Foundation Blog
Ethics US & Global Policy

Georgia and Israel

“Humanity,” said Alexander Hamilton, “does not require us to sacrifice our own security and welfare to the convenience, or advantage of others. Self-preservation is the first principle of our nature. When our lives and properties are at stake, it would be foolish and unnatural to refrain from such measures as might preserve them, because it would be detrimental to others.”

It has rightly been said that Hamilton was always adverse to relying on other countries to do for Americans what he believed they ought to do for themselves.

Hamilton was 21 when revolution was simmering in America. Some of his contemporaries argued that the Americans could rely on Britain for relief of their grievances. Hamilton responded: “Tell me not of the British Commons, Lords, [and] ministerial tools … I scorn to let my life depend upon the pleasure of any of them.”

Georgia, invaded by Russia, can expect no aid from its ally, the United States. The same applies to Israel, threatened by a nuclear Iran.

Some principles of statecraft from Metternich:

(1)  Any plan conceived in moderate terms must fail when the circumstances are set in the extreme. In any situation where each of the possible lines of action involves difficulty, the strongest line is the best. (Moderation is not a virtue when fighting for your survival)

(2)  Compromise is the easy refuge of irresolute or unprincipled men. Of course, compromise is appropriate when dealing with temporary and partial interests. A nation’s survival, however, is not a matter of compromise.

(3)  Nations with democratic forms of government are not for that reason the natural allies of each other or the implacable foes of dictatorships.

(4)  We must rely for the execution of our plans on ourselves alone and on such means as we possess. (Here Metternich echoes Hamilton.)

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