Though I don’t agree with the motivation that clearly prompted this author to write I do agree with her ultimate conclusion. What I mean by that is, I don’t think that Russia caused Hillary to lose or Trump to win. She points out that such efforts failed to unseat Reagan or Thatcher. I don’t believe for one moment that this is the kind of foreign influence George Washington was talking about. But I do agree with the author that we all should be watchful and wary of such influence.
Washington had a lot to say in his farewell address. The bulk of it aimed at keeping American free through isolationism and self-control. He taught about the destructive power of party politics.
“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.”
About keeping military power in check, “…overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty.”
“And perhaps better suited to our current situation than the author’s point, “The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.”
Basically he’s saying we shouldn’t be too quick to have enemies. I’ve often thought about this when reflecting on our relationship with Cuba. I understand our reluctance to make agreements with Iran. They are a well-known state sponsor of terrorism but Cuba is a small island nation we could overrun in an afternoon and with which we used to have good relations. They are a neighbor, and not a modern threat. Really they have never been a threat. Even the so-called Cuban Missile Crisis was a Soviet Missile Crisis. It’s not like Cuba has the resources to build any kind of nuclear weapon. Their idea of prosperity is a new rice cooker in every home. But, they aren’t like us, so they must be an enemy. Washington didn’t want the country to fall into that trap. Too many allies to defend or too many enemies to attack makes for a dangerous situation for the US.
I’m not an isolationist. I believe in allies, enemies, and borders, but I do feel Washington was right, that we should fear foreign entanglements. The author of the below New York Times piece only begins to understand Washington’s thinking.
For those who are libertarians the entire idea of borders is contrary to free commerce. The Founding Fathers wanted free commerce, but they also wanted borders. The freedom in commerce they sought was not found by having no nation, but by keeping the nation neutral in the world so everyone would want to trade with us. We have strayed very far from that idea.