Dick and Elizabeth Cheney offer extra-constitutional, suicidal Kool-Aid for the United States in “Exceptional, Why The World Needs A Powerful America.” The potion should not be drunk.
The father-daughter team scorns the wisdom of the Founding Fathers with the ignorance of unschooled children sneering at Aristotle.
The two pontificate: “Since World War II, we have been ‘the last, best hope of earth’ because we are freedom’s defender, not just for ourselves, but for millions around the world. We do this because it is right, because it is necessary, because our security depends upon it, and because there is no other who can.”
In other words, according to the Cheneys, Americans are a master race morally obligated to dominate the world for the good of mankind.
There is a portentous precedent.
Adolf Hitler proclaimed the Aryan race as superior to all others destined to rule the planet for 1,000 years. And then came the Holocaust, World War II, and the obliteration of the Third Reich.
Putting that master race precedent aside, testing the truth of the Cheneys’ assertions is problematic. They nowhere attempt to define “freedom.” The even omit clues like dividing nations into free and non-free. In the manner of Humpty Dumpty, freedom means whatever the Cheneys want it to mean, neither more nor less.
Post-World War II, the United States befriended China’s Mao Zedong, the greatest mass murderer in history. Scholarly estimates from the Center for Modern China in Princeton, New Jersey place the deaths at a shocking 80 million, from the Hundred Flowers Bloom Campaign, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and prisons. That number is 13 times greater than the Holocaust. Mao also dispatched the Chinese military to kill American soldiers during the Korean War. He oppressed 1.4 billion Chinese.
The Cheneys nowhere even insinuate that our sidling up to Mao was inconsistent with their defense of freedom trumpet, or exhort a contemporary invasion of China to bring freedom to one-fourth of mankind. That non-intervention posture contradicts their gospel that defending freedom everywhere on the planet is right, necessary, and imperative to preserve American sovereignty.
The Cheneys’ Kool-Aid is unconstitutional and self-ruinous.
Not a word in the Constitution authorizes the government to initiate war in hopes of furthering freedom in foreign lands. The Preamble sets forth “provid[ing] for the common defense” as an objective, i.e., deterring and defeating aggression against the United States. During the ratification debates, every discussion of war powers concerned responding to attacks. None even hinted that fighting to defend freedom around the world would be constitutionally permissible. And the Cheneys make no attempt to argue otherwise. To them, the Constitution is a scrap of paper, like the Belgium Neutrality Treaty was to Germany in World War I.
Endless wars as the Cheneys champion to defend freedom for all mankind would be the death knell of the Republic. James Madison, father of the U.S. Constitution, taught: “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
President George Washington’s Farewell Address warned against foreign entanglements.
Alexis de Tocqueville instructed in “Democracy in America”: “All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it.”
Accordingly, when Hungary sought United States support for its independence struggle against Austria, Sen. Henry Clay retorted: “Far better it is for ourselves, for Hungary, and for the cause of liberty, that, adhering to our wise, pacific system, and avoiding the distant wars of Europe, we should keep our lamp burning brightly on this western shore as a light to all nations, than to hazard its utter extinction amid the ruins of fallen or falling republics in Europe.”
When Greeks pleaded for U.S. intervention to support their revolt against the Ottoman Empire, Congressman John Randolph admonished: “Let us say to those seven millions of Greeks, ‘We defended ourselves, when we were but three millions, against a Power, in comparison to which the Turk is a lamb. Go and do thou likewise.’ ”
John Quincy Adams explained in a July 4, 1821 Address to Congress that we would destroy ourselves and liberty by becoming dictatress of the world–even under the banner of freedom: “[America] 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 the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. The frontlet upon her brows would no longer beam with the ineffable splendor of freedom and independence; but in its stead would soon be substituted an imperial diadem, flashing in false and tarnished lustre the murky radiance of dominion and power. She might become the dictatress of the world: she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.”
By attempting to do what the Cheneys champion in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, we have crushed liberty at home with a warfare state, a surveillance state, a bail-out state, and a welfare state. The President is even empowered to kill any American citizen he suspects is an imminent danger to national security based on secret, uncorroborated information. Moreover, none of these United States interventions has yielded anything approaching a western-style democracy. At best, we have replaced Saddam Husseins with sectarian or tribal Mussolinis at staggering costs in men and money.
Finally, defending freedom everywhere is not necessary for our sovereignty. We flourish best when we are at peace, and fight only in self-defense in response to an actual or imminent attack.
The Cheneys provide no ethical, philosophical, moral, political, or religious theory to justify their obtuse sermonizing that “it is right” for the United States government to coerce its citizens to risk that last full measure of devotion on behalf of freedom for persons who have no allegiance to the United States, do not obey our laws, do not pay us taxes, do not subscribe to our Bill of Rights or due process, and would never fight for us if we were attacked.
It is a pure concoction of the co-authors that should not be swallowed.