by Ed Mattson
In our continuing saga of the forty things wrong with America, following World War II the free world, which was just about destroyed by the ravages of war in Europe and across much of Asia, turned to the monumental task of rebuilding. From the rubble left behind, and death of millions, two emerging political theologies emerged in the form of democracy and totalitarianism. The Soviet Union and Chinese sat on one side of the equation and the US, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand on the other.
Having just witnessed the devastating power of nuclear weapons bringing an end to hostilities in the Pacific, the race was on among nations, predominantly the Soviet Union, China, and the US, to develop a complete nuclear arsenal…the Soviets and Chinese to enforce their brands of total government control over its citizens and the US, to deter aggression and insure peace.
There are many detractors who may wish to argue that the above view is naïve, but we don’t have time in a single article to write a book on the subject. Nuclear weapons, after all, have two opposing primary uses…Totalitarian Rule-intimidate, conquer, destroy, and enforce dominance and Freedom-intimidate, deter aggression, and insure the right of free choice. Caught in the middle between the two opposing factions were the nations tasked with the rebuilding efforts following the war, and the countries struggling with poverty, famine, and finding their way toward whatever the future held in store.
The Soviets were intent on tightening their political grip on the territory they had gained by beating back the Germans; the Chinese in trying to grapple with feeding their fast growing population and seeking influence in Southeast Asia to fulfill their need for natural resources to fuel the modernization that would be needed to compete in the coming global marketplace; and the US which had supplied the weaponry that defeated Germany and Japan, which now needed to convert its industries to peacetime ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and production.
It was a period of time when freedom and totalitarian influence promised diametrically opposed answers to the political challenges of the day, backed up by financial, military, and educational assistance to countries in need, in exchange for protection and loyalty. With totalitarianism it was enforced by the communist or Marxist vision of a utopian world with central planning, controlled freedom of individual rights, and collectivism of all government provided goods and services. On the other hand it was capitalism with a free society, freedom of choice and entrepreneurial spirit based on individual self-reliance with government providing only essential services. So vehement was the struggle for the hearts and minds of the countries in the middle, it created a complete standoff which became known as the Cold War, held in check, by the policy of mutually assured destruction by nuclear arsenals being developed and stockpiled by both sides. Had the world not witnessed the devastation done to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, perhaps the world would have evolved into World War III before the Sixties.
From the Allied powers, with the exception of the Russia along with the Countries they refused to leave following World War II and China, the North Atlantic Treaty was conceived to offset the Communist influence being promulgated by the Soviets and the Chinese. As Western Europe rebuilt, there was only one country with the financial resources, production capability, entrepreneurial spirit, and willingness to stand up for freedom and a country’s right to choose its own form of government and destiny, and that was the United States.
So, by default, we became the hope for country’s wanting to decide for themselves, which form of government they chose. Our nation was founded on the principle that all men are created free; that freedom is God given, and that self-reliance and personal responsibility were delegated by God to every living person as the price of freedom. Dominance over one’s activities by a government, often without choice of the subjugated is not natural and therefore must be opposed. Enforcing the freedom point of view cannot be left to any governing body, League of Nations, United Nations, or other such concept, as freedom is quickly put on the back burner and replaced by the national interests of the competing countries involved.
Political correctness, jealousy, envy, and personal interest always trump the integrity of nations to do the right thing. Remember the Oil for Food scandal involving Saddam’s Iraq? How about the failings of the UN Peacekeepers nearly every time they have been called upon to keep hostilities between nations under control? Hundreds of resolutions against countries that refuse to live peacefully with their neighbors, without any effort and will of enforcement. How does one justify Iran, Syria, and other countries that disallow even basic freedom for their citizens, end up on the United Nations Human Rights Committee? Collectivism in any governing body never is just and quickly runs a muck.
The League of Nations was a hapless and embarrassing bureaucracy and utterly hopeless in its attempt to curb German and Japanese aggression leading up to World War II. This should have been a leading indicator that the United Nations was just as flawed and would be just as helpless in keeping North Korea from invading the Koreans in the South. The call to aid South Korea following the aggression of North Korea was however, the only worthwhile endeavor that the United Nations seems to have been able to put together when more than twenty-four countries joined to enforce UN Resolution 84 to push North Korea back above the 38th Parallel.
While many countries contributed to the effort It took real teeth in the form of US Troops to not only put an end to North Korea’s attempt to enforce its control over South Korea, but also to keep the Chinese from helping the North Koreans achieve their objective. In all more than 36,000 US troops were killed in a war so few really understood. The Korea War was like a game of chess played by the two sides in the Cold War. It was a test of wills pitting Totalitarianism against Freedom with the Chinese and Soviets aiding the North Koreans, and the US and the free world aiding the South Koreans. The mindset of totalitarian governments only understand one thing… opposition backed up by overwhelming and superior force.
It has become clear to me and it should be clear to everyone with half a brain, that all these promises of a utopian world, which spews from the mouths of totalitarians, are totally without merit, are unsustainable if enacted, and have never worked in the entire history of mankind. Keeping such ideas in check takes real deterrence backed by force, and not the collective words of a bumbling bureaucracy like the United Nations. Whether they wear the cap of communism, Marxism, socialism, fascism, Castro-ism, theocracy, or any other type of government they can only remain in power through the use of fear and force and must operate under the cloak of secrecy. Such governments have caused more poverty, misery, hunger, and wars than all other causes. Freedom on the other hand has created global wealth and prosperity along with advancement in medicine, technology, and enough food to feed the world, even providing aid to the citizens of those countries who are forced to live under totalitarian rule.
People who espouse utopian gibberish, cannot give one example in all of human history where any form of government outside of those evolving in freedom have ever worked. They have all ended in failure at best and in most cases war. Yet the proponents of such forms of government will always tell you they are the ones who have the answer and that the only reason utopian goals have never been achieved is:
- It just wasn’t done right before
- We need more time to make it work
- We need more money to complete our dream
- The people just haven’t worked hard enough at it
In short, all systems of government other than those based on freedom, are doomed to failure because without freedom there can be no creative spirit, no incentive to be better, no longing to achieve, and no reward. Other forms of government ultimately end in shared misery, and mediocrity as the highest point of achievement. For the sake of global peace, the United States is all that really stands in the way of non-free Nations seeking to impose their will and influence on others.
If the United States isn’t the country to protect global freedom, what are the alternatives? History is a great teacher. When there is no deterrent to totalitarian rule, the only choice of a country is appeasement. “Appeasement is a the policy of settling international quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and compromise, thereby avoiding the resort to an armed conflict which would be expensive, bloody, and possibly dangerous,” according to noted British historian, Paul Kennedy.
I believe a better definition and a more accurate description is provided by the foreign policy assessment group, The National Interest, that appeasement is, “people with misguided political preferences; it involves cowardice, abandoning one’s friends and allies, failing to recognize evil in the world—a fool, then—or recognizing evil but then trying to buy it off—a knave. Nothing so alarms a president or prime minister in the Western world than to be accused of pursuing policies of appeasement. Better to be accused of stealing from a nunnery, or beating one’s family”. Its best demonstrated by concessions made to Hitler at the start of World War II. Had the world stood up and said “NO” to the early Hitler aggressions in Eastern Europe perhaps war might have been avoided and millions of lives saved.
In light of all the above, it has been America as the only country capable to stand against global bullies. Today however, because of government entrenchment, good-old-boy favoritism, crony capitalism between our government bureaucrats and big business/big unions and self-aggrandizement of all our politicians, Washington has spent our nation’s wealth and our children’s future earnings, and can no longer go it alone as the World’s Policeman.
Our politicians have spent us to the brink of financial collapse on feel-good social programs that don’t work, and the countless pipe-dreams of so-called intellectuals, in the misguided attempt to be more like all the countries in the world we have to protect and defend. We have reach the precipice and are losing our financial ability to do what is necessary to maintain the freedom of the world. It is time for other nations to recognize that and make the decision to either take on more of the role of global protection or risk losing their freedom through acts of appeasement and reward for the totalitarian nations wanting to gain access to natural resources of other countries or enforce their rule on others.
Following his service in the Marine Corps Ed Mattson built a diverse career in business in both sales/marketing and management. He is a medical research specialist and published author. His latest book is Down on Main Street: Searching for American Exceptionalism
Ed is currently Development Director of the National Guard Bureau of International Affairs-State Partnership Program, Fundraising Coordinator for the Warrior2Citizen Project, and Managing Partner of Center-Point Consultants in North Carolina.
Mr. Mattson is a noted speaker and has addressed more than 3000 audiences in 42 states and 5 foreign countries. He has been awarded the Order of the Sword by American Cancer Society, is a Rotarian Paul Harris Fellow and appeared on more than 15 radio and television talk-shows.