All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
On the Republican debate January 5, 2008, the establishment Republicans (ever notice how they really are not interested in much change in the status quo?) all seemed interested in discrediting Ron Paul, with perhaps the exception of Fred Thompson, who seemed apathetic. When it came to monetary policy, no one really understands it except for Ron Paul, and so there’s really no reason to take him on in that arena. But in foreign policy, they actually have some meat to support the current policy. And since the status quo means supporting the current policy, there is a very high need for the Giuliani/Romney/McCain foreign policy “experts” (Huckabee wisely stayed away from this one) to show their teeth, if not their bark in this arena.
In reality, however, there is a low understanding of how real people behave, including in a global context. The establishment Republicans still misunderstand (and probably always will) that American foreign policy can (and does, according to the commonly understood CIA notion of “blowback”) fan the flames of extremism and terrorism moreso than a Constitutional, non-interventionist foreign policy. There is really no good historical (and certainly no good ethical or moral) basis for a doctrine of pre-emptive war as the most effective form of self-defense. Yes, Giuliani rattled off several terrorist attacks; he missed the very significant point that Spain and Britain, who suffered the largest European civilian attacks in recent memory, were strong allies of the United States, and that other European countries (like France, Switzerland, and Italy) not involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom avoided such costly, bloody civilian disasters.
Now, we do not want to take orders from terrorists. But observing behavior patterns can provide an insight into motivations. Why do terrorists hate us? Why did they attack us on 9/11? These are critical questions to truly understand before providing a knee-jerk answer supported by faulty and/or shaky assertions. Unfortunately, establishment Republicans are unwilling or unable to provide a truly convincing defense for the current foreign policy.
Ron Paul is not so unfortunate. He can provide many different angles to explain his views and reasons for doing so. One simple way to articulate these views (compatible with foreign policy of the Founding Fathers) is to simply apply the golden rule: do unto others as you would have done unto you.
Would we want foreign troops occupying our soil? Absolutely not. And yet we think we can be an exception to this idea. The Cold War ended 18 years ago. It is high time to start re-thinking the assumption that hundreds of thousands of American troops all over the world, occupying 130 countries in hundreds of permanent bases, are actually making us safer. How does occupying a country for decades make us safer from attack? Might it not, at the very least, engender hatred and hostility?
What would a “Golden Rule” foreign policy look like? Hundreds of thousands of troops would come home to America. Hundreds of billions of dollars would be saved, making it much more reasonable to balance the budget through reductions in spending and tax cuts. Aggressive, pre-emptive military actions would be non-existent. (Would we want other countries invading our soil or bombing our buildings?) All military action would become much more humane and Constitutional. Sanctions and even travel restrictions would disappear. What would this do to the perception of America abroad? How far might this go to foster peace rather than hatred, brotherhood rather than hostility?