In spite of a long history that warns against such folly, the Congress and the White House continue to believe that blackmail is an effective foreign policy.
Kansas farmers say otherwise; but as Trump would say, what do they know?
Some time ago, when Jim Pearson and Bob Dole spoke for us in Washington, a vote was taken to cut off credit to Russia and deny it favored trade status. The notion was to pressure the Soviets into allowing Jews to emigrate freely.
Our congressmen then were taking their cue from the Arabs, who were cutting our oil supplies until we persuaded Israel to give up Palestine lands it had grabbed in the 1967 war. (See how that worked out.)
Thus in the early 1970s, our statesmen went further than the Arabs. They were meddling in the internal affairs of the Soviet Union.
Pearson, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said there is much about the Kremlin that we don’t like. As a matter of fact, many nations conduct their affairs contrary to our ideals. By the same token, he noted, many nations are unhappy with the way we run our show.
If we use trade blackmail to tell other folks what to do, we are headed for an unholy swamp. More likely, we would be headed for war. That became the inevitable result of our Puritan complex in foreign policy, our passion for running the lives of other people.
We got that war, with decades of provoking conflict across the Middle East: Israeli-Egypt, and Iran-Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and the Golan Heights, Gaza and the West Bank and more, all after a Suez crisis with Egypt that involved the French and British. The warring continues and our troops remain, still fighting, 60 years after Suez, 27 years after Desert Storm, 15 years since we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq – and with no real end in sight.
In addition to endangering what once was considered peace, we hurt ourselves in lives lost or wrecked, a treasury drained and business damaged. As we lose the Russian markets, and the Chinese and others, we lose profitable outlets for our farm products and industrial techniques. Carried to an absurd end, trade blackmail might shrivel America to a provincial pygmy with neither exports nor imports, spinning along without critical raw materials, or with supplies that bring a Shylock’s invoice. China is providing the lesson today; Israel, tomorrow.
By imitation, we endorse the trade techniques of those we say we oppose, and we gain nothing but the distrust of former allies, and the possibility of more war.
In the name of sanity, how can we be so recklessly and dangerously stupid after all these years, all the folly and bloodshed, all those lessons in history?
‒ JOHN MARSHALL