Pat Buchanan
"Who would be free themselves must strike the blow."

So wrote the poet Byron, who would himself die just days after landing in Greece to join the war for independence from the Turks.

But in that time, Americans followed the dictum of Washington, Adams and Jefferson: Stay out of foreign wars.

America "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own," said John Quincy Adams in his oration of July 4, 1821.

When Greek patriots sought America's assistance, Daniel Webster took up their cause but was admonished by John Randolph. Intervention would breach every "bulwark and barrier of the Constitution."

"Let us say to those 7 million of Greeks: We defended ourselves when we were but 3 million, against a power in comparison to which the Turk is but as a lamb. Go and do thou likewise."

When Hungarian hero Louis Kossuth came to request a U.S. fleet in the Mediterranean to keep the czar's warships at bay, when Hungary sought to break free of the Habsburg Empire, Webster backed him.

But Henry Clay and John Calhoun stood against it.

"Far better is it for ourselves," said Clay, "for Hungary and for the cause of liberty that, adhering to our wise, pacific system and avoiding the distant wars of Europe, we should keep our lamp burning brightly on this western shore as a light to all nations than to hazard its utter extinction amid the ruins of fallen or falling republics in Europe."

When Hungarian patriots rose up against the Soviet occupation in 1956, Khrushchev sent in hundreds of tanks to drown the revolution in blood.

Hungary was behind the Iron Curtain, the Yalta-Potsdam line to which FDR and Truman had agreed. There were no U.S. troops on any Hungarian border. So Eisenhower did -- nothing.

Indeed, that same month, Ike ordered British, French and Israelis to end their intervention in Sinai and Suez and get their troops out or face sanctions, including the U.S. sinking of the British pound.

Was Ike an isolationist?

Until the modern era, the idea of sending armed forces across oceans to kill and die for moral or humanitarian causes would have been seen as an insult to the Founding Fathers, an abandonment of a vital American tradition, and ruinous to the national interest.

Why are we in Libya? Why are U.S. pilots bombing and killing Libyan soldiers who have done nothing to us?

These soldiers are simply doing their sworn duty to protect their country from attack and defend the only government they have known from what they are told is an insurgency backed by al-Qaida and supported by Western powers after their country's oil.

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
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