Since I am a college professor, it probably won’t come as a surprise to readers of this blog that this post is a plea for more thinking and less emotionalism in our political discourse. Our emotions are a delightful part of what makes us human. But while we should listen to our feelings, it’s not good to be ruled by them. For the most part, we cannot control our emotions. What we can control is our response to them–and this is where the beauty of our brains enters the conversation.
The musings of this post got their start as I read an article from the Tenth Amendment Center authored by Michael Maharrey entitled, “I Love George Washington. Except for his Foreign Policy.” Maharrey’s honesty in the piece is refreshing. He’s a former neo-conservative who supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but who has now become more cautious in his estimation of how the United States should use its power abroad.
He argues that Ron Paul’s warnings about power projection should be heeded, but states clearly that he doesn’t agree with Paul on all issues. Neither do I agree with Ron Paul on all elements of his foreign policy … but are you even still reading? You see, for many of us, the mention of a particular politician with whom we disagree often causes an emotional disconnect to take place. There’s the rub.
As Maharrey says, Ron Paul is not crazy. I believe Paul is naive regarding Iran and its nuclear ambitions, but I also think we need to heed a great deal of the advice he offers when it comes to what George Washington called “foreign entanglements.” Isolationism isn’t the answer, but neither is excessive interventionism.
When it comes to the advice offered by Ron Paul or any other political leader of integrity, we must engage our intellectual sifters, excavating that advice for the precious nuggets it may contain. To find a diamond of insight we sometimes have to dig through a bit of dirt.
American security has been greatly enhanced by the fact that forward-looking military leaders had the good sense to know when it was time to change course. Early in the nation’s history it was foreseen that a strong navy was needed. Not long after the start of the twentieth century it was proposed that air power would be a necessity. In hindsight we can say that these innovations to our national policy were the right decisions.
For my way of thinking, we’re at another new juncture in our national history. We need to reconsider our use of the military. Our bases are scattered around the globe in more than a hundred countries. In a world of increased connectedness and sophisicated technology, is this the most effective way to craft our military might? Instead, could we have a smaller, more concentrated, more mobile military capable of projecting itself quickly, quietly, and with pin-point accuracy? I suspect that the second of these options would serve us better. It might also increase goodwill toward us around the world.
Some of my readers are retired military officers. I look forward to their responses to this post. In the meantime, to read the fine article by Michael Maharrey and the Tenth Amendment Center, click here.