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Last week I discussed our worsening economic situation and the fact that there are very few options for the new administration to improve things in the long run. The same is not true on the foreign policy front. Our interventionist foreign policy stands ready to be put on a new course with the new administration. Unfortunately, it seems the new administration is likely to continue the mistakes of the past. I’ve often discussed interventionist foreign policy and the resulting blowback. The current administration’s foreign policy, I’m afraid, has created a huge impetus for blowback against the United States. However, I truly believe much of the world stands ready to look beyond our nation’s recent blunders if the new administration proves to be heading in a more reasonable direction.
Other nations around the world find our interference in their affairs condescending, and it is very dangerous for us. We may think we have much to gain by inserting ourselves in these complex situations, but on the contrary we suffer from many consequences. Other countries have their problems, to be sure. But how would we feel if China or Russia came to our soil and tried to depose our problematic leaders or correct our policies for us? Our problems are ours to solve, and we need to give other countries that respect as well. Instead, we have been turning alleged, phantom threats into real, actual threats.
We should follow the foreign policy advice of the Founders — friendship and commerce with all nations. One positive step would be to end our destructive embargo of Cuba, which deprives our farmers of a market just 90 miles from US shores while strengthening the Communist regime. We’ve seen 50 years of statist restrictions not accomplish anything. A change is needed. Other countries should decide how to govern themselves. Even if we don’t necessarily approve, it’s none of our business. If other people foolishly choose to live under statist experimental regimes, they need to fail in their own right, and not have us as a scapegoat. We need to focus on our own affairs.
However, the pressures exerted on our leadership from the military industrial complex and big business is not in favor of peace or freedom, or especially nonintervention. Intervention is big business. Defense contracts topped $300 billion last year, and total spending on war and our overseas empire is up to $1 trillion per year. That represents a lot of people earning a living off of war and conquest. But rather than adding to our economy, all of this money is taken from the economy in order to wage war and destruction. Imagine if those resources were put to creative, productive use here at home!
We need to rein in our overseas empire, as quickly as possible. We need to bring our troops home, and get our economy back into the business of production, not destruction. The smartest thing we could do is admit we don’t know all the answers to all the world’s problems. If the new administration can take a closer look at real free trade and no entangling alliances, we would be much better off for it. Economically — we could save hundreds of billions of dollars each year! The new leadership has the opportunity and the political capital to do this. But unfortunately, it is not likely to happen.
January 6, 2009
Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.