Traditionally America followed a policy of Political Isolationism. We were active in the global economy with American ships sailing the oceans to trade, but refrained from political involvement abroad. Recently one of our frequent commentators, Tocqueville, gave us an important historic statement of this policy in the context of current political discussion.

Wilsonianism has run amuck in the GOP, which is a far cry from Bush's 2000 campaign for an end to peace-keeping and nation-building. The most thorough and persuasive critique of the Wilsonian strain in American history is Walter McDougall's "Promised Land, Crusader State." McDougall's guiding spirit is John Quincy Adams, who, by way of refuting the heretical doctrine of a crusader America, formulated once and for all the orthodox dogma of American Exceptionalism in his July Fourth address of 1821:

"America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion only of her own. She will recommend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assumed the colors and usurped the standards of freedom.... She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit."

A Waco Farmer then added some context:

JQA speaks as James Monroe's secretary of state (according to Samuel Flagg Bemis, and others, the very best to ever hold that position). The context is the unraveling Spanish Empire in Latin America. The other component is Henry Clay, who, outside the administration, is calling upon the government of the USA to lend military assistance to the fledgling republics. Henry Clay, in fact, takes a Wilsonian position nearly 100 years prior to Wilson. And JQA is promoting a rock-ribbed realism that he inherited from his political hero, George Washington.

Question for discussion: In 2006/2007, should the United States follow the policy of George Washington as expressed by John Quincy Adams?