt became president, he continued to display his love for war, nationalism and imperialism by creating, what he called, the “Great White Fleet”. This display of power was to show the world that the U.S. had the strongest navy. The “Great White Fleet” was sent on a fourteen month journey in South America. This whole display of power was in reaction to the Japanese victory over Russia in 1905. The entire spectacle was not only arrogant, but ended up wasting tax payers dollars. Nationalistic displays, despite popular presidential belief, simply do not make a nation great. Humility and temperance on the other hand go a long way. Roosevelt made himself and his administration a model for future presidents to pattern their own administrations. Presidents began to believe that it was, and continue to believe that it is, acceptable for the U.S. to be the worlds “policeman”. Dennis Prager, a respected talk show host form Los Angeles, wrote in and article titled Yes, We are the World’s Policeman, that if the United States were not to police the world then “[t]he worst human beings would terrorize […], and the loss of life would be far greater than before. But chaos would not long reign. The strongest thugs and their organizations would take over […]”. While Prager makes an excellent point, and perhaps evil people would take over certain places in the world however, what business does the U.S. have to police the world, and its cities? Could the United States not also have adulterated intentions?


As demonstrated up until this point, nationalism has been an ever-present and ever-growing ideal within United States foreign policy. Presidents, such as, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, helped place the United States in the position of the world’s police force by getting the U.S. involved in first the League of Nations—which was deemed unconstitutional by both Republicans and Democrats in Washington—and finally the United Nations. Woodrow Wilson can almost be considered the ultimate mastermind behind the current U.S. foreign policy due to his ideas of “Nation Building” and the “Spread of Democracy”. An example of the Wilsonian ideal is best defined by the Clinton Administration’s National Security Advisor Anthony Lake who, on September 19, 1994 stated: We are not starry-eyed about the prospects for spreading democracy; it will not soon take hold everywhere. But we know that the larger the pool of democracies, the better off we [the United States] will be. Democracies create free markets that offer economic opportunity, and they make for more reliable trading partners. They tend not to abuse the civil and political rights of their citizens. And democracies are far less likely to wage war on one another. Civilized behavior within borders encourages it beyond them. So it is in our interest to do all we can to enlarge the community of free and open societies, especially in areas of greatest strategic interest, as in the former Soviet Union (as qtd in Smith pg 65).


What Anthony Lake describes is commendable; it would be nice if nations were to become more reliable economic partners through democracy, however, what is to stop those nations that receive democracy from continuing the cycle? Could all nations attack one another and claim that they are simply “helping” each other become more democratic? Nationalistic patterns have followed the same outline that Anthony Lake described above, with the Gulf War, U.S. involvement in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq all the way up to the current situation with Syria. The United States has continued to be caught with its hand in the cookie jar. Now, the United States has many prominent qualities and has endured the test of time, but with rising unrest, both domestic and international, it becomes increasingly evident that the U.S. is coming apart at the seams. In 2008 Europe called for a U.S. that would “lead by example, not by force, to address some of the world’s most intractable problems and conflicts” (Niblett pg126). An excellent idea, while the United States has the ability to be the biblical “shining city upon the hill,” however, changes must be made to how the U.S. is to interact with other nations. As nationalism has led to many problems in the United States, a suggestion for the United States citizens would be to evaluate their government. Is the government that is currently running the nation doing what is best for its people? Is it protecting the constitutional rights of each citizen? Or is it simply focused on its own selfish endeavors? There are so many things wrong with the way the United States is running, it is suppressing that it hasn’t yet broken down. The nationalist ideals that run the presidency and the congress have ultimately placed them in a


race for world power instead of in a race for the betterment of the United States. It is time for a change and everyone must participate. Are you up to the challenge to find the missing exceptional nation?