The term isolationist has been thrown around a lot recently and over the decades regarding Ron Paul’s foreign policy. Members of the press, politicians such as John McCain and others have made the accusation, seemingly without an understanding of what the word means.
Congressman Paul has made it clear that he does not wish to isolate the United States, but rather to trade openly, to do business and maintain friendly relations with all nations. He takes a non-interventionist approach to foreign policy. This means that we do not engage in nation building, policing the world or “preemptive wars of aggression”.
It was not long ago that Republicans believed the words of our founders when it came to foreign intervention. They knew then what impact “entangling alliances” with foreign powers would have on our liberty here at home. George Washington famously included the following words in his farewell address:
“While then every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of inestimable value! they must derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves which so frequently afflict neighboring countries not tied together by the same government, which their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter.”
While President, Washington also issued a formal announcement known as the “Proclamation of Neutrality”:
Whereas it appears that a state of war exists between Austria, Prussia, Sardinia, Great Britain, and the United Netherlands of the one part and France on the other, and the duty and interest of the United States require that they should with sincerity and good faith adopt and pursue a conduct friendly and impartial toward the belligerent powers:
I have therefore thought fit by these presents to declare the disposition of the United States to observe the conduct aforesaid toward those powers respectively, and to exhort and warn the citizens of the United States carefully to avoid all acts and proceedings whatsoever which may in any manner tend to contravene such disposition.
And I do hereby also make known that whosoever of the citizens of the United States shall render himself liable to punishment or forfeiture under the law of nations by committing, aiding, or abetting hostilities against any of the said powers, or by carrying to any of them those articles which are deemed contraband by the modern usage of nations, will not receive the protection of the United States against such punishment or forfeiture; and further, that I have given instructions to those officers to whom it belongs to cause prosecutions to be instituted against all persons who shall, within the cognizance of the courts of the United States, violate the law of nations with respect to the powers at war, or any of them.
In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same with my hand. Done at the city of Philadelphia, the 22d day of April, 1793, and of the Independence of the United States of America the seventeenth.
By the President:
And of course there are Thomas Jefferson’s words which were referenced at the start of this article and are often quoted today by non-interventionists:
“Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none.”
Ron Paul’s views on foreign policy most closely resemble those of our founders and particularly, Mr. Jefferson.
Congressman Paul does believe in defending America and her direct national security interests. That is why he voted to allow the use of force in Afghanistan in 2001. He has also stated that he would have entered world war II based on the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. He illustrates that point in an interview with John Stossel which you can read by clicking on the following link:
For those who are not clear on the difference, Dr. Paul explains isolationism versus non-intervention here:
And to expand that to a specific region and point of debate, here you can see Ron Paul vs. John McCain on non-intervention:
On a side note, it is interesting to look back at John McCain’s record to find that at one time in his career he too believed in a non-interventionist policy. This speech was delivered by Senator McCain in 1983:
“The fundamental question is ‘What is the United States’ interest in Lebanon? It is said we are there to keep the peace. I ask, what peace? It is said we are there to aid the government. I ask, what government? It is said we are there to stabilize the region. I ask, how can the US presence stabilize the region?…
The longer we stay in Lebanon, the harder it will be for us to leave. We will be trapped by the case we make for having our troops there in the first place.
What can we expect if we withdraw from Lebanon? The same as will happen if we stay. I acknowledge that the level of fighting will increase if we leave. I regretfully acknowledge that many innocent civilians will be hurt. But I firmly believe this will happen in any event.”
It can be concluded, based on Congressman Paul’s writings and words that he does not wish to isolate the U.S from the rest of the world. He prefers simply, as the founders did, to not intervene in the internal affairs of sovereign nations which do not threaten the security of the American people. It is also clear that if attacked or if there was imminent and verifiable threat of attack, a President Paul would use military force if necessary.