[This is Chapter 7 in Murphey's book Out of the Ashes.]

                                                                      Chapter 7

 

                           INTERVENTION'S IMPACT ON THE UNITED STATES

           

            Before September 11, Americans found it easy to overlook interventionism's many consequences on the United States itself.  We have now found, however, that the United States is not immune to the effects of what it does in the world.  The undermining of confidence in air transportation has by itself graphically demonstrated just how fragile an advanced and open society is. 

            The situation after September 11 is much commented upon, and that does not have to be repeated here.  What will be valuable here will be to see what I wrote before the attacks.   We can understand the concerns in a more detached way by seeing the issues without the emotions that September 11 has superimposed on them.

 

1.  A general willingness to intervene melioristically creates "overstretch" that exceeds the United States' military capacity.      

            Overstretch weakens the United States' ability to do anything well, diminishes the readiness to respond to truly important situations as they arise, and puts the United States into the middle of a number of potentially explosive situations.

            It is worth noting that Storey and Lichauco wrote about the Philippines in 1926 that "even with the presence of the American flag in the Islands today the archipelago is one of the most poorly protected lands in the world.  Any considerable force can easily overthrow the scanty representation of American arms in the Islands." Sixteen years later this "overstretch" resulted in  tragedy at Bataan and Corregidor as the Philippines were overrun by the Japanese.  Charles A. Lindberg commented on the tragedy, saying  that "America should either have fortified the Philippines or evacuated them."2

            Patrick Buchanan cites the Open Door policy that the United States declared for China in 1900.  He points out that "America had signed no treaty, but the Open Door would come to be regarded as a unilateral U.S. guarantee of China's territorial integrity."  He says that it "was a classic example of the American penchant for ‘declaratory overstretch' – noble and sweeping statements of policy and purpose the United States lacks the will or power to back up."  The roots of the United States' war with Japan lay "in two decisions taken four decades before Pearl Harbor: McKinley's decision to annex the Philippines, and the McKinley-Hay declaration of the Open Door policy in China."  Buchanan sees that "such declarations mislead friends into trusting our words, and cause enemies to hold us in contempt, and to miscalculate."  Here is his description of the "overstretch" that the United States has committed itself to today [i.e., even before September 11]:  "America has undertaken the most open-ended and extravagant commitments in history.  With the expansion of NATO, we have undertaken the defense of Eastern Europe, forever, as well as Central Europe from Norway to Turkey.  American troops are, for the first time in history, policing the Balkans.  We have undertaken the ‘dual containment' of Iran and Iraq and the ground and naval defense of the Persian Gulf.  These new war guarantees have been added to old Cold War commitments to the security of Israel in a hostile Arab world, to the defense of Korea, Japan, Australia, and the SEATO pact nations of South Asia, not to mention every Latin American member-state of the Rio Pact."3

            An intervention can itself compound this overstretch.  Insight magazine says about Kosovo that "to keep the states of southeast Europe on our side, or at least neutral..., the Clinton administration and NATO have had to make economic promises galore and rain U.S.-entangling security guarantees on the region.  The recipients include almost everyone – Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania.  And, of course, America already is committed to defend the Czech Republic, Greece and Hungary by virtue of their NATO membership."  It adds that "this dramatic expansion of the security umbrella comes just as Americans discover the sad state of military unreadiness among understrength U.S. forces."4

             What this describes is a situation in which the United States is in great danger and in which it may not be able to perform adequately even the functions essential to its own defense.

            The easy disregard with which the American public accepts the United States' commitments is put to the test if we ask just a few questions: Would Americans be willing and/or able to defend the Baltic nations if they were attacked by Russia?  How about Poland and the rest of eastern Europe, which is what the United States committed itself to with the expansion of NATO?  Shall we go to war against Russia to prevent what we perceive (and perhaps wrong-headedly, since terrible things happen in any internecine conflict) as "human rights abuses" in Chechnya?  Are we willing to fight another Korean War if North Korea repeats its assault of 1950, even though under present conditions a conquest of the South would not be part of a worldwide expansion of a totalitarian ideology? 

            The same question applies to Taiwan if it is attacked by China.  We feel morally committed to South Korea and Taiwan because of friendships and commitments solidified during the war against Communism.  But at what point, if ever, do the imperatives of their defense come to rest entirely upon themselves or upon regional defense pacts? 

            The reasons that initially moved the United States to serve as the guarantor of Taiwan's independence are becoming progressively weaker.  Red China is no longer anathema to the people of Taiwan themselves, as evidenced by the facts related by Bernstein and Munro: "One-third of the long-distance calls made on Taiwan are to the Mainland.  Wealthy Taiwanese businessmen have invested an estimated $30 billion there; indeed, China is the single most important area of economic growth for Taiwan...." This was in 1997; by 2001, the investment was up to $40 billion, with two-thirds of that in high technology, thereby augmenting China's growing technical expertise, which is militarily crucial.  Actions show that Taiwan no longer gives top priority to its own defense: It has adopted a "modernization" program for its military that will cut its personnel from 386,000 to 350,000, and this is itself down from 450,000 in 1997.  It has for several years cut back its spending on defense.  Ten years ago, its government spent 30.34 percent of its budget on defense; by 2001 this is down to 16.91 percent.  Even though its economy is thriving, Taiwan spends a lower percentage on research and development than do the United States, Japan or South Korea.6

            So long as a commitment remains abstract and we are not called upon to redeem it, it seems academic.  What we forget is that the redemption, if and when it occurs, comes at the very least in the form of massive destruction inflicted upon our opponent, of potential body bags for young Americans (and, again, as my next point mentions, of hatreds incurred that may be redeemed later). 

 

2.  Involvement in foreign conflicts incurs hatred and, by doing so, invites terrorist attacks upon the American people.  [It is especially worth keeping in mind that this was written before September 11.]

            The costs may, of course, not be limited to those suffered in direct combat.  Newsday columnist James P. Pinkerton predicts that "one day, the wars we so fecklessly fight, from Kosovo to Colombia to Iraq, will come home with a hideous vengeance."  He observes that "in the age of the anthrax vial, the Sarin gas caplet and the suitcase A-bomb, being the world's policeman is a colossal risk." This is the same point Patrick Buchanan makes when he says that "today, nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons can be delivered by such conventional means as merchant ships and truck bombs."8  Is it an exaggeration to envision millions dead on the streets of New York City and elsewhere?  [Americans can be thankful that "only" 2,850 or so were killed on September 11.]

            In the August 2000 issue of The St. Croix Review, Allan C. Brownfeld told of the reports just issued by the National Commission on Terrorism and the U.S. State Department.  A shift had occurred in the sources of terrorism: "it is breaking down into small networks of transnational groups not directly sponsored by states and now fueled by religion and ideology rather than politics."9  This reduces greatly the ability to deter terrorist strikes, since the perpetrators will be hard to identify and just as hard to punish.        

            The Report of the National Commission on America's National Interests says that "the trend toward more wanton terrorist actions is especially alarming in the context of the increasing accessibility of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear and biological weapons... The prospect of nuclear or biological terrorism is almost unimaginably frightening."10

            It is easy enough to write the preceding paragraphs; what is hard, before the events happen, is fully to envision the horror.  It requires an act of imagination that seems beyond most Americans' capacity in the absence of their already having experienced such things.  The Oklahoma City and World Trade Center bombings [of 1993] still seem aberrations, and among the public at large there is anger about them, but little comprehension of why they occurred. In the meantime, the United States continues by its actions to enrage increasing numbers of passionate souls throughout the world.  As a student from Lebanon told me just a week ago, "the United States is making enemies everywhere."

            Terrorism will take its toll not just in casualties, but on the very fabric of American society.  A free society counts on an easy coming-and-going, undeterred by sniffing police dogs and the need to pass through metal detectors.  So far, Americans have lived their lives free of fear.  When terrorism is mentioned, we tend to think of the carnage and destruction.  But that isn't all.  Fear itself, with all it entails, can change fundamentally the nature of people's lives and even of their civilization.   

 

3.  The interventionist mentality is sometimes accompanied by a planner's game-playing insouciance toward losses, no matter how unspeakable.

            Consider this sobering footnote to history: As the United States was about to become involved in World War I, Robert Lansing, the Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson after William Jennings Bryan's resignation, wrote that "things have turned out right... It may take two or three years.  It may even take five years.  It may cost a million Americans; it may cost five million.  However long it may take, however many men it costs we must go through with it" [emphasis added].11

            Sitting at his desk in Washington, Lansing was willing to see five million American men die for a cause that was dubious in the extreme and that, when accomplished, led to the horrors of World War II.  How is it that someone in a responsible position was willing to entertain such a notion?  The answer lies in the psychology of those for whom average people are pieces on a chess board.

 

4.  More and more, the sovereignty of the United States and of other nations is compromised or even under attack. 

            The on-going erosion of sovereignty is a good thing from the point of view of those who think a "world order" can be achieved and is desirable at this point in history.  It is a bad thing to those who assign special value to national identity because they invest meaning in the United States or in some other nation or culture, and to those who believe that the world is far from ready for world government.

            The system of national sovereignty that has been central to modern international relations is said to have originated in Europe with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 that ended the Thirty Years' War.  The settlement after many years of war between Protestants and Catholics came to a new definition of the functions of church and state.  "In so doing," Thomas Weiss and Jarat Chopra tell us, "it transferred to nation-states [what had been] the special god-like features of church authority.  States inherited sovereignty...."12 This sovereignty had potent implications: "All member states were to be regarded as juridically equal, and their sovereignty [over a given territory] was to be regarded as absolute," according to Gene Lyons and Michael Mastanduno.13

            The nation-state has been the central pivot in the international system for over 300 years.  Significantly, the Charter of the United Nations contains explicit guarantees protecting it: Article 2 provides "equal sovereignty of all member states, forbearance from initiating the use of armed force to settle disputes among members, and nonintervention in the domestic jurisdiction of members."14  The same principle is stated even more strongly in Article 20 of the charter of the Organization of American States (OAS): "The territory of a state is inviolable.  It may not be the object, even temporarily, of military occupation or other measures of force taken by another state directly or indirectly on any grounds whatsoever."15

            Even though these articles have many times brushed aside the prevailing Zeitgeist in "world opinion" [and now, certainly, of an international "war against terror"], they express a principle that deserves to be treated as much more than an empty formalism.  The passions that peoples feel all over the world remind us that human beings ascribe profound meaning to their own local precincts, to people of like kind, to their own culture and way of life, and to the memories and aspirations that make up the spiritual dimension of the "us" to which they belong.  This existential cocoon provides their rootedness and much of the meaning of their lives.  Without that, they are said to be "deracinated" – i.e., rootless.

            This is fundamental to the lives of people throughout the world, where in each locale it assumes a different content. To citizens of the United States, although not especially to the intelligentsia in its long-standing alienation from the mainstream culture, national feeling historically has carried with it a complex set of ideals centered around a society of ordered liberty.  Seeing the spiritual dimension, Thomas Paine wrote that "we have it in our power to start the world over again" – and millions of Americans over several generations have shared that faith.  "America" was an offset against the Old World of "corruption and despotism."  The existence and meaning of the United States was such that its continuation in that form was a value of the highest order.  To this perspective, the sovereignty of the United States was an essential element of what was best in the world. It remains so to those who place a high value on that heritage.

            During the past century, however, as we saw in Chapter 2 in my discussion of the Davos Culture, there has been a sustained attack on the principle of national sovereignty (an attack that continues as we enter the new century).  "Globalism" is apparent in ideology, politics and economics, pulling against the particularisms that are also so powerful in today's world.

            The breakdown of national identifications appears in many features of the "global economy."  Kevin Phillips tells how in 1992 the U.S. Commissioner to the World's Fair in Seville, Spain, acknowledged that some major U.S. firms no longer want to be seen as "American."  "Firms like Time-Warner, CNN and Du Pont, he said, ‘consider themselves global and transnational and didn't want to be pegged as an American company.'"16  Harald Malmgren writes of "the agnostic global capital market, which has no national loyalties."17 Everything about the global economy, at least as we know it today (although there are reasons to think that this will change drastically in the foreseeable future as a result of the political needs unleashed by a vast displacement of unskilled labor), would create this mindset.  When a product is designed one place, built in another from components coming from several countries, financed internationally, marketed everywhere, and involves effort by people of several different countries, it is dysfunctional for those involved to embrace any seeming "provincialism."  William Greider says that "what is forming now is an economic system of interdependence designed to ignore the prerogatives of nations."18

            No wonder Paul Kennedy can say that "these global changes call into question the usefulness of the nation-state itself."19  The recent international treaties on trade, in particular those establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the mechanism for enforcing the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), involve major transfers of sovereignty to international and regional institutions, which have the power to override local laws of many kinds.  

            The drive toward economic globalism strengthens ideological and political cosmopolitanism.  In Chapter 2 we saw how Lyons and Mastanduno speculate in Beyond Westphalia? about whether we are "currently witnessing the emergence and recognition of a legitimate ‘right' to intervene in the domestic affairs of member states in the name of community norms, values, or interests."  They cite an editorial in the Economist that argues that "increasingly, world opinion, when confronted by television pictures of genocide or starvation, is unimpressed by those who say, ‘We cannot get involved.  National sovereignty must be respected'"  The editorial writer's view: "National sovereignty be damned."20

            As recently as the 1960s and 1970s, governments considered international inquiries into human rights violations illegitimate intrusions.  But the "international community" has overridden this, making each nation's business its own, a trend that is continuing through a growing web of "human rights" treaties.  In England, the Criminal Justice Act of 1988 declared that "human rights abuses and torture are crimes in Britain regardless of where they were committed."21

            Such expressions of "extraterritoriality" in effect make everyone's business the business of everyone else, quite deliberately disregarding the sovereignty (i.e., exclusive dominion) of a given nation over acts within its own territory.  Trudy Rubin, writing for the Knight Ridder Newspapers about the pressure for intervention into East Timor at the time of the recent slaughter there, said "the assumption is that Kosovo set a precedent for international intervention in the name of humanitarian goals, even if such intervention means ignoring sovereign boundaries" [emphasis added].22    

            There are, of course, those who would skip past the incremental erosion of sovereignty and go directly to world government.  The American columnist and commentator Andy Rooney, in a column entitled "One World," wrote on September 25, 2000, that "as the world and all the people in it come closer together, it seems obvious that we need some strong, international governing force... The UN should have an Army, a Navy and an Air Force... It should have its own nuclear weapons and maybe it should be the only government organization that does have nuclear weapons."23

            What is the significance of this pressure away from national sovereignty?  The answer lies in several dimensions.  We have already mentioned the values that local identifications serve, but (as with Andy Rooney) it has long been apparent to many that the "anarchy of nations" with its episodic conflict and carnage must someday be replaced by a worldwide "rule of law," perhaps through a federation.  A serious question is whether the civilizational preconditions exist for such a world umbrella.  Those who favor the "new world order" implicitly assume that the preconditions exist or are not important, while those who see dangers in a world hegemony believe that civilizational prerequisites are both necessary and, in significant part, not satisfied.

            A "world order" today largely means the hegemony of the Davos Culture, led by the United States.  I am well acquainted with a remarkable young man from Bangladesh who in a very intelligent way is more outspokenly patriotically American than virtually anyone else in the United States today, and he believes that it would be a blessing for the world if all cultures became refashioned in the image of American society, including embracing, he says, even such a thing as rock music.  His enthusiasm runs directly counter to Samuel Huntington's warnings about the immorality and danger of a drive for American or even Western hegemony. 

            To address this difference we must distinguish between economic and cultural penetration on the one hand and melioristic interventions on the other.  The first of these may be virtually inescapable by cultures everywhere as the world shrinks through rapidly improved communications, ever-cheaper transportation, and the mobility of individuals and firms.  Efforts seeking desperately to preserve local culture may be attempted with varying degrees of success, and may produce unhappiness and some degree of conflict.  (As to this, we see a sharp difference in values between my young friend and those who cherish their local culture.)

            What is more assertive and confrontational, however, is governmental or military intervention.  It is here that questions most directly arise about presumptuousness, wisdom, and efficacy.  In light of all we have reviewed, it would be dramatically understated simply to say that the track record of melioristic intervention is poor.  (The interventions to stop conquest by expansionist totalitarianism were another matter, but even those ran into considerable resistance from many among the local populations who resented outside intervention and, because of the worldwide ideological double standard, chose to overlook the fact that Communist movements were largely inspired and supported by forces outside their own country.) 

            If, thinking more remotely, we envision a world rule of law of some different sort than hegemony by the Davos Culture, what precisely will we have in mind?  No one knows.  Twice in the twentieth century a powerful pulse emanated from totalitarian ideology.  Has the world become immune to that?  Even if that is avoided, how are the thirty wars and twenty humanitarian crises each year to be resolved into a stasis that embodies a world consensus that "what is is just"?  A global "rule of law" will be possible only if there is near-universal consensus that the status quo deserves respect. 

            We shouldn't confuse the type of international law that has existed in recent centuries, which has dealt selectively with discrete subjects, with the type of internal policing that the idea of a "world order" embodies.  Actually, even the idea of a status quo needs to be thought through.  What exists at any given time must be understood dynamically, since everything changes constantly.  The consensus will need to be about whether the direction is valid, or about how the direction can be changed to make it valid.

            To raise these questions is in effect to answer them: the world is, absent somebody's hegemony, in no position to form a consensus on such things.  There are too many fundamentally opposed perceptions.  This is especially true about issues of ethnicity and demographics, but it extends also to questions of religion, of culture, of the legitimacy of elites, of whether "democracy" can work beneficially, of indigenous corruption, and the like.

            Let us consider, for example, whether there really can be a consensus, except among an elite and among the peoples of some countries, against even so seemingly-obvious a thing as "human rights abuses."  The well-meaning assumption among those who would outlaw them internationally is that they are the result of wanton cruelty or a callous pursuit of power. 

            Taking this at face value, assume that the cruelty has no justifications.  Even then, we are faced with the question of whether there can be any power on earth sufficient to remove cruelty or the callous pursuit of power from the world.  Such a project will be enormous and all-consuming, and will involve every peoples' intervention into what is going on among every other people.  Nothing could be more designed to engender conflict and probably a larger amount of cruelty itself.  That conflict will, in the nature of things, no doubt carry with it an abundance of "human rights abuses" of its own.

            But there is more to it than even that suggests.  It is likely that many of the "human rights abuses" do have justifications, at least as seen from the points of view of the perpetrators.  Their cruelties may be to avenge earlier cruelties inflicted upon themselves, or they may be part of attempting to impose one sort of order or another in a very difficult situation.  Are we prepared to say in what situations, precisely, is it appropriate to put down a riot by force? 

            The cruelties may not even be thought of as such in the particular cultural or historical setting, any more than human sacrifices have been thought to be cruelties in the societies that have done them.  The Aztecs cut out living hearts because the cosmology in which they believed called for it.  The question is whether in pursuit of the people-improving mentality of the Social Gospel a worldwide effort is to be made to cleanse whole peoples of such cosmologies; or whether that change is to be left to the slower processes of enlightenment.  The experience of the twentieth century suggests that even the vaunted "enlightenment" of which we are so justly proud (because it does in fact carry with it much that is valuable) is badly flawed and often destructive, or is only partly or imperfectly adhered to.

 

5.  A propensity toward melioristic intervention distorts the democratic process so important to the United States.

            We have seen how many of the interventions result from media provocation that selectively and upon the shallowest basis creates a call for action.  Upon what model of "democracy" can this be justified?  None. 

            Nor is it "democracy" when the public is either not told at all or is deliberately misinformed about material facts, when those who hold opposing views are discredited by smears rather than having their views considered seriously, when the intervention flies in the face of overwhelming public opinion, or when the issue of war or peace is lost amid the welter of other issues in a presidential election campaign.  In any of these cases, "democracy" has more a rhetorical than a real presence.

            In their book about the American conquest of the Philippines a century ago, Moorfield Storey and Marcial Lichauco tell how "the staff correspondents of the leading American papers in Manila united in a statement to the American people.  ‘We believe that owing to official dispatches from Manila made public in Washington, the people of the United States have not received a correct impression of the situation in the Philippines.'"  Storey and Lichauco say that "with the help of the censored press during the war..., American public opinion utterly failed to realize what an efficient government the Filipinos had established several months before the treaty of Paris [that ended the Spanish-American War]."24  The American people would almost certainly not have supported the type of brutal war that was necessary to put down guerrillas backed by the civilian population if they had known that the Filipinos were capable of self-government and that the Philippine people almost unanimously supported the guerrillas' efforts, seeing it as a war for independence. 

            Unfortunately, this wasn't able to receive a full airing during the presidential campaign of 1900.  "The failure to meet the issue of 1900 is found in Mr. Bryan's insistent demands that the silver question be also injected in the Democratic banner.  This clouded the issue and weakened" the Democratic Party's announced intent to grant the Philippines independence.25  Such a barrier to public discussion is even more pronounced a hundred years later, given the multiplication since that time of issues that come into play in a presidential election.

            One of the most effective ways to deceive people is to keep essential information from them.  In American law, it is considered fraud for a seller of property not to tell the buyer about known, material, latent defects.  (A defect is "latent" if the buyer can't discover it by a reasonable inspection.) 

            Perhaps the most flagrant example underlay the United States' intervention into World War I – one of the most pivotal acts of the twentieth century.  John V. Denson writes that "if President Wilson had been truthful with the American people about the real facts surrounding the sinking of the British liner, the Lusitania, he would have lacked his causus belli."  Not only did Wilson fail "to warn and prevent American citizens from making the voyage after receiving official notice from the German embassy that the ship contained illegal contraband thereby making it a lawful target for German submarines,"26 but the fact that the ship was loaded with munitions was withheld from the American public until 1973.  Mark Weber says that "it was not until many years later that historian Colin Simpson was able to evaluate all the relevant information and definitively show just how mendacious the official story had been.  The Lusitania was actually armed with twelve quick-firing six-inch guns... and the ship's manifest had been falsified to hide a large cargo of munitions and other contraband.  Top British and American officials, including President Woodrow Wilson, deliberately suppressed vital information to encourage mass sentiment for war."27 In light of this manipulation of public opinion, is it possible in any meaningful sense to say that the American body politic acted "democratically" in deciding to go into World War I?

              Most Americans today don't know it, but polls before the attack on Pearl Harbor showed that the overwhelming number of Americans – some polls showed as high as 80 percent – opposed U.S. entry into World War II.  Nevertheless, President Roosevelt put the United States into the middle of the fight in the Atlantic, inviting the German attacks on the Kearny and the Greer.  Senator Nye observed that these "incidents" were "very largely of our own making and our own inviting.  We cannot order our ships to shoot to destroy the vessels of certain belligerent nations and hope at the same time" that they won't shoot back.28 

            At the same time, the leaders of the movement opposing intervention, no matter how reasoned their views, such as Charles Lindberg, were attacked unmercifully, especially with charges that they were pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic. 

            There is, of course, a vast literature discussing whether the Roosevelt administration deliberately maneuvered the country into war with Japan, which led immediately to war with Germany.  I won't review that literature here.  It is enough to notice that American entry into World War II was hardly the product of "majority rule" informed by open discussion.  This issue, so fundamental to democracy, isn't erased by the fact that Americans instantly changed their outlook when news came of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

            I have already discussed how foreign interventions, to be informed and wise, require a specialized knowledge on the part of a policy elite.  Even if such a "philosopher king" elite exists somewhere in the bowels of, say, the United States State Department, it is impossible to translate its decisions in favor of intervention into a truly "democratic" decision by the body politic.  This disconnect is itself a serious reason to refrain from most interventions.

 

6. A policy of melioristic intervention enlarges the federal government, adds to the burden of debt and taxation, and detracts from the power of Congress, all of which amounts to serious damage to the Constitutional system from the point of view of those who continue to care about it.

            The 1898 move away from the "hands off" policy was in effect a move fundamentally away from the Old Republic of limited Constitutional functions.  It is impossible to be an "imperial power" (even in its new form as a well-meaning uncle to peoples everywhere) with responsibilities all over the world and at the same time continue having a small and limited government. 

            This has an extremely important qualitative side, of course; but it can also be measured in the percentage of government spending and taxation relative to the economy as a whole, and in the percentage that government takes of the incomes of its citizens.  Billions of dollars of taxpayers' money – money that would otherwise have gone toward whatever individuals, families and business firms would have thought best for themselves – have gone into melioristic efforts for "nation building" in such places as Haiti and Somalia.  

            At the same time, the very structure of government is twisted into a new shape.  Fifty years ago in connection with the defense of Korea, Senator Robert A. Taft objected to the Constitutional distortion involved when a president committed troops without obtaining a declaration of war by Congress as called for by the Constitution.  The United States today has troops all over the world, where they serve as "tripwires" to assure American participation in conflicts as they arise.  The power to commit the United States to what may well become life-and-death struggles has shifted to the president and away from Congress, which participates peripherally and with little control over events.  The shift has been so pronounced that Taft's objection is almost never heard any more.

            The assumption today is that an insistence on Congress's declaring war is unrealistic.  Two premises support this: that there are so many hotspots for which the United States must be prepared in advance for quick response that the need for declarations of war would amount to a serious impediment; and that it is often better to engage in less formally committed hostilities without the "escalation" that a declaration of war entails. 

            It should be apparent, though, that these premises largely presuppose that it is desirable for the United States to involve itself in conflicts around the world.  Such a presupposition made sense during the Cold War struggle against Communist expansion, but – as this entire monograph suggests – should be seriously questioned in a world of centripetal forces where intervention is motivated primarily by a desire to tidy-up the world, making it a more civilized place.  There may be times in the future when a vital national interest will demand an immediate military response by the United States, and there may be times in such cases when a measured response is all that is desirable, meeting both of the premises behind the idea that a declaration of war is not feasible.  But something that happens on a few occasions is very different from something that comes up repeatedly because of a continuing national policy.   

 

Conclusion

 

            These thoughts are barely enough to suggest the effects on the United States itself.  The effects are, or will be, almost certainly more profound than we have described them.  [The icy fear of biological attack that many Americans feel after September 11 is a well-founded awareness of at least one of the further possibilities.]

 

                                                                   ENDNOTES

 

[1].  Storey and Lichauco, Conquest of the Philippines, p. 246.

[2].  Cole, America First, p. 189.

[3].  Patrick J. Buchanan, A Republic, Not an Empire (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1999), pp. 173, 176, 283, 6.

[4].  Insight magazine, May 3, 1999, p. 9.

[5].  Richard Bernstein and Ross H. Munro, The Coming Conflict With China (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997), p. 152.

[6].  These more recent details are provided by James H. Hughes in a manuscript for a pending book he is writing on missile defense.  They are cited with his permission.

[7].  James P. Pinkerton column, Wichita Eagle, September 8, 2000.

[8].  Buchanan, A Republic, Not an Empire, p. 353.

[9].  Allan C. Brownfeld, "Ramblings," The St. Croix Review, August 2000, pp. 25-27.

[10].  Report of the National Commission on America's National Interests, p. 49.

[11].  Robert Tucker, "An Inner Circle of One: Woodrow Wilson and His Advisers," National Interest, Spring 1998, p. 15; this is mentioned by Patrick Buchanan in A Republic, Not an Empire, p. 201.

[12].  Thomas G. Weiss and Jarat Chopra in Gene M. Lyons and Michael Mastanduno, ed.s, Beyond Westphalia?  State Sovereignty and International Intervention (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), p. 97.

[13].  Lyons and Mastanduno, ed.s, Beyond Westphalia?, pp. 5, 6.

[14].  Lyons and Mastanduno, ed.s., Beyond Westphalia?, p. 62.

[15].  Quoted in Manuel Noriega and Peter Eisner, America's Prisoner: The Memoirs of Manuel Noriega (New York: Random House, 1997), p. xx.

[16].  Kevin Phillips, Boiling Point (New York: Random House, 1993), p. 218.

[17].  Harald B. Malmgren, "Technology and the Economy," in Brock and Hormats, ed.s, The Global Economy (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1990), p. 103.

[18].  William Greider, One World, Ready or Not (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997), p. 17.

[19].  Paul Kennedy, Preparing for the Twenty-First Century (New York: Random House, 1993), p. 131.

[20].  Lyons and Mastanduno, ed.s, Beyond Westphalia?, p. 3.

[21].  RightNOW, October-December 2000, p. 28.

[22].  The Wichita Eagle, September 10, 1999, p. 11A.

[23].  Andy Rooney column, "One World," Tribune Media Services, Inc., appearing in The Prospector, Wichita, Kansas, on September 25, 2000.

[24].  Moorfield Storey and Marcial P. Lichauco, The Conquest of the Philippines by the United States, 1898-1925 (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1926), pp. 98, 62.

[25].  Storey and Lichauco, Conquest of the Philippines, p. 169.

[26].  John V. Denson in Denson, ed., The Costs of War: America's Pyrrhic Victories (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1997), p. 38.

[27].  Mark Weber in the Publisher's Foreword to Arthur Ponsonby, Falsehood in Wartime: Propaganda Lies of the First World War (Costa Mesa, CA: Institute for Historical Review, 1980), pp. viii, ix.  Ponsonby's book was first published by George Allen and Unwin in London in 1928.  The historian Colin Simpson authored the book Lusitania that was published in 1973; and the Oct. 13, 1973, issue of Life magazine, pp. 52-80, ran his revelations under the heading "Lusitania: A Great Liner With Too Many Secrets."

[28].  Quoted in Wayne S. Cole, America First: The Battle Against Intervention, 1940-1941 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1953), p. 161.  The information about the polls is given at p. 53.