The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. – George Washington, Farewell Address
While I trust that liberty and free institutions, as we have experienced them, may ultimately spread over the globe, I am by no means sure that all people are fit for them; nor am I desirous of imposing or forcing our peculiar form upon any other nation that does not wish to embrace them. – Daniel Webster
U.S. foreign policy is, and has been for many years, aggressive, reckless, belligerent, and meddling. It has been characterized by interventionism, imperialism, invasion, and empire. Our hegemony, nation building, regime change, and jingoism have resulted in hatred and terrorism directed toward the United States.
But U.S. foreign policy is also, and has been for many years, far adrift from what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers. John Quincy Adams maintained in his brief address on foreign policy on the Fourth of July in 1821 that America “goes not abroad seeking monsters to destroy.” George Washington famously remarked in his Farewell Address, “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible.” And as Thomas Jefferson explained in his First Inaugural Address in 1801, one of the central principles of American government was, “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none.”
A noninterventionist foreign policy is not only the policy of our country’s founders, it is a sane, moral, and common-sense policy as well. It is not the job of the United States to be the policeman, fireman, mediator, or social worker of the world.
The purpose of the U.S. military should be to protect and defend the United States, not regime change, nation building, disaster relief, spreading democracy, enforcing UN resolutions, taking sides in civil wars, maintaining no-fly zones, invading countries, occupying countries, peacekeeping, providing security, distributing humanitarian aid, rebuilding infrastructure, training armies, or, most recently, fighting Ebola. The Department of Defense should first and foremost be the Department of Homeland Security. However, any individual American who thinks that any of those other activities need to be done, and I agree that many of them are worthwhile and important, is welcome to do them or support agencies that perform those functions.
If any American is outraged by the human rights abuses in another country, he is free to use his own resources and enlist others to help him end those abuses, and I would hope that he does so.
If any American feels that the authoritarian leader of some country should be removed from power, he is free to use his own resources and enlist others to help him undertake a regime change.
The same idea applies to taking sides in other countries’ civil wars, bolstering other countries’ armies, rendering earthquake or typhoon relief, helping to build infrastructure, etc.
Of course, no Americans who do any of those things could or should depend on U.S. military might to rescue them if they get into trouble. They would travel at their own risk, using their own money, with only the assistance of like-minded volunteers. The logistics might dictate that those citizens would donate to foreign governments or NGOs (Non-governmental Organizations) rather than travel to these places themselves.
Poor Americans, who are in great need of help themselves, should not have their tax dollars being sent abroad. Our soldiers should not be ordered to put their lives on the line for any reasons other than to protect and defend this country.
The United States had maintained an embargo against Cuba since 1960, until President Obama established diplomatic relations with the island nation in 2015 and liberalized economic contacts. The embargo was an assault on the natural rights of Americans to travel to and do business with the residents of Cuba. If some Americans don’t like the government of Cuba, then they should not travel to Cuba, not do business in Cuba, not trade with Cuba, not purchase products made in Cuba, and attempt to persuade other Americans to do likewise. They may help Cubans to escape from Cuba or try to change the Cuban government, and they may attempt to persuade other Americans to do likewise. They should not lobby the government to place an embargo on Cuba, something the U.S. never should have done.
President Trump has taken US/Cuban relations backwards. Last year he announced restrictions on travel and business dealings between Americans and the Cuban people. Instead, of heeding the wisdom of our Founders, the President is kowtowing to American politicians and Cuban-American interests who want to maintain a hard line against the dictatorial Cuban government.
And then there is foreign aid. The United States government gives about $50 billion a year in foreign aid to more than 180 foreign countries. Of course, it first has to take that money out of the pockets of American taxpayers. But even though the government should not hand out foreign aid, it doesn’t follow that individual Americans cannot do so. That could include financial aid and personal service to other countries for which American citizens have an affinity.
But regardless of what individual Americans do or don’t do, regardless of what causes they support or don’t support, and regardless of which side they take in some conflict, when it comes to the subject of foreign policy, the U.S. government should be held to a policy of strict neutrality and nonintervention.