October 10th, 2006

America’s Former Foreign Policy


I recently received an email containing a story about a father teaching his son why we are at war in Iraq. The story can be accessed here.

The story, while emotionally stirring (on purpose), is inaccurate at best.

First off, I agree with the sentiments of the son towards the end, when he declares that he will defend his family. Defense is justified, and commanded. Preemptive war is not. Nowhere in the Constitution is the POTUS authorized to invade another country without a formal declaration of war and alter its form of government. Likewise, there is no scriptural basis for fighting such a preemptive war in hopes of erradicating future threats to our security. Indeed, quite the opposite is evidenced in the scriptures:

Now the people said unto Gidgiddoni: Pray unto the Lord, and let us go up upon the mountains and into the wilderness, that we may fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands.
But Gidgiddoni saith unto them: The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will ; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands. (3 Nephi 3:20, 21)

The sad thing about this story is that it tries to paint our current war as a dichotomy between good and evil. I’m sorry, but when those promoting this war have such alterior motives than those publicly expressed, I question their intent and the nature of their cause. Granting Halliburton no-bid contracts at the taxpayer’s steep expense, securing oil interests for familial business interests, and creating an opportunity to retain and expand ever-increasing executive powers is not what I would label as “good” in the clash between good and evil.

The title of this post is “America’s Former Foreign Policy”. The foreign policy we have long since abandoned, and to which we should quickly return, was penned by John Quincy Adams:

America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own…. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standards of freedom.
—John Quincy Adams


10 Responses to “America’s Former Foreign Policy”

  1. Robert
    October 10, 2006 at 9:06 pm #

    This is a very thought provoking post. As an American, I have always held the belief that only congress can declare war. However, I grew up during the nation’s most unpopular war, the Vietnam war. All of my memories of high school, junior high and elementary school are tainted by the Vietnam War. It seemed back then that we were powerless to end the conflict. Congress never did declare war against the North Vietnamese. i remember attending anti-war rallies, prayer vigals and participating in anti-war moritoriums. All across the nation, college campuses were in an uproar, and there was rioting in the streets.

    And when the finally ended, on my 18th birthday, there was no celebration or sense of victory. Everyone was simply glad it was over. Less than 2 years later, South Vietnam fell to the invading North Vietnamese army.

    This latest conflict reminds me very much of Vietnam. It has slowly grown more unpopular, and everytime I see a serviceman listed as dead or missing, my heart breaks for his or her family. There were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq.

    Again, another military venture with a high cost of human life and no real benefit to the security of this nation. I agree that in order for America to declare war, there has to be a real threat or attack, as happened at Pearl Harbor.

  2. fontor
    October 10, 2006 at 9:19 pm #

    I think you might mean ‘The Former America’s Foreign Policy”, sadly.

  3. mother
    October 11, 2006 at 6:40 am #

    Is a nation with power required to stand by while people in other lands are massacred? Can that nation sit with arms smugly folded and say, “Gee, they haven’t attacked US in our land. Murder away . . . . ”
    Not in my world.
    I have a global view. ALL the people of the world are my brothers and sisters. Do we, as Americans, bear NO responsibility to protect???

  4. fontor
    October 11, 2006 at 8:38 am #

    Hate to say it, but Bush showed us that the US simply doesn’t have that much power. How can we go after all the injustice in the world? There aren’t even enough troops to sort out two countries.

    And it’s not as if America’s settled all its own problems, and it’s time to start on everyone else’s. Maybe that would be a good idea to start.

    You have to pick your battles. Iraq wasn’t one of those cases that needed invasion. It also served as a diversion from North Korea. But that might have required negotiation and sanctions instead of blowing stuff up.

  5. Connor
    October 11, 2006 at 8:50 am #


    Is a nation with power required to stand by while people in other lands are massacred? Can that nation sit with arms smugly folded and say, “Gee, they haven’t attacked US in our land. Murder away . . . . ”
    Not in my world.

    We live in a world of sovereign nations. Each nation is responsible for its own citizens. There are times, I would agree, when one nation either requires assistance (say, due to a natural disaster) or is mistreating (i.e. killing or abusing) its people which necessitates intervention.

    However, what gives us the right to intervene? When our country was fighting the revolutionary war against King George, should France have come in, kicked out England, and organized a new government for us? No. Sure, in the end they helped out with munitions and forces (which I don’t think is too bad a thing), but it left us, the people, empowered to effect the change.

    Spreading good and helping others should be left to private individuals, organizations, and entities. The government is not the right body to enforce such a change as you envision. If it is, then we would likewise be justified in instituting socialism in our own country. I mean, we have lots of poor people, and surely since everybody is our brother and sister, the government (of the “nation with power”) should step in, redistribute our wealth, and solve the problem of the poor. Right? Wrong.

    For the same reason we shouldn’t institute socialism to fix our country’s economic problems, we also shouldn’t invade another country to fix it’s problems. That problem is that wicked men, lacking divine guidance, can never institute such a plan effectively. The United Order can and will eventually work because of who will be controlling it. God. Socialism cannot, because corrupt, power-lusting men screw it up. Likewise, this administration has done and is doing a poor job at protecting others.

    Protecting others… When as a result of this war 601,000 Iraqis have died, I begin to question this argument. Surely we have done substantial irreparable damage in this country.

    We are sticking our hand in a beehive and then growing upset when the bees sting us. We have seen countless car and suicide bombers spring up against us in this countries. The bees are attacking because we’re meddling with their honey. If only America will remove her hand from the beehive, the bee attacks will die down. Sure, there will be the occasional bee sting here and there, but that’s why we work to defend ourselves so that we may prevent such an occurence.

    I have a global view. ALL the people of the world are my brothers and sisters. Do we, as Americans, bear NO responsibility to protect???

  6. fontor
    October 11, 2006 at 8:58 am #

    Hmm. Don’t know if I would take the ‘never intervene’ option. Come on, there must be some cases where intervention would be appropriate. Darfur? Rwanda circa ’96? Holocaust Germany? Surely.

  7. Connor
    October 11, 2006 at 9:23 am #

    I’m not opposed to a joint operation with other countries who believe it is in the world’s best interest to depose a leader or halt atrocious crimes such as genocide. However, the UN is a corrupt, broken entity that doesn’t serve its stated purpose, and is not the best vehicle for such an approach. Besides, this is not the UN’s war, this is the US’s war. Bush wanted it, Bush asked for it, Bush promoted it, and Bush got it.

    Additionally, I’m okay with stated objectives that are executed, followed by withdrawal. During the revolutionary war it would have been bad for France to stick around and dictate how we should form our government, since after all, they helped evict the bad guys. Leave it to the people. Do not tell them which leaders they should choose and how they should run their government. If necessary, and if approved by a panel of other countries (without coercing their decision in our favor by threatening them with economic sanctions), then get in, get the job done, and get out. None of this dilly dallying with no stated objective…

  8. Wade
    October 11, 2006 at 12:31 pm #

    The government is not the right body to enforce such a change as you envision. If it is, then we would likewise be justified in instituting socialism in our own country.

    That is a terrible analogy. Try using this argument in 1942 and telling Great Britain and thousands of concentration camp inmates they are unworthy of our intervention because we are only justified (whatever that means) as a government to meddle in the affairs of foreign nations when they bring the war to our soil; or perhaps as you argue, when Congress officially declares (whatever that means) war on them.

    I understand you don’t like the war in Iraq, but please stop using the argument that the war is illegitimate or illegal because you’re wrong. Instead, stick to the other rather good points you make about the motives for war etc.

  9. Connor
    October 11, 2006 at 1:07 pm #


    I thought you were taking a respite from blogging? I was hoping to use these arguments without your opposition during your absence. Just kidding! 🙂

    The analogy between foreign military intervention and domestic socialism was a bad one, I’ll cede that point. My intent, however, was to illustrate how uninspired men with misleading (if not evil) intentions cannot successfully head these initiatives.

    As I said, I understand intervention when necessary and when supported (without coercion or threat) by the world population at large. Even then, such a cause should be a true coalition—not an effort branded as such by a single country (in this case, us) without true joint cooperation and burden-bearing by all parties involved.

  10. Connor
    October 11, 2006 at 3:23 pm #

    Just came across this related quote by President Benson:

    There is one and only one legitimate goal of United States foreign policy. It is a narrow goal, a nationalistic goal: the preservation of our national independence. Nothing in the Constitution grants that the president shall have the privilege of offering himself as a world leader. He is our executive; he is on our payroll; he is supposed to put our best interests in front of those of other nations. Nothing in the Constitution nor in logic grants to the president of the United States or to Congress the power to influence the political life of other countries, to ‘uplift’ their cultures, to bolster their economies, to feed their people, or even to defend them against their enemies. (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 614; see also pp. 682 & 704.)

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