George O’Neill asks why America must pursue a bellicose neocon foreign policy, rather than following the advice of more levelheaded leaders like Rep. Howard Buffett (father of Warren), President Eisenhower who warned against the expanding military-industrial complex, Pres. Washington who in his farewell address begged the country to cultivate peace and harmony with all, or John Quincy Adams who said 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.”
O’Neill wonders if anyone outside of the neocon cohort of Washington D.C. would make the same decision to invade Iraq knowing the destruction and cost the war created. He writes at The American Conservative:
More than half a century ago, Congressman Howard Buffett, father of Warren Buffett, said on the floor of Congress:
Even if it were desirable, America is not strong enough to police the world by military force. If that attempt is made, the blessings of liberty will be replaced by coercion and tyranny at home. Our Christian ideals cannot be exported to other lands by dollars and guns. Persuasion and example are the methods taught by the Carpenter of Nazareth, and if we believe in Christianity we should try to advance our ideals by HIS methods. We cannot practice might and force abroad and retain freedom at home. We cannot talk world cooperation and practice power politics.
When America has ignored this sage advice, the result has been many negative unintended consequences and costs far exceeding those anticipated or advertised. Imagine if George W. Bush had told us in 2001 he wanted to start a series of wars that would kill 6,000 Americans, wound tens of thousands more, kill hundreds of thousands of Middle Easterners, make millions homeless, totally destroy ancient cities, and wreck several countries. Add to that the expenditure of five to six trillion dollars, and after 16 years have more people committed to attack and destroy us than before, with no end in sight. Would anyone have agreed to such a disaster other than the neoconservatives?…
Many serious thinkers believe that today’s sudden high level of Russophobia and neo-McCarthyism is a worthy diversion from the many failures of America’s interventionist foreign policy. The United States and Russia together have the power to cooperate and settle the war in Syria. But this is anathema to the Washington political and media establishment. Hence the constant harping to alienate and marginalize any person or idea in favor of cooperation.
These days the Washington default position appears to be in favor of multiple wars in multiple locations around the globe—Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Ukraine, Somalia, Iran, Korea, the South China Sea. Some of these hotspots might create conditions requiring the world’s greatest power to protect its interests militarily. But we can’t fight in all these locations at the same time without encountering disaster. And it must be acknowledged that we have a long and unbroken history of failure of this type of policy….
Were America to enjoy a realistic and restrained relationship with the Russian Federation today, perhaps the ongoing tensions with Iran could be deescalated with Russian cooperation. Perhaps a negotiated settlement to the heart-rending Syrian civil war could be realized. Perhaps an accommodation in Ukraine, based on a policy of regional autonomy within that tragically split country, could be fostered. Perhaps Russia could serve into the future as a valuable counterweight to the Asian specter of a rising China. And perhaps the two countries with the greatest nuclear capabilities in the world wouldn’t be looking at each other with clenched teeth.
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