Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Is The Democratic Party Responsible For 9/11?

No, not Bill Clinton. The Democratic party of Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson.

The party that said it was okay to "meddle" in the affairs of other countries. The party that said,
The fact of the matter is that we, this generation of Americans, are the first generation of our country ever to be involved in affairs around the globe. From the beginning of this country, from the days of Washington, until the Second World War, this country lived an isolated existence. Through most of our history we were an unaligned country, an uncommitted nation, a neutralist nation. We were by statute as well as by desire. We had believed that we could live behind our two oceans in safety and prosperity in a comfortable distance from the rest of the world...

...We find ourselves entangled with apparently unanswerable problems in unpronounceable places. We discover that our enemy in one decade is our ally the next. We find ourselves committed to governments whose actions we cannot often approve, assisting societies with principles very different from our own...

...We cannot return to the day of the sailing schooner or the covered wagon, even if we wished. And if this Nation is to survive and succeed in the real world of today, we must acknowledge the realities of the world.
Today, Democrats, and others like Ron Paul, Osama bin Laden, and Jeremiah Wright, say that the terrorists attack us because we have meddled in their affairs. We have bases in their countries, we support Israel too much, etc. Basically, it's our own fault that they don't like us, and if we would just stop all the meddling then they would leave us alone.

That meddling started with Democrats half a century ago.


Tom Scharbach said...

Cameron: "That meddling started with Democrats half a century ago."

Cameron, you need to learn more about American history.

The United States was meddling in the affairs of other countries pretty much since the beginning.

The early meddling -- 1830 to 1880 or thereabouts -- was largely a function of "Manifest Destiny", the desire of the young Republic to wrest the Southwest from Mexico. The young Republic -- expansionist and restless -- succeeded, by and large, through a series of wars, skirmishes and diplomatic means.

The next meddling -- 1880 until World War II -- was an outgrowth of the earlier vision, expanded to the Americas as a whole, and into the world at large, as American power and vision grew. The Spanish American War, the virtual annexation of Panama, establishing protectorates in Puerto Rico and the Philippines, and meddling in the so-called "Banana Republics" throughout Latin American -- intervention in Cuba (1906-1910), Nicaragua (1909-1911, 1912-1925 and 1926-1933), Haiti (1915-1934), and the Dominican Republic (1916-1924), for example -- bear witness to American meddling during that period.

Following World War II, our country became a global power, and meddling began in earnest. President Eisenhower, for example, involved our country in numerous coups and interventions -- Iran, Lebanon, various countries in Latin America, Turkey and on and on, and subsequent Presidents since Eisenhower have not, for the most part, slackened the pace.

American meddling since Theodore Roosevelt has had, at its core, "nation building".

The idea of intervention to "help" other countries has its roots in the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, as much as anything, I think:

"All that this country desires is to see the neighboring countries stable, orderly, and prosperous. Any country whose people conduct themselves well can count upon our hearty friendship. If a nation shows that it knows how to act with reasonable efficiency and decency in social and political matters, if it keeps order and pays its obligations, it need fear no interference from the United States. Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power."

You will recall that President Bush campaigned on the basis that the United States would put all this to an end -- he spoke out against American intervention for "nation building" on numerous occasions during the 2000 election. In light of the campaign rhetoric, it is ironic, is it not, to hear the current justification for our war in Iraq, which echoes the Roosevelt Corollary so closely in tone and spirit?

But that aside, you need to think a little harder. You are coming across here as uninformed and callow, to say the least.

Cameron said...


I appreciate your comment; I expected to ruffle a feather or two with this post. Here's sort of the basis for its thesis - a quote from President Kennedy (which is linked to in the post):

"The fact of the matter is that we, this generation of Americans, are the first generation of our country ever to be involved in affairs around the globe."

In this speech, President Kennedy acknowledged President Washington's farewell address exhortation to stay out of world affairs, and said that for the most part the country had done so - until the WWII and post WWII era. He then gave his reasons for his and his predecessors' stepping up their "meddling" practices.

That's when the CIA, the NSA, and the Joint Chiefs were formed. That's when it became official US policy to spread around the globe, establishing military bases on foreign soil, embedding ourselves in Latin American governance and intrigue, going to war in Korea and Vietnam, and propping up foreign governments even when they were oppressive.

These are all things for which the US gets criticized, and all were policies created and lobbied for by the Democratic presidencies of Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson, with the Republican Eisenhower sandwiched in there too. Ironically it was Eisenhower who warned of the "military industrial complex."

Now, I do not say this to be partisan. I realize it could be taken that way, especially considering the general nature and tone of what is written on many blogs. However, I am simply noting what to me is a quite fascinating bit of history, especially when considered with the arguments of the past 7 years about the US role in foreign affairs, and what our own actions have wrought.

Reverend Wright is showing us the controversial nature of saying that 9/11 was our own fault. However, there are many people who completely agree with him. And I find it quite interesting that the policy these people condemn so heartily traces its roots to some of the most prominent and respected presidents of the modern era. Coincidentally, those presidents were Democrats.

Tom Scharbach said...

Cameron: "Reverend Wright is showing us the controversial nature of saying that 9/11 was our own fault. However, there are many people who completely agree with him."

9/11 has become something of a touchstone for the extremists among us, to be sure. Extremists of the right (Falwell, Robertson and others) have argued that 9/11 resulted from God's wrath for our country's liberalism; extremists of the left (Wright and others) have argued that 9/11 resulted from our interference in other countries and with other cultures.

I think, frankly, that a case can be made for arguing, in a very limited way, that 9/11 did result from both, if Osama bin Laden is to be taken at his word. In interviews given before 9/11, bin Laden was explicit in his condemnation of the "corruption" of the United States (by which he meant liberalism, in the sense that our Religious Right uses the term and condemns "liberalism"), and was also explicit in his view that the presence of our "infidel" troops on Saudi soil during the Gulf War was intolerable. He was explicit that those factors were the driving force behind the founding of his movement.

So a very limited case can be made, I guess.

But that case does not -- repeat not -- extend as far as the extremists on either side in our country have taken it.

Cameron: "And I find it quite interesting that the policy these people condemn so heartily traces its roots to some of the most prominent and respected presidents of the modern era. Coincidentally, those presidents were Democrats."

I think that it was coincidental.

The Truman Doctrine (which directly involved Greece and Turkey) was the first peacetime expansion of the reach of the Roosevelt Corollary beyond Latin America, and it was prompted by Cold War concerns, but I think that it is a fair observation that the Republican presidents were as proactive in terms of interfering in the affairs of other countries globally as the Democrats during the last 60 years.

President Eisenhower and his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, if anything, expanded the scope and reach of the Truman Doctrine, and Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Bush I were no slouches, either.

My own view is that the American propensity toward intervention in other countries follows a trajectory, as roughly outlined, and that the biggest shift in American intervention occurred during the last years of the 19th Century and the early years of the 20th Century, when our country began to intervene in the affairs of other countries for reasons unrelated to our own "Manifest Destiny".

We've got this odd notion, which has been bought into by every President since World War II, certainly, that it is our mission as a country to spread "freedom and democracy" throughout the world. Kennedy, Reagan and Bush II seem, of Presidents since World War II, to have been bitten the worst by the disease. But I think that it has infected all of them, and our foreign policy in general, since World War II.

Me, I wonder whether the whole approach hasn't been wrongheaded.

Anonymous said...

The argument that we brought 9/11 on ourselves was first articulated on 9/12 (or was it 9/11) although there were some who warned before 9/11 that our foreign policy was not making us popular.

It hardly matters which party started our interventionist approach abroad - both parties have been willing participants in the practice. Blaming one party is like questioning the ethics of only one party - it doesn't tell the whole story.

Sister Sassy said...


j/k. The Dems also used to be the racist jerk off a long time ago but at some point in history the dems sort of shifted. My history isn't so fresh so I'll stop there.

have you ever read People's History by Howard Zin? Good read ;)

Frank Staheli said...

You are correct. It started with Democrats, but it actually started with Woodrow Wilson. Jonah Goldberg explains this in his book Liberal Fascism.

BTW, I think Ron Paul and Jeremiah Wright are largely right when it comes to why the terrorists attack us.

Cameron said...

Thanks Frank. Have you read JFK's Tabernacle speech? I linked to it in this post. I'm curious to know what you think of it in light of your last comment. Do you agree with him that following President Washington's admonition of basically remaining in isolation is impossible in today's world? Or should we have minded our own business the whole time; let the world do as they may? This is a line of thought that's been bouncing around my head for some time now and I'd be interested in your input.