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Robert Kagan writes a thoughtful article in the Weekly Standard on foreign intervention and defense cuts.  He makes several key points.

First, the list of American wars and interventions since 1898 is impressive:

Depending on how one chooses to count, the United States has undertaken roughly 25 overseas interventions since 1898:

Cuba, 1898

The Philippines, 1898-1902

China, 1900

Cuba, 1906

Nicaragua, 1910 & 1912

Mexico, 1914

Haiti, 1915

Dominican Republic, 1916

Mexico, 1917

World War I, 1917-1918

Nicaragua, 1927

World War II, 1941-1945

Korea, 1950-1953

Lebanon, 1958

Vietnam, 1963-1973

Dominican Republic, 1965

Grenada, 1983

Panama, 1989

First Persian Gulf war, 1991

Somalia, 1992

Haiti, 1994

Bosnia, 1995

Kosovo, 1999

Afghanistan, 2001-present

Iraq, 2003-present

Certainly some interventions were forced on us – WWII, Korea, and the First Gulf War, for example.  Some were noble causes sullied by weakness and vascilation at home (Vietnam); Grenada was necessary to prevent Marxist/Cuban influence from growing.

But a good number of the remaining were not necessary.  The question is:  Was it in the national interest?  When Cong. Ron Paul criticized foreign intervention in his Presidential campaign, he was accused of not being a good Republican.  But intervention must be in the national interest.  The Balkans for example was not in the national interest.

Kagan argues that isolationism led to WWII:

Even if we were to repeat the policies of the 1930s, however, it is worth recalling that the unusual restraint of those years was not sufficient to keep the United States out of war. On the contrary, the United States took actions which ultimately led to the greatest and most costly foreign intervention in its history. Even the most determined and in those years powerful isolationists could not prevent it.

I would suggest that American isolationism did not cause WWII.  The “front line”states, Great Britain and France, did not do enough to stop Nazi Germany in its path of conquest.  Munich was not negotiated by the United States.  The Soviet Union was Hitler’s ally from 1939 through 1941!  (That is how the Baltics were conquered by the USSR and not freed Praise God until 1991!)

I suggest that Kagan is right after a sort when he suggests that there is no isolationist sentiment in the USA today.  But there is a leader who rallied millions to his cause:  Ron Paul.  He is no isolationist, rather he said he supported trade and travel and diplomatic efforts with all nations but not military intervention.  I think he has more support today than he did in 2007-08.

We must not cut defense to the point that the nation is at peril or that encourages an attack on our nation or its interests.  However, we can look at the places we have troops and see if we can end those efforts and save the money – or better yet, spend the money at home where it is most needed.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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