Is there a Tea Party foreign policy?
In general it can be said that the Tea Party movement is concerned with local and National affairs, and this is true of the branches of the Tea Party that are being seen in the UK, Italy, Israel, Australia and even in such places as Russia and China (the Vodka Party and a more underground movement in China). Getting local and National government under control so that it stops wild spending, gets out of people's lives and lowers taxation, all while continuing to pay down debt, is the main target of the Tea Party organizations. Foreign policy has been outside the realm of this, which has allowed some National politicians like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul to try and craft some sort of foreign policy out of Reaganism or Libertarianism. There is a problem in trying to graft on a foreign policy outlook that doesn't grow from the sentiments of a movement: it is likely to be rejected in whole or in part by the movement. Worse is that it can serve as a 'wedge issue' that could split up Tea Party organizations into factions.
What has not been attempted is to look at the foundations of the interior of the movement and ask: what grows from this as a foreign policy?
Key issues internally beyond taxes are sustained by the support of the Natural Rights of Man as Individual. Thus Liberty and Freedom for the individual are the underpinning for the tax and small government message. By removing power to do things at the local and National level from government, the things done then devolve down to the people to address at a more localized level. Foreign policy is the direction of a Nation as a whole and how it interacts with brother Nations. If we seek to sustain liberty and freedom at home and have a government that recognizes that all rights and power come from the people, then should that not be a defining part of a Tea Party foreign policy?
If this is put center stage then there is an outgrowth from that in that the Tea Party movement seeks to recognize that the power of the individual is paramount and that those Nations that wish to befriend the US must also have similar sanctuary from tyranny for the rights of the individual FROM government. That makes the Bill of Rights and the general rights secured by the US Constitution a touchstone to how we approach brother Nations, and in that we have a ready-made list of actual items that brother Nations that wish to be friendly to the US must have:
- Freedom of conscience
- Freedom of religion
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of the press
- Freedom to peaceably assemble
- Freedom to petition government
These are Freedoms FROM government regulation, and even the US has fallen down on the job as its political elites have determined that government must be an arbiter of these things for the people. Yet that power is not granted to it, thus all laws dealing with restricting these freedoms are against the US Constitution. Even the famous 'not yelling fire in a crowded theater' is a LOCAL and STATE concern and is one of attaching liability, by law, to actual actions of malice towards others. Hateful language is protected, language used to stampede people so as to harm them is not protected not because it is an exercise of speech but is abridging civil speech to coerce others to panic with a threat to their lives. You don't yell fire in a crowded theater: you get up in front of all people and point out that there is a fire in the room and it needs to be evacuated in an orderly fashion so that all can be safe from it. That might still get people killed, yes, but that has devolved responsibility of those reactions to the individuals by giving them the information necessary to make a decision. That is the civil use of freedom of speech, and all freedoms have responsibilities that go hand-in-hand with them to uphold them as a freedom for all people.
After this comes additional rights from government.
- The right to keep and bear arms
- The right to not have troops or government agents stationed in your home
- The right to security in your papers, property and person
- The right not to self-incriminate
- The right to a jury trial by your peers
This goes on for a bit more, but the point is made that these are actual rights and freedoms to be exercised. From the legacy of Great Britain comes these rights and they were hammered out to keep monarchs, which is to say the head of government, from encroaching more and more on the liberties of individuals and their freedoms by passing laws against certain activities that intruded into these areas.
It should be noted that the right to keep and bear arms is an adjunct to the Natural Right and Liberty of being armed and that as the negative form, which is to say offensive warfare, is relegated to the State, the positive form, that is defense from war, defense of the State, defense of life, papers and property... indeed defense of all other Civil Rights is backed by the Natural Right and positive Natural Liberty of defensive warfare and self-defense. As our works and property are gained by exercising our freedom and liberty to gain them, thus exchanging time for goods, any taking of these things without due process of law is a threat to the life you have already created for yourself. And when due process intrudes further than conscience allows, then the people have the right of self-defense of their lives in whole.
As a basis for foreign policy by a Tea Party these cannot be seen as 'window dressing' by a government. A government cannot have a right to keep and bear arms and then require so many things to be done that, effectively, no one may be armed. Civil government cannot abolish the positive Natural Liberty of warfare or the Natural Right to self-defense via arms. All arms are included in this, and as those who break the law see no compunction about following arms restrictions, the people must be able to counter such threats by similar civil arms. Similarly having freedom of speech but having that right so circumscribed by government to quash petitioning of government or to even allow freedom of civil assembly is not supporting the freedom of individual speech, assembly or petition of government.
Minimal government requires maximal individual liberty and the exercise thereof. This is not, exactly, a Libertarian view as libertarians elected to office have seen fit to pack in their own ideas of personal liberty that require such things as grades going to a college student and not to their parents. That intrudes on contractual agreements within a family and should be something that Libertarians uphold as a Natural source of contracting. And yet that is not the case. From that a minimalist view of government requires that government get out of the support of going to college completely and lower the burden of government to all of the people and let individuals see if they can actually afford the burden of further education. Thus Libertarians can be caught in the idea of government doing 'good things' from their perspective, while Tea Partiers will take a view of government as a Punisher and that giving it the carrot and the stick is the recipe for tyranny.
Foreign policy wise this then puts requirements on those who would befriend the US to off-load as much of the overburden of government to the people of their government to their people. As I've said the US has been doing just the opposite from this for over a century and it has led to fiscal ruin and debt that cannot be paid and, under the current view, has no intention of EVER being paid off. The slow-roll of bonds and modest overspending and debt passed out of the rear view mirror back in the 1970's and isn't on the horizon ANYWHERE. Fiscal rectitude by a brother Nation is something we need to practice at home and if it is a top value, then it is something the US should be encouraging abroad.
This then gives a set of tests to a Tea Party foreign policy of which of our brother Nations we can be friendly to and which will get reciprocity from the US. This does not mean that all of such individual Natural and Civil rights and liberties are to be maximal, this is true, but that they must able to be practiced and government recognize that it is not the purveyor of these rights and liberties but the protector of them for their people.
Free Trade was a Reagan era mantra and the practice of it to make people free just has not worked. Mexico is, if anything, in worse straights for its people due to NAFTA than they were before it. The massive upheavals in their economy and the direct competition with US agriculture has had large-scale effects on Mexico which has created a large set of criminal syndicates that are waging war against the citizens of Mexico. It is a good thing that local neighborhoods and towns take up arms in their own defense in Mexico and it is a bad thing that they must break the law to do so as their government restricts the use of even bolt action rifles to its citizens. Why do we have free trade with such a Nation? Similarly freer and more open trade with China has seen the few there, its government officials and cronies, prosper while the people of China earn little and have internal inflation going on that their own government can't even recognize. The people have no freedom of assembly or petition of government, and yet it gets Most Favored Nation Trade Status? Why?
In general this outline of a foreign policy begins to break out into a tri-fold path, which is something I've looked at before, but with an ideological backing to it that can be well understood. The outline of the path is clear, and requires that those who put forth nostrums on things like Free Trade making people freer actually demonstrate this mantra after decades of trying it. There are negative cases to this, and as those point to a major problem with the supposition, the mantra, itself, must be put in doubt and re-examined. The US is not the World's Policeman and, in the words of John Quincy Adams, we support freedom and liberty everywhere, but are guardians only of our own. To that end the first goal on the military side of foreign policy, is to help bolster and deepen the self-defense capacity of friendly brother Nations. This can be done with direct trade, yes, but can also be done by seeking to have restrictions on the use of arms repealed so that there is a greater reservoir of those who can defend their own Nation to be called upon in event of crisis. Working together militarily comes at the END of this process, not the BEGINNING, and those Nations that recognize that their own self-interest is best served by a civil armed populace goes a long way towards demonstrating the concept that governments cannot predict when and where war will happen as the negative Natural Liberty of warfare can be reclaimed by those who go savage and use it against their fellow man to their own ends. If governments could control this, then they are the ones liable for every act of individual, which is to say personal, warfare as they CONTROL IT. That is not the case.
Path I is established: foreign relations with those friendly to the US and who hold the same values for individual Liberty and Freedom are key to good relations. From this grows fiscal rectitude, the removal of State overburden, the lowering of the accumulation of debt and the outlook that debts cannot be contracted for at high levels ad infinitum. These are the Nations that deserve free trade: they are friendly, they support the rights and liberties of their people including the freedom from government, and seek to foster a fiscal climate at the large scale that allows greater freedom and liberty at the small scale.
Path II comes from those Nations not on Path I but who are not hostile in word or deed towards the US. These are Nations to which we cannot afford allegiance and from that trade with them can be burdened. A 10% tariff, which is to say a 10% payment of the value of goods to be imported by those seeking to sell them in the US, is paying the freight to support a government which fosters trade amongst Nations. Want to get that lowered or removed? Become friendlier to the US and begin upholding the values necessary for Path I. This is something that can be tuned by Congress and by giving a framework as to why it is imposed it also puts a value on being able to support such individual liberties and freedoms to those who don't support them in full or who are not friendly nor unfriendly to the US. The middle of the road is a perfectly safe place to be, don't expect the US to help you, however, unless you start to move towards Path I.
Path III is what is left. Nations hostile to the US in word and deed, who have shown themselves to be untrustworthy in treaties and who seek to put their own people under tyrannical rule. We don't trade with these Nations. Indeed, part of that 10% tariff should go towards support of the military so that we are well armed AGAINST them. If they give safe harbor to terrorists, pirates or any other form of Private War, then they are an enemy not just of this Nation but to the order between all Nations as they do not seek to act in ways compatible to civilized life. We do not have to be antagonistic towards these Nations, no. We do need to be well armed against them. On the tit-for-tat scale they wish to live and so that is all they do understand, and we can only respond in ways that befits a civilized Nation in the brotherhood of Nations. Sanctions are one thing. Quarantine another. Translating our works that describe our traditions and how man is the source of all power of government and then getting them to the people of those Nations hostile to us, is a third way. There are others, of course, but the scope of what can be done is held in by civilized restraint and by holding the civil sword well honed and practiced with.
This outgrowth of a tripartite set of paths within foreign policy would be a direct outgrowth of the ideals held by Tea Partiers. Ideology drives policy, not the other way around as is the case in the modern world that slips into tyrannical ends for government. Moreover it is a set of principles that are well understood internationally and are easy to remember, as anyone can remember: Friends, Neutrals, Enemies. That is the path of Law of Nations amongst all Nations in all Eras in all places on Earth without regard to race, ethnicity, culture or any other thing. It was practiced by the Ancient Mayans like this, and so did the Ancient Greeks and Ancient Egyptians act like this. International law is only a set of contracts between brother Nations that is built up and each holds the others to account for signing onto the contract we call treaties. Nations can leave treaties, as well, and have that full right and responsibility to do so so as to safeguard their own people. That is upheld via this tri-fold Path system and in particular it points out who those seeking to bring down the civil, international agreements between Nations are and points them out for all to see.
As a policy system it allows large amounts of work and fine tuning for individual cases, and yet the touchstones are clear and abundant, so that easy to pass milestones in improving the civil rights of citizens leads to better trade and more robust interaction, and improved self-defense. Reaganites should understand such a systems as should Libertarians as it puts individual rights and liberties in a civil context into a foreign policy system that then seeks to uphold them for all mankind while securing them abundantly at home.
Of course this means the home-side dovetail of actually removing the burdens to civil exercise of rights that have been put in place for the last century and more, at home. This is leading by example.
An Exemplar Nation.
Showing the Way.
A Shining City on a Hill.
We need some good neighbors.
And we need to clean up our act at home to get them, first.