It has been nearly a decade since President George W. Bush chose arrogance over humility as the basis of American foreign policy. The intervening years have not been good for the United States or the Republican Party. As the GOP seeks to take back the White House it needs to conduct a serious foreign policy debate. Republicans should start by listening to Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
At the recent Southern Republican Leadership Conference big spending Mitt Romney bested Rep. Paul by just one vote in the popularity contest. Yet Paul eschewed reliance on easy applause lines and challenged the newfound Republican fondness for big militaries and constant wars.
For instance, Paul observed that conservatives, like liberals, enjoyed spending money, only “on different things. They like embassies, and they like occupation. They like the empire. They like to be in 135 countries and 700 bases.”
Similarly, Paul said, conservatives talked about following the Constitution, “except for war. Let the president go to war anytime they want.”
Paul garnered applause from more youthful members of the audience. But boos were heard as well. Many establishment GOP activists appear to have become wedded to a big-government foreign policy.
When Politico polled activists and analysts about why the GOP mainstream was hostile to Paul, James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation complained that “The deliberate self-weakening of America is an invitation to disaster.” Carafano argued that Paul failed to fulfill the constitutional obligation to “provide for the common defense” and that the latter’s vision would not keep America “safe, free, and prosperous.”
Yet Washington’s policy of promiscuous intervention is not providing for America’s “common defense.” Rather, the U.S. is protecting virtually every other nation. That’s one reason why the Pentagon was incapable of defending Americans when the U.S. was attacked on 9/11,
Indeed, the “Defense Department” has become anything but. Most of America’s forces do nothing to secure the U.S. They instead are employed to remake failed societies, impose Washington’s meddlesome dictates, and subsidize populous and prosperous allies.
Do the Europeans want someone to stop a civil war in Yugoslavia? They leave it to Americans. Do the Georgians want someone to protect them after they start a war with Russia? Tbilisi begs Washington.
Do the South Koreans hope to subsidize North Korea while someone else guarantees their security? The South Korean “Blue House” calls the American “White House.” Do the Japanese want to concentrate on economic development while leaving the protection of regional security to another country? They turn to the U.S. Do the Israelis want someone else to disarm Iran? They call on Washington.
And in every case the Republican elite willingly answers “yes,” spending Americans’ money to provide for most every other nations’ defense.
The Europeans might have a larger collective GDP and population. The South Koreans might enjoy a GDP 40 times that of the North. Japan might have the world’s second largest economy. Israel might be a regional superpower with up to 200 nuclear weapons.
Yet in GOP eyes all are helpless American dependents, to be defended by Washington at all cost—and apparently forever.
This policy has made America weaker. We are less “safe, free, and prosperous” as a result.