The U.S. is in desperate need of a new security doctrine more befitting those ideals laid out in its founding documents.
These principles were elaborated upon by President George Washington himself who warned the young nation of avoiding the dual evils of foreign entanglements externally and party politics domestically.
As long as U.S. dedicated efforts on fixing its own problems with a focus on internal improvements, then the Monroe Doctrine would be a blessing for the country and international community.
Sadly, other impulses within the U.S. establishment of 19th century America had other ideas.
After the last “Lincoln-Republican” President William McKinley was assassinated, President Teddy Roosevelt’s “big stick” diplomacy launched a new 20th century trend that saw the U.S. extending its hegemony over weak states rather than keeping out foreign imperial intrigue as Adams had envisioned.
Another essential component of Adams‘ security doctrine was shaped by his view that the international community as a whole should never be defined as a sum of parts to be dominated by a single hegemon like the British Empire had done for centuries.
Adams understood the importance of seeing the world as “a community of principle” where win-win cooperation, based upon the self-improvement of both parts and the whole, would constantly bring renewal and creative vitality to diplomacy. It was a top-down systemic approach to policy that saw economics, security and political affairs interwoven into one unified system. This is an integrative way of thinking that has been sorely lost in the hyper theoretical, compartmentalized mode of zero-sum thinking dominant in today’s neo-liberal think tank complex.
For this reason, Adams advocated using Hamiltonian national banking and large-scale infrastructure projects like the Erie Canal and railways throughout his years as secretary of state and president. From this paradigm, if American interests would be extended across the continent or the world more broadly, it would not be through brute force, but rather by uplifting the standards of living of all parties.
Over the years, small but powerful attempts have been made to revive Adams‘ overarching security doctrine.
We had seen it revived with President Ulysses Grant’s efforts to extend U.S. industrial know-how to countries across the world during the 1870s. We saw it again with McKinley’s promotion of rail lines uniting the Americas to become a new industrial renaissance for Latin America.
We saw it come alive again with FDR’s program for internationalizing the New Deal across China, India, Ibero America, the Middle East, Africa and Russia.
Eisenhower made some noble moves toward this renewal by ending the Korean War and attempting his crusade for peace driven by U.S.-Russian cooperation and advanced scientific investments into India, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Latin America. President Dwight Eisenhower’s many positive plans were sadly derailed by a growing parasite in the heart of the U.S. deep state which he addressed in his famous “military industrial complex” speech of 1960.
President John F. Kennedy’s efforts to end the Vietnam War, revive FDR’s New Deal spirit in the 1960s, while seeking entente with Russia was another noble effort to bring back Adams‘ security doctrine. His early death put an end to this orientation.
From 1963 to 2016, tiny piecemeal efforts to revive a sane security doctrine proved short lived and were often undone by the more powerful pressures of unipolarist intrigue that sought nothing less than full Anglo-American hegemony in the form of a New World Order whose arrival was celebrated by the likes of George H.W. Bush and Henry Kissinger in 1992.
Despite his many limitations, then-President Trump made an honest endeavor to restore a sane security doctrine by focusing American interests on healing from 50+ years of self-inflicted atrophy under globalized outsourcing, militarism and post-industrialism. Despite having to contend with an embarrassingly large and independent military-intelligence industrial complex that didn’t get less powerful after Kennedy’s assassination, Mr. Trump announced the terms of his international outlook in April 2019 saying:
“Between Russia, China and us, we’re all making hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons, including nuclear, which is ridiculous. I think it’s much better if we all got together and didn’t make these weapons those three countries I think can come together and stop the spending and spend on things that are more productive toward long-term peace.”
This call for a U.S.-Russia-China cooperative policy ran in tandem with the first phase of the U.S.-China trade deal which went into effect in January 2020, guaranteeing $350 billion of U.S. finished goods purchased by China. None other than George Soros himself suffered a public meltdown that month when he announced that the two greatest threats to his global open society were 1) Trump’s U.S. and 2) President Xi Jinping’s China.
Of course, a pandemic derailed much of this momentum and the trade deal slowly broke apart. Despite these failures, the idea of returning the U.S. to an “American first” outlook by cleaning up its own internal messes, extracting CIA operations from the military, defunding regime change organizations like NED abroad and returning to a traditionally American policy of protective tariffs were all extremely important initiatives that Mr. Trump put into motion, and set a precedent which must be capitalized upon by nationalist forces from all parties wishing to save their republic from an oncoming calamity.
One year into President Biden’s “rules based international order,” the hope for stability and peaceful cooperation among the nations of the earth has been seriously undermined. Unlike Mr. Trump, who rightfully severed U.S. cooperation with NATO, the current neo-con heavy administration has made absorbing Ukraine and other former Soviet states into NATO a high priority going so far as to assert that Russia’s invasion is immanent should NATO forces not protect “poor, peaceful Kyiv.” There is never a mention of Azov Battalions used by then-Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and the CIA to topple the former government in 2014. About 85,00 U.S. troops have put on high alert and 2,000 U.S. troops deployed to Poland and Germany. Over 19 NATO war games have been planned for 2022, starting this month, and even China is concerned that Mr. Biden’s “NATO-of-the-Pacific” agenda is seeking to inflame Taiwanese independence and absorb the rebellious island into the U.S. military industrial complex.
When looking at Russian “red lines” from this standpoint and holding in mind the new form of a Eurasian Manifest Destiny emerging with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Far Eastern Vision, Polar Silk Road and China’s BRI, it is a rich irony that the spirit of John Quincy Adams‘ security doctrine is alive in the world. Just not in the U.S.
• Matthew Ehret is the founder of the Rising Tide Foundation and author of “The Clash of the Two Americas.” He can be reached at matthewehret.substack.com.
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