In late January, I led a nine-member congressional delegation on a whirlwind trip to Switzerland, Poland, Rumania, Kosovo, and Morocco. In Bern, at the Embassy Country Team Briefing, we were told that 90 percent of the Swiss were opposed to our occupation of Iraq. In Morocco, our ambassador happily told us that pro-American feelings had more than doubled to half the population, according to Pew Research Center figures. But then, he added, opposition to the war in Iraq was “almost unanimous.” I have heard similar estimates in visits to countries in every part of the world since this unnecessary war started.
In Kosovo, where we still have 1,800 troops long after any fighting has stopped, we were escorted by a general of the Texas National Guard. His contingent of 1,300 Texas soldiers arrived just before Christmas and is scheduled to stay for about one year. Why is the Texas National Guard guarding Kosovo? The general said that their mission is to provide “a safe and secure environment” for the people there.
He did not add that this is “at great expense to the U.S. taxpayer” and that “this is police work the people of Kosovo should be doing themselves.”
I asked him how long it had been since one of our soldiers had been killed or wounded there. He said that two had been injured in a riot in 2004. He did not seem to like it when I said that it appeared that his men are probably safer in Kosovo than in any big city in the United States.
In Bucharest, we were taken to the Palace of the Parliament, the second largest building in the world—astonishingly lavish, almost entirely filled with marble. The building was erected at a cost equivalent to three years’ worth of the total GDP of Rumania at a time when many in that country had little to eat. (A few years ago, when our Government Reform Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives learned that the FBI had sent a father of four small children to prison for over 30 years for a murder the FBI knew he did not commit—because it might blow the cover of an informant—I decided that government bureaucrats can rationalize or justify almost anything. This unbelievably ornate edifice in Bucharest was just another of far too many confirmations of this belief.)
On the top floor of the Palace, we were briefed by officials on a program to fight crime in southeastern Europe. Since 1999, the United States has provided $1.3 million per year for this effort, while the 12 participating European nations have contributed $400,000—combined.
Our military is in almost every country, and, at every embassy I have been to over my 17 years in Congress, I have heard briefings from or talked with employees of almost every federal department or major agency. Our embassy in Thailand now has 1,500 employees from all parts of our federal bureaucracy. World government is here—courtesy of, and financed by, Uncle Sam.
At least we received specific thank-yous for the $400 million we have given to Rumania over the last few years and for the $700 million we have given to Morocco—all through just one government channel, the Agency for International Development.
Liberals figured out years ago that foreign aid is unpopular, so they insist publicly (and falsely) that foreign aid accounts for only about one percent of our budget. What they don’t say is that we are now providing aid through almost every department and agency and spending several hundreds of billions of dollars in other countries each year. We have spent $300 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan in just the last three years—most of it in foreign aid. It is no criticism of our soldiers to say that the Department of Defense is now, in reality, the Department of Foreign Aid. Unfortunately, with an almost nine-trillion-dollar national debt, huge deficits with no end in sight, and the impending retirement of millions of baby boomers, those fine soldiers are going to see the pensions they are counting on (and other programs and pensions) cut drastically a few years from now.
Anyone who believes the U.S. Congress should start putting our own people first is scornfully branded an isolationist. Those who resort to such name calling, however, are avoiding a discussion on the merits of our foreign policy. Ironically, our interventionist policies have brought about more isolation than anything those who believe in putting America first have ever done.
We can be friends with other nations through trade, tourism, and cultural and educational exchanges without intervening in all sorts of political, religious, or ethnic disputes around the world.
Many government policies in recent years have given us a bland, homogenized society in the United States. Now, with the liberal, elitist, one-world activities of our federal government, we are exporting this bland, homogenized society around the world. Liberals have always loved the word diversity. But we would have more diversity around the world if we encouraged people in other countries to celebrate their own heritage and culture.
And the United States would be a better and far more interesting place if our government would stop trying to run the world and, instead, would allow Americans to keep more of their own money and let them celebrate more of their own unique local culture and heritage before it disappears.
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