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Hunkered Between Santorum and Paul Lies Peace Through Total War

Is our choice in foreign policy really between pointless perpetual war and recklessly naive peace? (Also read Barry Rubin on Santorum's foreign policy.)

by
Walter Hudson

Bio

January 31, 2012 - 12:06 am

Santorum is a theocratic collectivist who subordinates the individual to an undefined “common good.” In this way, he is fundamentally anti-liberty:

Particularly in the area of sexual freedom and personal issues, this is the mantra of the left. Which is, “I have a right to do what I want to do.” And that is not the kind of freedom that our Founders envisioned, and it is not the kind of freedom that makes up a society that is devoted…to the common good. …The definition of liberty as our Founders understood it, was freedom with responsibility. Responsibility to who? To themselves? No. It was a responsibility to others. It was responsibility to your family, but not just your family. It was a responsibility to your neighbors and to your country.

This alleged responsibility to others is the root of all political evil, the same irrational claim which motivates prescriptions like welfare, progressive taxation, and government-run healthcare. Indeed, Santorum’s record reflects a brand of “big government conservatism” which is distinguished from the Left only by its definition of the common good. Santorum does not object to social engineering as such, only that which conflicts with his vision for society.

This translates to a foreign policy which is a “calling” or “duty” to spread democracy and freedom around the globe. In Santorum’s view, we are not responsible for our own defense for our own sake, but to others for some subjective common good. We are thus obligated to sacrifice blood and treasure in perpetuity, an inappropriate use of our resources applied to an impossible goal. Men must assert their freedom. It cannot be handed to them by American troops.

Ron Paul has a relatively good grasp of individual sovereignty, but overlooks how it manifests as national sovereignty. The vast majority of Americans celebrated when special forces struck a safe house in Pakistan last year to eliminate Osama bin Laden. Ron Paul criticized the operation citing Pakistan’s national sovereignty. What he failed to recognize was that a nation-state may only command respect if it upholds the rights of its citizens and does not encroach upon its neighbors. Pakistani sovereignty was negated by harboring the mastermind of attacks upon the United States. If a nation can claim sovereignty without regard to its actions, we could never rightfully respond to a threat. Anyone with borders would be free to do as they pleased — an absurd notion.

"The definition of liberty as our Founders understood it, was freedom with responsibility. Responsibility to who? ... to others."

There is a correct foundation upon which foreign policy should be built. It is not so much a middle-ground between Santorum and Paul as an entirely different perspective from either.

The sole purpose of government is the protection of individual rights. We constitute the state in order to protect us from harm, coercion, and fraud. In a just world, that is all government would do. Such a government’s foreign policy would secure free trade and eliminate threats. It would not take on responsibility for the peoples of the world. Other nations can constitute their own governments to secure their own freedom. If they do not, the consequences are theirs to bare, not ours.

This is neither isolationist, as Paul is often accused of being, nor non-interventionist, as he claims to be. Implementing this style of foreign policy would not cut us off from the rest of the world or prevent us from responding to threats. On the contrary, it would open us to profit from trade with non-threatening nations, and free us to fully engage those who would do us harm.

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