Never mind our bloated military budget. Never mind that we are still licking our wounded pride and arrogance post 9-11 and thus are unable to learn anything from it (maybe terrorists hate how we’ve surrounded their land (especially their Holy Land, Arabia) with our military forces. Never mind our national debt.
Let us consider on ethical/moral grounds why interventionist foreign policy is a bad idea. To resurrect an old link, see Gary Johnson’s scathing (and warranted) critique of Obama and Romney’s Foreign Policy.
In a collegial discussion on Facebook concerning Iran and whether or not America step in, I commented that I would rather have Iran with Nuclear capability (and no, that’s not a good thing … I am possibly willing to turn a blind eye to another cyber-attack like stuxnet … but I digress). The original poster, Ben, posted this, no doubt to incite more discussion (a good thing, mind you!):
The question is: who has rights and to what? If there is really a universal right of countries to self-rule, then we can talk about criticizing imperialism. But if there is no such thing, then the one with the best resources and the freer people would be right to want to share what they have with the world for its own good–for the good of the people who are not free. Discuss!
I will now in essence cannibalize my own argument below. (Side note: Did you know that you can too? See the Creative Commons license at the top of the page. I cannot limit your freedom to use my ideas. There is no such thing as “intellectual property.” There is privacy, but I am sharing on a public blog.)
My response (I will actually cannibalize my own argument. I will edit minimally, but am too lazy to do substantive editing and revision. So my thoughts will be barely organized and succinct. Warning: I may bring up pet grudges and may or may not be entirely fair, even, and “balanced.”)
If the country being shared to is voluntary. (Granted, I am not talking about a nation whose corrupt leaders don’t want something, but everyone else wants freedom, for example…). I don’t mind being ethnocentric (in that I think as an enculturated person). But it is one thing to recognize that and be sensitive to that (without being relativist … i.e. honor killings are not “ok for you”; they are NOT OK period). Another thing to suggest that every person must exercise Western individualism and must vote democratically. It may be that democracy is a legitimate thing to push for (and the US is okay with that as long as you are pro-Israel and not Muslim Brotherhood …), but we must not automatically assume every country can operate on Western principals…
Any universal principals can be applied (even forcefully, possibly?) universally. But, because we think as a Western person in a Western context (and nothing to be ashamed of … ie no white man guilt, etc), we naturally sometimes confuse the universal standards with Western culture. And so anyone who, say, thinks religion is good or think hijabs are oppressive (in ALL circumstances) must obviously be backward and messed up … ?
There’s one thing to engage in forceful debate and dialogue and call each other out. It’s another thing to unilaterally impose “universal” values without listening to how the other side views things and whether or not one’s own approach is applicable and/or appropriate to another context. At best, this makes the imposer uncritical of flaws and assumptions inherent to the imposer’s own limited cultural horizon. At worst, this is downright tyranny and oppression.
And to lay my cards on the table – I am pro-Palestine and I despise interventionist foreign policy. I am not isolationist, but I would rather vote for an isolationist like Ron Paul (or Gary Johnson). On a side note [see, I go off on pet tangents!], I am appalled by torture and indefinite detention without trial… (no, real life is not like Jack Bauer and 24, sorry FOX).
However, if a country asks for our aid militarily, no problem (provided we find the need legitimate). So, technically, the US is not world police. It’s a tyrannical, self-righteous vigilante. So scary. The fact that we don’t hesitate to enter wars and invade and intervene in other countries’ business means we assume we are always right. And no country is. The ones that make good, wise decisions are the ones that assume they will be an ass and thus deliberately consider their actions and whether or not they have a moral foundation/right to do what they want to do.