FREEDOM: The need to form a rational foreign policy (Part 1)

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IMAGE: T.J. O'Hara

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.


READ ALSO: “FREEDOM: A ‘Common Core’ enhancement for political leaders



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 to the development of our foreign policy.

THIRD: Two sections 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 not 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 straight-forward 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:

  • Support those nations that consistently demonstrate their support of the United States and its allies;
  • Extend the highest level of consideration to provide any requested assistance to such supportive nations as is in alignment with the strategies, priorities and capabilities of the United States; and
  • Respect the sovereignty of those nations that do not support the United States.

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 other entities 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). The more covertly hostile nations allege to accept our presence, but they 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-advise 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.]

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A Civil Assessment has been designed to serve as an Op-Ed forum for you. You are invited to offer your opinion and to discuss your position in the Comment Section. Please be sure that your “assessments” remain “civil” so that they may earn the respect of others.

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TJ O’Hara provides nonpartisan political commentary every other Tuesday on The Daily Ledger, one of One America News Network’s featured shows (check local cable listings for the channel in your area or watch online at 8:00 PM and Midnight PM Eastern / 5:00 and 9:00 PM Pacific. His segment appears about 35 minutes into the program.

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  • Eric N Keya Erickson

    Excellent outline of you policy, Mr. O’Hara. I’m still waiting for you to announce your upcoming campaign for President. :o)

    I do have one question though, in regard to your Foreign Policy Statement. What would or should be the actions and/or responsibility of the United States in instances of genocide? If no American lives or interests are threatened, at what point do we ignore the sovereignty of the nation conducting the genocide and intervene? Or do we allow them to conduct their own affairs, regardless of what we think is right, Star Trek Prime Directive style?

    Ok, it’s one question asked with two follow up questions.

    • Thank you for your comment and question Mr. Erickson.

      The “genocide” question is an interesting one. Not to sound too “Clintonian,” but it would depend on what one’s definition of genocide is.

      There is a tendency these days to selectively attribute the term to civil wars. The challenge with that definition is that it is not uniformly applied. Administrations seem to ignore civil wars that are in alignment with their ideologies and, in some cases, even support them.

      Conversely, those same Administrations like to brand civil wars that do not align with their political favor as “genocides.” Too often, they seem to ignore true genocides; i.e., those that conform with the actual definition, which describes an attempt to exterminate a particular ethnic or religious group or nation.

      Perhaps even more disheartening is the tendency of Administrations to arm one side (or both) in an attempt to create “balance.” This only assures that the violence continues over a more protracted period.

      Another challenging fact resides within the varying structure of cultures throughout the world. In the Middle East for example, many of the countries are divided into tribes. If tribes (or religious sects) fight, does that automatically constitute a genocide? After all, it does fit the Western definition.

      However, what if the North and the South had been viewed as competing tribes with opposing ideologies back in the 1860s? Should England, France or any other country intervened at such a disruptive level as to end the Civil War? What shift would such intervention have had on our Nation’s history?

      I would hope that the world would intervene in the event a true genocide is being exacted upon a targeted group, and that the United States would engage in the intervention. (I touch upon this in my next article when I discuss the United Nations.) The Holocaust comes to mind as an example. In the event the world chooses not to intervene, Congress would have the power to represent the People in choosing whether the United States should act alone, or the President could act unilaterally within the scope of the War Powers Act if there appeared to be an imminent or impending threat to our Nation (although your hypothetical precluded that circumstance).

      Thank you again for your comment and question. “Kirk out!”