Published on October 8, 2007, in the Manchester Union-Leader.
Any response to this paper's Friday editorial on my foreign policy position must rest on two fundamental assertions: first, that the Founding Fathers were not isolationists; and second, that their political philosophy – the wisdom of the Constitution, the Declaration, and our Revolution itself – is not just a primitive cultural relic.
If I understand the editors' concerns, I have not been accused of deviating from the Founders' logic; if anything I have been accused of adhering to it too strictly. The question, therefore, before readers – and soon voters – is the same question I have asked for almost 20 years in Congress: by what superior wisdom have we now declared Jefferson, Washington, and Madison to be "unrealistic and dangerous"? Why do we insist on throwing away their most considered warnings?
A non-interventionist foreign policy is not an isolationist foreign policy. It is quite the opposite. Under a Paul administration, the United States would trade freely with any nation that seeks to engage with us. American citizens would be encouraged to visit other countries and interact with other peoples rather than be told by their own government that certain countries are off limits to them.
American citizens would be allowed to spend their hard-earned money wherever they wish across the globe, not told that certain countries are under embargo and thus off limits. An American trade policy would encourage private American businesses to seek partners overseas and engage them in trade. The hostility toward American citizens overseas in the wake of our current foreign policy has actually made it difficult if not dangerous for Americans to travel abroad. Is this not an isolationist consequence from a policy of aggressive foreign interventionism?
It is not we non-interventionists who are isolationsists. The real isolationists are those who impose sanctions and embargoes on countries and peoples across the globe because they disagree with the internal and foreign policies of their leaders. The real isolationists are those who choose to use force overseas to promote democracy, rather than seek change through diplomacy, engagement, and by setting a positive example.
I do not believe that ideas have an expiration date, or that their value can be gauged by their novelty. The test for new and old is that of wisdom and experience, or as the editors wrote "historical reality," which argues passionately now against the course of anti-Constitutional interventionism.
A Paul administration would see Americans engaged overseas like never before, in business and cultural activities. But a Paul administration would never attempt to export democracy or other values at the barrel of a gun, as we have seen over and over again that this is a counterproductive approach that actually leads the United States to be resented and more isolated in the world.
Helping Americans improve themselves by reducing their taxes will make our country stronger. I, therefore, hope all my colleges will join me in cosponsoring the Tax Free Tips Act.