The Heritage Foundation welcomed Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) last week to speak about foreign policy. This is not your father’s Heritage Foundation. It is now led by the former Senator from SC, Jim DeMint who you may recognize from his work with the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks.
What the United States needs now is a policy that finds a middle path. A policy that is not rash or reckless. A foreign policy that is reluctant—restrained by Constitutional checks and balances but does not appease.
The cold war ended because the engine of capitalism defeated the engine of socialism. Reagan aided and abetted this end not by “liberation” of captive people but by a combination of don’t mess with us language and diplomacy, not inconsistent with Kennan’s approach.
Reagan himself wrote, “I have a foreign policy. I just don’t happen to think it’s wise to tell the world what your foreign policy is.” Reagan’s liberal critics would decry a lack of sophistication but others would understand a policy in having no stated policy, a policy of Strategic ambiguity. If you enumerate your policy, if you telegraph to the Soviets that the Strategic Defense Initiative is a ploy to get the Soviets to the bargaining table, the ploy is then made impotent.
It is time for all Americans, and especially conservatives, to become as critical and reflective when examining foreign policy as we are with domestic policy. Should our military be defending this nation or constantly building other nations? What constitutes our actual “national defense” and what parts of our foreign policy are more like an irrational offense? It is the soldier’s job to do his duty—but it is the citizen’s job to question their government—particularly when it comes to putting our soldiers in harm’s way. And of course, the question we are forced to ask today is—can we afford this?