Thursday, October 23, 2008
George Washington on Iraq, the Economy, Politics, and Liberty
In his farewell address to the United States, George Washington published a series of thoughts and hopes for America as the nation embarked on it's great experiment of self government. His address was published on September 17th, 1796. In reading through the document, the reader is struck with all the intention of the founding of this nation - and the passion for liberty being the lifeblood of the free union of states. The first President makes some beautiful remarks - which I will share and expand on my thoughts of his opinion.
Philosophy on foreign wars / alliances: (i.e. Iraq, NATO, United Nations)
"Why quit our own [soil] to stand upon foreign ground?"
"Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all."
"The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is...to have with them as little political connexion [sic] as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop."
"It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world."
Inasmuch, the lessons of our forefathers, and the father of our country, warn that the tangling in permanent alliances and political connection to other nations is a direct affront to our sovereignty and liberty. Washington also details his stance of Neutrality in the continued wars in Europe, and the ideal that a Free American should question the intent of leaving free land to stand on foreign ground... George Washington would indicate that such a political war in Iraq, the policy of political influence throughout the world, and the authoritarian one-world ideals of our current government are not the "true policy" of the Federal Government. Washington understood that such alliances would unnecessarily pull the free citizens of the Untied States into wars that we would be better to avoid. He further suggests that “The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations has been the victim” of motives of foreign governments with which we find ourselves allied.
Observing good faith and justice towards all nations, to me, would indicate that when the government of Iraq is requesting that they be allowed to take over full control of their government, and are even considering letting the legality of US presence expire on Dec 31st, it should be the answer of the United States that the people of Iraq should be allowed to take control – ending the war.
Philosophy on the Economy:
“As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit…use it as sparingly as possible; avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace; avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in times of peace to discharge the debts.”
Washington understood that a national government in debt, especially to foreign nations, was a government entangled in an alliance – and as such, limiting the ability of the government to ensure peace and liberty amongst the citizens. Washington would most likely be opposed to “entitlement checks” and the nationalization of the federal banks. These ideals are the opposite of a fabric of moral judgment and liberty within the government.
Philosophy of Political Parties:
“The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of Party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it”
“Combinations or associations of [Parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
“The natural domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissention, is itself a frightful 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.”
It is no secret that Washington opposed the existence of political parties, as they were self serving and destructive in their roles towards their opposition. They were the source of insurrection against the existence of a common union government in favor of domination over an opposing party. Washington described perfectly the very situation which today is placing such a strain on the union of states. The party system is employing malicious tactics on one side to ensure domination over the other to ensure absolute power. Washington’s prognostication of this source of strain as the strongest power to dissolve the union of common defense was absolutely correct. He correctly described the dueling factions which are the source of the political dissent in this country. If there was ever a stronger case against the party system, I have not heard it.
Philosophy of Liberty:
“Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those 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.”
“It is important that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution, in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon the other.”
As my previous posts indicate, I am in favor of Washington’s stance regarding a control of the size and functions of the government as a necessity to liberty. Washington warned of a large regular army as being hostile to liberty, as much as he warned of cautioning citizens of the nation to keep the government constrained within the bounds of their constitutional limits.
Currently, we have a two party warring system determined to obtain absolute power over the other, and the people of the nation, by using the tools granted to the government by themselves which exist outside of the bounds of the constitution.
According to our first president, George Washington, it is therefore our right to enforce the checks and balances of the will of liberty, by casting out those laws encroaching on the rights of free men in this country, and likewise, the corrupt and unprincipled leaders who have worked to encourage such policies.
It is inspiring, from time to time, to understand the principles and values upon which this country was founded – yet sad that our leadership and general population have deviated so far from liberty in favor of security, be it financial or physical. Those willing to transfer some liberty for some security deserve neither, and will get neither.