Brian Kilmeade’s views on foreign policy are the opposite of my own.
The United States had a good run for about about a century after the Founding because Atlanticism was rejected in favor of Jefferson’s vision of westward continental expansion or Hamilton’s vision of internal economic development. Even though power swung between the two major parties, the foreign policy consensus in the 19th century was that the United States should not seek to emulate the British Empire or the other European empires. It was a point of national pride that we had rejected this model.
European immigrants came here to escape from all the dumb imperial and dynastic wars of Europe. The United States expanded through the 19th century from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic, but our idea of expansion was adding new territories which became new states which were settled by our own people and incorporated into the Union as the equals of the older states. In such a way, Kentucky was an organic extension of Virginia and Alabama was an organic extension of Georgia. American growth wasn’t like the growth of the British Empire with the notable exceptions of Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Unlike Nigeria, the British settler colonies around the world remain extensions of Britain to this day.
By the early 20th century, this model of national development had strengthened the United States into one of the richest, freest and most powerful countries in the world. Instead of participating in the Napoleonic Wars, we bought the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon who was the evil dictator of his time. We bought Alaska from Tsar Alexander II for only $7 million. Russia had been weakened by the Crimean War which drew in all the Great Powers of Europe and which we wisely avoided. President Andrew Jackson established good foreign relations with Russia and we traded with a far more powerful Russian Empire in the 19th century which included Central Asia, Ukraine, the Baltic States, Finland and Poland.
The United States of the 19th century was like China in our own times. Americans didn’t go abroad to squander our wealth smiting and vanquishing evil doers in Eurasia. We focused on our own industrial development and material prosperity and enjoyed the natural security provided by dominating the North American continent which is shielded from Eurasian conflicts by three oceans.
The downfall of this country was not knowing when to stop. We had accumulated so much wealth and power through the wise choices of previous generations. The temptation was always there for our elites to aspire to become a “Great Power” on the world stage by emulating the British Empire and the other European empires. After the Confederacy, the only thing that was really holding them back was tradition. The American self image and self understanding was that our ancestors had revolted against and won our independence from the British Empire and had consciously set out to create a republic. The idea that Americans would become an arrogant bully on the world stage and the imperial masters of foreign countries was repulsive to our national DNA which is based on the ideal of self-government.
The first step in this direction was Hawaii which was seized in 1893 and became a U.S. territory in 1898 and only became the 50th state in 1959 during the Cold War. As with Oklahoma and New Mexico, Americans were long conflicted about incorporating Hawaii into the Union due to the presence of so many non-Whites there. The Hawaiian Question was ultimately solved by incorporation. It eventually became a state like the other states with equal representation in Congress (blacks and American Indians also became U.S. citizens), but Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines which were seized in the Spanish-American War and became the Inner Empire never made this journey to statehood. The United States acquired American Samoa in 1900, the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1917 and the Northern Mariana Islands after World War II.
Cuba stands out on this list as one of the countries which we have the worst foreign relations with on earth. It ultimately circles back to the American intervention there in the Spanish American War. The country jumped into the arms of Castro and the Soviet Union during the Cold War to escape from the clutches of American imperialism. We have been punishing Cuba ever since. Nearly every country in the Caribbean and Central America (the exceptions are European possessions) is a case study in the long term devastating effects of American meddling and mindless interventionism. Progressive social engineering spectacularly failed in Haiti before it was tried here at home in the 1960s.
American interventionism in World War I to “make the world safe for democracy” begat the Soviet Union and the conditions in Weimar Germany that made World War II possible. American intervention in World War II begat the Cold War. America’s victory in the Cold War begat the expansion of NATO which begat the current war in Ukraine. American intervention in Afghanistan begat the Taliban and al-Qaeda which begat the Global War on Terror (GWOT). American intervention in Iraq and Syria begat ISIS. We have repeated the same mistake that we made in Cuba over and over again. We never learn anything.
Having sown the seeds of imperialism and militarism for over 125 years now, we have reaped the harvest. The United States is merely the “Homeland” of the Global American Empire which is presided over by a globalist elite which has effectively seceded from the nation and cares nothing for our formal territorial borders. America’s elites care deeply about the borders of the Empire … in Ukraine. We debased our currency and diluted our national identity like the Romans long ago. We are lorded over by a set of all powerful oligarchs and multinational corporations which escaped our control long ago. The president of the United States answers to unelected Deep State bureaucrats. The “intelligence community” now intervenes in our elections to overthrow our government because it has spent so many decades practicing these arts abroad. The Pentagon balks at following the orders of the president.
We’re the Global American Empire now. Every aspect of American life takes a backseat in Washington to foreign policy which has been effectively removed from democratic control. The devastating consequences of deindustrialization, for example, can be laid at the doorstep of the State Department because the need to appease our European and East Asian allies by granting them generous access to the American market has trumped the interests of the American worker for generations. The dollar is kept afloat by Middle East oil transactions and the willingness of foreigners to finance Uncle Sam’s national debt. We have lost our sovereignty and independence too, but a lot of people got rich off of these decisions.
The United States is a global financial empire, a marketplace, a petri dish for social experiments and a military that occasionally pretends to be a country in times of crisis although our elites increasingly just dispense with that fiction these days. We have spent the last century fighting and vanquishing evil doers in Eurasia to no end. American soldiers have died everywhere from the shores of Normandy to Italy to North Africa to Iraq to Afghanistan to Vietnam to Korea to Iwo Jima to the Philippines to the Solomon Islands. The burden and responsibilities and sacrifices of imperialism will continue until the inevitable collapse.
For what? For this?
What good will come out of a Second Cold War, a trillion dollar military budget, an even more reckless and unaccountable foreign policy establishment, an even more empowered surveillance state? Are we going to vanquish “autocracy” or will the United States itself become more degenerate and autocratic?
Note: We’re not even leading the world anymore in this conflict.