Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Founders' Nostradamus

Outside the Wire points out yet another thing that Alexander Hamilton got right:

[T]he founding fathers were correct to point out in Federalist 75 that Congress should have a minimal role in foreign policy.

In the Federalist Papers Alexander Hamilton wrote:

"Accurate and comprehensive knowledge of foreign politics; a steady and systematic adherence to the same views; a nice and uniform sensibility to national character; decision, SECRECY, and despatch, are incompatible with the genius of a body so variable and so numerous."

The key is that a nation's foreign policy must be unified. Hashing out issues is fine, but due to the uniquely sensitive nature of relations between nations it must be done in secret so as not to cause incident due to discomfort at some considerations that might ultimately be rejected. All that needs to be visible to the outside world is the final product, not the minutes.

Congress is uniquely unsuitable for such pursuits due not only to its size, which makes keeping secrets all but impossible, but for its inherent devotion to partisan politics and getting re-elected. The executive necessarily has a longer view than Congress, history will judge him for what happens not only during but for many years following his time in office. Congress, when history judges it at all, rarely does so down to the level of the individual.

With whom do you associate the bloodbath that followed our ill-fated withdrawal of troops and support from Vietnam? Do you think of Nixon or Ford, even though they both resisted it, or Congress, who bullied it through? Can you even come up with the names of the key legislators who rightfully deserve the scorn of history?

Similarly, the Pelosis and Reids of the world can put all of their efforts behind American defeat secure in the knowledge that they would be long forgotten as bearing responsibility for what might ultimately follow. They or their party might pay some political price in the short term, so they must peel off some Republicans as cover. But ultimately they will be able to, with the help of a cheerleading major media, blame the president for whatever happens as a result of even what they endorse and he resists.

This willingness to put short term partisan interests over the interests of the country will always be possible and even likely, thus if we advocate for legislative influence over foreign policy at the expense of the executive we do so at our own peril.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home