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Questionable Alliances: Why America Needs to Reexamine Its International Relationships

May 28, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Modern circumstances continue to bear out the prescience of
America’s founders. Especially George Washington’s
warning against “entangling alliances.”

In contrast, U.S. policymakers today treat military allies like
Facebook friends, the more the merrier, something to brag about.
However, most of Washington’s existing alliances are harmful,
expensive commitments with little relevance to American security.
Indeed, a couple are strikingly dangerous, even risking conflict
with nuclear armed powers. A good place to start with an
“America First” foreign policy would be to turn allies
into friends, cooperating when in both nations’ interests but
no longer treating foreign governments as defense dependents.

Early America used its relative geographic isolation to avoid
“entangling alliances.” The colonies relied on
France’s aid to defeat Great Britain, but that reflected the
exigencies of war. Paris was not particularly interested in
empowering the new democratic republic once peace negotiations
began. And the value of the French connection to America as a
permanent alliance plummeted when Paris was taken over by brutal
revolutionaries; the relationship cratered when Napoleon Bonaparte
gained control and engaged in a “quasi-war” against
American shipping.

It was a century before Washington joined another alliance. And
in World War I, America technically fought as an
“associated” rather than allied power. Woodrow Wilson,
who with a touch of megalomania desired to reorder the globe,
imagined that quasi-independence would enable him to pose as the
representative of mankind.

Most of Washington’s
existing alliances are harmful, expensive commitments with little
relevance to American security.

The United States had nothing significant at stake in the
conflict between the competing imperial powers. Washington should
have left the participants to settle their imperial slugfest on
their own.

Under those circumstances, a divided, exhausted Europe might
have ended the war early, preserving the monarchies and avoiding
Nazism, fascism, and communism. Instead, America’s
intervention turned a possible compromise peace into a one-sided
allied victory, loosing multiple totalitarian furies.
Wilson’s fabled “14 Points” largely disappeared
as participants at the Versailles conference fought over
territorial plunder. The result unfortunately planted the seeds for
the next conflict. France’s Marshal Ferdinand Foch observed:
This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years.

Arguments that the United States should have remained involved
in Europe—presumably with multiple military garrisons, like
after World War II—made no sense. With Germany disarmed, the
victorious Europeans possessed the means to enforce Versailles. But
they lacked the will, which America could not instill. While the
French and Belgians wanted their respective pounds of flesh, Great
Britain came to believe that conciliation offered a better response
than repression. Either a ruthless Carthaginian peace or genuine
accommodation might have worked, but not the inconsistent
compromise course chosen.

In fighting World War II, Washington sensibly …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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