Earning my presidential vote: foreign policy

One of the most important functions for a President is that of spearheading our foreign policy. So what would I think a sound foreign policy consists of?

Well, in five bullet points or less, here you go:

  • America is the world leader, or perhaps one can call it a first among equals. So act like it rather than “leading from behind.”
  • By that same token, though, we don’t have to be involved everywhere. There are certain places where it is our national interest to intercede (such as the threat from radical Islam) and others we have no business dealing with.
  • Nations that are our friends and have been for decades should be treated as such. No returning Churchill’s bust or snubbing Israel.
  • If we are to go to war, let Congress declare it. To me, boots on the ground engaging an enemy in anything aside from isolated incidents equals war.
  • We should leave the UN and they can go over to Switzerland for all I care. If we are to be united with other nations, it should be our peer group of industrialized republics which have governmental styles similar to ours. Tinhorn dictatorships and nations with missiles pointed our way need not apply.

This, though, is one of my more flexible issues because there are good arguments to be made for several approaches outside of strict isolationism and continual intervention in dozens of nations to spread our military resources too thin without the declaration of war or compelling national interest.

As always, if you wish to follow the series from the beginning start here. This particular category is worth 12 points.

Update: It occurred to me just now that I should re-introduce the candidates: Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party, Jim Hedges of the Prohibition Party, Tom Hoefling of America’s Party, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, and independent Evan McMullin. Johnson is on the Maryland ballot; the rest are write-ins but their votes will count.

Castle: He firmly believes in upholding Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which makes it clear that only Congress can declare war, and that those powers are not granted to the president. He left the Marine Corps a very different person than when he went in. (website)

“We need to secure our borders before we talk about going after the terrorists overseas…In general, I favor the policy of nonintervention in foreign affairs, just as the Founders did.”

“I believe that the United States (U.S.) should regain its sovereignty and chart its own course. This is not isolationism. The U.S. cannot remain isolated from the forces agitating today’s world, which is so interrelated in trade, finance, instantaneous communications, etc.

How does America deal with other nations while keeping our sovereignty, our freedom, and our independence intact? Can the U.S. keep its own laws and Constitution, set its own policies, or do we surrender to the decisions and dictates of an international collective of nations?

Many people, including many in our own government, would love to see American nationhood fade into history. They fear not only the power of America, but also the ideas that still make us the most powerful nation on earth. Those ideas serve as a contradiction to the way the rest of the world operates, and would serve us even more if we were once again an independent nation.”

“The ideas of America are not compatible with membership in the United Nations (U.N.). The U.N. is world headquarters for the church of unbelieving humanism. The fundamental doctrine of the U.N. is that the world should be a global collective, redistributing shares of material prosperity to every human on earth. That is a religious and not a political idea. Faith in God is replaced by faith in Humanity. The U.N. is the sanctuary of the idolatry of Man.”

Would not intervene in Syria, it’s their business who runs the country. (YouTube)

Opposed to foreign aid, but supports Israel. (YouTube)

Don’t go sticking our noses into every rattlesnake nest. Absence of war is not isolationism, but he would not shrink from a battle when our interests are threatened.

Brexit was “one of happiest days of my recent life.”

President has authority to make war, though. Grenada was an example – wrapped up well within 60 day authorization. May not be Syria situation without Iraq/Afghanistan. (Iron Sharpens Iron radio show)

Hedges: opposes Democratic policy of giving away sovereignty to the United Nations. Would not give aid to nations which mistreat women as slaves or concubines.

“We will conduct foreign affairs with the preservation of American liberty and independence as our chief objective. We are jealous of American sovereignty; we are opposed to the interference of America in the like sovereignty of other nations. American garrisons in foreign countries should not exceed the level required to protect American diplomatic missions unless specifically authorized by Congress. We support volunteer armed forces, well trained and highly motivated; we oppose conscription except in time of Congressionally declared war.” (party platform)

Hoefling: We believe in a supremely strong, prepared, and well-equipped civilian-controlled United States military, and a bold, visionary and intelligent program of principled constructive engagement with the rest of the world. For us, “peace through strength” is not a mere slogan. It is the means of survival for our country in a very dangerous and often hostile world. Our friendship should be a sought-after possession of all men and women of good will everywhere in the world. Our enmity should be something that all rightfully fear.

As Ronald Reagan opposed and defeated the designs and desire of the Soviet Union to dominate the world and place it under the tyranny of their Evil Empire, we stand unalterably opposed to all who approve of, plan or commit terrorist acts. Since the first principle of America is the protection of innocent human life, any who would use acts of terrorism targeted at innocent civilians to forward their political, ideological or religious aims incur our effective and determined enmity. (party platform)

We completely oppose any action that surrenders the moral, political or economic sovereignty of the United States and its people, and demand the immediate restoration of that sovereignty wherever it has been eroded. (party platform)

Johnson: No Nation Building. No Policing the World. More Security Here at Home.

The objective of both our foreign policy and our military should be straightforward: To protect us from harm and to allow us to exercise our freedoms.

Looking back over the past couple of decades, it is difficult to see how the wars we have waged, the interventions we have conducted, the lives sacrificed, and the trillions of tax dollars we have spent on the other side of the globe have made us safer. If anything, our meddling in the affairs of other nations has made us less safe.

Many senior military and foreign policy analysts have concluded that the rise of ISIS can actually be traced back to instability created by our meddling in the affairs of others. This is because the last several administrations, both Republican and Democrat, have used our military resources to pursue undemocratic regime changes, embark on impossible nation-building exercises, and to establish the United States as the policeman of the world.

This imperialistic foreign policy makes it easier for ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other violent extremists to recruit new members. We need to build a strong military. But we should not use our military strength to try to solve the world’s problems. Doing so creates new enemies and perpetual war.

Besides, we have enough problems to solve right here at home.

As President, Gary Johnson will move quickly and decisively to cut off the funding on which violent extremist armies depend. He will repair relationships with our allies. And he will only send our brave soldiers to war when clearly authorized by Congress after meaningful, transparent deliberation and debate.

The idea that we can defeat terrorism by simply putting more boots on the ground or dropping more bombs ignores the reality that this expensive tactic simply hasn’t worked. In fact, it’s made the situation worse. (campaign website)

McMullin: Before World War II, many Americans fell prey to the delusion that if we pull back to our own shores that the world’s troubles will pass us by. After the war, Americans came together in agreement that only our leadership could prevent another catastrophic conflict, while promoting liberty and economic growth as well.

Thanks to our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, there has been no great war for 70 years, and prosperity and freedom have spread around the globe. Americans have served and sacrificed to maintain our security in those decades, but the horrors of a global conflict have been avoided.

Evan McMullin will continue this tradition of leadership that has made America the world’s indispensable nation.

Alliances with other free nations have long been one of the most important sources of American power in the world. Real leadership is not a protection racket or a mercenary army where the United States charges others for providing security. Rather, it is about building long-term partnerships with nations that share our values.

In these security partnerships, the U.S. has and will continue to speak candidly about the need for allies to shoulder their share of the burden. In contrast, suggestions that the United States may abandon its allies in the face of foreign threats is an open invitation for China, Russia, Iran and others to expand their spheres of influence, and to provoke dangerous conflicts that may drag us into war.

Opposing brutal dictatorships and speaking out on behalf of democracy and human rights are also essential to American leadership. Other nations follow our lead because they understand that we pursue the collective good, not just our own narrow self-interest. While American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and intelligence officers have borne the cost of this leadership, the pursuit of common interests has enabled us to build a network of democratic allies across the globe.

After eight years of weak leadership under President Obama, we deserve a President who knows what it’s like to fight terrorists on the front lines, rather than making excuses for his failures.

Evan McMullin will provide the leadership America needs in the world. He will pursue the defeat and destruction of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, rather than dismissing such threats as “the jayvee team” or saying they are “already contained.” He will punish Iran for violating the nuclear deal, rather than ransoming American hostages with stacks of foreign currency. He will stand with Israel, rather than blaming a loyal and democratic ally for instability in the region.

Evan will impose tougher sanctions on Russia and increase America’s military presence in the Baltics in order to deter and reverse Putin’s aggression, rather than pretending that he is a partner for peace in Syria. Evan will stand up for the rights of American and allied ships to sail freely in international waters, rather than letting China dominate the Western Pacific.

Finally, he will reverse the reckless cuts that have brought the size, strength, and readiness of the U.S. military to a dangerous and historic low.

When America ignores rising threats to peace and stability, they don’t go away—they just get worse. “Leading from behind” isn’t leading at all; it only ensures that by the time we need to get involved, the situation is worse, the risks and costs are higher, and the world is on the brink of a crisis.

America can and must do better. We must strengthen our alliances and put our friends, not our enemies, first. We must renew our focus on human rights, including the genocidal persecution of civilians in Syria and elsewhere.

Americans never shy away from a challenge, and we have stood and sacrificed for our ideals in the face of Nazism, Communism and Islamic terrorism. The failed leadership of Barack Obama has left the world on fire, and (his) disastrous judgment has fanned the flames. We need a president who has the integrity, the wisdom, and the courage to lead.

Evan McMullin will be that President.

America’s men and women in uniform are the pride of our nation. Their sacrifices and hard work keep us safe day in and day out. Yet increasingly, we are failing in our obligation to provide them with the training and equipment they need. The number of planes, ships, and soldiers in the Armed Forces is falling toward levels not seen since before World War II, even as the world grows more dangerous. President Obama’s reckless leadership, aided and abetted by Congress, has put the military on a path to almost $1 trillion in cuts compared to projected needs.

The consequences of this neglect are all too real for American service members. Both the Marine Corps and the Air Force have stripped spare parts from museum planes to keep their aircraft flying. Last year, the Air Force’s top general told Congress, if his airplanes were cars, there would be “twelve fleets of airplanes that qualify for antique license plates in the state of Virginia.” Meanwhile, only one third of active Army combat brigades are ready to fight. The Navy is wearing down its sailors and ships with extended deployments, because the fleet is too small to carry out its missions.

There are strong advocates for the Armed Forces on both sides of the aisle, yet President Obama insists that he will only spend more on defense if every dollar for the Pentagon is matched by a dollar for domestic programs. In short, he is holding the military hostage to his domestic priorities.

Our troops deserve better. Evan McMullin believes that what we spend on the military should reflect our country’s strategy and the threats to our security, not domestic political goals. He will never ask our men and women in uniform to compromise their honor, and he most certainly will never dismiss the expertise and advice of our senior military leaders. Rather, when Evan is President, American service members will know they have a friend and advocate in the White House.

The Department of Defense must be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars. Far too often, the cost of major weapons programs has greatly exceeded projections, while the programs fall years behind schedule, depriving the troops of the cutting edge equipment they deserve. Evan McMullin supports bipartisan efforts in Congress to reform and rethink the weapons development and acquisition process. Above all, there is a need to establish clear lines of responsibility so that senior officials can no longer pass the buck when explaining what went wrong.

The Pentagon also needs to bring the ratio of troops to civilians —or “tooth to tail”—back into balance. The number of troops has fallen by more than 100,000 since 9/11, yet the number of civilians has risen by 50,000. While DOD civilians serve with commitment and pride, the Pentagon does not even have the ability to fully track its manpower requirements and decide which positions are necessary and which are duplicative. No profitable business would run this way, and we should expect and demand more from our government.

Similarly, the Pentagon has a poor understanding of its contractor workforce, whose size is comparable to its civil servant workforce of about 750,000. While focusing on the challenges to efficient weapons buying, the Pentagon has made far too little effort to monitor spending on everyday goods and services, on which it spends tens of billions of dollars every year.

Finally, the Pentagon must complete its efforts to trim the excess facilities that still remain from the Cold War era, when the force was 50 percent larger. Many of these facilities are partially shuttered, so they serve little purpose while consuming maintenance dollars.

A President’s most solemn responsibility is to the men and women under his command. Evan is the only candidate in this election who will take their needs seriously. Under Evan’s leadership, we will rebuild the military and give our service members the tools they need to defend our freedoms and our way of life—while also protecting Americans’ hard-earned dollars. (campaign website)

**********

I tend to agree with practically everything Darrell Castle says. If this is a Constitution Party foreign policy, you can count me in. 12 points.

Jim Hedges and his Prohibition Party are fairly similar to Castle, but not quite to the degree of detail. 10 points.

My one question of Tom Hoefling regarding that statement: how far do you take protection of innocent human life? One could interpret that as passing up the opportunity to engage the enemy at the risk of civilian casualties, while another argument would have this statement be our justification for being the world’s policeman. Neither of those is helpful to our aims. 7 points.

The overarching question about Gary Johnson‘s foreign policy is that of abandoning those fights we have stepped into. We have no true way of knowing if we are not safer than we would have been had we not intervened in Iraq and Afghanistan because there’s no guarantee that the Taliban or Saddam Hussein would not have facilitated a 9/11-style attack. After all, what was the motivation for the first WTC bombing in 1993? We are dealing with people who aren’t forgetting the Crusades hundreds of years ago.

So as tempting as it may sound, I’m not into an isolationist foreign policy. Unfortunately, we need to subdue our enemies, not give them free reign. Other candidates seem to understand this distinction rather than throw shade on preceding presidents. 4 points.

Evan McMullin has a very good background for this aspect of the presidency - if he doesn’t win, he could certainly make a valid case for being Secretary of State or perhaps Secretary of Defense in a conservative administration. Obviously there will be a group who considers him a neo-con but since we have put ourselves into these conflicts, there is an argument that we should play to win. He also pays a great deal of attention to the military, more so than any other candidate. This is his strongest category by far, and he hits on a lot of good aspects - just hold back on the world policeman tendencies as human rights enforcer and deal with the more pressing national threats first.  10.5 points.

We are getting down to the final two categories as well as the intangibles. Next I tackle the ticking time bomb of entitlements.

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