The title says it all, almost, about our current
world economic situation; but really, for any truly
thinking American adult, this should be old news.
For me, I was warned back in high school, (about
50 years ago, yikes!) when we students read
George Washington's writings, particularly
his Farewell Address. Published on the anniversary
of the Constitution in 1796, it is as if written
today, with every major potential and actual
international reality/problem discussed in its
few, pointed pages:
(1) Disagree with our excessive commitment to Israel?
Yep, he covered that: "The nation which
indulges toward another an habitual hatred or
an 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."
(2) Worried about the Tea Party when it rattles
AK 47s, yet "preaches" piety? G.W. mentions
that too: "Observe good faith and justice toward
all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.
Religion and morality enjoin this conduct."
"Can it be that Providence has not connected the
permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue?"
(3) Concerned about atavistic isolationism?
Don't be, George Washington didn't recommend
it: "...in extending our commercial relations
to have with them as little POLITICAL connection
as possible..." Yet: "...let me not be understood
as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing
engagements." "Harmony, liberal intercourse with
all nations are recommended by policy, humanity
(4) Wishing we were willing, ready and able to
switch from hostage-to-oil status to home-grown
renewables? Here Washington shines as a realist:
"But even our commercial policy should hold an equal
and impartial hand, neither seeking nor granting
exclusive favors or preferences;...constantly keeping
in view that it is 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." (At $4.00+ per gallon,
we're paying, we're paying....) By entering into trade
agreements for absurdly lengthy periods, making them
quasi-permanent, we forgot Honest George's lessons,
particularly with one precariously precious, politically-
affected commodity, oil.
Lastly, the most memorable moment in the speech:
"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? It is our true policy to steer
clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the
foreign world..." Thomas Jefferson seemed to admire
this notion so much, he poached from this 1796 speech
for one of his own five years later, coining a short,
snappy saying, "entangling alliances". (Of course
Jefferson, in his highly partisan fondness for the
French, managed to ignore another caution in the
Farewell Address, overlooking the murderous excesses
during their revolution.)
Strangling alliances are now what we have; Nixon and
Clinton should have their academic history credits withdrawn,
not having heeding Washington, a far greater president than
either of THEM.