“Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship with All Nations-Entangling Alliances with None.”
by: Charity Angel
As the United States emerged onto the world scene, this is the united and fixed position that they took on any alliances with foreign powers. The only exception was temporary ones if the United States was to come under attack. This position is known as 'separatism' rather then 'isolationism' that is used to describe this idea in the media today. The original policies of the United States stand as a testimony that isolation was never the desired approach to international relationships. They wanted to create good and wholesome relationships with all nations. They did not want to have any alliances that would make them enemies with another nation in a time of crisis. This keep the United States market open to all nations, unless those nations became hostile to the U.S.
What the Founders desired was very similar to today's Switzerland. They are still considered to be successfully neutral from entangling alliances. They were able to do so throughout two world wars and various European quarrels. In fact, any nation was welcome to buy, sell, borrow or bank unless they took a hostile position against Switzerland.
George Washington made a point in mentioning this in his Farewell Address: “Observe good faith and justice towards all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great nation to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence.”
Having the experiences that Washington had with Great Britain and other nations, it is easy to see why he would know the best way to approach foreign relations would be free of entangling alliances. I believe he said it best when he said “The nation which indulges toward another habitual hatred or 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.”
Washington also warned that passionate attachments to some nation because people felt a special kinship or affection toward them produces a variety of evils. He said that it creates the illusion of a common interest when there is no real common interest that exists. Also, he goes on to state that it can pull the affectionate nation into wars and quarrels on behalf of the other nation without adequate inducement or justification. A nation may also fall to the temptation of favoritism, granting to the other nation concessions not granted to other nations, creating jealously, ill will, which can create an atmosphere that the jealous nations feel compelled to retaliate against the nation that is getting special treatment. This actually can threaten a nation's security, and their best interests. Washington stated that as a 'free people' we ought to be 'constantly awake' since history proves that foreign influence is one of those 'baneful foes of republican government.'
“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.” Stated Washington. He also used Europe as an example of what not to become, that it would be unwise to do so. I believe that these same policies would apply to the entire world if Washington were alive today.
American separatism did have one aspect that was very distinct from Switzerland, and that is that they accepted the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny”. This placed upon us, the American People, the responsibility of serving as the vanguard nation for the moral and political emancipation of all mankind. Freedom, education and progress for everyone was a common thought of early American leaders. The Monroe Doctrine was specifically designed to protect the western hemisphere from the contamination of European Monarchs. The Founders hoped that eventually Mexico and each of the Latin American countries would eventually follow the United States in becoming free, self-governing people. Once it has spread through North, Central and South America they hoped it would do just as James Madison said “spread abroad until it had become the heritage of the whole human race.” This policy lasted for the first 125 years of U.S. History. It was through the financial circles that the United States was pulled into the thick of things world wide. When World War I erupted, they got their chance. While we avoided the League of Nations, it set up the foundation to accelerate the involvement of the U.S. in economical and political quarrels. During World War II the hope among many Americans was that the United States would resist the temptation to get involved. There were many that spoke out about internationalism including J. Reuben Clark, a former Under-Secretary. As we look back to the past, it does make me wonder, “How much more prosperous and peaceful of a nation would we have been had we listen to the Founders?” Can you imagine a nation of Peacemakers rather than the world's great policeman?For Jeremy: Scripture to go with it:
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