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Posts Tagged ‘John Quincy Adams’

Today, at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney offered his thoughts regarding U.S. foreign policy.  The full text of his speech can be found here, but to follow is an excerpt:

The greater tragedy of it all is that we are missing an historic opportunity to win new friends who share our values in the Middle East—friends who are fighting for their own futures against the very same violent extremists, and evil tyrants, and angry mobs who seek to harm us.  Unfortunately, so many of these people who could be our friends feel that our President is indifferent to their quest for freedom and dignity. As one Syrian woman put it, ‘We will not forget that you forgot about us.’…

…I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region—and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination.

Now compare these ideas with those of John Quincy Adams, our 6th President.  While serving as Secretary of State, on July 4th 1821, he said the following:

Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her [America’s] heart, her benedictions, and her prayers be.  But, she 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 of her own.

Quite a difference of opinion, don’t you think?  Both seek to remake the world, but while Adams calls for a policy of peace and leading through example, Romney’s plan will invariably lead to bloodshed and is a call for either direct or covert military action, overthrowing regimes and installing ones more friendly to the United States and her ideals.

It wasn’t too long ago when both those on the left and those on the right would have rejected Romney’s plan of action and instead have embraced the reasoning of Quincy Adams.  As recently as the presidency of Bill Clinton, Republicans condemned the president’s military adventurism in the former Yugoslavia due to the fact that the conflict in no way threatened the security of the United States or her citizens.  In fact, the Kosovo Liberation Army, the group the United States supported in the conflict, had previously been declared a terrorist organization.  But the “isolationist” line of thinking of people like John Quincy Adams and the GOP ought to have changed after the attacks of 9-11, right?

In order to answer that question, we must ask another; what motivated the airline hijackings on 9/11?  Was it due to a rejection of our supposedly decadent American lifestyles and immorality?  Perhaps it was…in some small part.  But, if that reasoning alone was sufficient, why attack the United States?  Aren’t there a variety of “evil” countries closer to the Middle East that could have served as a target just as easily?  Could it be that there might be additional reasons?

It seems that a considerable number of Americans have little to no knowledge of Middle Eastern history prior to the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979 to 1981.  However, if we turn back the clock several decades, we find a prime example of when the United States interfered in the internal affairs of a Middle Eastern nation with unfortunate results.  Back in the 1950s, Mohammad Mosaddegh, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran sought to wrest control of Iran’s oil fields from the British.  In response, the British and the United States governments teamed up to launch a coup against Mosaddegh and propped up the Shah, a man who many Iranians came to view as an increasingly brutal dictator and an unwelcome westernization of their nation.   His overthrow in early 1979 led to the Islamic state, which now rules in Iran and remains hostile to the United States and her allies, as well as leading to the Iranian Hostage Crisis.  I am also certain these actions taken in Iran by the United States helped fuel the hatred and actions of the hijackers on 9/11.

Now I know what you are thinking, two wrongs don’t make a right.  And, of course, I agree.  Regardless of any U.S. foreign policy, the 9/11 hijackers were in no way justified in their actions and ought to be condemned by every civilized people.  But, if two wrongs don’t make a right, shouldn’t we also agree that three wrongs don’t make a right either?  Doesn’t Romney’s plan repeat the mistakes we made in Iran?  If we wouldn’t appreciate a foreign nation either overthrowing our leaders or propping up our despots, what makes us think that some other group of people would?  And isn’t it also possible that if we overthrow either the government of Syria or Iran such an action could lead to blowback that is far greater than what we have seen?

We seem to have forgotten that the primary purpose of both the United States government and its military is to protect the lives, liberties, and property of American citizens.  It is not intended to dole out taxpayer money to foreign governments, install puppet regimes, or promote the horribly misguided Wilsonian idea of “making the world safe for democracy.”  Should we ask our soldiers to give up their lives in order to promote governments that very well might have ties to the same ideology and people who attacked us on 9/11?

Therefore, we must reject any foreign policy that deviates from the limitations imposed by the Constitution.  Although it might be interesting to speculate how our government could mold a better world, we have seen far too many domestic failings of the feds first-hand through bailouts, subsidies, regulations, and overburdensome security at our airports.  What would make us think that the rest of the world would either desire or appreciate the same treatment?  As bad a leader as many of us think Barack Obama is, what would your reaction be if the Iranian government removed him from power and gave us a new president?

Haven’t we learned that we can no longer afford a neo-conservative foreign policy?  More importantly, doesn’t stumbling down this path foster greater hatred of the United States and, in the long run, make us less safe?  Don’t you think that it time to return to the wisdom of men like John Quincy Adams?

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Well, today marks another milestone.  Today is my birthday, the big three zero.  Oh, how time flies.  Normally I don’t make much of a deal about birthdays.  After all, how much of an accomplishment is a birthday?  What great feat have I mastered?  Not dying, I suppose.  Nevertheless, I will admit that it is nice to have a day when people pay attention to you.  But in this post I’d like to talk to you what I believe is a more relevant anniversary, my fifteenth.

You see, about fifteen years ago I first took the great plunge into politics.  Sure, I developed an interest earlier.  Let me draw you back into those halcyon days.  I remember voting in our school’s mock Presidential election in ‘88 and ‘92; I stopped in to the local GOP headquarters in November 1994 to pick up an “Ollie!” button.  I watched the election returns at home and remember being excited about the result, though I wasn’t really involved.  Like most Americans, I was a passive spectator.  Soon after that cycle, everything changed.  I eagerly purchased “To Renew America”.  I committed myself to my first important issue, abortion, and so I ordered a bunch of Pro-life literature from Heritage House 76.  I even created a crude bumper sticker, which I proudly displayed on a folder around the halls of my high school.  It was a very simplistic time, a time when everything was clearly black and white.  All Republicans, like my heroes Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Majority Leader Bob Dole, were good guys, and Democrats, like President Bill Clinton and Minority Leaders Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt, were the bad guys.  1995 was a year of tremendous optimism.  After all, Republicans dominated the 1994 election unified on the back of the Contract With America.  And after my first attempt at volunteering in that year, Glenn Weatherholtz picked up the 26th House of Delegates seat and Kevin Miller won the 26th State Senator seat, things were looking extremely positive.  But life didn’t stay that way for long.

The next years were a back and forth series of ups and downs, positive at the state level and disheartening at the federal.  In my first Presidential election in 1996, Bill Clinton easily defeated Senator Bob Dole.  In 1997, then Republican Attorney General Jim Gilmore won the Governor’s race in Virginia promising to eliminate the car tax.  Next, in 1998, we had the GOP congressional loss and Newt Gingrich’s fall from power, coupled with the later discovery of his hypocritical affair.  Then in 1999, Republicans captured a majority of the seats in the House of Delegates for the first time since Reconstruction.  During this time, however, I slowly began to come to the critical understanding that politics was more than blind partisanship and the single issue of abortion.  Sure the Republican Party and pro-life work are important, but they are facets of a larger struggle of ideology and principles…conservatism versus liberalism.

Considering I mention it so often in this blog, I feel like I need to talk a bit about foreign policy.  Interestingly enough, foreign policy was never an important issue to me until after the attacks of 9-11.  Who cares about other nations?  I thought.  Our own domestic policy was all that really mattered.  Sure, I didn’t support Clinton’s adventure in Bosnia, but my objection primarily stemmed from economic concerns.  As I studied more about the issue in college (at first rather reluctantly), I came to realize that how we conducted our affairs abroad had a tremendous impact on policies at home both in terms of security and our budget.  If we are supposedly a Judeo-Christian nation, shouldn’t we treat other nations and peoples as we ourselves would like to be treated?  Now don’t misunderstand, the primary objectives of our government are to secure the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens and so if another nation (or group) seeks to destroy our freedoms or our people, we must prevent them from doing so.  But, as John Quincy Adams reminds us, “Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she 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.”  Unfortunately, this seemingly simple time honored principle has gotten me in more trouble in Republican circles than any other.

These last eight years or so have been extremely depressing.  Why?  At the national level, how many government programs, department, and agencies have been eliminated?   Compare that number to how many new bureaucracies have been added.  It’s sad isn’t it, watching the government grow, our liberties shrink, and our constitution reduced to mere toilet paper?  So many politicians cry for change, but how many of them protect our rights, our borders, or the unborn?  So many are pathetic shills.  Until the Ron Paul campaign came along in 2007, I didn’t think politics would ever get better.  Suddenly Paul was a single drop of limited government conservativism in an indifferent ocean of status quo politicians.  He firmly stood for principle over party politics.  Most Republicans I knew shunned Paul and it wasn’t until after the campaign had concluded that they finally viewed the doctor in a positive light.  These days, with the rise of the tea party movement, I’m very hopeful that this new wave of activists will push both the Republican Party and the federal government toward the conservative principles that I have been advocating for a long time now.

Based upon these last years, what will the future hold?  Will taxes, regulations, and mandates from Washington further shackle the American public?  Will the states refuse to obey any more unconstitutional legislation?  Will a great leader emerge to restore the republic or conversely will he or she create a socialist paradise?  We should not look to others for the answers to these questions, but to ourselves.   Right now we have a lot of positive rhetoric and hope, but we need greater numbers and, more importantly, action.  Therefore, I ask you to join me.  Politically speaking, you may be an infant, a teenager like myself, or someone far more experienced, but really age doesn’t mater.  Only by working together can we enact meaningful change. We must not be silent.  We must not be complacent.  Recruit your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your coworkers.  Run for office, draft legislation, write your Congressman, volunteer in your local GOP, or join a Tea Party.  Getting back to the original point about my birthday, if you’re looking to get me the perfect gift, how about a little liberty?

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