understood that it was in America’s longtermrninterest to have a multipolar worldrnand to avoid unnecessary military conflicts.rnFor Tali, trade policy and national securityrnwere closely intertwined: a nationrnmust have complete control over itsrneconomy as well as its national security.rnHe opposed having America’s economyrnor military intermeshed with those ofrnother countries. On trade issues, Taftrnwas a staunch protectionist in the OhiornRepublican tradition of William McKinleyrnand Warren Harding, believing thatrnthe protection of the domestic marketrntook precedence over the need to expandrnexport markets. Throughout his careerrnhe slashed away at foreign aid programsrnand multilateral trade pacts as wastefulrnand damaging to American taxpayersrnand workers. If he were alive today,rnTaft would certainly have voted againstrnNAFTA, viewing its environmental andrnlabor regulations as an abrogation ofrnAmerican sovereignty, and competitionrnwith Mexico’s low-wage economy asrnharmful to the jobs of American workers.rnHe would also call for the abolition ofrnthe IMF, the World Bank, and all otherrnmultinational economic organizationsrnthat use American tax dollars to serve therninterests of foreign countries —and foreignrnbusiness. He would be against anyrnbailout of the failing Asian economies.rnTaft’s message would be unequivocallyrnclear: American tax money should stayrnwhere it belongs—at home.rnAlthough a strong supporter of internationalrnlaw and the United Nations’rnCharter, Taft rejected the notion of havingrnAmerican soldiers serve under U.N.rncommand as they did during the KoreanrnWar. “So far as the Korean War is concerned,”rnhe declared in 1953, “forget thernUnited Nations.” He believed that ifrnAmerican troops must fight on foreignrnsoil, they should do so only under Americanrnmilitary command —definitely notrnas they are today, with American menrn(and women) serving under the authorityrnof U.N. bureaucrats in so-calledrn”peacekeeping” operations around thernworld.rnTaft was an early and vociferous criticrnof what would later be called the “imperialrnpresidency.” Persuaded that FDR’srncynical attempts to push the UnitedrnStates into war prior to Pearl Harbor, asrnwell as Truman’s decision to send troopsrnto Korea without congressional approval,rnhad established dangerous precedents,rnhe demanded that Congress be fully consultedrnand have a strong voice in foreignrnpolicy decisions. He feared that the absencernof presidential accountability andrncongressional oversight would lead thernUnited States into imperial endeavorsrnin far-off nations of little interest andrnvalue to ordinary Americans. Taft’s pointrnabout the dangers resulting from a lack ofrncongressional authority in foreign affairsrnwas especially prescient in light of subsequentrnAmerican history: Vietnam, Somalia,rnBosnia, and Haiti. All of these interventionsrnhave been characterized byrn”mission creep,” the absence of congressionalrninvolvement, and a failure tornachieve electoral consensus.rnLooking at American diplomacy today,rnTaft would almost certainly be outraged,rndecrying the neo-Wilsonian enthusiasmrnto intervene in hot spots all overrnthe globe without any clear sense of thernnational interest or of limits on the country’srnresources and ability to sustain itsrnoverweening international presence.rnTaft would call for a retrenchment ofrnAmerica’s superpower role in the world.rnHe would say it is time for an immediaternwithdrawal of U.S. troops from Bosniarnand Haiti; he would say “no” to NATOrnexpansion into Eastern Europe; hernwould insist that Japan and Western Europernbear more of the responsibilit}’ forrntheir own militar)’ security; and he wouldrndemand an end to foreign aid to Russia,rnwhich has seen billions of dollars thrownrndown a rathole, serving only to sustainrnthe corrupt former communists whorncontinue to thwart real economicrnreform.rnAs an anti-statist conservative, Taft wasrnrepelled by what an activist foreign policyrnrequired —massive foreign aid programs,rnlarge military budgets, big government.rnCritics have long argued that, inrnan age dominated by Hitier’s Germanyrnand Stalin’s Russia, Taft’s desire to confinernAmerica’s vital interests to the WesternrnHemisphere was unrealistic. Even ifrnthis were true, the Cold War has beenrnover for nearly a decade, and there are norngreat totalitarian powers left in the world.rnSurely, it is now time for a neo-Taftiternforeign policy to reverse America’srnmarch toward empire and to forge insteadrna diplomacy devoted to the nationalrninterest, to limited government, and tornthe restoration of the Old Republic.rnJeffrey Thomas Kuhner is a Ph.D. candidaternin 20th-century American historyrnat Ohio University. He is writing hisrndoctoral dissertation on Robert Taft.rnA Clever Diversionrnby Clyde WilsonrnAmistadrnProduced by Steven Spielberg,rnDebbie Allen, and Colin WilsonrnDirected by Steven SpielbergrnScreenplay by David FranzonirnReleased by DreamworksrnI i Amistad is not yet a household wordrnlike E.T. or Jurassic Park, it may soonrnbe with the power of Steven Spielbergrnbehind it. Amistad is really two movies.rnOne, about the 19th-century slave commercernbetween West Africa and LatinrnAmerica, is a powerful piece of filmmaking.rnThe other, about American politicsrnand law, is completely hokey and misleading.rnNobody knows for sure, but from thernmid-1500’s to the mid-1800’s, 11-15 millionrnblack Africans were transported tornthe New World, a vast undeveloped regionrnwith a voracious appetite for unskilledrnlabor. Ever)’ maritime nation inrnEurope participated in this trade. Onlyrnabout six percent of the Africans endedrnup in North America, the vast majorityrngoing to South America and the Caribbean.rnBy the time of the Amistad incidentrn(1839), the market was largelyrnlimited to Cuba (a Spanish colony)rnand Brazil (a Portuguese dependency).rnAnd the only shippers involved werernSpaniards, Portuguese, and New Englanders.rnIn case you haven’t heard, the Amistadrnwas a Spanish ship bound from WestrnAfrica with captured slaves to be sold inrnCuba. The captives revolted and killedrnmost of the crew. After drifting for a longrntime, the ship was intercepted by a U.S.rnNav}’ vessel and taken into a Connecticutrnport. (How it got that far north is notrnmade clear in the movie.)rnThus die Amistad case relates largelyrnto the history of West Africa and LatinrnAmerica. Only by an accident of navigationrndid it become an American issue,rnand then only as a case in admiralty andrndiplomacy. In the long run, it was a minorrncase that set no precedents. Spiel-rnJUNE 1998/47rnrnrn