|The best time to re-examine American foreign policy would have been decades ago, long before the wars in the Middle East took their toll on the American spirit.
The second-best time is today.
Let’s flash back to 1821, when John Quincy Adams, then Secretary of State, warned Americans of the price they would pay for pursuing a foreign policy of militaristic imperialism.
If Americans went abroad “in search of monsters to destroy,” the country would lose its freedom and spirit. In becoming “dictatress of the world,” he cautioned, America would “no longer be the ruler of her own spirit.”
Now, two centuries later—after untold loss of blood and treasure, a corrupt and sclerotic national security state, and an entrenched, unaccountable, unelected bureaucracy trampling on civil liberties left and right—we reap the evil fruit of Adams’ dark prophecy.
Still, hope remains. The great failures of the US government in the Middle East, and now in Eastern Europe, present a unique opportunity. The curtain has been pulled back on the American empire, and we are offered yet another chance to assess critically its many catastrophes—and to chart a new course.
Economist Christopher J. Coyne, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and esteemed foreign policy scholar, explores the history, nature, and limits of military imperialism abroad—as well as its harmful effects at home—in In Search of Monsters to Destroy: The Folly of American Empire and the Paths to Peace.
With no shortage of evidence from America’s founding fathers, renowned economists like Friedrich Hayek, and real-world examples that Americans on both sides of the political aisle agree have been ruinous, Coyne offers a much-needed vision of peace and hope.
Advocating for a practicable, non-isolationist, and most importantly, peaceful alternative to empire, America would be wise to heed Coyne’s urgent call for change.
The sooner, the better.