Leithner Letter No. 22
26 October 2001

... It would terminate the inspiring period of America’s history as a great nation not resorting to intercontinental imperialism. This venture would end the influence exercised by the United States as a government not participating in the exploitation of small lands and countries. ... It may be that the American people would rather forego the use of a questionable amount of gasoline at some time in the remote future than follow a foreign policy practically guaranteed to send many of their sons ... to die in faraway places in defense of the trade of Standard Oil or the international dreams of our one-world planners.

Congressman Howard H. Buffett
(Republican, Nebraska)
criticises the proposal of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior
to build a $165m oil pipeline in Arabia, 24 March 1944

Some Forgotten First Principles of Peace, Prosperity and Good Government

31 – Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and Morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence.

32 – In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential, than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular Nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The Nation, which indulges towards 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. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The Nation, prompted by ill will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the Government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The Government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of Nations has been the victim.

33 – So likewise, a passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite Nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

34 – As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent Patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practise the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the Public Councils! Such an attachment of a small or weak, towards a great and powerful nation, dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

35 – Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens), the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove, that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government. But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defence against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

36 – 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 connexion as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.

37 – Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

38 – Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality, we may at any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

42 – Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing, with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; 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; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

43 – In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course, which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.

George Washington,
Farewell Address To the People of the United States

17 September 1796

Free Market At Home, Non-Interventionist Abroad

... The purpose of this paper is to sketch a very different ‘right wing,’ a right that we can well label the ‘Old Right,’ since it was the dominant conservative force in American politics and political thought until approximately the mid-1950s. ... The major thrust of the Old Right, set forth consistently by its theoreticians and of course more fuzzily by its political figures, was a deep hostility and antipathy to government power. Big government, government intervention, social and economic, foreign and domestic, were considered to be invasions of the liberty of the individual and a grave and increasing threat to freedom in America. The Old Right favored the liberty of the individual as its central principle, and advocated a free-enterprise and free-market economy as the economic corollary and application of that principle. ...

The Old Right applied its aversion to government to foreign policy as well as domestic. It held the increasing interventions of the American government in the affairs of other nations to be illegitimate, and even imperialist, intrusions that benefited neither the American people nor the world as a whole. It held such interventions to be destructive of peace, and as posing a potentially grave menace in fostering Big Government upon Americans at home. War was considered legitimate only for strict self-defense, and hence the policy of the Old Right was American neutrality in foreign quarrels, or to use the interventionist pejorative, ‘isolationist.’

[Congressman Howard Buffett, the Midwestern campaign manager for ‘Mr Republican’ Senator Robert Taft in 1952, consistently opposed America’s increasingly interventionist policies, foreign and domestic, during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Mr Buffett was a staunch anti-Communist who nevertheless questioned the morality as well as the efficacy of the global anti-Communist crusade. Buffett declared that “our Christian ideals cannot be exported to other lands by dollars and guns. Persuasion and example are the methods taught by the Carpenter of Nazareth. ... We cannot practice might and force abroad and retain freedom at home. We cannot talk co-operation and practice power politics. ...”

Murray N Rothbard,
The Foreign Policy of the Old Right, 1977

Some Faint Contemporary Echoes of the Old Right

How can all our meddling not fail to spark some horrible retribution. ... Have we not suffered enough – from PanAm 103, to the World Trade Center, to the embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam – not to know that interventionism is the incubator of terrorism? Or will it take some cataclysmic atrocity on U.S. soil to awaken our global gamesmen to the going price of empire? America today faces a choice of destinies. We can choose to be a peacemaker of the world, or its policeman who goes about night-sticking troublemakers until we, too, find ourselves in some bloody brawl we cannot handle.

Patrick J. Buchanan during the 2000 U.S. Presidential campaign
(cited by Justin Raimondo, The Cassandra Complex
21 September 2001)

... For the critics of our policy of foreign interventionism in the affairs of others the attack on New York and Washington was not a surprise and many have warned of its inevitability. It so far has been inappropriate to ask why the U.S. was the target and not some other western country. But for us to pursue a war against our enemies it’s crucial to understand why we were attacked, which then will tell us by whom we were attacked. Without this knowledge, striking out at six or eight or even ten different countries could well expand this war of which we wanted no part. Without defining the enemy there is no way to know our precise goal nor to know when the war is over. Inadvertently more casual acceptance of civilian deaths as part of this war I’m certain will prolong the agony and increase the chances of even more American casualties. We must guard against this if at all possible.

Too often over the last several decades we have supported both sides of many wars only to find ourselves needlessly entrenched in conflicts unrelated to our national security. It is not unheard of that the weapons and support we send to foreign nations have ended up being used against us. The current crisis may well be another example of such a mishap. Although we now must fight to preserve our national security we should not forget that the founders of this great nation advised that for our own sake we should stay out of entangling alliances and the affairs of other nations. We are placing tremendous trust in our president to pursue our enemies as our commander-in-chief but Congress must remain vigilant as to not allow our civil liberties here at home to be eroded. The temptation will be great to sacrifice our freedoms for what may seem to be more security. We must resist this temptation. Mr. Speaker we must rally behind our president, pray for him to make wise decisions, and hope that this crisis is resolved a lot sooner than is now anticipated.

Former Congressman Ron Paul (Republican, Texas)
Statement on the Congressional Authorization of the Use of Force
17 September 2001

There is no vital American interest at risk in all these religious, territorial and tribal wars from Algeria to Afghanistan. Let us pay back those who did this, then let us extricate ourselves. Either America finds an exit strategy from empire, or we lose our republic.

Patrick J. Buchanan
U.S. Pays The High Price Of Empire, Los Angeles Times
18 September 2001

This site was founded on the strength of the proposition that we can’t have a Republic – a government that is strictly limited – and also have an Empire on which the sun never sets. In contemplating what lies before us I am haunted by a quotation from the Old Right [journalist] Garet Garrett, who wrote: ‘between government in the republican meaning, that is, Constitutional, representative, limited government, on the one hand, and Empire on the other hand, there is mortal enmity. Either one must forbid the other or one will destroy the other. That we know. Yet never has the choice been put to a vote of the people.’

... What is truly depressing, my friends, is that if the choice were put to a vote of the people today, Empire would win out. This may change, in a few weeks, a few months, a few years – but right now, in the rush for vengeance, the American people seem to have forgotten their [noble and non-interventionist] heritage.

Justin Raimondo, The Cassandra Complex
21 September 2001

Chris Leithner


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