Global Intervention

Been trading email back and forth with afriend on this topic, so I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts here and get someadditional feedback.
Ron Paul has been criticized by a lot ofConservatives over his foreign policy.  Many don’t agree with his view (which, by the way, he’s maintainedconsistently long before he thought about running for President, but I digress)that the United States should not intervene in the political, social,religious, economic, or ethnic affairs of any other country in the world. He advocates that we should bring all of our troops home, with a fewexceptions, to defend our homeland and our borders.  Some are still confused and think his budget cuts would leave us defenseless.  As he shared during the SC debate, it’s thedifference between Military Spending and Defense Spending.  We should NOT be setting up long-termmilitary bases in other countries, particularly ones that have asked us not to be there.  Weshould not be using our military to defend countries thatare perfectlycapable of defending their own lands.

Conservatives, and surprisingly many liberals,think Ron Paul is crazy for advocating such a thing.  They think it’s ourduty to police the world, to maintain peace and order, and to establishdemocratic states with religious freedom like ours.

Paul’s opponents also profess that we need tobe actively engaging and killing our enemies.  Usually this means we needto enter into countries that don’t want us there, setup a military base ofoperations, and hunt for terrorists.
What I’d like to ponder over is the notion ofthe use of force.  When is violence justified?  When is it not?
I had already shared that the purpose of government and the law is to protect our God-given rights to our person,property and liberty.
Our laws, however, have limited jurisdiction.
Our own Declaration of Independence states:

We hold thesetruths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they areendowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these areLife, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights,Governments are instituted among Men, derivingtheir just powers from the consent of the governed,

Our laws were written and given legitimacy andauthority based on the social contract established between the United States representative government and thecitizens.  No such agreement has beenestablished with foreign citizens.  Infact, one of the reasons we revolted was over King George’s refusal to allowthe colonists’ representative voices to be heard (read: taxation withoutrepresentation).
So assuming we have a correct understanding ofWHO the governed are, how does the government legitimately protect our rights?  To answer this, we have to know somethingabout the nature of man.

Fredric Bastiat writes:

Self-preservationand self-development are common aspirations among all people.  And if everyone enjoyed the unrestricted useof his faculties and the free disposition of the fruits of his labor, socialprogress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted, and unfailing.
But there is alsoanother tendency that is common among people. When they can, they wish to live and prosper at the expense of others.

…This fatal desire has its origin in the very nature of man – in that primitive,universal, and insuppressible instinct that impels him to satisfy his desireswith the least possible pain.

… Now since man isnaturally inclined to avoid pain – and since labor is pain in itself – it followsthat men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work.

… It is evident,then, that the proper purpose of law is to usethe power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder insteadof work.  All the measures of the lawshould protect property and punish plunder.

Put simply – the enforcement ofthe law, which may include the use of force, should be a measured response to discourageplunder and to protect Property, Life and Liberty. 
So, let’s take this to a realworld scenario:
Sharia law is a hot topic.  Globally, there’s growing unrest thatradical Muslims want to implement their religious laws in place of, or at leastsuperseding, local laws.  How should theUnited States handle this phenomenon?  Whatwould be the just response to these advocates? Well, it depends:
  1. IF we are talking aboutUS Citizens living stateside, I would argue that as long asthey are not inciting treason or breaking any laws, these proponents have theright to Free Speech just as I would have the same right to advocate going backto the establishment of Levitical law.  Hopefully, both these attemptswould be deemed unconstitutional by the courts and turned down. But I don’t support bypassing Constitutional due process andthe stifling of Free Speech.  And I REALLY don’t support the useof violence to suppress Free Speech.
  2. IF we are talking aboutforeign citizens living stateside, one could make the case thatthey are not guaranteed the same rights as our citizens do (again, nosocial contract).  I’m not an immigration expert, but my guess is that ifa foreign national was inciting treason or violence in our country, at the veryleast, we could deport them back to their homelands.  This may beconstrued as a military act of force, but I would argue it’s within our legaland moral grounds to use it in this case.   In an extreme case where thesepeople are actually plotting attacks on us, we could detain them in militaryprisons under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Depending on the evidence, I would support this use of force, but there wouldhave to be some kind of an oversight to this use of force.  The problem is that currently Idon’t see anything in the NDAA that keeps the President and the military fromabusing this power — including locking up U.S. CITIZENS.
  3. IF we are talking aboutforeign citizens living outside of the US, we have NO legal or moralrecourse to silence these people.  Andthis is where we’re getting ourselves into trouble.  It is not our duty tostop Sharia’s proliferation in other nations.  It’s tough enough for us tojustify, to our allies and enemies, our military presence in their lands. But for us to be pushing how their laws should beestablished / people governed, that has HUGE political implications including militaryuse of violence.  And I would be totally opposed tothat specific use of force.

The use of violence for thegreater good has been wielded all too casually and frequently and at theexpense of Liberty.  It should be usedwith extreme consideration.  Ron Paul’smessage of minding our own business is just. It is right.  And it is the only sustainable foreign policy being discussed by any ofthe politicians today.

4 thoughts on “Global Intervention

  1. Great topic, Tim! All I know about foreign policy I learned from Ron Paul. I used to think it was just too hard for me to understand. I read "The Revolution" this summer and now I feel much more comfortable with the topic.One of the objections I have to the state (which by definition is force) is that they can just as easily use that force to plunder as to protect from plunder, whether its own citizens or citizens of other nations. I have seen the analogy of the state as a fire in a fireplace. As long as the fire stays in the fireplace, it serves its purpose, but as soon as it escapes from the fireplace it becomes a terribly destructive force.


  2. I'll have to pick up that book. David just dropped off "Liberty Defined" for me to borrow. I don't know if you watched the SC debate where Paul got booed for suggesting that we should treat other countries as we would want to be treated. It's frightening to me that despite the long, drawn out Iraq and Afghanistan wars in which we've been engaged, there are still many people who want us to initiate MORE wars like with Iran or Israel.


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