Of, By and For the People – Chapter 9: National Security

Of, By and For the People – Chapter 9: National Security. Greetings my fellow Americans! As we near the end of this review of The 28 Principles of Liberty from the book The 5000-Year Leap, I wanted to briefly summarize where we’ve been so far in this series.  We’ve seen that these principles are rooted in:

  • Respect for, and adherence to, Natural and Divine Law
  • Equal and Unalienable Rights for all
  • Governance solely by the authority of The People
  • Property Rights required for Life and Liberty
  • Free markets + minimal government = maximum prosperity
  • Separated, checked, balanced, and limited government powers under a representative republic
  • Local control of education

The next group of principles addresses our Founders’ philosophy on the government’s, and the Peoples’, roles in defending a civilized society rooted in individual liberty from threats of its destruction (emphasis mine):

24. A free people will not survive unless they stay strong.

25. “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliances with none.”

 It is clear from the Founders’ writings (especially Franklin, Washington, and Samuel Adams), that they knew full well that there would always be threats to American sovereignty, especially as it was shown to promote maximum prosperity for the whole of society.  Predatory people and nations would undoubtedly collude to form potentially overwhelming forces, and it was the responsibility of the government to grow and maintain military forces which would always be stronger, to dissuade actual conflict.  The People, meanwhile, were responsible for providing the means (primarily financial) necessary to sustain those defenses.  

The onus of vigilance toward, and recognition of, the constant threat to a free and prosperous United States from those seeking to nefariously exploit its prosperity and/or its outright demise, was on the People, as well as the government.  The People also had a responsibility to ensure that their individual unalienable rights were protected.  While “government at the consent of the governed” was established around this main purpose, it did not absolve the people from staying strong in maintaining high standards of public morality nor knowledge of the fundamentals of liberty as the American legacy grew and was passed on to future generations.  Peace would be maintained through strength.  Freedom would not be “free.”  

The United States, according to our Founders, would also ensure peace within its own borders, but would refrain from involving itself in the political, military or commercial affairs of other nations—not in an isolationist manner, but rather a separatist and relatively neutral one, a la Switzerland.  Wholesome commercial relationships would be cultivated with all nations, and no other nation would be classified as “friend” nor “enemy.”  Temporary alliances may be necessary in the face of direct and specific threats (as the American Revolutionaries did with France), but only until those direct threats were quashed.  Our Founders foresaw any permanent international alliances as heightening the threat to ourselves of alienating nations who were otherwise embroiled in disputes with those with whom we were allying.

We’ll visit the notion of “manifest destiny” later in this series, but for now highlight this as a key distinction in the original American approach to worldwide human affairs from that of Switzerland.  Our Founders believed in leading by example, and adopted this approach as a means of demonstrating what would be possible in a civilization based on individual liberty, unalienable rights, morality and virtue, and neutrality.  They believed this would naturally attract others into adoption and emancipation for themselves and their societies, and the American ideal would spread organically worldwide.  No force, coercion, or playing favorites with other nations would be necessary.

The Founders’ philosophy was the official U.S. policy for 125 years.  Though there were wars with other countries (and amongst ourselves) during that time, all were limited to battles on our own soil.  As the 20th Century commenced, and under increasing internal pressure to embroil the U.S in world affairs, we engaged in a series of international overseas “conflicts” which fundamentally altered our relationships with other nations and our approach to national security.  Not being a war historian, I will refrain from any discussion here about why we chose to engage in any of those wars, conflicts, peace-keeping missions, etc., nor will I pass judgment on whether we should or should not have engaged.  Instead, I would like to contrast where we are today in terms of foreign relations and national defense and security from that original policy and philosophy.

Though we did not join the League of Nations after World War I, we did join the United Nations after WWII, and are still a member some 76 years later.  We entered NATO in 1949.  The Office of Naval Intelligence was actually created in 1882 as the first permanent foreign intelligence organization, though its use was quite limited until the Theodore Roosevelt administration.  Aside:  Domestic intelligence capabilities were also greatly expanded under the first President Roosevelt with the establishment of what has become the FBI.

The OSS had its genesis during WWII, the purportedly non-military Central Intelligence Group (CIG) was formed immediately after WWII, and became CIA with President Truman’s National Security Act of 1947.  The IC continued to grow through organizational mitosis and meiosis during the Korean, Vietnam, and Cold Wars.  We entered the World Trade Organization (WTO) and awarded Most Favored Nation status to the other members in 1995.  This is by no means intended to be a comprehensive or exhaustive litany of “entangling alliances,” but rather a list of those of the greatest import to our current position on the world stage, and of our deviation from our founding philosophy.

Suffice it to say that any “what-if” analysis of world affairs, our national security, and international relationships would be pure speculation at this point.  But after reviewing the philosophy of the American Founders on these fronts (and being triggered by them in ways I hadn’t anticipated), I can’t help but wonder how our world might be different today had the United States not escalated its involvement in it, and rather stayed true to its principles in these areas.

Can we revert back to those American principles of national security as a United States?  Have we retained enough of the founding core to return to the notion of leading by example?  What would it take to return America to the world stage as an exemplar of individual liberty, unalienable rights, morality and virtue, and neutrality?

Of, By, and For The People!

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