At the U.S. Army War College’s 16th Annual Strategy Conference last week, a senior Department of Defense strategist defined U.S. “Grand Strategy” as the export of freedom and democracy. He added that the U.S. military would play a huge role in implementing the strategy. In short, and to paraphrase, the official said: “Get ready, soldiers, you’re going democracy-crusading.”
Exporting freedom and democracy is not a Grand Strategy. It may be an ambition, an obsession, or – most likely – a hallucination. The idea that such exports are a “Grand Strategy” spotlights the ignorance about America of the men and women who today lead the country. Ditto for many of the 535 individuals in the Senate and House. America is not a nation meant to order others how to live and then push them at bayonet point into that lifestyle. The cost of such a policy, John Quincy Adams wrote, would be the loss of America’s soul.
The force behind this Grand Strategy is President Bush’s inane, ahistorical claim that “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.” This is pure Wilsonian claptrap with the lethality-multiplying extra of being hands-on, rather than rhetorical Wilsonianism – the difference being that foreigners died from the latter, while Americans will die from the former. Mr. Bush, Mr. Rumsfeld, Ms. Rice, Mr. Cambone, Mr. Wolfowitz, Mr. Bolton, and their acolyte front organizations at the Weekly Standard, American Enterprise Institute, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, etc., are not bad or evil people. They’re just confused and ignorant about the meaning of America.
And, like Wilson, Bush is ill-served by some of his advisers, public and private. Wilson had House, Page, and Lansing, each of whom put British interests above American and pushed us into world war. Bush has Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Perle, who seem to conflate Israel’s interests with America’s and are pushing us toward a war with Islam. Indeed, U.S. elites across party lines bask in this American-killing conflation.
Wilsonianism is nothing more than cynically promising oppressed people freedom that cannot be delivered without using force. As an anti-military, provincial bigot, Wilson knew this. He knew Americans would not allow their sons to be killed in large numbers so that 1919 Bosnia-Herzogovinians could vote. He also knew the rhetoric of “self-determination” and “teaching people to elect good men” would cost him nothing. He did not care what it cost the foreigners who believed his twaddle; they could not vote.
Today’s Wilsonians, with father-and-son Bush in the van, are far more dangerous to America than the late, unlamented Wilson. Their ignorance of the Founders’ intentions and lack of any semblance of the Founders’ wisdom have made them democracy-crusaders in every blood-spilling sense of the phrase. Knowing nothing of, and thus having no respect for, the long and bloody post-Runnymede struggle of Americans and their ancestors to build an equitable democracy at home, the new Wilsonians are using – and intend to expand the use of – the U.S. military to seek overseas the unobtainable, war-inducing goals of the crazed Woodrow.
As the president and his aides expand the Bush-family-spawned democracy-krieg, they are also preparing the world’s strongest, smartest, most decent, and best-trained military to be shock troops. Ignorant of America, contemptuous of other cultures, and driven by the fantasy that our liberties depend on those of others, the new Wilsonians will use our sons and daughters to teach all peoples, in all cultures, at all times, and in all places to “elect good men.” This is a recipe for war in each place we decide to “help.” Hands-on Wilsonianism means our leaders will go looking for trouble around the world. They will find it and then cheerfully spend the lives of our soldiers and Marines on warfare in numerous places, overwhelm the volunteer military, and necessitate conscription’s return. Worse, our soldiers and Marines will be transformed by this ignorant crew from the protectors of the United States to the bloody – and bloodied – imposers of a brand of democratic orthodoxy that brooks no opposition based on others’ history, culture, or faith, and is eager to teach democracy with the sword.
Sadly, for America, the neocons and many Republicans differ from the Democrats only in that the latter are eager to teach democracy with the sword until there are U.S. casualties, then they run for the hills. Neither the neocons nor the Democrats – an imperial power in their own right, serving as the master of numerous, single-interest colonial constituencies – seem to know that the Founders they often praise believed in a nation of laws and in nonintervention in the affairs of other countries. Refusing to enforce laws they pass – witness immigration and border control – and meddling in multiple foreign nations knowing that they will provoke war, this entire crowd is a pox on America’s house. Americans should damn them, damn Wilson, and cull the strength to resist their plans from three things for which this crowd will never tumble: the Founders’ timeless guidance, the traditional repugnance of Americans for bullies, and the innate common sense, insularity, modesty, and quiet patriotism of non-elite Americans. A presidential candidate for 2008 could do no better than talking to as many of these folks as possible, while systematically absorbing the Federalist and Washington’s Farewell Address, and reading the essays of Congressman Ron Paul and Paul Craig Roberts on this Web site.