Friday, January 04, 2008

Ron Paul regression part 2

I suspected I might need to follow the previous entry up, but not this soon -- but here we are, thanks to Casey and his comments on the imported Facebook note.

The first thing that needs to be clarified is one point I alluded to in the last post but may not have communicated very well (and I may just stick with this topic here). To be specific, the naming of supposed "constitutional principles" as having anything to do with the way we create and maintain our current foreign policy. What I need here is for someone to name the specific part of the constitution that deals with this issue -- the truth is that it simply delegates the power of treaties to the president and the power of war to both the legislature and president. Beyond this, there is no "principle" to tell us exactly what the substance of our foreign policy should be.

That puts the issue squarely into the sphere of conditional policies that depend on what we can learn of both our world situation and our enemies. Just like the Monroe Doctrine was composed as an answer to European interest in the Western Hemisphere. Before that, Washington and Adams had very strong and correct views about our abstinence from involvement with European conflict and ambition. Jefferson turned that on its head and pushed us to be more favorable toward France -- a big mistake -- and we eventually paid for it since we were in no way ready.

Washington is often cited for his advice to keep clear of such things. He lectures at length on the topic in his farewell address of 1796.
Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?
So what peculiar situation is Washington referring to? He explains it a paragraph before:
Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people under an efficient government. the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.
I'm sad to say first that we are no longer anywhere close to being detached or distant from any other country. Perhaps there are those, as in the 1930's, who believe we can ignore much of the malicious ambitions that that run rampant abroad. Indeed Britain, being separate from the continent, held to a similar policy at various intervals and one can't help but think that their help in "pacifying" Hitler had a great deal to do with the idea that they were detached enough to not have as much at stake. I'm sure the Czech people realized they had been sacrificed for an illusion.

I'm not saying Washington was wrong. He was absolutely right. However, that doesn't mean that Monroe was wrong when he unilaterally extended our sphere of specific influence to the entire Western Hemisphere. The same wisdom was being applied -- the point was the same: to minimize the danger of foreign (European) encroachment.

Washington makes no argument for Ron Paul's "nonintervention" here. Key to recognizing this is the fact that Washington bases our neutrality on our ability to be untouchable. Nations will leave us alone when "under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us..." So the real question to ask in order to bring this issue home is where the bar is today for us to remain impervious to foreign demands? The principle can and should be the same all along.

Ok, that's one more stab for now.

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