There was always this kid in school that stuck their nose in everyone’s business as if it were their own. We all know him. We all hate him. We all shun him.
Unable to learn from the past, it seems, the United States of America takes a page from the days of childhood and uses it as a template for its foreign policy. What have we done? We’ve become involved with virtually every country’s business, treating their problems and issues as if the respective countries cannot solve them without our help. What ever happened to our early Isolationist policies? Let’s have a lookie-loo, shall we?
Back when America was new country, we modeled our foreign policy after that which belonged to Great Britain, the country we split from. That foreign policy meant adopting an Isolationist attitude, meaning we Yankees are content with staying on our side of the pond and wish not to interfere with non-domestic issues.
Then came the World Wars. The United States simply could not ignore world events as big as these, and thus adopted a new Interventionist attitude, even introducing the idea of a League of Nations (and later the United Nations). After the first World War, the US emerged as a world superpower, with many European countries in debt to this much younger country. With the Marshall Plan and Truman Doctrine, we further established our Interventionist policy by giving aid to Europe and Japan. As the United States continued to establish itself as a dominant power, we have come to assume that all other countries, while not entirely incompetent, are invariably less competent than our own.
The US has continued this attitude and policy all the way into the present, where they continue to try to control the Middle East and North Africa (most recently with Lord’s Resistance Army’s leader Joseph Kony) as they go
through revolutionary events that will shape its future. Multiple Administrations have attempted to force a democracy onto a previous dictatorship. In a dictatorship, democracy is a very radical concept, something that takes years to fully grasp and even more to function properly. Just look at how long Europe took to convert to democracy: France alone suffered through countless revolutions and wars to reach the point they are at today. Russia didn’t even become a democracy until the second half of the twentieth century, and although technically a democracy, the state is still far from free. To force democracy upon these still undeveloped nations within a few years is absurd, nearing impossible. Why the US continues to think it can do so remains a question to me.
The United States has also played the role of meddler in El Salvador, funding and training right-wing military and death squads that murdered and disappeared 85% of the approximately 80,000 victims during the country’s 12-year civil war. After being accused of meddling in the 2004 elections, it was again accused of meddling in the 2009 elections, building fear to sway results in its favor. Both Americans and Salvadorians have taken note, demanding that the US stop meddling with the goal of El Salvador: to hold a free and fair election.
On the Asia front, relations between Taiwan (Republic of China) and China (People’s Republic of China) have been deemed severe enough that the US passed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979. The United States stated that it would “consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States” as well as saying it would “provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character” and “maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people of Taiwan.” Relations between the ROC and PRC is their business, not America’s. the PRC has even stated that the Taiwan Relations Act was “an unwarranted intrusion by the United States into the affairs of China.” Obviously, no one wants America meddling with their business.
Taiwan is not the only place in Asia the US has meddled. WikiLeaks released unedited US State Department cables last year, documenting US meddling in Hong Kong affairs. This concrete evidence is the most striking example of the US poking its nose into someone else’s issues. Among the leaks is a cache of cables that show that the US Consulate General in Hong Kong has been inviting Chinese diplomats for luncheons and dinners, pressuring them to pressure the Chinese government to install, delete, or edit certain programs and laws. This kind of behind-the-scenes manipulation is exactly the kind of meddling that should stop. Nontransparent negotiations only bring distrust and eventual contempt.
… And the list continues. Any crude examination of modern US history will clearly reveal that the United States has felt the need to step in whenever any even happens in another country, no matter how tiny. This is exactly the type of attitude that instills scorn and contempt to foreigners minds when they think of “America.” Not only that, but this is also exactly what causes our massive debt. According to CBS, our current national debt is $14.3 trillion, as of July 2011. This means about $46,410 for every human in the US, or $122,029 for every taxpayer. Think about it. If one were to spend one dollar every second of the day, continuously, it would take over 31,000 years to spend just one trillion dollars. Imagine 14.3 trillion! And with all that interest to be earned along the way, that would measure to be well over 465,000 years before the debt is paid off, at the same rate of a dollar per second. In 2010 alone, the US issued almost as much new debt as the rest of the governments of the world combined! If we were to stop meddling, think of what that would do for us! Think of how much we waste every year on trifle matters that won’t even affect us anyway. Now, I’m no professional, but I’m pretty sure that’s a lot we could save. And after losing the precious AAA rating from Standard & Poor’s, we must ask ourselves: “How important is it really to take part in other people’s matters?”