by Beverly Eakman
September 9, 2011
Last week (September 1), columnist Merrill Matthews asked, “What is a conservative foreign policy?” in a Washington Times commentary. He cited various U.S. Presidents and wannabes as far back as Ronald Reagan, many of whom had no vision at all, or whose goals devolved into “nation-building.” The upshot of his musings was that “conservatives have largely avoided a real foreign policy debate for decades.”
Ronald Reagan is the only President in recent times to articulate a specific vision — i.e., “challenging Soviet expansionism and restoring the strength of, and respect for, the U.S. and its military,” to which the left predictably howled “Cowboy Diplomacy!” Today, candidate Ron Paul decries all forms of intervention, decrying what Thomas Jefferson described as “entangling alliances.” Given our present predicament, this view has a certain appeal.
Nevertheless, there is a void. Most conservative candidates do indeed appear reluctant to fill it — possibly for fear of provoking the liberal media, and even their own assortment of sometime-allies. And let’s be honest: the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration have done more to make Americans angry than to make them safe.
Yet, avoiding the topic does nothing to portray conservatives as bold action figures with innovative ideas. At least President Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” and the Strategic Defense Initiative were memorable, from a public-relations standpoint.
The following, then, is a proposal for a vastly altered, unambiguous U.S. foreign policy message which reflects 21st century fiscal and domestic realities. Some aspects echo candidate Ron Paul’s statements, with a few important deviations:
The United States has exactly zero interest in appending foreign territory or people. We have quite enough individuals flocking to our shores as it is — from asylum-seekers to opportunity-seekers to entitlement-seekers. We are, however, committed to defending our nation and our citizens from harm, including those employed overseas. The United States therefore sends this message to the world: Do not make us go to war with you!
If you attack our country, its properties, its Territories or its private citizens going about their business in foreign lands, we will consider that an Act of War and respond forcefully. You will not win. We are light-years ahead of you technologically; we have the best-prepared armed force on the planet. Attack us, and your country will be leveled. We can, and will, demand unconditional surrender so that your people, formally sanctioned by your government or not, will not attack us again.
This means no more nation-building. No more attempts to buy good will by providing America’s enemies state-of-the-art infrastructures that we cannot afford for ourselves. If you, or your proxies, commit what we have defined as an Act of War upon the United States, then you will sit in your own rubble — if you survive. There will be no more pre-emptive “police actions,” no undeclared wars to serve as a warning.
Regarding humanitarian aid: Our nation’s many charitable organizations are free to offer services, accepting the risks and expenses of such endeavors from donations. The U.S. Government will neither hinder nor help such efforts. Humanitarian projects are, by definition, philanthropic. Therefore, the U.S. Government will no longer confiscate (steal) money from citizens, who may not wish to donate to specialized philanthropic causes. Such effort must be entirely voluntary — with one caveat, for which a tax break will be provided to any requesting charity (lest this stipulation be seen as an “unfunded mandate”): Any materiel used in a humanitarian effort, whether from natural disasters (e.g., famines, earthquakes) or war-caused displacement, sickness and ruin, will dispatch no supplies or literature that are not embossed with the donating organization’s logo, clearly visible, as well as a U.S. flag. This action serves to curtail the practice of foreign outlaws appropriating American-made goods for re-transmittal under their own name.
As for propping up regimes deemed “friendly” to the U.S. or its interests, including the legions of staff we send to fragile and unstable nations to help construct Constitutions, safeguard voting rights and implement democracy: The United States is no longer in the business of imposing a specific type of government on inhabitants of other nations. After nearly 70 years, we now recognize that each country must be “ready” to move to representative government and democracy; it cannot be forced from without. Nor can the United States “police” the entire world — even in the face of what we view as grave tragedies — in the misplaced hope that U.S. interference can stabilize, over the long term, a particular region or make the world safer. Too often “friendly” regimes have taken advantage of U.S. largesse and proved hostile — to our economic interests, our physical safety and our interests abroad.
Any country seriously seeking American assistance in moving toward representative government and increased freedom is free to seek out individuals with a proven track record of expertise from among our nation’s vast network of “think tanks.” Any nation so inclined may solicit for-hire services from American individuals and groups, including any housing, travel and or other expenses that may be required. Americans thus contacted have the right to accept or decline the offer.
But be forewarned, if U.S. citizens (or family members) are deliberately harmed, such employment having been accepted in good faith, we will consider it an Act of War, in keeping with the definition above. The nations of the world are on notice: The United States says what it means and means what it says; it will not tolerate any form of attack on the U.S., either as a nation, its properties or its citizens here and abroad.
This rationale extends to border-crossing — by foot, by air, or by vehicle — without specific, verifiable permission to do so, especially when violent acts are committed against persons or property within the United States. Foreign nationals doing so will be vigorously pursued as outlaws, punished in our courts, then deported to their home lands. In the event their actions are sanctioned by a foreign government — i.e., via repeated attempts to cross illegally, with or without literature on evasive tactics —that, too, will be considered an Act of War.
The United States understands that many nations have depended upon this country’s largesse for years, including those with struggling economies, and countries comprising the NATO alliance and the United Nations. They must understand that such generosity has, in the 21st century, become an enormous burden on U.S. taxpayers, with little to show for it. We can no longer afford to subsidize foreign countries in the style to which many have become accustomed. The nations of the world, including emerging societies, need to learn to stand on their own feet.
Their citizens must commit to raising their standards of living, just as America did some 200 years ago. It was a slow process, not without setbacks, to fully realize rights such as freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion and so forth. The U.S. had to learn as it went, including when, and how, to “draw the line.” It remains an unfinished task. Other countries will discover this as well; liberty can neither be forced nor imposed.
The United States wishes all countries and emerging nations well. We are a peace-loving people. Don’t make us fight you.