Monday, February 27, 2012

My Letter to National Review re: The Peril of Paul

Re: "The Peril of Paul" by Jamie M. Fly and Robert Zarate

Dear Sirs:
Mr. Fly and Mr. Zarate paint Ron Paul's advocacy of a strong national defense combined with a non-interventionist foreign policy as isolationist and irreconcilable with those of our Founding Fathers. They call as "spurious" Paul's attempts "to return America to the type of foreign policy envisioned by the Founders" and refer to the "efforts by America's early presidents to repel and eventually wage war against the piracy of the Barbary States..." This is a poor example indeed of the supposed counterexample to Paul's policy. America's war on the Barbary pirates was waged to protect American commercial shipping, not to intervene in the internal affairs of other nations. Former president John Quincy Adams gave perhaps the definitive explanation of America as a defender of its own liberty but not an exporter of liberty to others in this speech:

America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity. She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. The frontlet on her brows would no longer beam with the ineffable splendor of freedom and independence; but in its stead would soon be substituted an imperial diadem, flashing in false and tarnished lustre the murky radiance of dominion and power. She might become the dictatress of the world; she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.... Her glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, address to U.S. House of Representatives, Jul. 4, 1821

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