Foreign Policy

For the first time in the entire program the Publius fellows showed a split. The issue at hand was American foreign policy and what the role of America should be with relation to the world. During the course of the discussion, four major foreign policy approaches were discussed.

1) Isolationism-this is the ridiculous idea that America's problems will just go away if we just shut down the borders and bring the troops home. These people seem to have no idea that America's economic and military power is dependent on an open society with free trade. Isolationism does not work when you are the greatest superpower on the planet. To my knowledge, no one held this opinion.

2) The Founders approach-This approach, which ended up being my view, cannot be reduced to modern "realist," "idealist" classifications. The founding fathers wanted to have a foreign policy that was centered around American interests but was not divorced from the principles of morality as laid down in the Declaration of Independence. They were skeptical of permanent treaties and humanitarian missions for the sake of humanitarian missions. Sure, when America had to act, they would act with the principles of justice and liberty, but they would not succumb to the imperialist temptation that their European counterparts did.

3) Wilsonian Idealism- This is the progressive approach to foreign policy that begins to fudge the distinction between domestic and foreign affairs. Wilsonians want to take the same tasks that government has with domestic affairs (promotion of political rights, democracy, education, tree hugging) and export them abroad. This sounds tempting but quickly becomes untenable when you realize its implications. Besides the United States and ARGUABLY Europe, most of the rest of the world is in a Hobbesian hell-zone. People in that area are constantly at war with exceeder and vocational problems are severe. For America to devote its task to spreading democracy anywhere, without regards for the cost, is to destroy the original intent of foreign policy: to secure the natural rights of the people living under the constitution.

4)Neo-Conservatism-This tries to take what is good from the Wilsonian approach and good from the founding approach and mend the two into one package. Some forms of this approach, like that of Charles Kraughtheimmer (sic), are very close to the principles of the founding. Others, like that of Bill Kristol, tend to fudge the approach of the founding and look more like Wilsonianism.

The divide in the class fell within two groups
1) Those who were with Mr. Kraughtheimmer-like me and a few others
2) those we were hard core neo-conservatives-the rest

The neo-conservatives argued that National Greatness was an indispensable doctrine to raising American from their crass self interest. My response is that declaring war on 2/3rds of the world is not a good way to promote the higher virtues. They responded that they were not advocating declaring war but rather for calling a spade a spade. In this we agree. Yet them seemed to be too willing to engage in warfare.

My main point is that there are severe security threats to the US today (witness the Middle East). Americans should focus their main focus to this region and attempt to wage just war there. Americans will support a war that has a strong relation to its own self-interest over a war that has nothing to do with American interests (like Somalia). The Founding Fathers were perfectly willing to call a spade a spade, but they realized that America, no matter how powerful, will never be able to force freedom and equality on people that have had no prior experience, have no republican habits, and have severe factional problems.

(Note: I am not in anyway arguing against what we are doing in Iraq. I agree with trying to stabilize that area because America has no other choice. Stabilizing Iraq will go a long way towards solving our problems with Terrorism).