American politicians are for sale – and so is our foreign policy
by Justin Raimondo
"Politics stops at the water's edge" is an old aphorism that aptly describes the history and current trend of American politics. The period marking the run-up to World War II was the last time we saw any meaningful discussion of America's role in the world. Ever since that famous victory, the interventionist consensus has been bipartisan and broad, at least in elite circles. All the newspaper editors, the TV anchors, the policy wonks, and the bloggers-of-note agree: we must go global. The only other choice is a debilitating "isolationism," economic as well as diplomatic-military, that would consign us to an autarkic well of loneliness.
This narrative has dominated the foreign policy discourse lo these many years and given rise to what other writers have referred to as "the imperial presidency," the extra-constitutional bloating of the executive authority. This tendency has been taken to its ultimate extreme by the Bush administration, whose legal theorists impart to the president near-dictatorial powers in wartime. Given what ought to be the GOP's signature slogan – wartime all the time – the implications for the survival of the republic are ominous. However, it was a Democrat – Harry Truman – who set the fatal precedent when he called American troops to defend South Korea without bothering to go to Congress for permission. Ever since then the precedent has not only held, it has gone largely unchallenged. Politics may indeed stop at the water's edge, but a president's authority really begins there: he is the supreme arbiter of our foreign policy, a virtual dictator in that vital realm, whereas his authority over domestic policy is not even remotely comparable.
This brazen Bonapartism is merely the logical outgrowth of a foreign policy initially taken up with alacrity by the Democrats: first, with Woodrow Wilson at their head, and later on with FDR leading the charge. Both dragged us into easily avoidable foreign wars. Both cracked down on internal opposition, jailing antiwar protesters, instituting censorship via U.S. government control of the mails, and utilizing British and other undercover agents to neutralize the opposition.