Snell: Non-interventionism or another needless war?

Barry Snell

Thomas Jefferson held the basic belief that the United States ought to trade with all nations who would trade with us, and avoid treaties with one nation at the cost of another. Jefferson learned this was sometimes easier said than done when trying to deal with Britain and France, who we wanted as allies but were both at war with one another during his presidency.

Nonetheless, Jefferson was a distinct non-interventionist. All the way up through the mid-20th century, Americans generally felt the same way, having severe misgivings about foreign entanglements. This is why it took us several years to enter both World War I and II, into which we were only drawn after being attacked.

Despite being involved in several wars and military actions up through the second world war, the United States still considered itself non-interventionist for the most part. Even Jefferson sent Marines to Libya, which was our very first military action as a new nation, and established the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

To hear mainstream Republicans talk about it these days though, a policy of non-intervention is analogous to isolationism. Despite the rhetoric, however, isolationism and non-interventionism are two completely different philosophies of foreign policy.

Isolationism generally refers to any policy in which a nation would refuse getting involved with other nations, either militarily, economically or otherwise. This means no treaties, no trading, no help during war, no nothing. Isolationists are inclined to avoid wars, even when provoked.

Non-interventionism on the other hand, refers to a policy where trading and peaceful alliances are acceptable, however refuses to interfere with the internal affairs of other nations unless directly threatened and action is absolutely necessary. Non-interventionism, therefore, does not dodge war as presidents Jefferson, Wilson and FDR have shown.

President George W. Bush even ran his campaign and began his first term as a non-interventionist and justifiably took us to war in Afghanistan following the World Trade Center attack. This was completely consistent with a non-interventionist foreign policy. Where Bush failed as a non-interventionist was when he lead us into Iraq.

Anyone who pays attention to politics knows the modern Republican establishment is worked up about Iran now, and the Middle East and Muslims in general. Certain Republican hawks, such as Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann, are beating the war drums for Iran, insisting that Iran will have a nuclear weapon any second now, and the moment they do they’ll wipe Israel and the United States right off the map.

It’s true that Iran hates Israel, but that’s as much as neo-conservatives are willing say. What you’re not being told is that Israel is a made-up nation, created in 1947 by the United Nations via British and American influence. Every Arab nation, including all of the Arab League at the time, was against the creation of Israel, but we went ahead and created the Jewish state anyway.

My point isn’t to disparage Israel or suggest its inception was wrong. But we must understand that we grossly interfered in Middle Eastern affairs, created a country against the Arabs’ wishes and, as a result, it’s completely understandable that they’d be upset about it. War resulted immediately after the U.N. resolution creating Israel was passed, and they’ve essentially continued fighting to this day.

This was no isolated incident; the United States has continuously interfered with Arabic affairs since World War II. Iran used to be a constitutional monarchy with a democratically elected parliament, similar to England. However, the United States didn’t approve of how Iran was handling its oil, so we created an Iranian coup in 1953 that established a U.S.-backed military monarchy. The American installation of a pro-American dictator in turn resulted in the Iranian Revolution in 1979, which established the Islamic republic that’s been hostile to America ever since.

Iran is one of the largest countries in the world, and one of the most influential in the Middle Eastern region. Despite that, Iran and the Arab nations have suffered disrespect by the United States and the European powers for decades. We have consistently done what we wanted in the region, despite their objections. We have acted in our interests without concern for theirs.

In the last Republican debate, Bachmann claimed that the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran was within months of developing a nuclear weapon. Congressman Ron Paul replied that was totally false, which resulted in Bachmann claiming that Iran said they will nuke the United States and that Paul’s position was dangerous.

A little fact-checking after the debate by independent parties affirmed Paul’s position and refuted Bachmann’s: The U.N. reports that Iran has indeed researched nuclear weapons, but is not in fact actively developing them.

Furthermore, Iran has not said they were going to nuke us. Iran has continuously and vehemently denied that they are developing nukes. Common sense dictates that you can’t deny you have nukes and simultaneously threaten to nuke someone. Thinking otherwise is just plain stupid.

The current Republican rhetoric says Iran and Muslims hate us because we’re free, because we have material comforts, and so on. But that’s total and complete garbage, and you should be furious — you Republicans included — that such a batch of crap has been sold to you. Iran and the Middle East hate us because we screw with them all the time.

The best propaganda in history has created a boogie man, preying on your fears and insecurities, taking advantage of your ignorance. The Nazis understood this and used the principle brilliantly: Create a problem, develop a guilty party and direct public outcry so the public lets the government do whatever they want … like kill people and start wars to allegedly handle the made up or magnified threat.

Politicians told you Iraq had nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and all sorts of ultra-scary stuff that we just had to go in and get. We were told that Saddam Hussein was the modern Adolf Hitler. We were told that Iraq was a haven for al-Qaida and was teeming with terrorists, so we just had to go in and kill. We were told another 9/11 was waiting to happen if we didn’t go into Iraq.

Americans were mad, and guess what? We went to Iraq. Then we found out it was all a lie, and thousands of Americans have paid the price, not to mention the estimated 1 million Iraqis we’ve killed. Just how much goodwill do you think those million Iraqi deaths have fostered for America?

Bachmann said Paul’s foreign policy was dangerous, but he was absolutely right. The 9/11 Commission was right too when they said it was blowback from our international interference that caused the terrorist attacks. We need to call a truce with the Arabs, then leave them alone. Notice how they didn’t attack us when our troops finally left Iraq recently?

Iran is just the latest boogie man. Don’t let the neo-cons fool you and lead us into yet another war. We’ve already paid too high a price in American blood for political lies, and we’re too broke to throw our money away in Iran anyhow.

Non-interventionism is not isolationism, nor is it appeasement. It’s just respect and common sense.