Writing in The American Conservative, Pat Buchanan outlines the historical track of American foreign policy. It’s hard to see where many lessons have been learned.
U.S. foreign policy once seemed to make sense. We put vital interests ahead of democratist ideology. We stood by those who stood by us. We did not spend time inspecting the moral credentials of those who took America’s side. We played the cards we were dealt in this world.
Gen. Washington danced a jig when he heard Louis XVI, a descendant of the Sun King, would support America’s cause against our mother country.
In 1917, Woodrow Wilson took us to war “to make the world safe for democracy” as an associate power of five empires—the British, French, Italian, Russian, and Japanese. At war’s end, Wilson signed treaties that plundered the lands and colonies of the three defeated empires, for the benefit of the victorious empires.
In the Good War from 1941 to 1945 against the Nazis, our greatest ally was the mass murderer of Christians and democrats Josef Stalin.
In the Cold War, Dwight Eisenhower sanctioned the overthrow of democratic governments in Guatemala and Iran and their replacement by autocrats who would take our side in the struggle for the world.
We welcomed the Shah, Saudi kings and Gulf emirs. JFK welcomed the “Butcher of the Balkans,” Marshal Tito, to the White House.
President Nixon sided with autocratic Pakistan over democratic India—for Pakistan had sided with us.
Nixon went to Beijing to toast Chairman Mao, a monster as great as Stalin. Liberals sickened by our alliance with the “corrupt and dictatorial regime” of President Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon were ecstatic.
The Nixon White House celebrated the overthrow of elected president Salvador Allende of Chile by Gen. Augusto Pincohet.
And it goes on and on.