What history will teach us…

What history will teach us…

I recently saw a meme that defined treason as including giving aid to an enemy. It started me thinking about the debate over foreign aid and the role it plays in diplomacy. While I certainly agree that foreign aid must be scrupulously administered and should not be simply a default in the national budget, I disagree on the implication of who one might call our enemy*.

Interestingly, during the years between WWI and WWII the United States, while not enemies with Great Britain, saw Great Britain as being the greatest potential for threat to US security and prosperity**, second only was the rising threat of Japan. These threat assessments were based on the notion that with Germany having been weakened after WWI, a naval, and thereby commercial threat was only really viable by Great Britain and Japan.

Yet, when France fell and Great Britain became bombarded, President Roosevelt devised a scheme to aid Great Britain despite US isolationist rhetoric and congressional policy. So does that mean Roosevelt committed treason by helping a potential threat? Or does it simply mean that an unstable region, a region lacking a balance of power poses a greater threat to US security and prosperity than the potential threat of any one nation?

History teaches us that diplomacy and national policy is not as clear as political talking heads would like us to believe.  I really don’t think history will record much of the opinion of the talking heads, rather history will view the intent, implementation, and result of policy. Then history will most likely teach us we were fools to listen to the talking heads in the first place.



* enemy is defined as a hostile nation or state. The presence of hostile factions does not make the state an enemy.  Just as the US cannot universally control the ideas and actions of its citizens, the US cannot expect another nation to do that we cannot or will not do ourselves.

** National Security and Prosperity Interests was the terminology used prior to the Cold War when the language changed to National Security Interests.

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