American Principles of Foreign Policy

Today foreign policy has largely taken a backseat to the economy as the main issue being discussed locally and nationally. But foreign affairs have done anything but settle down over the past several months.

During the Presidential debates between Senators’ Obama and McCain, the main debate on foreign policy was over how to best invade and increase forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The two did their best to separate themselves from each other on the issue, but in the Senate they have both voted similarly on key foreign policy legislation. Whether it be the FISA bill in 2008 granting immunity to telecommunication businesses wiretapping phones under federal order, or consistently voting to continue funding the Iraq War over the years. By looking at their voting records we can see that Obama and McCain have largely seen eye to eye on foreign policy.

Today, the lack of change in foreign policy is apparent. The marines currently in Iraq are beginning transfer to Afghanistan, and more troops are planned to be brought into the country this year. The “Iraq withdrawal” plan has turned into nothing but a cover to continue the occupation of 35,000 to 50,000 “residual force” troops beyond 2010. The body count in Pakistan, from U.S. attacks, continues to rise since late January when the Obama Administration began its operation. Despite protests from the Pakistani government, these attacks are expected to continue increasingly in the days ahead.

True debate on foreign policy has been disregarded and ignored for quite some time. Ever since World War 1, the United States has taken a larger military role in world activities. As we have seen with Obama, McCain, and Bush, the principles have remained the same: continue and increase interventions in the Middle East, keep thousands of troops in Iraq for an indefinite period of time, and hardly a thing is mentioned about the countless troops placed worldwide in Europe, Korea, South America, and many other countries.

The core problem with U.S. foreign policy is very similar to the core problems of the federal government’s escalated domestic involvement with the economy. It is a short-term focused approach that does not account for individual responsibility, long-term sustainability, or the effects of blowback tomorrow because of yesterday’s actions.

The principles of domestic and foreign policy that a nation takes are very much intertwined with each other. A government heavily involved in foreign policy will lead to a government much more involved domestically, and visa-versa.

While the effects may not be immediately seen, it can’t be interpreted as a mere coincidence that U.S. entanglement overseas greatly escalated after the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Service were created in 1913. The power to print money and tax private property will lead to an expanded, intrusive government domestically, and in the long run that government will not hold back from expanding overseas.

What is it that we stand for? Democracy? Individual liberty, freedom, and right to one’s life are what we have fought for since 1776; not a majority rule through democracy. No matter how worthy or incredible a system may be, not one political, economic, or social system can be spread through force and sanctions without weakening or completely destroying its reputation.

The U.S. has pursued a foreign policy approach resembling that of a bully, rather than a beacon of freedom. How can we say that spending nearly 20 years in Iraq has spread American ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

Spreading principles cannot work if it is done through force, whether it be with the economy or dealing with a foreign country. Leading by example, proving that freedom works, showing that free individuals can achieve more than use of military force, will bring about much more powerful, effective, and respected solutions of peace and prosperity worldwide.

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