No, I’m not talking about the tv show. Interventionism (the policy or doctrine of intervening, especially government interference in the affairs of another state or in domestic economic affairs) is, of course, the opposite of non-interventionism (abstention by a nation from interference in the affairs of other nations or in those of its own political subdivisions). In what has become a much-admired-by-many House of Representatives floor speech in early 2009 – titled “What If?” – current Presidential candidate Ron Paul spoke the following words:
“What if we wake up one day and realize that the terrorist threat is the predictable consequence of our meddling in the affairs of others, and has nothing to do with us being free and prosperous?”
In my experience over the last few years, the immediate reaction upon absorbing this quote by many who call or think of themselves as “conservative” is that, well, countries like Iran refer to the US as “the Great Satan” and want to destroy the US’ greatest Middle Eastern ally, Israel. But let us consider history.
Did you know Iran hasn’t referred to the US as “the Great Satan” forever? In fact, the term was first used in 1979, only just over three decades ago. Why? Because about 60 years ago, the US government (and I use the term “the US government”, instead of “we” or “us”, carefully – I had no vote in and nothing to do with it) started meddling in Iran’s affairs. Look at Mosaddegh and the coup d’état in 1953. The US government overthrew and replaced him with the Shah. Then, 26 years later, the US government decided that its previous decision was no longer in its best interests, so the US government deposed the Shah. That’s only a fraction of US involvement.
Imagine if another country, 100x more militarily and economically stronger than ours, did the same thing to us for 60 years. If, say, China.. or the Soviets.. set up political and military coups, basically ran OUR country. We too would probably refer to them as “the Great Satan”. The CIA calls this “blowback“. And as I penned in my previous post of the same name: “America is exceptional, it is the most prosperous country in the history of the world, but it is not infallible – in fact, far from it.”
We have to apply history and perspective to our position here. The issue raised with regard to Iran (and other Arab nations) is in fact exactly what the “What If?” quote was referring to.
It is hardly the fault of the average US citizen not to have in-depth knowledge of these facts. We spend our lives slaving away for 8, 10, 12 hours a day (at least 3-4 of those hours of every day go directly to various governments in various ways). Then we come home and spend the rest of our night recuperating, trying to relax, and planning for the next day. We don’t have the time to become scholars on political history. Almost nobody in positions of power or influence ever talks about any of this important history; one has to really take the initiative and dig deep to find it. And that’s why I’ve become such an adamant supporter of Ron Paul. Personally, he brought me face-to-face with a lot of these issues I had never realized or heard about or dealt with before, and he’s the only one that will really address it when it counts (i.e. in the debates), even though it’s an unpopular subject. And studying these previously unknown histories for over 3 years has provided a completely new perspective on it all.
Of course, though, the question will remain: What about Israel? The answer is clear – in fact, Thomas Jefferson clued us in a few centuries ago. The US should be great friends with Israel, in trade and diplomacy. Israel should be free to defend itself without condemnation from the US. If it wants to make preemptive strikes, fine. It is a sovereign country with a superior military and can easily do so. But the US’ only moral action at this point is to apologize to Israel for the hostile environment the US has created in the Middle East, and then get out of it.
“Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none.” – Thomas Jefferson
More foreign intervention is like more quantitative easing. We can print more and more money, but we are just building a bigger bubble. And when we finally stretch ourselves too thin militarily and economically because of our need to be the policeman of the world, the crash will be devastating.