Current Concerns
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Current Concerns - The monthly journal for independent thought, ethical standards and moral responsibility - English Edition of Zeit-Fragen
No 1, 2002
23 May 2015, 12:08 AM
current issue

Learning From the Swiss

by John McManus

Switzerland has never joined NATO or the European Union. Her exemplary spirit of 'armed neutrality' has kept her out of wars and intrigues, and free from terrorism.

A look around the world at the beginning of the 21st century shows American military personnel imposing our will in dozens of countries-precisely the opposite of what early US leaders urged. In his 1821 inaugural address, President John Quincy Adams stated:

'America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own... She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication in all wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy and ambition and usurp the standards of freedom.'

Our sixth president was merely restating what George Washington wisely said in 1797: '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 connections as possible.' And Thomas Jefferson expressed the same thinking during his 1801 inauguration when he urged 'peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.'

Senators relied upon these sentiments to keep America out of the League of Nations in 1919. And Senator Robert Taft certainly had this style foreign policy in mind in 1951 when he told his colleagues that 'the ultimate purpose of our foreign policy must be to protect the liberty of the people of the United States.'

Taft publicly lamented his approval of the UN Charter, and opposed U.S. entry into NATO. When President Truman deployed US forces to Korea in 1950 without declaring war, Taft called it 'a complete usurpation of power.' He warned fellow senators that if 'this incident is permitted to go by without protest, at least from this body, we would have finally terminated for all time the right of Congress to declare war, which is granted to Congress alone by the Constitution.'

Since Taft's warning, Americans have been sent to war in Vietnam, Iraq and now Afghanistan without the constitutionally required declaration by Congress. Our current policy of 'going abroad to seek out monsters to destroy' has American forces numbering tens of thousands in Korea, Japan, Germany, Italy, England, Bosnia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, and a dozen other nations. The 'entangling alliances' we have created are a major reason why terror has been visited upon us, in New York (1993), Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Tanzania, Yemen, and, of course, again in New York and in Washington, D.C., on September 11th. Many Americans wonder why anyone can hate us. Our interventionist foreign policy contains much of the answer.

The 'permanent neutrality' keeping Swit-zerland free of war and terror is what past American leaders advocated. Our nation should return to this same policy. Naysayers insisting that this amounts to 'isolationism', should be told to look to Switzerland. Like Switzerland, our nation should become inde-pendent of NATO, and also of the UN. And just as Switzerland has wisely refrained from joining the European Union, the United States should exit NAFTA and the WTO and cease all moves that would involve us with any other 'entangling' economic alliances.

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