Week of April 12, 1999
FOREIGN IDEALS: THE MORAL TRIAD
(The conclusion of a three-part series)
A rational foreign policy should have as its goal the defense of your right to life and liberty. The practical implementation of this goal requires the adoption of and adherence to three principles that would guide America’s decisions and actions in the realm of defense and foreign affairs.
Defense should mean self-defense, your defense, not the defense of every individual on the face of the earth. This does not mean that America should wait until it is attacked before striking back at an enemy. It should possess the military means to destroy any real threat to your life and freedom. And this includes destroying a potential aggressor’s means of attacking you.
Thus, rather than involving ourselves in a civil war in the Balkans that does not threaten you, we should be focusing on defending ourselves against our increasing vulnerability to a missile attack by quickly developing a missile defense system. If it is militarily practical to make a pre-emptive strike against the nuclear and/or biological capabilities of a potential aggressor, such as North Korea or Iraq, then we should do so. However, as a practical matter, the genie has already been let out of the bottle and we likely will never be able to totally halt the proliferation of such weapons of mass destruction. Nonetheless, we must seek to provide the best possible defense against such weapons and make it known that if they are used against us that the retribution will be the destruction of the offending nation.
The fact that we should carefully watch our enemies, actual or potential, should be a no-brainer. It is difficult to know if our intelligence failures, in recent years, have been actual intelligence failures or warnings ignored by political leaders (I suspect the latter).
In any event, the most critical intelligence need is the need to know what a potential aggressor is preparing to do before he does it. We should spare no expense when it comes to this matter, so we have some forewarning of imminent aggression. Our goal should be: never be caught flat-footed.
The powerful role of diplomatic recognition is the least understood aspect of foreign policy today. Today, diplomatic recognition has been rendered impotent as a tool for the expansion of freedom and as a means of assisting the oppressed, as well as defending ourselves.
In principle, it is in your best interest for every totalitarian state to collapse. The threat of aggression does not come from the likes of Canada or England, even though they are only semi-free countries. The threat emanates from totalitarian nations. However, rather than attempting to undercut such despots, we grant diplomatic recognition—and therefore a degree of legitimacy—to virtually every repressive regime in the world. Worse yet, we openly embrace dictators throughout the world if some practical advantage of the moment can be rationalized, dropping any pretense of standing for individual rights and freedom abroad. It wasn’t that many years ago that we supported Saddam Hussein in Iraq, only to later go to war against him. We have done the same with Milosevic in Serbia: for years we supported his dictatorial regime, but now we are dropping bombs on him.
The most radical foreign policy idea of all—and the one most hated by the statist establishment—is the idea that diplomatic recognition is a moral tool, one that can eventually bring down every dictatorship in the world. Such a notion is anathema to statist intellectuals and politicians.
Diplomatic recognition should never be granted to a dictatorship. It should only be granted to governments that protect individual rights and freedom. In the case of semi-free countries, diplomatic recognition should be conditional: it should only be awarded to countries that are moving in the direction of expanding individual freedom and who do not grant diplomatic recognition to dictatorships.
The impact of such use of diplomatic recognition would be enormous: it would be a way of undermining every totalitarian regime on the planet, without shedding a drop of American blood. By refusing diplomatic recognition to dictatorships, we would place ourselves firmly on the side of their victims, providing moral support to those fighting for their freedom.
The United States should only permit trade, by its citizens, with nations that have received diplomatic recognition. This restriction is not a violation of individual rights. Just as it is properly a crime to knowingly aid and abet the activities of domestic criminals, so it is proper to make it illegal to knowingly assist criminals in charge of authoritarian governments.
The lack of trade would vastly reduce the flow of technology to totalitarian states, as well as undermine their economies. The absence of a moral sanction by America would add further pressure and encourage the oppressed to make changes from within and for the better. More: our explicit moral support of those fighting for their freedom would galvanize them. No dictatorship can withstand the moral opposition brought forth by a majority under its dominion.
By combining diplomatic recognition with trade sanctions, we would encourage the semi-free countries to constantly expand individual freedom. Diplomatic recognition would become the most potent tool at our disposal to eliminate all threats—totalitarian states—to you. Diplomatic recognition would be the world’s most highly coveted award and its denial would be the world’s most feared punishment, short of military attack.
The combination of defense, intelligence and diplomatic recognition would not only achieve the objective of protecting your right to your life and freedom, it would set the world on a path of expanding freedom and the eventual elimination of the only kind of nation that threatens another: the totalitarian state.
Before America can embark upon this radically different approach to foreign policy, it must make a radical change domestically: it must set itself on a new course of expanding, rather than shrinking, individual freedom. Once that happens, then America can—without military intervention—make the world safe for freedom and for you.
April 12, 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.
IDEALS: BASIC PRINCIPLES 4-5-99
Part 2 of a three-part series. The basic principle that should guide our foreign policy is the same principle that should guide our actions domestically.