RANCHO SANTA FE, Ca., September 29, 2014 – Life cannot exist in a vacuum, and neither can global stability. To politically paraphrase the first and second laws of thermodynamics: If energy is not expended to maintain equilibrium, the world will gravitate toward disorder. Less “energy” is required to maintain equilibrium than to rebuild it, so a proactive foreign policy is inherently superior to a reactive one.
In recent years, the United States has chosen to “lead from behind” when it comes to foreign policy. It has taken an ad hoc approach; often waiting until “disorder” has erupted before fashioning a strategy to try to restore “equilibrium.” As a result, the world has disintegrated into a perpetual state of “entropy” from a socio-political perspective.
This needs to stop.
We do not have the luxury of embracing an extreme: Either one of adopting a policy of geopolitical aggression or one of isolation. We also do not have the luxury of responding after the fact because we live in a world in which lives can be brutally disrupted or terminated by genuinely evil people equipped with a wide array of weapons and options.
Instead, we must frame a foreign policy that can be clearly articulated, viably executed, and consistently applied; one that reflects the values of our Republic and can help restore and maintain stability both at home and abroad.
It is time to adopt that type of foreign policy.
FIRST: Every federal Oath of Office includes the phrase and requires a commitment to “defend the Constitution of the United States.” Correspondingly, every policy of every Administration should be constitutionally grounded.
SECOND: The Constitution unfortunately does not provide direct guidance with respect to foreign policy. It wasn’t until 1936 when the Supreme Court decided United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., 299 U.S. 304 (1936), that the Federal Government was deemed to have exclusive and plenary power over the execution of foreign affairs based upon the fact that the United States is a “sovereign nation.” Therefore, the concept of “sovereignty” is a critical element in the development of our foreign policy.
THIRD: Two elements of the Constitution provide insight into the Federal Government’s fundamental responsibilities. Specifically:
- The Preamble defines the purposes for which the Constitution was “ordained and established;” i.e., “…to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence (sic), promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity;”
- Article I, Section 8 reiterates our Government’s two most important functions, which are to “provide for the common Defence (sic) and general Welfare of the United States.”
These two excerpts suggest that our Federal Government’s primary purpose is to “pledge allegiance” to the People of the United States. They focus internally rather than externally, and they effectively acknowledge that our Nation is not vested with the authority to be the “watchdog” of the world nor is it responsible for the political or socio-economic decisions of other nations.
This is meant to frame an “isolationistic” point of view. It is meant only to reinforce a pragmatic reality.
It does not ban trade, treaties, or any other global interactions (which are generally addressed elsewhere within the Constitution). It simply asserts that the United States has no authority over the governance of any other sovereign nation any more than any other such nation has the authority to exercise dominion over the United States.
If we combine these three elements, we can create a succinct foreign policy statement that can be clearly articulated, viably executed, and consistently applied; one that reflects the values of our Republic and can help restore and maintain stability both at home and throughout the world. In other words, we can achieve the goals we originally established for our foreign policy.
The Foreign Policy Statement of The FREEDOM Process™
The United States shall respect the sovereignty of every other recognized nation and honor the limited responsibilities and authority granted to it under the Constitution. It shall consider all reasonable requests from such nations and respond in a manner that is congruent with the Constitution of the United States. Correspondingly, it shall weigh the demonstrated actions of those nations towards the United States and its allies in the deliberation of such requests. Additionally, it shall reserve the right to respond to any threat issued or posed by any entity that places any citizen or property of the United States, either at home or abroad, in reasonable fear of an impending or imminent attack. In the event that such an attack is actually orchestrated, the United States further reserves the right to respond in its sole discretion and to the degree necessary to eliminate or severely mitigate the risk presented by such entity without any requirement to secure any other nation’s approval or the approval of a coalition of nations.
If we parse this straightforward foreign policy statement, we can gain an understanding of how it might be applied in practice.
“The United States shall respect the sovereignty of every other recognized nation…” reflects a simple international application of the Golden Rule. If we expect our sovereignty to be respected, we must respect the sovereignty of other nations.
We must recognize their right to advance the forms of government and socio-economic systems they choose and to do so in the time frames and via the methods and courses of conduct they deem to be appropriate. The United States has neither the responsibility nor authority to interfere with those choices regardless of whether the time frames seem frighteningly fast or painfully slow, whether the methods are evolutionary or revolutionary, and whether the selected course is channeled through civil suffrage, civil disobedience, or civil war… each of which our Nation has experienced.
In accordance with respecting the sovereignty of other nations, the United States will no longer waste trillions of dollars and thousands of lives in fruitless “nation-building” initiatives that have resulted in such abject failures in recent years, nor will it try to cast other nations in its image under the guise of spreading democracy. Instead, those assets will be productively redirected to “provide for the common Defence (sic) and general Welfare of the United States” within the context of other policy areas associated with the acronym FREEDOM (i.e., the Resource, Education, Economic, Defense, Operations and Ministerial challenges we face) as articulated by the language, “The United States shall… honor the limited responsibilities and authority granted to it under the Constitution.”
Continuing, “It (the United States) shall consider all reasonable requests from such nations and respond in a manner that is congruent with the Constitution of the United States.” This eliminates any argument that an appropriate focus on internal issues necessarily precludes the consideration of external issues. It does not.
However, it does establish boundaries with respect to foreign aid; boundaries that reflect responsible leadership from a fiscal and political perspective… boundaries that have been “missing in action” for quite some time.
In that regard, the sentence “Correspondingly, it shall weigh the demonstrated actions of those nations towards the United States and its allies in the deliberation of such requests” establishes sensible parameters within which requests for aid or intervention shall be considered.
There is a saying in the law: “He who seeks equity must do equity.” These parameters reflect that approach. The United States shall:
Concerning the latter group of countries, we can respect their sovereignty without contributing to their cause. Often, we can best demonstrate our “respect” for their sovereignty by divorcing ourselves from their interests.
In that regard, there are a number of nations (and other entities) that have been openly or covertly hostile toward the United States. They share a common thread: They base their hostility toward the United States upon its “occupation” of their land, which is usually tied to our military presence but occasionally extended to our business and even our humanitarian presence.
The openly hostile nations and terrorist organizations use our occupation to justify the most severe threats leveled against the United States and the most heinous acts committed against its citizens (such as the recent rash of beheadings). There are also covertly hostile nations that allege to accept our presence but choose to ignore “green on blue” attacks or permit “spontaneous reactions” to result in the deaths of diplomatic personnel and courageous contract operators.
If we are to honor our responsibility to “provide for the common Defence (sic),” we need to eliminate the “justification” that these nations and other entities assert. To do so, we should “respect” the sovereignty of these other nations by withdrawing all U.S. military personnel and “in-country” diplomatic liaisons and encourage all U.S. businesses and NGOs that are operating “in-country” to do the same.
Correspondingly, we should further demonstrate our “respect” for the sovereignty of these nations by withdrawing every single dollar and form of foreign aid and assistance we have historically provided. After all, these nations must perceive such aid and assistance to be an insult to their sovereign ability to lead their countries without outside interference.
Again, we could redirect a majority of the $30-plus billion in foreign aid we currently provide to address issues that have been growing within the United States such as illiteracy and poverty. Ironically, the preponderance of our foreign aid goes to a handful of nations (predominantly hostile to the United States) to fund their military investments. In effect, it is used to provide the weapons that perpetuate regional violence and often foster the underpinnings of dictatorships or splinter groups that might subsequently pose a threat to the United States.
Rationally speaking, the actions proposed above eliminate any purported justification for injuring or killing Americans at home or abroad. If the threats and killings continue, the final elements of the foreign policy statement are available to address them:
“Additionally, it (the United States) shall reserve the right to respond to any threat issued or posed by any entity that places any citizen or property of the United States, either at home or abroad, in reasonable fear of an impending or imminent attack.”
Henceforth, any nation or other entity that chooses to threaten any citizen or property of the United States will know what to expect.
More particularly: “In the event that such an attack is actually orchestrated, the United States further reserves the right to respond in its sole discretion and to the degree necessary to eliminate or severely mitigate the risk presented by such entity without any requirement to secure any other nation’s approval or the approval of a coalition of nations.”
In other words, any nation or entity that elects to attack any citizen or property of the United States can expect the issue to be resolved with extreme prejudice.
This is not meant to foster an era of geopolitical aggression but rather to dissuade those who might otherwise choose to test the resolve of the United States to reconsider their actions before taking them.
Note that the United States will not be compelled to ask for permission to “provide for the common Defence (sic).” It already has a document that clearly expresses that responsibility and authorizes any necessary action to fulfill it. This foreign policy statement simply puts the world on notice that our Nation will fully honor such obligation.
Going forward, potential perpetrators of monstrous acts would be well-advised to reflect upon the relatively immediate consequences of any assaults they are considering against the United States and its interests. A good rule of thumb might be to anticipate that the more violent the acts, the more disproportionate the response will be… and no options will be openly withdrawn for political purposes.
There you have it: A succinct, clearly articulated foreign policy that can be viably executed and consistently applied; one that reflects the values of our Republic and can help restore and maintain stability both at home and abroad. Now, that wasn’t hard was it?
[Part 2 of this series will explore how The FREEDOM Process Foreign Policy would address the utilization of coalitions, organizations such as the United Nations, and the use of strategies ranging from reprimands to military action.]
T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.
This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, A Civil Assessment, in the Communities Digital News (CDN).
The FREEDOM Process™ is the trademark of T.J. O’Hara. The Freedom Process™ and its acronym components are made available for public use subject only to proper attribution. All rights are otherwise reserved.