"'Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world," wrote Washington to his countrymen in his Farewell Address.
Aware that it was the alliance with France in 1778 that saved our Revolution, Washington did not oppose all alliances, just permanent ones. Jefferson, too, warned against "entangling alliances."
We are today relearning the lessons our Fathers taught us.
Turkey, a NATO ally of 50 years, whom we bailed out a dozen times with IMF loans, is holding up President Bush for $32 billion in cash and loan guarantees before Ankara will let U.S. troops transit the country.
Why are the Turks engaged in such naked extortion?
Cold national interests. Ninety percent of Turks oppose a U.S. war on Iraq, and the Turks want to be rewarded for signing on. They also want to be made whole from the last Gulf War, where they lost billions in commerce because of our crushing of Iraq.
Israel, recipient of $100 billion in U.S. aid, is demanding another $15 billion to hold our coat as we fight her war against Iraq. Yet Sharon dismisses Bush's plea to stop expanding the West Bank settlements that are at the heart of the Palestinian Intifada that so inflames the Arab world against us. And by the way, says Sharon, the United States should disarm Iran, Syria and Libya, after we finish with Iraq.
Consider the Saudis. In August 1990, President Bush sent the 82nd Airborne to protect the kingdom from an Iraqi army that had just invaded Kuwait. We built permanent U.S. bases there, costing billions. Now we are told by Crown Prince Abdullah that the bases cannot be used in a war with Iraq and that, without U.N. approval, this will be a "war of aggression."
Germany, whose freedom we defended for half a century, is now sabotaging the president's effort to unite the Security Council behind a U.S. resolution to authorize war to disarm Iraq. To save himself in last year's election, Chancellor Schroeder pandered to the anti-Americanism now widespread in his country.
France was twice liberated by the blood U.S. soldiers whose remains lie in French graves. Yet, President Chirac today threatens to veto any U.N. resolution that would give Bush authority to send the grandsons of those U.S. soldiers to liberate the people of Iraq.
South Korea would not exist today had not tens of thousands of American soldiers made the supreme sacrifice in the war of 1950-53. Yet in last year's campaign, South Korea's new president also played the anti-American card, pledging to review the relationship between Seoul and Washington and the need for U.S. troops to remain on Korean soil.
When the crisis over North Korea's nuclear weapons erupted, he helpfully offered to "mediate" between his defender, the United States, and his enemy, North Korea, which has thousands of artillery pieces on his northern border aimed at his capital city.
"We shall astonish the world with our ingratitude," said the Italian statesman Cavour. "The state is a cold monster," echoed DeGaulle, who ordered NATO out of Paris in 1966.
But to Americans enraged at this seeming ingratitude, consider our own record before we became a world power. Twelve years after the British defeated our enemies in the French and Indian War, American patriots were shooting down British soldiers on the Concord Road.
Washington wept with joy at the alliance with France in 1778, but one year after Yorktown, American diplomats were back-channeling the British to conclude a separate peace at the expense of France.
"Let us be grateful to the French for what they have done for us," said John Jay to Ben Franklin, "but let us think for ourselves. And, if need be, let us act for ourselves."
In 1812, we declared war on our Mother Country when she was in a death struggle with Napoleon. Young America was beholden to no one.
This is the world as it is, not as we sentimental Americans would wish it to be. When South Korea and Europe needed us, our troops were welcome, and they remain welcome as long as we wish to defend them, but please do not ask them to sacrifice their selfish interests in some higher American cause. Or be prepared to bribe them.
Can it still be unclear to President Bush that not only does the world not share his fear of Iraq, tens of millions of Europeans and Arabs fear and detest us even more? And if Uncle Sam wants their help in ousting Saddam, they will charge him an arm and a leg for it.
Come home, Sam, the war's over. Let our ungrateful dependents fend for themselves. They're not worth it, old man.