“The rights of neutrality will only be respected when they are defended by an adequate power. A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral.” Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 11 — 1787
Since the end of the Second World War our foreign policy has gone from isolationism to containment to advancing democracy to nation building. Today we are witnessing the final phases of this policy in Iraq and Afghanistan. What began as a hunt for Osama bin Laden, the sponsor of the attacks of September 11, 2001, morphed into nation building in Afghanistan and the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq followed a similar course. Over 6,000 Americans have died and probably close to 100,000 have suffered serious physical and mental injuries during this period. Also, billions have been spent on the ongoing wars and foreign aid trying to accomplish this task. The foreign aid, while a small percentage of our national budget ($49.5 billion in 2011) it still is a significant amount (1.2%). These numbers do not include the costs for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This was not the intent of our Founders in 1776. While believing that commercial trade and commerce with other nations was a desirable thing they did not want to engage in political or military alliances. They believed that the two oceans bordering the United States provided protection against foreign invasion, but on the other hand they also believed that freedom of the seas should be a part of our national security and economy. This was the main cause of Jefferson’s military action against the Barbary Pirates and the War of 1812. After the defeat of the British and the end of the war of 1812 the United States retreated to a policy of non-intervention for the next 84 years. We were focused on building our own nation and conducting commercial trade with Europe and Asia.
The increased presence in the 20th century of the United States as a political and military power on the world's stage was not simply a product of the newly strengthened union resulting from the end of the Civil War, the dynamic growth of the American population, and of the Industrial Revolution and improved technology. With the acquisition of the Philippines in 1898, prominent American politicians argued that the principles of the Declaration of Independence required the United States to establish an "empire of liberty" around the world, which broke with the Founders' pursuit of "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none."
In his 1776 pamphlet “Common Sense” Thomas Paine wrote:
“As Europe is our market for trade, we ought to form no partial connection with any part of it. It is the true interest of America to steer clear of European contentions, which she never can do, while by her dependence on Britain, she is made the make-weight in the scale of British politics.
Europe is too thickly planted with kingdoms to be long at peace, and whenever a war breaks out between England and any foreign power, the trade of America goes to ruin, because of her connection with Britain. The next war may not turn out like the Past, and should it not, the advocates for reconciliation now will be wishing for separation then, because, neutrality in that case, would be a safer convoy than a man of war. Everything that is right or natural pleads for separation.”
George Washington expressed a similar sentiment in his 1796 Farewell Address when he said:
“The Great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign Nations is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements let them be fulfilled, with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.
Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence therefore it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships, or enmities:
Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one People, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest guided by justice shall Counsel.
Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European Ambition, Rivalship, Interest, Humor or Caprice?”
After the War of 1812 President Madison was succeeded by James Monroe as the 5th President of the United States on March 4, 1817. Monroe is best known for two things; the Missouri Compromise and his famous Monroe Doctrine.
After the Napoleonic wars (which ended in 1815), almost all of Spain's and Portugal's colonies in Latin America revolted and declared independence. Americans welcomed this development as a validation of the spirit of Republicanism and the principles of the Declaration of Independence proclaiming the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams suggested delaying formal recognition until Florida was secured. The problem of imperial invasion was intensified by a Russian claim to the Pacific coast down to the fifty-first parallel and simultaneous European pressure to have all of Latin America returned to its colonial status.
In his July 4, 1821 Speech to the U.S. House of Representatives, John Quincy Adams (James Monroe’s Secretary of State and to succeed Monroe as the 6th President of the United States) echoed the principles of American foreign policy as understood by her Founders: to speak uniformly among the nations of the earth the language of "equal liberty, equal justice, and equal rights," in order to respect the independence of other nations while "asserting and maintaining her own." Adams and the Founders held that the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries was a vital corollary to the principles of equality and the consent of the governed, and was imperative for America to adhere to, "even when the conflict [in another nation] has been for principles to which she clings." It was only by this means that America could preserve her integrity and her national independence. In his address Adams stated:
“America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity. She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, equal justice, and equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations, while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when the conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama, the European World, will be contests between inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will recommend the general cause, by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.
She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself, beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. The frontlet upon her brows would no longer beam with the ineffable splendor of freedom and independence; but in its stead would soon be substituted an imperial diadem, flashing in false and tarnished lustre the murky radiance of dominion and power. She might become the dictatress of the world: she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.”
Monroe informed Congress in March 1822 that permanent stable governments had been established in the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata (the core of present-day Argentina), Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico. Adams, under Monroe's supervision, wrote the instructions for the ministers (ambassadors) to these new countries. They declared that the policy of the United States was to uphold republican institutions and to seek treaties of commerce on a most-favored-nation basis. The United States would support inter-American congresses dedicated to the development of economic and political institutions fundamentally differing from those prevailing in Europe. The articulation of an "American system" distinct from that of Europe was a basic tenet of Monroe's policy toward Latin America. Monroe took pride as the United States was the first nation to extend recognition and to set an example to the rest of the world for its support of the "cause of liberty and humanity".
Monroe formally announced in his message to Congress on December 2, 1823, what was later called the Monroe Doctrine. He proclaimed that the Americas should be free from future European colonization and free from European interference in sovereign countries' affairs. It further stated the United States' intention to stay neutral in European wars and wars between European powers and their colonies, but to consider new colonies or interference with independent countries in the Americas as hostile acts toward the United States. In his speech Monroe stated:
“Our policy in regard to Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of the wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless remains the same, which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers; to consider the government de facto as the legitimate government for us; to cultivate friendly relations with it, and to preserve those relations by a frank, firm, and manly policy, meeting in all instances the just claims of every power, submitting to injuries from none. But in regard to those continents circumstances are eminently and conspicuously different.
It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent without endangering our peace and happiness; nor can anyone believe that our southern brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of their own accord. It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should behold such interposition in any form with indifference. If we look to the comparative strength and resources of Spain and those new Governments, and their distance from each other, it must be obvious that she can never subdue them. It is still the true policy of the United States to leave the parties to themselves, in hope that other powers will pursue the same course.”
In other words Adams and Monroe were saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone and we will engage in commerce with you, but we will not go abroad looking for monsters to destroy. This is a far cry from our foreign policy of the past 70 years. From the end of the Civil War to the turn of the 20th century the United States focused on unifying, building and securing the nation and our borders. Industrialization, urbanization and immigration were the things Americans were focused on — not foreign policy or imperialist expansion.
How did we get to this point of destroying monsters and promoting the principles of the Declaration of Independence? It all began in 1898 under the administration of William McKinley when progressivism was beginning to gestate.
For decades, rebels in Cuba had waged an intermittent campaign for freedom from Spanish colonial rule. By 1895, the conflict had expanded to a war for Cuban independence. As war engulfed the island, Spanish reprisals against the rebels grew ever harsher. These included the removal of Cubans to concentration camps near Spanish military bases, a strategy designed to make it hard for the rebels to receive support in the countryside. American opinion favored the rebels, and McKinley shared in their outrage against Spanish policies. As many of his countrymen called for war to liberate Cuba, McKinley favored a peaceful approach, hoping that through negotiation Spain might be convinced to grant Cuba independence, or at least to allow the Cubans some measure of autonomy. The United States and Spain began negotiations on the subject in 1897, but it became clear that Spain would never concede Cuban independence, while the rebels (and their American supporters) would never settle for anything less. In January 1898, Spain promised some concessions to the rebels, but when American consul Fitzhugh Lee reported riots in Havana, McKinley agreed to send the battleship USS Maine there to protect American lives and property. On February 15, the Maine exploded and sank with 266 men killed. Public opinion and the newspapers demanded war, but McKinley insisted that a court of inquiry first determine if the explosion was accidental. Negotiations with Spain continued as the court considered the evidence, but on March 20, the court ruled that the Maine was blown up by an underwater mine. As pressure for war mounted in Congress, McKinley continued to negotiate for Cuban independence. Spain refused McKinley's proposals, and on April 11, McKinley turned the matter over to Congress. He did not ask for war, but Congress declared war anyway on April 20, with the addition of the Teller Amendment which disavowed any intention of annexing Cuba. However, this did not apply to the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam.
The United States went to war with Spain in April 1898 over the issue of Cuban independence. By the time the fighting stopped in August, the Spaniards had not only surrendered Cuba, but had lost their hold on the Philippine Islands and other overseas territories as well. An American army occupied Manila, but Spain had not yet formally ceded control of the islands to the United States. The fate of the Philippines would be determined by the diplomats who were meeting in Paris to write a peace treaty. While running for the United States Senate from Indiana, the progressive Albert Beveridge delivered a speech to pressure the administration of President William McKinley to annex the Philippines and move the Republican Party to adopt a pro-imperialist stance. He expanded the old theme of America as a “Redeemer Nation” to insist that we should be “the propagandists and not the misers of liberty” — to be imperial, as “a greater England with a nobler destiny.” Beveridge and other progressives such as Theodore Roosevelt, the theorist of naval power Alfred Thayer Mahan, and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge wanted the United States to take its place in the world as a major power: to keep order, to expand the nation’s economic interests, to proclaim liberty everywhere.
The progressives began America’s great foreign policy debate: Should the nation hold true to the principles of Washington’s Farewell Address, retain its independence from foreign political alliances and limit its expansion to the continental acquisitions of the nineteenth century, or should it assume a place among the great imperial powers of the world?
In his famous Support of an American Empire speech Senator Beveridge, stated:
“MR. PRESIDENT, the times call for candor. The Philippines are ours forever, "territory belonging to the United States," as the Constitution calls them. And just beyond the Philippines are China’s illimitable markets. We will not retreat from either. We will not repudiate our duty in the archipelago. We will not abandon our opportunity in the Orient. We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee, under God, of the civilization of the world. And we will move forward to our work, not howling out regrets like slaves whipped to their burdens but with gratitude for a task worthy of our strength and thanksgiving to Almighty God that He has marked us as His chosen people, henceforth to lead in the regeneration of the world.
Therefore, in this campaign, the question is larger than a party question. It is an American question. It is a world question. Shall the American people continue their march toward the commercial supremacy of the world? Shall free institutions broaden their blessed reign as the children of liberty wax in strength, until the empire of our principles is established over the hearts of all mankind? [ .... J
Shall we be as the man who had one talent and hid it, or as he who had ten talents and used them until they grew to riches? And shall we reap the reward that waits on our discharge of our high duty; shall we occupy new markets for what our farmers raise, our factories make, our merchants sell-aye, and, please God, new markets for what our ships shall carry.”
Pray God that spirit never falls. Pray God the time may never come when Mammon and the love of ease shall so debase our blood that we will fear to shed it for the flag and its imperial destiny. Pray God the time may never come when American heroism is but a legend like the story of the Cid. American faith in our mission and our might a dream dissolved, and the glory of our mighty race departed.
And that time will never come. We will renew our youth at the fountain of new and glorious deeds. We will exalt our reverence for the flag by carrying it to a noble future as well as by remembering its ineffable past. Its immortality will not pass, because everywhere and always we will acknowledge and discharge the solemn responsibilities our sacred flag, in its deepest meaning, puts upon us. And so, senators, with reverent hearts, where dwells the fear of God, the American people move forward to the future of their hope and the doing of His work.
Mr. President and senators, adopt the resolution offered that peace may quickly come and that we may begin our saving, regenerating, and uplifting work. Adopt it, and this bloodshed will cease when these deluded children of our islands learn that this is the final word of the representatives of the American people in Congress assembled. Reject it, and the world, history, and the American people will know where to forever fix the awful responsibility for the consequences that will surely follow such failure to do our manifest duty. How dare we delay when our soldiers’ blood is flowing?”
In simpler words Beveridge was saying that the people of the Philippines were incapable of governing themselves and required the expertise of the Anglo-Saxon to teach them the principles of democracy and self-government.
Opposition to the progressive position coalesced in the Anti-Imperialist League, founded in the Boston office of insurance mogul Edward Atkinson in June 1898, shortly after the United States went to war with Spain. Its leading spokesmen were an unlikely coalition of businessmen, professors, politicians, and writers. They included Massachusetts Republican George F. Hoar and unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan; classical liberal editor E. L. Godkin; millionaire steel magnate Andrew Carnegie and labor leader Samuel Gompers; professors William James and William Graham Sumner; and Mark Twain.
Although the motives of the League’s members varied, they had in common a primary concern for American independence and uniqueness — her moral and spiritual health, constitutional integrity, and prosperity. Initially, the League’s purpose was to focus the American effort in the Spanish-American War on liberating oppressed Spanish colonies rather than acquiring an empire in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and especially the Philippines. After the fighting stopped in August 1898, the League’s objective became the defeat of the Treaty of Paris, which ceded the islands of the Philippines and other overseas territories to the United States. When the Senate approved the Treaty in February 1899 and war broke out in the Philippines, the League opposed the policy of the McKinley administration, which had resulted in the Filipinos rebelling against the United States and which required American troops to fight far from home against people seeking their own independence.
The League’s Program was published October 17, 1899, and, together with Senator Beveridge’s speech, reveals what it was about the Filipino war and the question of overseas imperialism that so polarized Americans. Their party platform contains the following statements:
”We hold that the policy known as imperialism is hostile to liberty and tends toward militarism, an evil from which it has been our glory to be free. We regret that it has become necessary in the land of Washington and Lincoln to re-affirm that all men, of whatever race or color, are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We maintain that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. We insist that the subjugation of any people is “criminal aggression” and open disloyalty to the distinctive principles of our government. We earnestly condemn the policy of the present national administration in the Philippines. It seeks to extinguish the spirit of 1776 in those islands. We deplore the sacrifice of our soldiers and sailors, whose bravery deserves admiration even in an unjust war. We denounce the slaughter of the Filipinos as a needless horror. We protest against the extension of American sovereignty by Spanish methods.
We demand the immediate cessation of the war against liberty, begun by Spain and continued by us. We urge that Congress announce to the Filipinos our purpose to concede to them the independence for which they have so long fought and which of right is theirs.
We propose to contribute to the defeat of any person or party that stands for the forcible subjugation of any people. We shall oppose for re-election all who in the White House or in Congress betray American liberty in pursuit of un-American ends. We still hope that both of our great political parties will support and defend the Declaration of Independence in the closing campaign of the century.
We hold with Abraham Lincoln that “no man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent. When the white man governs himself, that is self-government, but when he governs himself and also governs another man that is more than self-government—that is despotism.” “Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defense is in the spirit which prizes liberty as a heritage of all men in all lands. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and under a just God cannot long retain it.”
We cordially invite the co-operation of all men and women who remain loyal to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.”
Upon McKinley’s assassination in 1901 his Vice President Theodore Roosevelt ascended to the presidency. Roosevelt continued the progressive imperialist policies by fermenting an uprising in Colombia and then immediately recognizing the break-away territory as the Republic of Panama so he could begin construction of the Panama Canal. The United States had become a world power in spite of the visions of our Founders.
On March 4, 1913 Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated as our 28th President. During his first term he did not advance the imperial interests of the progressives. With the outbreak of the First World War in late 1914 he adamantly stood against American intervention. With the increase in unrestricted submarine warfare by the Germans and the threats to our commercial shipping he became more and more hawkish. During his reelection campaign in 1916 he promised he would not send American boys to fight in Europe. Wilson won by a very close electoral vote.
The U.S. maintained neutrality despite increasing pressure placed on Wilson after the sinking of the British passenger liner RMS Lusitania with arms and American citizens on board. Wilson found it increasingly difficult to maintain U.S. neutrality after Germany, despite its promises in the Arabic pledge and the Sussex pledge, initiated a program of unrestricted submarine warfare early in 1917 that threatened U.S. commercial shipping. Following the revelation of the Zimmermann Telegram, Germany's attempt to enlist Mexico as an ally against the U.S., Wilson took America into World War I to make "the world safe for democracy." The U.S. did not sign a formal alliance with the United Kingdom or France but operated as an "associated" power. The U.S. raised a massive army through conscription and Wilson gave command to General John J. Pershing, allowing Pershing a free hand as to tactics, strategy and even diplomacy.
Wilson had decided by then that the war had become a real threat to humanity. Unless the U.S. threw its weight into the war, as he stated in his declaration of war speech on April 2, 1917, western civilization itself could be destroyed. His statement announcing a "war to end war" meant that he wanted to build a basis for peace that would prevent future catastrophic wars and needless death and destruction. This provided the basis of Wilson's Fourteen Points, which were intended to resolve territorial disputes, ensure free trade and commerce, and establish a peacemaking organization. Included in these fourteen points was the proposal for the League of Nations.
In his War Message to Congress Wilson stated:
“It is a war against all nations. American ships have been sunk, American lives taken, in ways which it has stirred us very deeply to learn of, but the ships and people of other neutral and friendly nations have been sunk and overwhelmed in the waters in the same way. There has been no discrimination. The challenge is to all mankind. Each nation must decide for itself how it will meet it. The choice we make for ourselves must be made with a moderation of counsel and a temperateness of judgment befitting our character and our motives as a nation. We must put excited feeling away. Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, of human right, of which we are only a single champion.
It is a distressing and oppressive duty, Gentlemen of the Congress, which I have performed in thus addressing you. There are, it may be many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance.
But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts,—for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own Governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free. To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, every thing that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.”
In Robert Lafollette’s Opposition to Wilson’s War Message he passionately stated:
“Mr. President, let me make a suggestion. It is this: that a minority in one Congress—mayhap a small minority in one Congress — protesting, exercising the rights which the Constitution confers upon a minority, may really be representing the majority opinion of the country, and if, exercising the right that the Constitution gives them, they succeed in defeating for the time being the will of the majority, they are but carrying out what was in the mind of the framers of the Constitution; that you may have from time to time in a legislative body a majority in numbers that really does not represent the principle of democracy; and that if the question could be deferred and carried to the people it would be found that a minority was the real representative of the public opinion. So, Mr. President, it was that they wrote into the Constitution that a President — that one man — may put his judgment against the will of a majority, not only in one branch of the Congress but in both branches of the Congress; that he may defeat the measure that they have agreed upon and may set his one single judgment above the majority judgment of the Congress. That seems, when you look at it nakedly, to be in violation of the principle that the majority shall rule; and so it is. Why, is that power given? It is one of those checks provided by the wisdom of the fathers to prevent the majority from abusing the power that they chance to have, when they do not reflect the real judgment, the opinion, the will of the majority of the people that constitute the sovereign power of the democracy.”
According to Wilson we were not fighting against something as our Founder’s envisioned or our national security, we were now fighting to make the world safe for democracy. It really mattered little to the United States who was victorious in WWI with the possible exception of our commercial interests in Great Britain and France. We would still; as it turned out do business with Germany. As it ended WWI produced no real winners and losers except the millions of civilians killed and an armistice that allowed the stronger powers of Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan to carve up Europe and Asia like a Thanksgiving turkey and lay the groundwork for a more vicious global war — World War II. It also brought down the ruling monarchy in Russia and introduced totalitarian Communism to the world — something that would trouble us for the next 71 years and cause the death of millions.
After the end of WWI and the election of Warren Harding with his “return to normalcy” policies and the defeat of the League of Nations Treaty by the U.S. Senate the United States stepped back from foreign intervention. The American people had enough of these interventions and wanted to turn inward to focus on domestic policies.
On September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland and WWII began President Roosevelt had already begun making plans and taking steps to bring the United States into the conflict on the side of Britain and France.
The Atlantic Charter was drafted at the Atlantic Conference (codenamed Riviera) by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt in Newfoundland. It was issued as a joint declaration on August 14, 1941. The United States did not officially enter the War until after the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The policy was issued as a statement; as such there was no formal, legal document entitled "The Atlantic Charter". It detailed the goals and aims of the Allied powers concerning the war and the post-war world.
On August 9, 1941, HMS Prince of Wales sailed into Placentia Bay, with Winston Churchill on board, and met the USS Augusta where Roosevelt and his staff were waiting. On first meeting, Churchill and Roosevelt were silent for a moment until Churchill said "At long last, Mr. President", to which Roosevelt replied "Glad to have you aboard, Mr. Churchill". Churchill then delivered to the President a letter from King George VI and made an official statement which, despite two attempts, a sound-film crew present failed to record.
Many of the ideas of the Charter came from an ideology of Anglo-American internationalism that sought British and American cooperation for the cause of international security. Roosevelt's attempts to tie Britain to concrete war aims and Churchill's desperation to bind the U.S. to the war effort helped provide motivations for the meeting which produced the Atlantic Charter. It was assumed at the time that Britain and America would have an equal role to play in any post war international organization that would be based on the principles of the Atlantic Charter.
On January 6, 1941 (335 days prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor) President Roosevelt gave his Annual Message to Congress in which he laid out his plans for the world including his Four Freedoms where he stated:
“A part of the sacrifice means the payment of more money in taxes. In my Budget Message I shall recommend that a greater portion of this great defense program be paid for from taxation than we are paying today. No person should try, or be allowed, to get rich out of this program; and the principle of tax payments in accordance with ability to pay should be constantly before our eyes to guide our legislation.
If the Congress maintains these principles, the voters, putting patriotism ahead of pocketbooks, will give you their applause.
In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression——everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way——everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want——which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—— everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear——which, translated into world terms, means a world—wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor——anywhere in the world.
That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so—called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.
To that new order we oppose the greater conception——the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.
Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change——in a perpetual
peaceful revolution——a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions——without the concentration camp or the quick—lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.”
409 days later on February 19, 1942 Roosevelt would issue his infamous Executive Order 9066 causing the internment of 120,000 Japanese –Americans, of which over 60% were American citizens, in “relocation camps.” He also interned 11,000 German-Americans and 3,000 Italian-Americans.
With the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in the autumn of 1944 the United States and Great Britain were instrumental in creating the United Nations. The Dumbarton Oaks Conference constituted the first important step taken to carry out paragraph 4 of the Moscow Declaration of 1943, which recognized the need for a postwar international organization to succeed the League of Nations. At the conference, delegations from Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States deliberated over proposals for the establishment of an organization to maintain peace and security in the world.
The stated purposes of the proposed international organization were:
- To maintain international peace and security; and to that end to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace and the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means adjustment or settlement of international disputes which may lead to a breach of the peace;
- To develop friendly relations among nations and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;
- To achieve international co-operation in the solution of international economic, social and other humanitarian problems; and
- To afford a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the achievement of these common ends.
In 1946 and the onslaught of the Greek Civil War the new United Nations was powerless to intervene so President Harry Truman brought a new aspect of America’s foreign policy into play. This new aspect was “containment” and was expressed in the Truman Doctrine. In a speech made on March 12, 1947 Truman laid out his vision for a policy of containment against the Soviet Union and Communist expansion throughout the world. Truman stated:
“The very existence of the Greek state is today threatened by the terrorist activities of several thousand armed men, led by Communists, who defy the Government’s authority at a number of points, particularly along the northern boundaries. A commission appointed by the United Nations Security Council is at present investigating disturbed conditions in northern Greece and alleged border violations along the frontier between Greece on the one hand and Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia on the other
Meanwhile, the Greek Government is unable to cope with the situation. The Greek Army is small and poorly equipped. It needs supplies and equipment if it is to restore the authority of the Government throughout Greek territory.
Greece must have assistance if it is to become a self-supporting and self-respecting democracy.
The United States must supply that assistance. We have already extended to Greece certain types of relief and economic aid but these are inadequate. There is no other country to which democratic Greece can turn.
No other nation is willing and able to provide the necessary support for a democratic Greek Government.
Greece’s neighbor, Turkey, also deserves our attention.
The future of Turkey as an independent and economically sound State is clearly no less important to the freedom-loving peoples of the world than the future of Greece. The circumstances in which Turkey finds itself today are considerably different from those of Greece. Turkey has been spared the disasters that have beset Greece. And during the war, the United States and Great Britain furnished Turkey with material aid.
Nevertheless, Turkey now needs our support.
To ensure the peaceful development of nations, free from coercion, the United States has taken a leading part in establishing the United Nations. The United Nations is designed to make possible lasting freedom and independence for all its members. We shall not realize our objectives, however, unless we are willing to help free people to maintain their free institutions and their national integrity against aggressive movements that seek to impose upon them totalitarian regimes.
I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way. I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes.
The world is not static, and the status quo is not sacred. But we cannot allow changes in the status quo in violation of the Charter of the United Nations by such methods as coercion, or by such subterfuges as political infiltration. In helping free and independent nations to maintain their freedom, the United States will be giving effect to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want. They spread and grow in the evil soil of poverty and strife. They reach their full growth when the hope of a people for a better life has died. We must keep that hope alive.
The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms. If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world and we shall surely endanger the welfare of our own nation.
Great responsibilities have been placed upon us by the swift movement of events. I am confident that the Congress will face these responsibilities squarely.”
The adoption of the Truman Doctrine was a clear departure from the cautions of Hamilton, Washington, Monroe, and John Quincy Adams. We were now just not making the world safe for democracy the United States was becoming the policeman of the world. Three years latter our first “police action” would take place on the Korean Peninsula when North Korea invaded South Korea and 36,000 American soldiers would lose their lives fighting under the banner of United Nations resolutions.
We, as a nation, have progressed from cautious commercial alliances to imperialism, to making the world safe for democracy to containment, and to nation building sacrificing our treasure and the lives of our soldiers.
In closing I refer to George Washington’s Farewell Address once again:
“Tis folly in one Nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its Independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favours and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to Nation. 'Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.”