President Woodrow Wilson, following the precedent set by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, transformed the American Republic into an Empire. He did it by sending U.S. troops to Europe to join in a fight between Empires, where one, the German Hohenzollern Empire was trying to best its better-established neighbor, the British Empire. When U.S. troops arrived in France in 1917 the three-year-old war had reached a stalemate. But with American troops coming to the aid of Britain, France, Russia, and their allies the balance shifted, and in 1918 this coalition of states defeated Germany and its Central Power allies.
In an address given to a joint sessions of Congress in 1918, Wilson presented a 14 point program, "our program…the only possible program," as he put it, for world peace. These points addressed the adjustment of colonial claims, the borders and sovereignty of Belgium, France (in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine), Italy, Austria-Hungary, Rumania, Serbia, Montenegro, Turkey, and Poland. Point 6 welcomed Russia into the society of free nations, with the "assistance of every kind she may need and may herself desire." Point 14 advocated a new world order through the formation of a "general association of nations," i.e., the League of Nations. As Richard Gamble puts it in Reassessing the Presidency, "The Fourteen Points were a direct effort to rearrange Europe, marking an unprecedented entry of the U.S. into European affairs and a further departure from America's traditional foreign policy of nonentanglement and non-intervention."
American intervention in this European war, one that had no bearing on American national interests, resulted in the Wilson-inspired Treaty of Versailles, which effectively destroyed Germany as an economically and politically viable nation and led to the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazis. America's first acts as an Empire had consequences that proved disastrous. Had the United States not intervened and allowed World War I to end in a stalemate, an intact Hohenzollern Germany could have thwarted the Bolshevik takeover of Russia and prevented the rise of Stalin. Although he said he wanted to "bring light and liberty and peace to all the world," Wilson's involvement in European affairs instead enabled Bolshevism to conquer Russia and Central Asia. Over the next seventy years Lenin, Stalin, and their successors killed, in the name of socialism, more than sixty million people, by starvation, exposure, and executions. Soviet apparatchiks tortured many millions of innocent men, women, and children.
Eight decades after President Wilson created it, the American Empire now deploys its military forces worldwide. Our Empire has troops in 106 countries. American presidents impose their will on other countries, for whatever wrongs their leaders may commit, even when they do not affect our national interests, by bombing them (without a declaration of war) and by imposing crippling economic sanctions, both of which have killed many thousands of innocent civilians. These imperial actions have fomented widespread resentment, and millions of people in the world hate our country. Our government's actions have bred a horde of bitter enemies, people who will sacrifice themselves in an attempt to kill as many Americans as they can, including children, by whatever means they have at their disposal.
Wilson was a Progressive. From a domestic and economic standpoint, as with his foreign policy, he wanted to expand the power of government to effect a revolution in society. He sought to increase both the size and scope of government. He said that he wanted to put government "at the service of humanity." During his two terms as president, from 1913-1921, Congress passed bills creating the Federal Reserve System (1913); the Federal Income Tax (Amendment 16, ratified in 1913); the Harrison Narcotics Act (1914), which made heroin and cocaine illegal; the Federal Trade Commission (1914); the Federal Farm Loan Act (1916); and the Prohibition of alcohol (Amendment 18, ratified in 1919).
Before Wilson was elected president federal government spending never exceeded 3 per cent of GDP, except during times of war (the War of 1812 and the Civil War). Government spending rose to more than 20 per cent of GDP during Wilson's two terms as president; and over the last half of the 20th century, with Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, government spending has ranged between 17-24 per cent of GDP. The principal reason why the thirteen American states agreed to establish a central government was to have a more coordinated and effective defense against foreign invasion. Now, however, 57 per cent of federal government spending goes for social programs, 12 per cent for interest on the federal debt, 1 per cent for foreign aid, 14 per cent for miscellaneous things, and 16 per cent for defense. Making matters even worse, the Federal Reserve Bank's monetary policy has obliterated 94 per cent of the value of the U.S. dollar. A basket of goods and services that cost $100.00 in 1913 now costs $1,673.00.
John Lukas, in his book Outgrowing Democracy: A History of the United States in the Twentieth Century, argues that Wilson, not Lenin, "turned out to be the real revolutionary." Abraham Lincoln, with his "American System" of high tariffs, internal improvements (i.e., corporate welfare and subsides), and central banking with paper money not backed by gold, set the stage during the Civil War for Wilson's social and economic revolution sixty years later. (For more about Lincoln's role in helping to create the American Empire see my article "A Jeffersonian View of the Civil War."
American citizens now have to bear the consequences of Lincoln and Wilson's transformation of the United States from a Constitutional Republic into an Empire. American citizens are now subject to attack at home, and we can expect terrorists to begin using chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons of mass destruction on us. Citizens who escape these attacks must confront the economic consequences of a burst economic bubble created by a Federal Reserve-engineered credit expansion, consequences that include a falling stock market, further devaluation of the dollar, job layoffs, and rapidly increasing personal and corporate bankruptcies.
Woodrow Wilson presented a Fourteen Point plan to Congress that launched the 20th century American Empire. The following is a Fourteen Point plan for a post-Wilsonian America, one that will restore our country in the 21st century to the Republic it once was:
- End the United States' worldwide military presence and keep American troops in the United States.
- Stop placing economic sanctions on other countries.
- Engage in unrestricted trade with all nations; drop all trade barriers with nations that will do the same.
- Declare principled neutrality in all foreign disputes and wars.
- Withdraw from the United Nations.
- Abolish Government restrictions on domestic energy production.
- End the War on Drugs; decriminalize their sale and use.
- Privatize health, education, welfare, and social security.
- Dismantle federal government regulatory agencies, such as the EPA, FDA, OSHA and BATF.
- Proscribe corporate welfare and subsidies.
- Return all illegal aliens to their homeland.
- Decommission the Federal Reserve banking system.
- Repeal the 16th Amendment and abolish the Federal Income Tax
- Place the nation's currency back on a Gold Standard.
Are these Fourteen Points too radical? The founders of our Republic Jefferson, Mason, and Madison, in particular and other classical liberals would argue that this is a sound plan. Implementing these Fourteen Points would restore the American government to its pre-Wilsonian state and re-establish freedom and property rights for its citizens.
Left liberal socialists, like my son-in-law, a Harvard academic leftist, revere Woodrow Wilson. For them, he is a Progressive hero, a millennial prophet. Such people think Wilson did the right thing by having government take more control over the economy and extend the scope of its power to solve social problems and achieve "social justice." They brand a plan like the one offered here as "isolationist" and dismiss these fourteen foreign, domestic, and economic points as not applicable to the complexities of life in the 21st century. Pursuing "peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; [but] entangling alliances with none," however, as Thomas Jefferson put it, is not isolationist. It is engagement in a peaceful manner. It is the best way to deal with people throughout the world. Trade with them and otherwise leave them alone.
Would an American President and Congress, irrespective of which party they belong to, ever adopt such a plan? Not any time soon, and not willingly. The lure of the power they wield is too great. But it can happen nevertheless.
After terrorists commandeered four large civil airliners and used them to kill thousands of Americans and destroy the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon, symbols of America's financial and military might respectively, the blood of the American people is up and a war fever grips the country. Retribution will be had, come what may. But as suicidal terrorists carry out more attacks on American civilians on their home soil, more and more Americans will address the question: Why is this happening? They will examine more carefully their country/cum/Empire. They will find that having the United States serve as the self-appointed policeman of the planet carries unacceptable risks in a world where zealots who hate us can gain access to weapons of mass destruction. American citizens, acceding to government authorities to give up their freedom for security, will find that they have neither freedom nor security. As the circle of violence widens an increasing number of people will come to realize that the only sure way to end the terror will be to close down our Empire and to return to our country's roots.
We need in the 21st century to adhere to the advice President George Washington gave Americans in the 17th century to extend commercial relations with all nations but have as little political connection with them as possible. The United States should declare neutrality in the continuing Thousand Year War between Muslims and Christians in the Mideast, one that shows no signs of ending anytime soon.
Likewise, if we do not wish to be mired in the coming economic depression for a prolonged period of time, as happened with the last one in the 1930s, which lasted twelve years, we must substantially reduce government spending, taxes, and regulatory compliance costs. Federal spending has grown eight times faster than the economy since the last depression. Over the last forty years federal expenditures on regulatory activity have increased 2.7 times faster than economy a 14 per cent per year annual growth rate, compounded. Government regulations currently consume $977 Billion annually, siphoning off 13 per cent of the economy, which is $3,300.00 per man, woman, and child. In order for our country to regain economic health we must make sure that the free-market private sector once again becomes, as it was before our nation assumed the burdens of empire, the largest and fastest growing segment of the economy.
In the war against terrorism, the president and Congress will most likely put into effect National ID cards, travel permits, video surveillance cameras on roads and in public places, and other measures that encroach on individual freedom. When Americans find that these measures are ineffective in combating terrorism and all they have to show for it is the loss of their liberty and freedom, people in some states may do what people in the southern states choose to do in 1860-61 when Abraham Lincoln was elected president. They may opt to secede from a United States controlled by a ruling elite that wants to maintain its Empire despite continuing and unstoppable terrorist attacks on Americans. Such a move would enable citizens in those states to regain their liberty, plus secession from the United States Empire would insulate seceded states from continuing terrorist threats. If this were to happen and one or more states once again seceded from the Union, it would go a long way towards helping to coerce U.S. political leaders to dismantle their Empire.
When Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, was vacating Richmond as the war was coming to a close, a traveling companion remarked that the cause of the Confederacy was lost. Davis replied:
It appears so. But the principle for which we contended is bound to reassert itself, though it may be at another time and in another form.
That principle is the federal compact of limited constitutional government, natural rights, and the rule of law. It is grounded in state sovereignty and the right of secession.
Let us hope that as a nation we will have the good sense to dismantle our Wilsonian Empire and choose to live in peace with our neighbors before a growing army of terrorists kills too many more Americans, and before our military kills too many more innocent Islamic civilians.
September 28, 2001