Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ron Paul vs. Me

Yesterday Congressman Paul came to the Voter Values Summit in Washington, DC. As usual his people showed up in force and cheered even his flubbed sentences. It must be nice to have followers that loyal. Few in politics today can boast such loyalty.

So, I went to his speech to hear what makes him unique from his own lips. He advocated what he called the Just War Theory (Would it be too much to say his version of Just War Theory includes neither justice or war?), but practically speaking it sounds like there is no war is just unless it is in selfish interest.
That worries me. I recently read President George W. Bush's book Decision Points. It is insightful. The first chapter and the chapters on international policy are the best.
When I read his description of 9/11 it was so vivid it brought back emotions and memories. I remember all the good reasons we went to war in the Middle East.

A great book I recommend is The Savage Wars of Peace by Max Boot. It is a history of American foreign policy and the “small wars” (think the halls of Montezuma and shores of Tripoli). It goes into the details of how the United States has actively used military power to help spread freedom for hundreds of years. Starting with Thomas Jefferson sending warships into Middle Eastern ports to stop terrorism on the high seas the book progresses up to Vietnam giving examples of America's historical belief and practice of promoting freedom around the world. This started with the Founding Fathers and has been ingrained in our national character ever since even when we were supposedly “isolationist.”

I am hesitant to recommend movies because everyone has different standards for what is okay on screen. The movie Hotel Rwanda, however, had a huge impact on my views of foreign policy. It is a true story and is told in a very powerful way. As Focus on the Family said in their review,
"By no means is Hotel Rwanda a film children should see (and by no means should it be deemed entertainment for moviegoers of any age). But for the millions of adults and teens who decide to take it in, it's my prayer that they will hold on to those feelings of rage and sorrow much longer than Jack thinks they will."

If good guys aren't there to stop the bad guys, the bad guys will win. As Tony Blair put it, it is an issue of morality.

In short, I believe in the Reagan principle of "peace through strength" tied closely with the Spiderman principle of "with great power comes great responsibly." William Wilberforce explains it well: "You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know." This includes having an international policy that is willing to step in when we can and promote freedom.

An insightful Generation Joshua student asked me how this squares with being responsible with our financial resources.
Obviously, we shouldn't do something if we really can't afford it. That is just foolishness. In fact, everything in foreign policy should always be filtered through the process of analyzing the positives and negatives. There is no autopilot.

One thing to remember, however, is WWII. The country was broke. We were still in the Depression and in debt. But when you
must do something you find a way to do it. We were attacked and and the world was in turmoil, thus we needed to defend ourselves, defeat our enemies, and support our allies. So, we found a way. (In this case War Bonds. HT: Captain America.) 

Money is a concern, but just like all other aspects in analysis you take all the positives and negatives into account and make the best decision you can. Sometimes that is easy, sometimes it is not. But that is the burden of leadership.

Isolationists could benefit from looking at history and remembering that selfishness is not a worthy standard for national policy. Doing what is right when it is in your best interest is not noteworthy, it is when someone does what it right when it costs them something that catches my attention.

This is why I disagree with Congressman Paul's foreign policy positions and was disappointed when I heard his speech.

Have you read The Savage Wars of Peace or seen Hotel Rwanda? Did they impact you? What has influenced your view of American foreign policy?
Related post: Why Not Ron Paul?
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