As Europe moved closer and closer to war in the late 1930s, the United States Congress was doing everything it could to prevent it. Between 1936 and 1937, much to the dismay of the pro-Britain President Roosevelt, Congress passed the Neutrality Acts (Wikipedia)
Presidential candidate Ron Paul is enjoying a lot of support with his "stay out" attitude. According to the latest CNN numbers, he is the best of the single-digit contenders, above Bachmann, Santorum and Huntsman, with 9%. He is in fact asking us to go back to the isolationist days cited above. Let's bring all our troops home, he adds, including those stationed in more than one hundred bases around the globe. None of the other candidates has come even close to his proposals, except perhaps Rick Perry who offered the "novel" idea of cutting all foreign aid to zilch.
But the burning and essential question remains:"Can we afford to stay out of the world's conflicts?" As a man born in tiny neutral Switzerland, I have always wondered why my native country spends a ton of money maintaining an army and air force (don't laugh). My grandfather mentioned a military tradition dating to Swiss mercenaries being hired for their prowess during the Middle Ages; we can still see the remnants at the Vatican.
Actually, the United States, except for the size, has a lot in common with the 800 year-old country of William Tell. Remember the first Articles of Confederation that fizzled after a few years (1781 - 1789)? That was copied straight from the Confederation Helvetica (the actual name of Switzerland). And except for the Napoleonic invasion in 1815, my country of birth has successfully avoided being drawn into wars. Can America, or rather, should America do the same?
Mr. Paul's 10 million followers seem to think so; he even had the temerity of suggesting that 9/11 was caused by our military presence in Arab countries. It's hard to agree with him, but let's not forget that we used to help bin Laden during the Afghan war against the Soviet Union. We supported Iraq's murderous dictator Sadam Hussein in his war against Iran. We tolerated and helped Cuba's infamous Batista before the bearded rebellion in 1959. Examples of our international mischiefs abound, as we lied to start a war in Vietnam and in Iraq. That's what happens when a country becomes so powerful that it often turns into a bully.
America, Mr. Paul, cannot and should not isolate itself from what happens in this globalized world. We must not let rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea threaten their neighbors with nuclear weapons. We cannot let China and Russia push us around; we should not abdicate our immense responsibility toward Latin America, where signs of unrest could lead to local wars. We cannot allow drug cartels to grow into military juggernauts. On the other hand..
American cannot intervene as the policeman of the world; we will never end global injustice and poverty. We must not engage our brave military in foolish actions such as Iraq and Vietnam. Direct terrorist threats must be solved with limited force; just enough to let them know that we will chase and eliminate them wherever they hide.
We have the economic clout to apply sanctions that hurt; we have the military deterrent that makes potential aggressors think twice before attacking us. But we must also focus on our number one priority: the American people.