Foreign policy and national security have taken the national spotlight in the recent weeks. Senator Rand Paul has the most to do with causing this national conversation. Not only did he turn heads as he filibustered and forced the end of the PATRIOT Act, but some specific comments on the growth of ISIS and the GOP hawks especially made some individuals hot tempered.
“ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately, they created these people. ISIS is all over Libya because these same hawks in my party loved — they loved Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya. They just wanted more of it” said Paul during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”.
Many in conservative circles in the media and on Capitol Hill immediately jumped back in horror and went on the defensive trying to discredit his statements. But perhaps what these hawkish republicans along with democrats should be doing is some self reflection.
Going to other nations in need of help because of an authoritarian power seems to be the part time job of the United States now. We are quick to point fingers at other rulers, tyrants, and authoritarians because we want to protect the rights of everyone, but this begs the question: how can we do this while simultaneously chip away at our own rights?
Take an issue like NSA surveillance for example. The right to privacy is the first in human freedom. If man cannot be free to be left alone, he cannot have his right to conscious, which is outlined in the first amendment. Without the right to think and speak with a free conscious, how much liberty do we have as Americans? If we do not respect our own Bill of Rights and individual liberty, there is no possible way we can respect the rights of those in a foreign land. Many take to heart the quote from Woodrow Wilson who said we must “make the world safe for democracy”, but the fact is that no nation can make the world “safe for democracy” if it is not first protecting liberty within its own borders.
The thought that America should lead the world by governing the world also takes an enormous economic factor out of the equation. Though republican hawks tend to tout fiscal conservatism an responsibility, it is the act of war and elongated occupancy in foreign countries that has contributed among the highest to the national debt. What is economically responsible or moral about stealing money from future generation to pay for wars that we cannot afford without a clear mission or end in sight? Our economic freedom is vital to not only the health of our economy but the state of domestic liberty. Instead of trying to build other nations around the world our focus must first be regaining the strength of our own economy. Only then can we have a defense strong enough to protect our national interests and set an example for the rest of the world to follow.
Too quickly we rush to action without weighing all options and outcomes when discussing war and foreign intervention. Not enough voices are standing up to say America need not rush to a final conclusion that is likely to cost heavily in money and lives. While it is very important that America must know where it stands on foreign affairs, it must also remember that to truly be a beacon of freedom to the world, we must be a gentile giant and proceed with caution in foreign affairs. The most important thing we can do to promote freedom across the world is to get our own house in order first. We must promote economic freedom and civil liberties on a domestic scale before we ever set our sights abroad. Freedom is not something that can be forced on people; they must want it in their own heart and be willing to fight for it. The only way America can promote that is to lead by example.
It is foolish to think that America is at fault for all of the problems in the world, but it is equally as foolish to think America has never done any wrong throughout the world in all our history. The only way to fix a problem is to acknowledge first that there is a problem. With a debt that is continually on the incline, an economy with a multitude of regulations, a citizenry that cannot walk anywhere without being watched or tracked in some way by the NSA, it is no wonder that we have such a difficult time securing liberty abroad. Instead of forcing the rest of the world to do everything our way, let’s lead the world by example and promote economic and constitutional freedom – thus raising a standard that the world will envy and strive for.