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Tag: Foreign Policy

U.S. Troops in Uganda? Blame Congress, Not Obama

Last October, when our President announced that the U.S. would be sending about 100 of our troops to Uganda, I heard a lot of people asking, “What is the President thinking?  How was this in U.S. interest?”

As easy as it is to find fault with our President, Obama was simply following the law.  That is right!  While Congress has not authorized the use of the U.S. military against Iran, Congress commanded the President to use military forces in Uganda as part of an effort to quash the Christian terrorist organization known as the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Thanks to Sen. Russ Feingold, Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, the unanimous consent of the U.S. Senate, and an unrecorded voice vote in the U.S. House, the Congress directed the President to come up with a plan to use the U.S. military in Uganda (see the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009).

So if you have questions about why U.S. troops are in Uganda instead of Iran, I suggest that you pose those questions to your Senators, who gave unanimous agreement to this policy.

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Draft: Description for Discussion of The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest

Join us for a discussion of America’s interests in foreign policy. The book is The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest: A Moral Ideal for America by Peter Schwartz; only 61 pages to chew and savor.

The content of this ARI publication will be supplemented and contrasted with two brief official government statements on America’s interest, which are found in: (1) A National Security Strategy for a Global Age (White House, December 2000; pp. 4-5), and (2) Leading Through Civilian Power: The First Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) (U.S. State Dept., 2010, pp. 9-10).

Objectivists, Democrats, and Republicans all agree that our foreign policy should be rooted in America’s interests, but we do not agree on what American interests and values are.

A recent example of different definitions for the same concepts subverting a public discussion on foreign policy would be the recent US involvement in Libya.  According the official articulation of America’s interests found in the QDDR, American intervention in Libya was consistent with American interests, even if President Obama failed to articulate why that was the case.

In the discussion, we will examine:

1) Schwartz’s articulation of self-interest as the basis for understanding America’s interests.

2) How does Schwartz’s position compare to the bipartisan understanding of America’s interest as found in the 2000 National Security Strategy with its hierarchy of vital, important, and other/humanitarian interests?

3) How does Schwartz’s position compare to the Obama Administration’s four fundamental American interests as found in the QDDR?

4) Does the Obama Administration’s four fundamental American interests represent a substantially different understanding of America interests when compared to the bipartisan hierarchy?

5) How could the Objectivist understanding of self-interest influence foreign policy discussions in the presidential election?

6) Is there an opportunity to influence future American foreign policy by correcting the official statement of America’s interests during the development of the 2nd QDDR, to be published in 2014?

DCOS member Jim Woods will be leading the discussion.

Previously savored copies of Schwartz’s The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest may be found on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0962533661/ref=dp_olp_used?ie=UTF8&qid=1325380951&sr=8-1&condition=used

New copies of Schwarz are available at the Ayn Rand Bookstore:

http://www.aynrandbookstore2.com/prodinfo.asp?number=HS25B

A National Security Strategy for a Global Age (see section entitled “Guiding Principles of Engagement”) is available for free on-line at:

http://osdhistory.defense.gov/docs/nss2000.pdf

The QDDR is available for free on-line at:

http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/153142.pdf

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On Foreign Policy, Our Founders vs. Ron Paul

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvo8Sc6l5PQ]

It has been asserted that Ron Paul’s foreign policy is consistent with that of our Founders.  Let me list some of the actual foreign policies of the early American government so that supporters of Paul can reconsider whether he is actually consistent with them.

•     As an ambassador overseas, John Adams undermined foreign governments by giving aid to revolutionaries; further, he sought to promote American constitutional republicanism as superior to the monarchies of Europe and democratic proposals of French intellectuals.

•     As Minister to France, both Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe sought to increase American trade with France in part to weaken Britain. Jefferson offered detailed reforms to French laws that were necessary to rollback intrusive economic regulation.

•     American governments consistently made it a matter of policy to obstruct sovereign native tribes’ relations with European powers; manifestations of this policy include:  the War of 1812, Jackson’s invasion of Spanish Florida during the Monroe Administration, and a policy of pushing Indians west of the Mississippi that began in the Washington Administration.

•     A key policy plank of the Democratic – Republican Party before 1801 was a strong alliance with and preference for post-revolutionary France as part of a policy to expand republican governments in the world.

•     As President, Jefferson secured the purchase of Louisiana by advising the French that their failure to transfer New Orleans and navigation of the Mississippi to the Americans would result in war.

•     During the Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe Administrations, Spain was under threat of war with America over Spanish West Florida; during the Napoleonic wars, an American invasion of Spanish Florida was considered so as to prevent it from falling into British hands.  As President, Monroe invaded Florida twice to suppress piracy and the Seminoles.

•     During the Jefferson Administration, the United States engaged in regime change in Tripoli.

•     The Monroe Doctrine opposed further colonization by Europeans in the Americas.

•     Madison and Monroe both championed colonization in Liberia by freed American slaves.

•     During the Jefferson and Madison Administrations, American trade with Britain and France was subject to a series of federal restrictions to prevent such commerce.  The stated object of these policies was to compel Britain and France to change their own policies.

I do not find such early American foreign policies to be consistent with an evaluation of a non-interventionist American government that “didn’t pretend to know all the answers” while staying out of other people’s business.

For a study of early American foreign policy, I recommend the following definitive biographers:  Douglas Southall Freeman on Washington, C. Bradley Thompson on John Adams, Dumas Malone on Jefferson, Ralph Ketcham on Madison, and Harry Ammon on Monroe.  I am looking forward to reading Samuel Flagg Bemis’ volume John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy; while it is out of print, it can be found and I have it.

On Jefferson in particular, Malone’s account of his time as Minister to France, Secretary of State, and President demonstrates that Jefferson established principles for American foreign policy that have been consistent to the present.

Foreign policy is just another area in which Ron Paul is anti-Jeffersonian.

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