The American mission is to spread freedom and open markets. We’re not an empire—an empire takes power from citizens. It makes people subjects of a crown or a leader. It seeks to have and hold territory, using the land to benefit its rulers. The United States follows a very different model—a model based on free trade and free choice.
Washington has made mistakes, of course. Too often we’ve backed dictators (“he’s a son-of-a-bitch, but he’s our son-of-a-bitch,” as Franklin D. Roosevelt once put it) when they seemed to support short-term American goals. That explains, for one, our ill-fated relationship with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war.
But since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has sent soldiers into battle mostly to defeat tyrants, from Saddam Hussein to Slobodan Milosevic. And wherever American soldiers have been based, they’ve worked to build institutions of public and private freedom.
The key components of economic freedom are property rights (why bother inventing something if the government or a powerful interest is just going to steal it?), contracts (why bother working unless you know you have a contract that ensures you’ll get paid?) and stable money (why bother earning or saving money if inflation will make it worthless?). Through our overseas deployments, the United States has exported these critical institutions and unlocked the entrepreneurial spirit in millions of people world wide.
The rest of the world knows that the U.S. is a gentle giant. Last year in The New Republic, Gregg Easterbrook wrote that “the United States accounts for 44 percent of world military spending.” In fact, he added, “it is not out of the question that, in the future, the United States will spend more on arms and soldiers than the rest of the world combined.”
Clearly, if other nations really feared the U.S. they’d at least attempt to build militaries that could fight against ours. Instead, Canada, for one, maintains a 3,000-mile, undefended border with the United States. Nations acting in good faith know they have nothing to fear from our military.
If George Soros wants to convert his cash into Euros, that’s his prerogative. But he’d do more good if he endowed a new American aircraft carrier. Long after the EU has collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions the U.S. military will still be around, defending freedom and opportunity around the world.