Had George Washington Been Alive today …

This is an interesting thought that had stemmed from the US History test I took today. In the last free response question, my teacher asked us to write a mini essay. The first part should list and explain George Washington’s civic virtues. The second part should talk about what George Washing would say or do had he been alive today, and the reason for that. Here is my central argument: Had George Washing been alive today, he would probably be mad.

So what will he be mad about?Image

The short versions of the answers to this question: the two-party political system, and the long-lost neutrality in U.S. foreign policy.

1. the two-party political system

After learning the early years of Infant Republic and reading the previous blog “. . . I prefer to identify with the pizza party…”(yes I like this part of the title the most), no wonder why George Washing will be mad about our two-party political system. It’s obvious that George Washing hated political factionalism. When one of the French revolutions came along during George Washington’s presidency, the American supporters of the revolution claimed themselves to be the Democratic-Republican political society(abbreviated DR party), later evolving into Democratic-Republican political party. Although this DR party has absolutely no relationship with the contemporary Republican or Democratic party, it was probably the earliest political factions that ever existed in US history. The Framers of the Constitution considered “parties as fractious and dangerous instruments of rabble-rousing”.

But the degree to which the parties were fractious at that time is probably nowhere near today’s political factionalism. Just as the author stated in the previous blog, “There is a group of Tea Party Republicans who refuse to vote for any legislation that proposes any tax whatsoever, regardless of the predicted benefit.” If this is a point in history when the politicians have prioritized “the battle” over the entire nation, then the whole two-party system is obviously a failure.

2. the long-lost neutrality in US foreign policy

In the past summer, I attended a summer program named Ivy Scholar held at Yale, this is a program that centered political science, international affair and those sorts of stuff. One of the seminars I attended was given by a Yale doctorate student, and the topic of the seminar was the History of U.S. Intelligence Service. No doubt U.S. Intelligence Service is full of fun facts. So the teacher updated us on some interesting details of the history.

As part of the Intelligence Service, Covert Action is defined as an activity undertaken by the U.S. government that is designed to influence foreign governments, events, organizations, or persons. Covert Actions comprise of many operations, some more violent than the others. In short, Covert Action was an action in support of U.S. policy and security interests in a manner that is not attributable to the United States.

It is probably no surprise that everyone who is reading this blog now knows about 9/11. But I am sure few have really much knowledge about how that was started. But the truth was: U.S. in the 1970s, U.S. organized and supported Bin Laden and the other originators of “Al Qaeda”  to fight the Soviets.

Brzezinski, the National Security Advisor, told Al Qaeda’s forefathers – the Mujahadin:

We know of their deep belief in god – that they’re confident that their struggle will succeed. That land over – there is yours – and you’ll go back to it some day, because your fight will prevail, and you’ll have your homes, your mosques, back again, because your cause is right, and god is on your side.

The CIA was concerned about the factionalism of Afghanistan. The agency picked the Arab zealots who aided the Afghans over the “rivalry-ridden natives”, because they were  anti-Soviet and easier to read. While these people might prove to be troublesome later, the agency reasoned at the point Soviet was the one and only enemy. Later on, one of the senior officials who helped make the decisions said that even knowing what bin Latin would do later, it was still all worth the tragedy, because this “operation” played a pivotal role in Soviet’s downfall.

The history was long, and I can’t really recall most of it. But one can easily tell how much the “neutrality” , which was a focus point in Washington’s Farewell Address, had been long gone in the history. These actions are much like a chain, one circling over the other, together they could easily cause a “chain reaction”. Although at the moment, actions that are taken all seem necessary, in the long term they are potential boomerangs- when we don’t pay attention, they just fly back and hit us in the face.

The question is not even about whether we can go back to neutrality; it’s about how we can stop straying away from it so fast. Even baby steps by steps, it will take us a long way on stopping causing more troubles for ourselves. After all, in the long term, all these so-called actions and operations will only prove to be self-destructive.Image


One comment

  1. Amber,
    I entirely agree about the two-party system! (Well… obviously, since I wrote my blog post about it, which you referenced… thank you for liking my title too!) Last night, after my blog post had published, I actually got into an argument about Romney vs. Obama with several people… and I was not so surprised to see that even among young people, who will be the political future, there is a refusal to see anything from the other side’s perspective. Everyone was virtually arguing completely different points because both sides ignored everything the other side said and insisted on completely demonizing the candidate the other side supported. I managed to shut them up with a quick summarization about how necessary compromise is and, essentially, my blog post. If only it were that easy in the real world!
    Ivy Scholar sounds so interesting! I think you’re completely right that foreign policy neutrality could be very important, because obviously getting involved has been shown to backfire. Oftentimes, occupying a country, even to provide aid to it, has shown to increase hostility.
    Very interesting post!
    – Jane


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