Editor's note: Mary E. Webster, editor of "The Federalist Papers in Modern Language," takes the words of America's founders and applies them to the news of the day in this occasional column for WorldNetDaily.com.
"Inattention to history has been the great source of our political mistakes and allowed jealousy to point us in the wrong direction" (Federalist 17, paragraph 14).
For example, "to expect continued harmony between a number of individual, unconnected sovereignties in the same neighborhood would be to disregard the uniform course of human events, and the accumulated experience of the ages" (6, 2). "Isn't it time to awake from the deceitful dream of a golden age? We must adopt the practical maxim for our political conduct that we, as well as the other inhabitants of the globe, are a long way from the happy empire of perfect wisdom and perfect virtue" (6, 18). "Divide et impera ["Divide and command"] must be the motto of every nation that either hates or fears us" (7, 10).
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"For some time a cloud has been hanging over Europe [or the Middle East]. If it should break into a storm, who can insure that as it progresses a part of its fury would not be spent on us? No reasonable man would hastily pronounce us entirely out of its reach" (34, 5). "Although a wide ocean separates the United States from Europe, circumstances warn us against being over-confident of our security" (24, 10). "[P]eace or war will not always be left to our option. However moderate or unambitious we may be, we can't count on the moderation or hope to extinguish the ambition of others. ... Modeling our political systems on speculations of lasting tranquility is to calculate on the weaker springs of the human character" (34, 5).
When deciding what actions should be taken against Saddam Hussein, "experience is the oracle of truth. When its lessons are unambiguous, they should be regarded as absolutely conclusive" (20, 24). "However clearly arguments show that something ought not to exist, they should be completely rejected when evidence proves that it does exist" (34, 2).
Therefore, "even if we agree to try the novel and absurd political experiment of tying the hands of government from offensive war founded upon reasons of State, we certainly ought not disable it from guarding the community against the ambition or enmity of other nations" (34, 5).
All references from: "The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language, Indexed for Today's Political Issues."