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Foreign Policy: A Time for a Serious Discussion?


The San Mateo County Republican Lincoln Day dinner, my thoughts on foreign policy, and the appearance and ignominious retreat of a white supremacist heckler…

I wish to extend my sincere thanks for the organizers, members and guests of the San Mateo Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner, especially County Chairman Chuck McDougald, Event Chairman Noe Chavez, emcee Brian Sussman, wonderful singer Diana Nagy and fellow speaker Damon Dunn.

My topic was liberty, human rights and the Middle East, an expansive topic, to be sure, but one we must consider in depth as we lead up to the Republican nomination for President in 2012.

As many of you know, a heckler tried to disrupt the event, attempting to exercise what is known as the “heckler’s veto.” In other words, free speech for himself by doing violence to someone else’s free speech rights. What you may not know is that the man who tried to hijack our event is a white supremacist – a man with a twisted, hateful ideology that Adolf Hitler himself would have readily recognized. He posted his ramblings to a so-called “white power” site the day after our event. In his blog, he goes at great length to identify people by race with particular animus directed towards “Jews” and “Black(s).” Not surprisingly, his rage so colored his mind that, in his eagerness to attack me, he even twisted my conclusions.

That said, I have to commend the attendees – they had no patience for the hateful fringe heckler, booing him right out of the venue. Damon Dunn’s impromptu remarks at the end of the event about civility in debate over serious issues were right on the mark and a great way to close the evening.

The following summarizes my message:

  1. America is an exceptional nation because of our commitment to liberty as enunciated in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence.
  2. But, we are overextended militarily and financially, so we must resist the urge to nation-build around the world.
  3. The unrest in the Middle East has a strong Islamist component to it.
  4. Our intervention in Libya is inadvertently assisting the national objectives of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  5. Regarding Israel, should the U.S. abandon its ally, it would not in the slightest lessen the ardor of militant Islamists to kill Westerners, including Americans. Islamists have plainly announced their intent: “First Saturday, then Sunday.” In other words, first they destroy Israel and kill the Jews, then they destroy the Christian West.
  6. Rather than nation-build in regions where the sinews of self-governance have yet to be developed (see Edmund Burke), we should focus on judiciously killing those who would seek to kill us, i.e., our mission and end-game in Afghanistan needs to be rethought.
  7. There are four main traditions in U.S. foreign policy: the Wilsonian/Progressive impulse for a moral foreign policy that results in nation-building; the isolationist impulse; a real politik view that only looks at national interests to the exclusion of human rights (and thus, often ceding America’s powerful moral high ground); and a policy that seeks to combine, where possible, a vigorous defense of our national interests with morally satisfying objectives. The latter is my preferred tack on foreign policy. All of these views have variously had their times in American history.
  8. Neo-conservatives, or “neo-cons,” are largely people who were Democrats back in the 1960s when there was more of a national consensus on foreign policy, such as opposition to the Soviet Union. However, after the fall of the Soviet Union and the wholesale takeover of the Democrat Party by the far left, Democrats purged the neo-cons and they came to largely influence Republican foreign policy, since many conservatives lost interest in foreign policy after the U.S. won the Cold War. Neo-cons tend toward an overly moral foreign policy and thus, they tend support nation-building more than I believe prudent.
  9. Nation-building made sense when it was Western Europe and Japan we were rebuilding after WWII so as to keep those strategic regions from going Communist and aligning with the Soviet Bloc. But, the lesson of the Marshall Plan is largely irrelevant to the inhospitable lands of the Middle East, leaving the U.S. with the unsavory prospect of spending decades, untold billions, and thousands of our uniformed volunteers in a vain effort to remake nations in our image.
  10. As Republican activists, we need to carefully listen to the foreign policy prescriptions of those who would be our nominee for President. So far, Donald Trump has said interesting things about our policy towards the People’s Republic of China and Gov. Haley Barbour has questioned the wisdom of nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq. As a nation, America is long-overdue for a serious discussion on foreign policy.

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