This election season, just like during the previous one, we are being told by libertarians (such as Jack Hunter and Jeffrey Kuhner) and their anti-American liberal friends that the US would be much safer and much better off if it just “minded its own business”, i.e. isolated itself from the rest of the world and not reacted to any events or any threats outside US borders. This would mean ignoring the threats posed by Putinist Russia, Communist China, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and terrorist organizations, as well as the genocide being perpetrated in China, North Korea, Iran, and Sudan.
It would mean dumping all of America’s allies, terminating US defense commitments to them, not staving off any threats, and not reacting to any provocations or blackmail until the United States proper is attacked (or, in Ron Paul’s version of this policy, not reacting EVEN if the US itself is attacked – Paul opposed the original invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11 and voted to authorize it only for the sake of his political image).
Let’s suppose just for the sake of argument that the US adopted such policy. Would it be better off or not?
The answer is: absolutely not. The US would be worse off, and much less safe, than it is now.
America’s allies, dumped by the US, would be left to fend off for themselves. The US would lose all of its credibility as an ally or partner. No one would ever trust it. Allies would have to reinstate the military draft (where it has been abolished) and raise their defense spending to high proportions of their GDPs. Some of them, however, would be unable to fend themselves even then. Most would be eventually subjugated or, in some cases such as South Korea and Taiwan, conquered outright by America’s enemies. (The difference between these two methods would, however, be only a formal one.) Their zones of influence would expand greatly, eventually encompassing most, if not all, of the world outside America’s borders. Whatever few free countries would manage to defend themselves and remain free would be mere islands in oceans of tyranny sponsored by Moscow (in Europe), China (in Eastern Asia), Tehran (the Middle East), or Caracas (in Latin America).
It would be worse than not joining World War II and leaving the world for the Germans and the Japanese to conquer. Germany and Japan did not have nuclear weapons (although Germany did have a nuclear weapon programme stopped by the British SOE and the Norwegians). Russia has a massive nuclear arsenal, and China has a growing one.
It is no coincidence that NONE of America’s allies and partners – not even one – supports libertarians’ isolationist foreign policy, and that all of America’s enemies – Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and others – support it wholeheartedly and wish to see it enacted and to see Ron Paul elected President. They would gladly welcome a neo-isolationist US foreign policy.
Nor would America’s enemies become any nicer to the US than they are now. For them, a neo-isolationist US President would be merely a useful idiot. They would still be hostile to the US, and not because of its past policies, but because America’s interests are totally incompatible with theirs, and also because the US stands in their way of imposing a tyrannical hegemony on entire continents, as well as because America is a beacon of freedom for the world.
They would still be amassing large arsenals of lethal weapons and threatening the United States. Their new, expanded zones of influence would give them new launchpads (e.g. Taiwan and South Korea) from which to threaten, and possibly launch attacks, against the United States. Remember: this is the era of ICBMs and nuclear weapons. One nuke detonated at a high altitude above the US would cause an EMP blast that would immediately set back the entire country to the 18th century. Russia, China, and North Korea all possess these weapons, and Iran is projected to have both of them by 2015.
Dissidents in dictatorial countries around the world would feel betrayed and dumped, and would become completely alone and hopeless in their fight for representative government and human rights. There would be no US president or Secretary of State to speak out for them and their cause or to demand that they be released. There would be no Ronald Reagan calling on Mr Kim to open North Korea to the world or saying that the Chinese Communist regime was on its way to the dustbin of history. Instead, the President would be the man who spent the last 24 years vilifying the Gipper together with his pals Murray Rothbard and Lew Rockwell – Ron Paul.
Under such a policy, whenever there would have to be a choice between good and evil, the US would always side with the evil guys. No more resolutions condemning genocidal regimes, let alone any action against them. When, in 2009, the Iranian regime’s Basij thugs were openly slaughtering protesters in the streets after the fraudulent Iranian presidential election, the House passed a resolution condeming the regime and the genocide. Even Dennis Kucinich voted for it. The only dissenter was Ron Paul, who urged his House colleagues not to judge foreign governments or intrude in the “internal affairs of other countries” – as if genocide on a massive scale was a mere internal affair of a foreign country.
The resolution did not call for US military, economic, or even diplomatic intervention. It merely condemned the Iranian regime and its genocide. It was nothing more than a verbal declaration requiring nothing other than a piece of paper and some ink. Yet, Paul voted against it.
When it came to choose between good and evil, Paul sided with evil.
As Edmund Burke rightly wrote, “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” We good people don’t have to actually aid evil guys. All we have to do to allow them to win is for us to do absolutely nothing. They’ll take care of the rest.
If China, North Korea, and other tyrannical, genocidal regimes want to triump in this world, they don’t need the US to actively aid them. All they need is for the US to stand passively by and do absolutely nothing. They will then do their job easily.
The only thing that thugs and thuggish regimes understand and fear is force. The only thing that can deter them is a strong deterrent, i.e. a strong military headed by a man who is willing to use it when necessary.
Isolationism, appeasement, and disarmament do not lead to peace. They lead to war.
Strong defenses and assertive policies towards bullies don’t lead to war. They safeguard peace.
As George Washington said in 1790, “to be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of keeping the peace.”
No, Ron Paul’s foreign policy would not make America any safer (or more prosperous). On the contrary, it would make the US and the world less safe, less peaceful, and less hospitable for freedom.
The right foreign policy course is the one that Ronald Reagan set in 1980 and which conservatives such as Sarah Palin and myself continue to advocate today: the US must have a strong defense, second to none, must honor its defense commitments to key allies, and must be willing to use its military when – and only when – necessary.
As Ronald Reagan rightly said on June 6th, 1944, the 40th anniversary of D-Day:
“We in America have learned bitter lessons from two world wars. It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We’ve learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent. But we try always to be prepared for peace, prepared to deter aggression, prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms, and yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation.”
Have the current generations of Americans “learned bitter lessons from two world wars” – that isolationism is the wrong foreign policy course?
The year 2012, and whether Ron Paul wins the GOP nomination or not, will answer that question.