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  • Don’t Tread On Me! What it Means for Foreign Policy

    The bold letters of the Gadsden Flag have become the slogan of America’s 21st century Tea Party movement and a symbol of the unique American spirit. Most resurgent patriots intuitively grasp the essence of American exceptionalism, but not all understand what it means for U.S. foreign policy.

    The distinct yellow flag was designed by Christopher Gadsden who led the Sons of Liberty in South Carolina prior to the American Revolution. His design called for:

    an elegant standard, such as is to be used by the commander in chief of the American navy; being a yellow field, with a lively representation of a rattle-snake in the middle, in the attitude of going to strike, and these words underneath, “Don’t Tread on Me!”

    The sentiment of the Gadsden Flag can be traced to the founding of the United States, as can its implications for American statecraft. Among these are a strong military, a foreign policy that is unencumbered by international institutions which undermine its political independence, and a diplomacy that reflects America’s political principles.

    Today, the Gadsden Flag has become, once again, the symbol of American independence, justice, and strength. But some conservatives had wondered if the surge of the Tea Party movement would lead to calls for a more isolationist foreign policy. Progressives too had claimed that the Tea Party should join with them to slash U.S. military spending in order to restore fiscal discipline. Happily, however, it appears that most Tea Party activists understand the foreign policy parallels of America’s political traditions and, as Colin Dueck has noted, are not tempted to advocate for an isolationist foreign policy.

    America’s unique role in the world depends not only on the strength of its political principles, but also on its material capabilities. George Washington, in his Farewell Address to Congress in 1796, noted the importance of military preparation and political independence in order to allow America to “defy material injury from external annoyance” and to “choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.” Only in this position of strength, is America able to stand for liberty and protect its interests in a complex and often dangerous world.

    The Tea Party movement and the 2010 midterm elections will most assuredly have ramifications for U.S. foreign policy, but it promises to be a return to the statecraft of the Founding Fathers—who were themselves far from isolationist. As engaged citizens seek to make their government more accountable and transparent, we must not forget the principles and traditions of American foreign policy, which may be summed up as “peace through strength”.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to Don’t Tread On Me! What it Means for Foreign Policy

    1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Tea Party and Foreign Policy | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. -- Topsy.com

    2. Nancy Irvine, ca says:

      Strategic Defense Initiative SDI needs people behind this idea and action. If we don't have any venom we cannot be effective. "Don't tread on me" was used to let the English know that …just like a snake the colonies wont bite the England if they leave them alone. Diplomacy is the tool of foreign policy, as well as a GOOD DEFENSE …ie ….we have systems in place to stop an attack on the United States. Other countries know of our strategic defense so they don't bother us.

      Nancy 11/30/2010

    3. Dennis Georgia says:

      Strong defense is the best possible way to stop agression toward this country. When defense is allowed to collapse anyone can take over. The treaty gives away what we have, spending on defense gives away the rest, leave it up to obama and clan to give away the keys to this country.

    4. Jim, CT says:

      "Don't Tread on Me" should be held in conjunction with "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."

      A strong defense – missile defense, a well armed citizenry, etc. – is fine and good. But a strong offense is unnecessary unless you want to police the world, or go abroad in search of monsters to destroy, or endorse Woodrow Wilson's foreign policy of making the world safe for Democracy. We don't need to maintain a large military presence around the world to have a strong defense.

      A significant portion of the defense budget – that related to offense rather than defense – ought to be drastically cut.

    5. Terry , Des Moines, says:

      Funny you should quote Washington's Farewell Address. He also clearly warned of America getting involved in foreign entanglements…"The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible". In speaking of Europe, he said "Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities."

      And Washington was dead on in his analysis of a party system – I suggest everyone research his comments.

    6. Nikita63 says:

      A stout defense and well armed citizeny is fine and dandy but if you do not have state of the art OFFENSIVE weapons with which to defend yourselves, you WILL be attacked , eventually. The Only thing keeping us from being attacked is our Nuclear offensive world wide fast strike capability from our submarine force. It is true that other nations also have this capability but, they will not use it for the retribution they know would come immediately if we were attacked. They would have no place to which to return if they attacked us and they know it. MAD,

      (Mutually assured destruction) has worked well since WWII. There has really been no other effective defense. The best defense is a good offense; we have it and we must KEEP it. Forget the bozo in the White House, he is a fool and a statist and would give you freedoms away if he wasn't so busy takinbg them from you. There will be a day of reckoning for him and his Marxist minions but while we are making the correction; we will be at our most vulnerable. It is then that our offense will be our greatest protection in the name of DEFENSE; our all

      volunteer military will SEE to it for the sake of their families and once again, our saviors will be as it was in the beginning, the CITIZEN SOLDIER.

    7. Bobbie says:

      obama's actions show no concern for a strong defense. obama's actions show a desire for a strong collapse!

    8. Randall A. Robinson, says:

      An "isolationist" foreign policy does not presuppose a weak military. We could have an isolationist foreign policy and have the strongest military force in the world. Understand that today's globalist one-worlders and UN advocates regard and characterize the founders' foreign policy as "isolationist."

    9. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      Isn't that marvelous? The Democrats spend our money like crazy but when it comes to defunding the Military, Oh boy! Suddenly it is a dog pile to save the People's money! If you ask me the TEA Party will stop the erosion of our military might but the wreckage Obama has done to our Foreign Policy will take generations to fix. It isn't about Isolationism, it is about refusing to pay for defending everybody on Earth!

      The TEA Party would like to roll back 100 years of Progressive damage! Restore the Constitution, and that means reasonable foreign policy that actually serves the American interest. That's not the same thing as Isolation! The Rattlesnake is a gentleman snake. Leave them alone, Rattlesnakes will leave you alone. The promise of this flag is wonderful, but honestly, whoever is standing on America should have been bit a long time ago!

    10. Dave, Raleigh NC says:

      Man, I love some of these comments. You guys make me feel proud to be an American.

      @Terry, you are dead on Washington warned us about parities and partisan politics.

      @Jim, I'm with you. I don't think we should be running all over the world trying to save everyone from themselves.

      Take the current war in Afghanistan. If the Taliban is such a small majority, then let their own people rise up and defeat them. The real reason we are over there is our own foreign interest. We have been meddling in that part of the world for a very long time.

      I say if we want to protect Israel, which I'm all for, put a bunch of Navy vessels in the Mediterranean Sea near Israel, put troops on the boarders and tell all the neighboring countries that if they set foot over the boarder they will be dispatched with extreme prejudice.

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