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The Founding Fathers didn’t agree on everything, but all the heavy hitters are pretty clear on one point: Entangling alliances and the endless war they bring are bad news for liberty.

For instance, here’s George Washington in his farewell address on the danger of such alliances:

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.


Here’s Thomas Jefferson on what to do instead:

…peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none…

And here’s James Madison on how war abroad leads to the destruction of liberty at home:

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other… No nation could reserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

(This was a theme to which he returned repeatedly.)

Today, the United States obviously hasn’t heeded these warnings. America is constantly abroad, constantly seeking monsters to destroy—monsters which, like the hydra of mythology or Marvel, only seem to multiply as we launch war after endless war.

On top of that, current American alliances require us to go to war to defend some 67 other nations thanks to NATO, ANZUS, OAS, and bilateral treaties. It’s a long list which would shock the Founders:

And here’s a map visualization via Mental Floss to show just how much territory our entangling alliances could oblige us to protect:

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