Magazine article The American Enterprise

The Germ-Austro-Otto-Nippo-British Empire

Magazine article The American Enterprise

The Germ-Austro-Otto-Nippo-British Empire

Article excerpt

Students at The Citadel, South Carolina's 157-year-old military academy, invited presidential aspirant Patrick J. Buchanan to speak at their May 8 Commencement. An abridged version of his address follows.

Long ago, Teddy Roosevelt admonished us to "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Today, we have whittled down the stick, even as we raised the decibel count. We have become ensnared in a civil war in a Balkan peninsula where no U.S. army ever fought, and no President ever asserted a vital interest. Our motives were noble--to protect an abused people--but most now concede we failed to weigh the risks of launching this war.

America should have learned from Vietnam: Before you commit the Army, you must first commit the nation. We did not do that.

Milosevic is a tyrant and a war criminal. But does America have the right to, as a New York Times columnist put it, "pulverize" a nation that never attacked the United States? Did the Founding Fathers dedicate their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the cause of liberty, so that the republic they would create could emulate the empire they overthrew?

In his Farewell Address, our greatest President implored us to stay out of Europe's endless quarrels: "Why," Washington asked, "entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European Ambition, Rivalship, Interest, Humour, or Caprice?"

Now that America is at war, all of us pray for the success and safe return of those we have sent into battle. They are some of the best and bravest of our young. But all citizens must debate when to put their lives at risk. For we have now undertaken foreign commitments no empire has ever sustained. We have assumed the role of the German empire in keeping Russia out of Europe, of the Austrian empire in policing the Balkans, of the Ottoman empire in keeping peace in the Middle East, of the Japanese empire in containing China, of the British empire in patrolling the Gulf and maintaining freedom of the seas. …

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