Last week I put forward the argument that economic and social policies are joined at the hip. The same premise that points at the desirability of limited government recognizes that traditional values must provide the foundation if Americans are going to enjoy a relatively stable society.
Nothing is perfect – and human nature calls the shots. Power corrupts and civilization is behavior. No government is capable of bearing the burden of providing for 300 million people. We need the vast majority of those 300 million people inculcated with the ethic that calls on them to provide for themselves and behave themselves properly in a free market economy.
How does human nature impact foreign policy? First, no matter what you believe the level of the threat to be from our enemies, our nation will have to have the social stability and economic strength to protect itself.
All three issue areas – foreign, economic, and social policy – are interconnected. The sociologists speak in terms of a society’s “health” while attempting to remain value neutral. Even this guy knows what’s preferred:
“When people see a strong horse and weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.” — Osama bin Laden, Kandahar, November 2001
Situational ethics aside, it’s difficult to figure how the United States will survive in a hostile world unless we’re supporting the right social, economic, and foreign policies.
To do that – the debate must be fully engaged here at home. Mark Steyn sums it up nicely in his book “America Alone”:
“In the end, hard wars are won on the hardest ground – at home. Whatever changes America makes in its foreign policy and transnational relationships, the home front is critical. You can’t win a war of civilizational confidence with a population of nanny-state junkies.”
What is the level of the threat and what should we do about it? Obviously opinions differ greatly – even after the attacks of 9-11-01 and the many thwarted attacks since then. Two years ago I compiled some notes from experts weighing in on this topic in a series.
What will this country look like at the end of this century? The answer in part will be determined by what the rest of the world looks like at the end of this century. Does America need to be involved in shaping the emerging world our children and grandchildren will live in, or can we pretend that it’s the late Eighteenth Century and assume we’re protected by two nice big oceans?
I come down on the side that argues that the world needs our active participation. Does that mean we intervene everywhere? Of course it doesn’t.
Here is how Mark Steyn weighs in on this topic:
“Americans are deeply suspicious of the notion that you can swan around the world ‘giving’ freedom to people. They have to want it, like the first Americans did…if they don’t…that’s their problem, not America’s.
While this might be philosophically admirable, the practical drawback is that power abhors a vacuum. If America won’t export its values – self-reliance, decentralization – others will export theirs.”
Later in his book Steyn writes:
“In the end, the world can do without American rap and American cheeseburgers. American ideas on individual liberty, federalism, capitalism, and freedom of speech would be far more helpful.”