Why a Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy is Safer Than Nation-Building


Ron Paul has been catching a lot of flack from other Republican presidential hopefuls lately for his ideas about foreign policy.  It is no secret to those who have been watching the campaign with some degree of regularity that Ron Paul is not interested in policing the world.  He wants to wrap up Afghanistan immediately, bring troops home from South Korea and Germany, and end various other overseas engagements.  He has also taken a “soft” stance on Iran, saying that it is none of our business if they have nuclear capability or not.

Honestly, I have no idea how mainstream America really feels about this, because most of my friends are quite liberal and are directly in line with Paul’s thinking on this.  So am I.  I don’t believe we have any business starting unconstitutional wars or spending decades and literally trillions of dollars on endless foreign engagements.  For one thing it is foolish.  For another, we simply do not have the money.  There are plenty of Americans at home who need help right now, and because we are spending so much money on foreigners, we are unable to take care of our own.

Still, there are some people out there – I don’t know them, but I’m sure they exist – who fear the US taking a less aggressive military stance.  The argument is that if we “allow” Iran to have nuclear weapons, that they will surely use them on us.  Another argument, of course, is that they might destroy Israel.  In that same line of thinking, some people are religiously motivated to protect Israel at any cost.  The final argument is the one that seems to emerge most often and to me seems like nothing more than a scare tactic: if we go home, the terrorists will come out in full force and destroy life as we know it.  Let’s address these fallacies one-by-one.

There are several points to make about Iran generally and nuclear weapons particularly.  First off, the US is mainly taking a hard line against Iran because of Kish Island and the fact that Iran refuses to trade using T-bills.  In other words, Iran has refused to help the US monetize its debt, given the fact that the US has been sanctioning Iran since the 1970s.  As I’ve mentioned before, Saddam stopped trading in T-bills prior to the US invasion, and look how that turned out for him.  Gaddafi apparently had plans to create an African gold dinar, which would help bring wealth back into Africa and allow Africa to have some bargaining power in a post-petroleum world.  From a strictly common sense standpoint, this is not a bad idea.

Of course, we all know what happened to Saddam and Gaddafi.

On the subject of nukes, it is frankly none of our business what Iran or any other country wants to do with their military defense arsenal.  How would Americans react if suddenly Great Britain was threatening to invade us because we have nuclear weapons?  I don’t think most Americans would react warmly to that scenario.  In fact, I think they would be downright ticked off.  It is none of our business how Iran spends its money.

This is usually the point where people argue that Iran is planning to do bad things with its theoretical nuclear arsenal.  How do we know that?  What proof do we have?  Iran doesn’t have the capability to launch a missile all the way to the US.  In that sense, they are not a direct security hazard to Americans.  The next argument that usually pops up is that they are a direct threat to Israel.  What most people seem to forget is that Israel is armed to the teeth.  They have a sizable nuclear arsenal.  They are more than capable of managing their own defense without our help.  In fact, one might make the argument that giving Israel monetary and military aid only makes them beholden to another country, which directly undermines that country’s sovereignty.

People say that we have a religious duty to protect Israel.  I argue that in our country, according to our founding laws, there is a clear and distinct separation of church and state.  Our government is not allowed to endorse one religion over another.  Religious conflicts are none of our business, and by giving Israel guns to kill Muslims, we are effectively condoning the Hebrew faith and throwing Islam under the bus.  I know that Christians and Muslims don’t have the best history, all told, but we should not be endorsing religions with gun power.  It breeds animosity and puts American, Israeli, and other countries’ citizens in mortal danger.

Of course, the final and usually most vitriolic argument is that if we withdraw from all of these countries that we will be annihilated overnight.  I hardly think that will be the case.  Bringing our troops home means that our nations’ borders will be protected.  How about devoting some troops to the US-Mexico border to help crack down on illegal immigration?  I certainly support that over building a fence.  (The thing to remember about fences is that they can just as easily keep people in as out.)

Some think that by withdrawing from places like Korea and Japan that we will be more at risk from China, a country that is clearly on the way to becoming a formidable military power in and of itself.  I have a lot of faith in American submarines, and I believe that a strong submarine patrol will go a long way towards maintaining our national defense, in that respect.

Most neocons would never admit this, but we create more problems for ourselves by trying to force other countries to bend to our will.  The CIA has admitted that terrorist events are largely the unintended result of a foreign policy that tells everyone else what to do: what weapons they’re going to have, who their leaders will be, and what they’re going to do for us.  Contrary to popular opinion, most suicide bombers are motivated by anger and disillusion, not by religion.  Religious groups tend to be a lightning rod for disenfranchised individuals who are making a protest.  Think about it: would you seriously consider blowing up an embassy in the Middle East because you hate Islam?  Probably not.  Again, contrary to popular belief, Muslims are not completely insane, irrational people.  I would be willing to bet that they are far more angry about American drones blowing up their houses or their grandmother being shot to death by US troops.  That would be a far more likely reason to join a retaliatory group.

The fact of the matter is that most of these terrorist cells are not a direct threat to American citizens.  They have neither the means nor the know-how to carry off mass plots against the US.  The US government talks about “terrorism” as though it is a person, as though a particular group of people or countries directly embody “terrorism.”  Terrorism is a tactic, not a person, not a country, and not a war.  We will never be through fighting a war against terrorism, because there will always be terrorists.  The notion that we can defeat a tactic is foolhardy and dangerous.

Far more dangerous, at this point, is the US government directly intruding into the lives of US citizens in the name of “security.”  The TSA putting their hands down your child’s pants does not make any of us safer.  What is does do is instill the notion in our minds – especially in the minds of young people – that we are all criminals, guilty until proven innocent.  The sheer notion of doing these dangerous X-Ray screenings and invasive pat-downs rests on the fact that you must prove your innocence.  Our country was founded on the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.”

A last point that I would like to make is from an extremely practical standpoint: we can no longer afford these lengthy foreign engagements.  As of the moment I wrote this article, the US national debt was tallied at $15,172,262,100,000, approximately (I can’t type quickly enough to keep up with it, actually).  The US debt per citizen is at about $48,000 per person and $134,00 for each taxpayer.  This information can be gotten from the US Debt Clock.  You may also be interested to know that over 47 million people receive food stamps, about 23 million people are unemployed, there are almost 67 million retirees/Social Security claimants, and 4.3 million federal employees out of a total population of 312,877,758 people in the US.  That means that 15% of the US population receives food stamps, 21% receive Social Security benefits, 1.3% are employed by the federal government, and 7.4% are unemployed.  Does that sound like a population that can afford to be building a new military base in Australia, keeping up an Iraq embassy bigger than the Vatican, and fighting on in Afghanistan, among other places?

From a philosophical standpoint, we shouldn’t be in these countries.  From a practical standpoint, we can’t afford it.  So why in the world are we there?  And why in the world are some of the Republican candidates beating the war drums against Iran?  What are they thinking?  Have they completely lost their minds, or don’t they know how to do simple math?  In either case, I worry a lot for the state of our nation.

At the end of the day, there is only one candidate who is talking about real change, and that’s Ron Paul.  He’s talking about getting out of our foreign entanglements, ending the perpetual monetization of our debt, and getting us back on the road to prosperity.  What are the others talking about?  Imposing their religious beliefs on others?  Attacking another nation for refusing to fund our credit addiction?  As for Obama, I think his record speaks for itself, particularly his willingness to sign off on the NDAA.

It is time for peace.  It is time to dial down the debt.  It is time for our country to have some good old-fashioned common sense again.  We will be infinitely better off for it.

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About The Lady Libertarian
I am American, currently expatriated but hopeful about getting back home one of these days. Besides reading and writing about politics, I enjoy camping, sailing, canoeing, making pie, and traveling. I hope you'll enjoy this blog and find it informative and accessible.

7 Responses to Why a Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy is Safer Than Nation-Building

  1. Beth says:

    I agree, I think we’d be safer and better off if we stopped butting our nose into other countries’ business. And I like how you put that we can’t really fight “terrorism”. There are always going to be crazy people who do crazy things. We would be safer, I think, if we stop putting ourselves out there pissing people off and making ourselves a target.

  2. Sonja says:

    From an accounting perspective, the US government has been bankrupt for 40 years, since our oil production peaked in the early ’70s. That’s why Nixon took is off the gold standard, because we could no longer pay for the American Way of Life. We have a lazy, uneducated populace (relative to the rest of the world) addicted to the most profligate lifestyle on the planet. We depend on the perks of empire – taking resources and surplus production from other countries, by force when necessary – to survive. The solution is the death of the American Dream, a rebalancing of our aspirations with economic reality, but that’s a hard landing and a hard sell to the citizenry. It will take decades for our people to accept this truth, or to negotiate a softer landing. In the meantime, we will demand that our military continue to steal for us and that our government jail anyone opposing this policy (can you say NDAA?) until “hostilities” end. Get ready for war with Iran (which just happens to have a heckuva lotta natural gas, where drilling for ours just caused Ohio’s 11th earthquake in nine months yesterday).

  3. I agree that we’ve been bankrupt for a lot longer than the pundits are admitting. We are addicted to a certain lifestyle, and it is a credit-driven lifestyle in every sense of the word. I do think that there are people who are warming up to the idea of real change, but I also agree that it’s going to be a hard sell for the majority of the population.

    There are a lot of reasons that the US is talking about invading Iran, and I still think that the major reason has more to do with Iran refusing to help the US monetize its growing debt by buying T-bills. US dollars are the only currency that is unacceptable in Iran to pay for their oil and/or gas. When a country stops dealing it dollars, it means that our government can’t keep monetizing the debt, and that’s what Washington is most worried about, I think. If the debt can’t be monetized, the whole house of cards is going to crash, and it’s going to be a lot worse than 2008. Personally, I don’t think it’s that far off, anyway, and I probably sound like a conspiracy theorist for saying this, but I think that they’ve introduced the NDAA in preparation for the riots and civil unrest that will follow a further, inevitable crash.

    Boy, we aren’t making uplifting projections, are we?

  4. Andrew Turner says:

    Who is actively talking about invading Iran? We have plans (scenarios) for invading many countries as part of overall defense plan. I’ve seen plans on how to take Britain if needed. You people crack me up with your one world one people hippie crap. There is evil in the world called ignorance and these undereducated over religious zealots who claim Islam is a religion of peace are lulling you naive utopians into a stupor so that they can sucker punch your ass and subjugate you. You probably would notice it until you are looking up from your back on the ground. By then it will be far too late.

    • Have you read the news lately? The media has been insinuating for weeks that we’re on the brink of attacking Iran. It has been claimed by the president himself that “nothing is off the table” when it comes to Iran. No, nobody has come out and claimed that we’re invading tomorrow, but I certainly don’t think that it’s outside the realm of possibility.

      I might add, as I have discussed previously, that the main incentive for invading Iran would have very little to do, in reality, with their nuclear proliferation, but more to do with Kish Island and their unwillingness to monetize US debt by buying up T-bills. Keeping the easy money flowing is far more important to Washington than one more nuke in the world, I’d wager.

      Incidentally, I am not in favor of one-worldism, and I’m not a hippie, either. I am in favor of a strong military. I’m just not in favor of putting our troops in harm’s way so that Washington can continue to do us over at home.

  5. David M. Fanale says:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    I agree with most of your points, but if you’re going to reference the Constitution, please don’t pervert it to suit your argument. The “clear and distinct separation of church and state” contention is weak and misinformed at best, yet self-professed lefties persist in using that verbiage. I really don’t understand why.

    Notwithstanding that; a very good article. Left and Right will never agree on everything, but It’s sincerely refreshing to see Ron Paul bringing both sides together, along with Repubs and Dems. Acknowledging a “non-interventionist” mindset has been tough for me to swallow, but when I think outside the box, it really makes sense. Religion shouldn’t be an issue of whether or not America intervenes.

    • Fair point about the Constitution. I shall try to do better in the future.

      I agree, America shouldn’t essentially be endorsing one religion over another. I suspect that religious fealty can run deeper than national fealty, and alienating the Muslim world hardly seems to be in the best interests of the American people.

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