Live and Let Live

In a previous essay, I expressed admiration for the non-interventionist foreign policy set forth by George Washington in what we call the Farewell Address (1796). I stated that the American way of life is best expressed by the phrase, “live and let live.” George Washington’s foreign policy of peaceful neutrality — basically, what Switzerland’s policy has been for five centuries — is an application of “live and let live.”

This view of the American way has always had two major rivals. The first rival view has shaped American foreign policy for almost two centuries, and American economic policy since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. This view can also be stated in four words: “Defend the little guy.” Hans Kraepelin coined a word for this outlook over 30 years ago: infracaninophilia — love of the underdog.

The second rival view can also be expressed in four words: “Do it our way.” We used this phrase with the tribes that originally occupied North America above the Rio Grande, and also on Spanish-speaking people who came under our jurisdiction as a result of the war for Texas, the Mexican War, and the Spanish-American War. In the case of the colonies that we gained during the Spanish-American war — Puerto Rico and the Philippines — we justified the theft in terms of “defending the little guy,” and then we ran things our way, but officially on behalf of the little guys. We became the overdog. As for the American tribes, we placed them on reservations, and, after the Civil War ended, began the initial American experiment in welfarism, which is still going on. When you think “welfare State,” think “Bureau of Indian Affairs.” When you think “socialized medicine,” think “Indian Health Service.”

“Defend the little guy” was the ethical impulse, and when it was combined with the secularized postmillennial vision of America’s “manifest destiny,” it produced modern interventionist foreign policy. It was the ethical-racial vision of “the English-speaking man’s burden” that led to the creation of the Council of Foreign Relations in 1921. The CFR was an extension of the Rhodes-Milner group, represented by the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA). (On this point, see The Anglo-American Establishment, written by Carroll Quigley, who taught Bill Clinton history at Georgetown University. Even better is Part I of Otto Scott’s 1985 book on South Africa, The Other End of the Lifeboat.)

I have described the racial aspect of this vision in a chapter on William Jennings Bryan, who opposed it. The Aryan triumphalism of the Progressives, 1910-1939, was an extension of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species by way of the work of his cousin, Francis Galton. Anyone who has studied the history of the eugenics movement in the United States is familiar with this dark side of the Progressive movement. Eugenics was bankrolled by the Eastern Establishment, especially John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

The use of foreign policy as a way to uplift other nations, but always at a profit for large corporate interests, was basic to British-American foreign policy in the twentieth century. Consider the career of Raymond Fosdick (1883-1972). He was the brother of Harry Emerson Fosdick, who was Rockefeller’s pastor and for whom Rockefeller built the Riverside Church in the mid-1920’s. Raymond Fosdick had gone on Rockefeller’s payroll in 1913. He had been sent to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 as part of “Col.” Edward Mandell House’s group, “the Inquiry,” which ran the American team at Paris. At the League of Nations, Fosdick, as Under Secretary General, worked daily with 31-year-old Jean Monnet, France’s Under Secretary General. Fosdick wrote to his wife that he, Monnet, and the British Under Secretary General were working to lay the foundations of “the framework of international government. . . .” (Letter of July 31, 1919; in Fosdick, ed., Letters on the League of Nations [Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1966], p. 18.)

This was no idle boast. Over the next six decades, Monnet became the driving force behind the creation of the European Common Market and the New European order. He died in 1979. Meanwhile, Fosdick returned to the United States, became Rockefeller’s attorney in 1920, and ran the Rockefeller Foundation’s empire for the next three decades. He wrote Rockefeller’s authorized biography, published in 1956. He was a founding member of the CFR in 1921, along with many other members of the Inquiry.

To justify the intervention of the United States into two world wars, the Progressives and their ideological heirs appealed to the deep-seated desire of Americans to defend the little guy from the German bully. This strategy failed to get us into the wars in 1915-17 and 1939-41. It took attacks on American ships, plus the needless decision by Hitler to declare war on us on December 11, 1941. Wilson’s fake neutrality, which in fact backed Great Britain, got us into World War I. (Charles C. Tansill, America Goes to War; Harry Elmer Barnes, The Genesis of the World War.) Roosevelt’s economic embargo on Japan and his constant pressure on Japan to get out of China got us into World War II. (Tansill, Back Door to War; Barnes [ed.], Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace; Charles A. Beard, President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War.)

At any time, there are two dozen wars going on in the world. The media rarely mention any of them. Occasionally, one of them gets our attention, and off we go. Somalia in 1993 is an example. Why were American troops sent to Somalia? No one knew. When a few of them got killed and dragged through the streets, and this was seen on national TV, Clinton pulled the troops out, and nothing more was said. The public immediately forgot. Go to the CIA Yearbook. There is no mention of our ever having deployed troops in Somalia. The bullies in Somalia are presumably still beating up on the little guys. Life goes on as before. How many Americans are prepared to discuss Rwanda-Burundi in terms of the history of the Hutus and Tutsis? Americans do not care. Why should we? It is not our fight. There are too many fights for us to care about all of them.

There is a division of labor in life. There is also scarcity. America cannot afford to fight every fight, rescue every little guy. Our government ignores most fights. But Americans remain playthings of the Presidency as far as the “war of the week” is concerned.

To conserve scarce resources and focus our attention, American Presidential administrations should follow George Washington’s Farewell Address. They should imitate Switzerland. But this limited role for America does not please the interventionists-internationalists. Nor does it please most conservatives, who serve as faithful trustees for the former group. Their task is to keep the common man’s sense of justice focused on carefully screened and selected foreign shores.

A Conservative Critic

In a letter to me from a conservative critic, we read the familiar justification: “Defend the little guy.” I reprint his e-mail here because it represents the ethical impulse behind the foreign-policy intervention that gets us into endless wars. It is what the common American adopts when extending the power of the CFR and the other New World Order acolytes.

I have read with great disappointment your treatise on non-involvement.

“If this nation had adhered to these words, we would be far richer, far freer, and far less worried about alien fanatics who kill civilians as a religious statement of faith.”

So says CNN.

I spoke with a Pakistani man shortly after the WTC. He was born in Pak[istan], raised in Hong Kong and now resides in Silicon Valley. He was saying “Why does the world hate America so much, why would they do this?” His answer was because America meddles in the affairs of others.

My response to him was that there is such a thing as irrational unthinking hatred, born of ignorance, fired by unbounded jealousy of various would-be “leaders”. The Islam hatred for America is not thought out. His own statement of “Why does the world hate America?” is equally not thought-out. He is merely repeating what he has heard. If he had thought this out for himself he would have looked at BOTH sides of the issue. But for America, there would be far greater suffering in the world.

I said that were it not for this “meddling” there would be many millions of dead Bangladeshis, Nicaraguans, Sudanese, Ethiopians, Eritieans, Afghanis and others.

He is well educated, enormous training and technical skill set but like you also educated at the University of CBS, ABC, CNN, NBC. These people are not great thinkers.

I have read your works for many years. I find many illuminations in them. But not this time.

Why is dis-involvement so paramount? Because a news anchorman put that notion in your head?!? Do you with impartiality raise your glass to Mohandas Gandhi and also the man that puts a pistol in the mouth of a 3 year old? What are the politics of a toddler? Why not take sides? Doesn’t your religion, doesn’t your God believe in doing right for rights-sake? Men, given the ability by God to make a choice between right and wrong have decided that the burning of Jews, killing of innocents is wrong. Dis-involvement? Then God must have a wrong-minded notion in his head.

Haven’t you ever considered that perhaps, in many cases (and in this case in particular – US support for Israel) that America is right? Americans have the world cornered in self-flagellation.

There is a difference between Washington’s farewell address given by the leader of one of the worlds WEAKEST and most isolated nations and the farewell address the same man with the same intellect would have made today.

Would you tolerate a neighbor regularly beating his wife?

Would you look aside as a woman is raped by an assailant? Is that what you teach your children? Even if the assailant is a Christian soldier and the woman is a Muslim as in the Balkans? The Europeans did look aside. Is a Godly work only something done easily and economically? The Europeans didn’t want to get involved because it was difficult and expensive.

Assume there is no local police as there is no world police force. Would you tolerate your neighbor beating his wife? Perhaps regularly and badly. Would you tolerate him beating his children also. And then you would go to God saying that “I have done God’s work. I am a Godly man”??

Do you suppose Washington’s farewell address would be more appropriately directed at Saddam Hussein, Jiang Jemin, Bashar Al Assad, Khameni, Rafsanjani and Mohammed Omar? Have you sent it to them?

Best Regards,

My critic equates the United States as a civil entity with me as a caring human being. He also equates a nation-state that stands alone in terms of its claim to national sovereignty with me as a non-sovereign citizen in a commonwealth. The two concepts are not the same.

Oaths and Sovereignty

The United States makes a claim of sovereignty. It makes this claim on its own authority. It does not ask permission. This nation did not request its sovereignty from any higher sovereign civil order. Thomas Jefferson did not write a declaration of interdependence. Indeed, the most effective legal argument against the United Nations is that the UN does not possess a legitimate claim of superior sovereignty. I have not sworn an oath of allegiance to the United Nations or to any other sovereign nation. I am under the authority of the United States government because I am covenantally bound to it by an implicit oath. I have not surrendered my citizenship.

As an American citizen, I have the legal authority of citizen’s arrest. I have the legal right and the moral obligation to defend a neighbor from unlawful coercion by a bully. This is my answer to the question: “Would you tolerate a neighbor regularly beating his wife? Would you look aside as a woman is raped by an assailant?” But my authority inside the sovereign national jurisdiction of the United States has nothing to do with a neighbor in Canada who may be being beaten by a Canadian bully. I used to live within a few miles of the Canadian border. It was a Dutch-Calvinist cross-border region, where theological distinctions and old battles mattered far more than a mere national border. There were cars heading north and south across the border every Sunday. Had I known of an assault on some Canadian who attended my church, I would have possessed no right to grab my rifle and cross the border to offer help. I would have been breaking Canadian gun control laws. I would have gone to jail faster and longer than the bully.

From time to time, America’s claim of national sovereignty must be defended on the battlefield. As a citizen, I have accepted a legal obligation to defend my nation from attack. This is because I am covenanted to my nation. But I am not covenanted to any other nation. Or am I? A treaty has equal authority with the U.S. Constitution. Ever since the NATO Treaty of 1949, the U.S. government has entered into many mutual defense treaties. It has sent tens of thousands of conscripted men to die in foreign lands, without a declaration of war.

The logic of foreign policy interventionism says that sovereign nations are not truly sovereign, that there is some implicit covenantal oath that binds one nation’s citizens to the citizens of other nations. Citizens of one nation therefore have a legal obligation to shed their blood and surrender their property on behalf of people living in other nations, despite the fact that there has been no military threat to their own nation.

The idea that my national government owes anything to victims in another nation ultimately rests on the idea of world government. It is the idea that American citizens have had a mutual oath taken representatively for them on behalf of a higher political entity with higher ethical goals than mere national sovereignty. It is the idea that implicit civil covenants extend to civil governments beyond one’s own nation.

It is not random that internationalists and foreign policy interventionists have continually pushed the world’s nations toward membership in the League of Nations or the United Nations or other trans-national sovereignties that will legislate for the citizens of every member nation, and even nations not in the international covenant. (Serbia-Bosnia comes to mind.) The surrender of national sovereignty to international bureaucracies has been the goal of the interventionists who have dominated American foreign policy since at least the 1890’s. The office of Secretary of State became a family legacy. John Foster served under Benjamin Harrison. His grandson John Foster Dulles served under Eisenhower. Dulles’ brother ran the CIA. His sister ran the Berlin office of the State Department. Their uncle had been Secretary of State under Wilson, after Bryan quit in protest against Wilson’s false neutrality.

This surrender of America’s national sovereignty in the name of extending American sovereignty began with the Monroe doctrine of 1823, which made the United States heavily dependent on the British Navy to enforce the doctrine’s terms. America promised to intervene on behalf of the Western Hemisphere in order to defend each nation against incursions by European powers. This meant European continental nations. The British, who wanted access to Latin American trade at the expense of other European mercantile powers, backed us up. So, a decade after the British burned Washington D.C. to the ground, they were using our government as a cover for their foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere. Serving as a cover for British foreign policy was what got America into both world wars.


“Live and let live” nationally means “mind our own business” internationally. The more that we have become embroiled in other nations’ conflicts, the less we have been able to honor “live and let live” at home. George Washington understood this relationship in 1796. Very few Americans still do.

If we really wanted homeland defense, we would get out of the foreign interventionism business. The reason why we are going to get a Homeland Defense cabinet-level agency is because our Presidents are unwilling to get out of the foreign interventionism business.

Washington, D.C. bears George Washington’s name. It does not bear his philosophy of foreign policy neutrality. You have to live in Switzerland to get that.

October 17, 2001

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© 2001