A Foreign Policy of Peace and Freedom
by Scott McPherson, October 10, 2007

The Framers of the U.S. Constitution wisely advised a path of nonintervention in the affairs of other nations. As students of history, America’s first statesmen established peace and free trade as a wiser foreign policy course over militarism, alliance-making, and empire. John Quincy Adams, the sixth president, best summed up America’s original philosophy on foreign-policy: “America ... goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”

For the last century, the United States has strayed from its noble roots, marching headlong into one war after another having no bearing on the security of the United States and bringing us the massive armies, debts, and taxes that James Madison warned of. These wars kill thousands; destabilize entire regions; destroy economies, civilizations, and cultures; engender resentments against Americans; put U.S. troops in the middle of civil conflicts; build a large and expensive overseas military empire; and alienate nations that would otherwise support it.

Many people argue that a foreign policy based on “peace, commerce, and honest friendship” is ill-suited to the modern age. As they march us to war, these folks often vilify anyone who objects to their messianic desire to use bombs and bullets to shape the world. The word “isolationist” is an easy pejorative label often employed in this act. Presidential candidate Ron Paul was so labeled in an October 5, 2007, editorial in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Those of us labeled “isolationists,” the editorial suggested, reject the wisdom of the U.S. government’s role as global dragon-slayer. (Paul’s response to the editorial is here.)

The Union Leader’s editorial listed “decades of military interventionism around the globe” as “critically important components” of U.S. foreign policy.

The disastrous U.S. interventions in Vietnam and Lebanon were “critically important”?

After a decade of sanctions in Iraq had killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, the United States invaded Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein, a brutal dictator who had been, by the way, supported by the U.S. government for years as part of its interventionist foreign policy. All that was “critically important”?

Shall we discuss America’s man in Chile, the brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet, who, with the assistance of the CIA, ousted the democratically elected president of Chile in a coup? That was “critically important”?

The U.S. government propped up the shah’s brutal regime in Iran after the CIA ousted the democratically elected prime minister of that country in a coup. That was “critically important”?

U.S. officials armed and equipped mujahideen rebels, fanatics who would later attack New York City, to end the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. That was “critically important”?

Is this what the New Hampshire Union Leader claims is a rational foreign policy?

There is nothing “isolationist” about desiring free trade, commerce, and honest friendship among all nations. It is quite the opposite of isolation. While it has been some time since the United States followed this path, a safer course for the future is one of strong neutrality, not the thuggish militarism always desired by some at the expense of peace and freedom for the rest of us.

This article has been edited for content by Michael T. Griffith