On Preemptive Involvement Abroad


“Nations which are torn by dissension and discord, which are weak and inefficient at home, have little standing or influence abroad. Even the blind do not choose the blind to lead them. Foreign peoples are certainly going to seek assistance only from those who have demonstrated their capacity to maintain their own affairs efficiently. If we desire to be an influence in order and law, tranquility and good will in the world, we must be determined to make sufficient sacrifices to live by these precepts at home. We can be a moral force in the world only to the extent that we establish morality in our own country. — President Coolidge, May 30, 1927.

“I wish crime might be abolished; but I would not therefore abolish courts and police protection. I wish war might be made impossible but I would not leave my country unprotected…” — Coolidge in a Letter to the National Council for Prevention of War, July 23, 1924 (cited from ‘The Mind of the President,’ pp.235-6).

“America represents the greatest treasure that there is on earth, the greatest power that there is to minister to the welfare of mankind; to leave it unprepared and unprotected is not only to disregard the national welfare, but to be no less than guilty of a crime against civilization” — May 30, 1923

“America stands ready to bear its share of the burdens of the world, but it cannot live the life of other peoples, it cannot remove from them the necessity of working out their own destiny. It recognizes their independence and the right to establish their own form of government, but America will join no nation in destroying what it believes ought to be preserved or in profaning what it believes ought to be held sacred” — February 22, 1922

If we are sincere in our expressed determination to maintain tranquility at home and peace abroad, we must not neglect to lay our course in accordance with the ascertained acts of life. We know that we have come into possession of great wealth and high place in the world. There is scarcely a civilized nation which is not our debtor. We are sufficiently acquainted with human nature to realize that we are oftentimes the object of envy. Unless we maintain sufficient forces to be placed at points of peril when they arise, thereby avoiding for the most part serious attack, there would be grave danger that we should suffer from violent outbreaks, so destroying our rights and compromising our honor that war would become inevitable. It is to protect ourselves from such danger that we maintain our national defense. Under this policy it is perfectly apparent that our forces are dedicated solely to the preservation of peace…We have sufficient reserve resources so that we need not be hasty in asserting our rights. We can afford to let our patience be commensurate with our power” — May 30, 1927, emphasis added.

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