Something I've been hearing from a lot of Republicans when talking about Ron Paul lately is how he would be a great candidate if it were not for his foreign policy. I admit that I've had some doubts about his "extreme isolationism," but the more I think about it, the more I realize that he's probably right on a lot of points.
Ron Paul has said that he would not invade a country to stop human rights violations. That seemed a bit fucked up to me at first, because I truly believe that if ever there was a good cause for a war, it would be to stop the opression of a people.
But then you have to ask yourself a couple of questions. Why do we stop some dictators from brutalizing their people and not others? We haven't lifted a finger to stop the horrors in Darfur. Gaddhafi was likely every bit as twisted and maniacal as Saddam Hussein, yet he met his demise at the hands of his own people, not the United States of America. So who gets our help and who doesn't? And why? I think this creates the unintended consequence of making America seem as though it only helps a people if it's in our best interest.
So, as Dr. Paul has articulated, our police actions create sentiments of contempt towards America, the same contempt that has led to the rise of anti-U.S. terrorist cells. I'm not saying that 9/11 was our fault, as if the people who perpetrated it are blameless, but we have to remember that everything we do on the world stage will have some sort of negative consequence in the future.
Some people think that the U.S. should intervene anytime that a people are being wiped out by their government. I think the sentiment is okay, but we have to look at the reality of the situation. As Dr. Paul has said, we simply don't have the resources or the manpower to be the world police. How badly has Iraq and Afghanistan bankrupted this country? How wide has the deficit grown, and how deep has the national debt sunk? We know that the cost of these two wars has been high, not so much in human life on our part--we've suffered a fraction of the casualties that used to be associated with war--but we've run up quite a tab.
Not only is it financially unfeasable, we have to ask ourselves if we even have the authority to be the world police. When does a sovereign nation stop being a sovereign nation, and why do we get to decide that? Hypothetical nay-sayer might say that "well the community of nations, the UN decides when a madman must be stopped," but we all know that's not true. Iraq, although no unilateral as some fools tried to paint it, was invaded primarily by the U.S. against the wishes of the UNSC. Ultimately, we didn't give a shit what the community of nations thought.
Doesn't that seem a bit dangerous? We've arrived at the point where we know how powerful we are. We know that there is no country on this planet that would ever legitimately stand up against our military might, and that fact coupled with our economic importance to the world has made us extremely bold. I don't think this is a good thing.
Now I'm no idealist. I realize that even if we had nothing to do with world politics, there would still be people that hate us. I understand that even if we tried to remove ourselves from world politics that it'd likely be an effort in vain. But I think we seriously need to look at foreign policy from the eyes of other nations. Ron Paul is right that our actions have hurt ourselves and our allies, so it would be prudent to consider taking a new approach to how we interact with the community of nations.
Isolationism might not be the answer and is probably not even viable, but Dr. Paul represents a more prudent course in foreign policy, one that a war-weary nation would do well to consider.