ISSUES IN FOCUS
Week of April 5, 1999
FOREIGN IDEALS: BASIC PRINCIPLES
(Part two of a three-part series)
The goal of foreign policy is derived from the nature and purpose of government. The proper function of government is to protect your right to your life, money and property—to protect you from those who seek to forcibly deprive you of these values.
Government is an instrument of force and should only use force in retaliation against those who initiate force or threaten to do so. It makes no difference whether the initiators of force are domestic criminals or foreign aggressors, except for the fact that the latter can normally inflict more harm on greater numbers. The purpose of government remains the same in either case. This being true, it follows that foreign policy should have the same goal that we should have domestically: the protection of your right to life and liberty. This—and nothing else—should be the basic principle guiding our actions abroad.
By the foregoing standard, virtually every war America has involved itself in, since World War II, has been a mistake. This includes our current intervention in the Serbian mess, one that was not—until we got involved—a threat to you.
Trotting around the world in an effort, via military force, to right every wrong, remedy every injustice and halt atrocities should not be our goal. Today, on more than one continent, there are individuals engaged in savage wars, slaughtering men, women and children. Some of these wars have brought about butchery on a scale that far exceeds the horrors of, say, Kosovo. As horrific as such carnage is, we should only take military action if such tragedies pose a threat to your life and liberty.
Our foreign policy is, and has been for decades, a reflection of our domestic policy. Just as statists have gutted our military in the name of spending tax dollars on so-called compassionate and humanitarian programs, statists use those same humanitarian reasons to justify military strikes against others abroad. While pursuing allegedly humanitarian goals, at home and abroad, statists leave you increasingly vulnerable to a real attack at home from some foreign threat as the result of a diminished defense.
Not coincidentally, it was Reagan who sought to dismantle many statist programs in order to bring you more freedom and who vastly expanded our military defense. Under Clinton, we have seen the reverse: he has brought us an explosion of statism within our own borders, while cutting our military strength nearly in half from where it was at its zenith in the Reagan years.
Since the proper goal of foreign policy is the defense of your right to life and liberty, America should maintain a military defense against every conceivable kind of attack by foreign enemies, including their agents on our own soil. Our first priority should be self-defense and every available dollar should be spent toward this end. Yet in the world of statist politicians we see the opposite: our defense mechanisms are constantly degraded, while the domestic power of the state to forcibly control you swells to new levels with each passing year.
There are millions of individuals living under the rule of some bloody dictator. As pitiful as it is, we cannot and should not go to war against a dictator to free the oppressed. We should only go to war if that dictator represents a threat, near-term or long-term, to your life and liberty.
America should be a beacon of hope for those living under the rule of tyrants. The moral example set by a truly free America would set the world on a path of liberating those in the grip of despots, toppling one dictator after another.
But an inconsistent, hypocritical America will never be able to provide such leadership. As long as America continues down the path of increased state power and diminished individual freedom, as long as America continues to increasingly use the power of the state to violate, not protect, your individual rights, then the concerns expressed by our so-called leaders about the rights of, say, Albanians will be seen by others as nothing more than hollow hypocrisy.
Once America gets its own house in order, i.e., explicitly state that our goal is the expansion of individual freedom at home and abroad, then it will have at its disposal a tool more powerful than military might.
Do you know what that tool is? The answer will be provided, next week, in the conclusion of this three-part series.
April 5, 1999
© Copyright 1999 Fulton Huxtable
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IDEALS: PAST AND PRESENT 3-26-99
Part 1 of a three-part series. Our reckless foreign and defense policy has left America vulnerable to an attack of terrifying proportions.