Some of the people who are most adamant against outsourcing economic activity from the United States to other countries often seem to think we should outsource our foreign policy to "world opinion" or act only in conjunction "with our NATO allies."
Like so many things that are said when it comes to public policy, there is very little attention paid to the actual track record of "world opinion" or of "our NATO allies."
Often there is a blanket assumption that European countries are just so much more sophisticated than American "cowboys." But there is incredibly little interest in the track record of those European sophisticates whom we are supposed to consult about our own national interests– including, in an age when terrorists may acquire nuclear weapons, our national survival.
In the course of the twentieth century, supposedly sophisticated Europeans managed to create some of the most monstrous forms of government on earth– Communism, Fascism, Nazism– in peacetime, and to start the two World Wars, the bloodiest in all human history. In each of these wars, both the winners and the losers ended up far worse off than they were before these wars were started.
After both World Wars, the United States had to step in to save millions of people in Europe from starving amid the wreckage and rubble that their wars had created. These do not seem like people whose sophistication we should defer to.
Between the two World Wars, European intellectuals– more so than ordinary people– completely misread the threat from Nazi Germany, and were urging disarmament in France and England, while Hitler was rapidly building up the most powerful military force on the continent, obviously aimed at neighboring countries.
During the Cold War, may European intellectuals once again misread the threat of a totalitarian dictatorship– in this case, the Soviet Union. When they finally recognized the threat, many saw the question as whether it was "better to be red than dead."
They were no more prepared to stand up to the Soviet Union than they had been ready to stand up to Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
Worse yet, much of the European intelligentsia objected to America’s standing up to the Soviet Union.
Many of them were appalled when Ronald Reagan met the threat of new Soviet missiles aimed at Western Europe by putting more American missiles in Western Europe, aimed at the Soviet Union.
Reagan, in effect, called the Soviet Union and raised them, while many of the European sophisticates– as well as much of the American intelligentsia– said that his policies would lead to war.
Instead, it led to the end of the Cold War. Are we now to blindly imitate those who have been so wrong, so often over the past hundred years?