In my recent article Freedom and National Defense I stated,

"My guiding principle in foreign policy is that we should have the right to help a nation to defend itself, its individuals, and its sovereignty from the initiation of force, but not the obligation to do so. The standard should be whether such action is in our national interest, and whether it is supported by our congressional representatives.

This guiding principle rejects outright isolationism, but also rejects the hawk’s moral obligation argument imposed by interventionists. This principle allows for choice. We should neither be the policeman of the world, nor isolationist. Each decision should be made on its merits.

What makes choice so important to foreign policy is that it is revocable. We live under a form of government where any foreign policy decision can only survive with continued bipartisan support. Further, it must be ratified by popular support; otherwise, the people will vote out the incumbents and replace them with representatives whose stance on foreign policy is more to their liking."

The problem with America's foreign policy today is not so much the policy, but the lack of announcing and articulating it.

President Obama has not laid out his philosophy on foreign policy. He did not go to the American people and the leaders of the world and state that:

Americans have no appetite for further foreign involvement or the cost incurred by such involvement. From this point on it will be the policy of America to take only those actions that is deemed in its national interest and insist that all other nations must shoulder the financial burden and responsibility of defending themselves and their citizens over coming years. He should have done this right after being voted in as President and Commander-in-Chief since this is the policy he’s following.

Such a statement would have sent a clear message as to where the United States stands, and begun a transition that would develop over time. Instead, everyone is left guessing as to what America will do in every new foreign event. If it is Obama's policy to let our friends and neighbors fend for themselves -- then say so! And if an event arises that Obama considers important enough to intervene --also say so! But do it quickly and decisively. Say what you mean and mean what you say and back it up with action.

Today we have a "no policy" foreign policy. No one knows what it is. I doubt that Obama even knows what it is. Even when we declare what our intentions are, given any single event, we don't back it up. We draw a line in the sand, such as in Syria, then back away from it. We promise action, such as in Iraq, and no one understands its purpose or its duration. 

The policy not to have a policy has opened a void, and allowed the bullies of the world to act without opposition. Confusion and indecision has replaced a clear cut stand backed up with quick action.

Only now are there the beginnings of a realization in Europe and elsewhere that nations will have to make policy themselves and learn to live without the guarantee of military back-up and aid from the US -- even though no such policy has been declared. And that's the point. I do not necessarily disagree with the present hands-off foreign policy, but that's different from a minds-off foreign policy. For example, even though I generally agree with most Americans that we should not get entangled in any further foreign  wars, I would still take decisive action when necessary. I would respond to the initiation of force as appropriate – but make those that use force against others pay a heavy price.

For example, in my article Freedom and National Defense, I outlined what I would do, having drawn a line in the sand over Syria:

"Recently we saw Syria use chemical weapons which killed over 1400 helpless individuals. These weren't soldiers on the battlefield, but defenseless men, women, and children. I would have immediately lobbed a few missiles into the highest echelons of the leadership that initiated the massacre. This would have been a surprise attack. It would have come as a surprise to the world, to the US Congress, and especially to Assad who gave the order to attack innocent people.

My objective would have been to try to kill Assad, a mass murderer, and as many of his generals and lieutenants as possible. Had I missed, I would announce that if Assad was not brought to justice by the people of Syria, more attempts would follow, and if needed I would follow up with bombing the rich and the powerful associated with Assad and his militant machine wherever I could find them until Assad met the kind of end that other dictator-murderers have met. This would cost America almost nothing to implement.

This I trust would give pause to dictators who think about the use of such force against their people, or others, in the future. I have little sympathy for military responses that wipe out thousands of soldiers just for following orders. To me, justice resides in wiping out those that order and commit atrocities. It is the leaders of such nations that should be the main target and wiped out, not necessarily the followers of such tyrants.

Once Obama decided to negotiate rather than enforce his threat, the world took notice and the planning began. Russia was among many to fill the void left by the United States’ inaction. They immediately grabbed Croatia." 

Again from the same article:

"Here's what I would do to restrain Russia: first, I would call for Russia to be expelled from the United Nations Security Council. If Russia continued its aggression, I would call for them to be expelled from the UN itself. If they were not immediately expelled, I would give notice that the United States will leave the UN. If the world's nations will not expel a nation that initiates force and aggressively takes over another country’s territory, it is not an organization interested in civilized behavior or peace. So why does it exist? Probably, it is only interested in nice meetings and expensive dinners. Therefore I would withdraw all funding from the UN and return the money spent there to American citizens. 

I would then demand that the World Trade Organization (WTO) drop them as a member, thereby cutting off all special treaties and subsidies gained by such an association. If the WTO refused to drop Russia from the organization, I would then withdraw any funding from them and return the savings, again, to the American people. Such a move would devastate Russia economically and benefit us.

If Russia continued to use force against its neighbors, I would then assert that an uncivilized nation has no business being in the International Monetary Fund( IMF) and that the IMF should expel them and never do business with them again. This would crush Russia in many economic and financial ways. If the IMF refused, I would withdraw from that organization with the funding we give them yearly that supports the organization and return it to the American taxpayer.

And down through the list I would go until either Russia was expelled from all civilized organizations based on free trade and the non-initiation of force among nations, or that America was no longer involved with international organizations that permitted such acts.

Now obviously this would come as a greater shock to our friends than to Russia. But that's the point. Either we live in a world that permits aggression and allows the "children" of the world to continue their mischief to the point of going wild and killing and plundering, or we put our foot down. By insisting that the world follows our lead, we are forcing such a choice. It’s either the civilized world that unifies against tyranny and force, or it will be every country for itself. And in that equation the US will do just fine. The worst that will happen is that our taxpayers will get a handsome rebate. As for all the other nations that refuse to take actions to prevent aggression, they will be left to deal with that aggression on their own." 

Whether you agree or disagree with these tactics, at least they are objective and clear to everyone. What America needs as we move from a great deal of involvement in foreign affairs to less and less involvement, which appears to be the direction the vast majority of Americans desire, is a policy of transition. We need to make clear to the bullies of the world that we carry a big stick and will use it at will on them, the leaders of outlaw nations. And to all other allied nations serve notice that every year they will be expected to assume more and more of the costs and decisions for the defense of their nations and their citizens. It is an outrage that Germany the richest nation in the Eurozone pays the least amount for it's national defense. Others are forced to bare that burden.

The one thing I think the vast majority of American will agree on, is a policy to export oil, gas, and weapons to our friends.  America trades with Russia to the tune of about 40 billion dollars a year. For us, trading less with Russia is of little importance to our economy. But to the Eurozone it's significant. The Eurozone trades over 400 billion with Russia a year, more than ten times the amount of America. What America can do best, is to help friendly nations through increased trade. America should take immediate actions with the help and consent of Europe to begin replacing Europe's dependence on Russian oil and gas. This will help the Eurozone and cripple Russia.

It was this -- international trade -- that led to a hundred years of peace and the longest period without a world war during the free market years of the 19th century. After centuries of war, the entire world stopped fighting and started building and trading. It was known as the industrial revolution and was the most peaceful and productive period in the history of mankind. We can achieve that again, but not without returning to a sane and rational foreign policy.

Paul Nathan
Paulnathan.biz