During the conquest of Alexander the Great, he and his mighty army came across a lone pirate and captured him. Alexander personally confronted the pirate and asked him, “What wickedness drives you to harass the entire sea with your single ship?” The pirate looked up at Alexander and said, “The same wickedness that impels you to harass the world.”
The extent and reach of the United States into foreign cultures, societies and governments is at the forefront of American foreign policy debates. I am not very knowledgeable and mathematically skilled to research numbers pertaining to the expense of the United States operations abroad, nor will I argue here the successes and failures of these operations. Rather, today I will argue two simple principles pertaining to the proper role of government in regards to foreign policy:
1. It is an inherent right that countries hold to defend their interests abroad — to protect their economic interests, national defense, and to stand aside their allies in times of crisis.
This is pretty much a common sense principle that is often bombarded by inconsistent perplexities. If the United States has a foreign interest in commerce, they have a right to protect those interests. If one of our trade ships gets hijacked we have a right to use force to reclaim that ship and the American citizens on board.
Next, if a country, or group operating inside a country explicitly threatens the United States, then it is in our best interest to investigate the operations of that group or country.
Finally, when our allies are invoked to defend themselves agains a opposing force, it is in the United States’ best interest to provide support.
2. What works in America may be destructive elsewhere.
Our heritage is unique. Prior to the revolution, a vast majority of colonists came from a Christian background with an understand for the English Common Law, which has similar (yet varying at the same time) ideas to those which form the base of our own system of government. Therefore, when a group of men came together and declared the colonists free, and later developed a Constitution, the ideas were intelligible and comprehensible for most Americans.
But what works here may not work in other places with different histories and cultures. In fact, what works in America may even be destructive elsewhere.
From these principles, I can conclude that it is acceptable for the United States to protect its interests abroad. But it’s not acceptable or wise to expand that goal to encompass remaking the world in America’s image. If any intervention and tax payer dollars should be used to evangelize for “the proper role of government,” perhaps the United States should invest in purchasing large quantities of works authored by Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Rousseau, the Founders, and Adam Smith and airdrop them into every town in America.
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