Unlike the British and French who declared war over Poland in 1939, Americans did not think Eastern Europe worth the risk of a new world war. We waited patiently for the evil empire to collapse, and collapse it did under steady pressure from Reagan's America. Patience paid off, for, as Reagan always believed, time was on our side, time was on the side of freedom. It still is.
Today, however, the independent foreign policy of Washington and Jefferson, the non-interventionist policy of Eisenhower and Reagan -- of peace through strength, of staying out of wars where U.S. interests are not imperiled, of keeping one's powder dry unless the United States were attacked -- is derided as cowardly isolationism.
So, with the end of the Cold War did not come the end of the Cold War alliances, but their permanent extension, and the addition of new allies, until it is probably not possible for a major war to break out anywhere on earth today without the United States being involved from Day One.
Alliances are transmission belts of war. Temporary ones, like the French alliance of 1778 and the NATO alliance of 1949, may be necessary, but a wise republic terminates those entanglements when the crisis is ended -- and restores its freedom of action to decide when, where and whether to go to war, and not have that decision made by some 50-year-old treaty.
That is what the Founding Fathers taught, and what America believed, to her benefit, for most of her history.
But if the Founding Fathers were to come back to life and to be asked, "Whom does the America of 2006 resemble more, the republic you created or the empire from which you broke away?" is there any doubt how they would have to answer?
America today is more dependent on foreign fuel, foreign goods, foreign loans and foreign allies than she has ever been. Her worldwide commitments have never been greater, nor has her global and national debt.
Yet her leaders still seek to embed America every more deeply in global institutions from the WTO to the United Nations to the North American Union.
This is not the road on which the Founding Fathers set out, but it is a familiar road, one taken before by every empire in history.
Thoughts on Independence Day, 2006.