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  • The Ideology of Isolationism

    Supporters of Ron Paul have re-launched an old ad promoting the old idea of American isolationism.  “We now are a nation known to start war,” Paul is quoted as saying.  “We feel compelled because of our insecurity that we have to go over and attack these countries to maintain our empire.”  The message here (and repeated elsewhere) is that Paul’s isolationism is aligned with the Founding Fathers and “what is truly American and truly constitutional.” Not only is this refrain a gross misrepresentation of American history but it offers dangerously misleading guidance to a nation that faces serious challenges at home and abroad.

    Following this lead, some are tempted by the myth that our Founders were isolationists who sought to withdraw from the world and focus solely on the home front. At a time of international fatigue and anxiety about America’s future, I understand the sentiment.  But it’s simply not the case.

    The Founders rejected modern approaches in American foreign policy—whether power politics, isolationism or crusading internationalism. They especially disagreed with the “visionary, or designing men, who stand ready to advocate the paradox of perpetual peace,” as Hamilton put it in Federalist 6.  Instead, they designed a truly American foreign policy—fundamentally shaped by our principles but not ignorant of the place of necessity in international relations.

    The classic statement of this is Washington’s Farewell Address, sometimes wrongly read as isolationist dogma. Yes, Washington rightly warns us against “the insidious wiles of foreign influence” and yes, Washington correctly states that in extending commercial relations we should have as little political connection with those nations as possible.  That’s not isolationism but common sense.  Washington goes on to state the objective: “to gain time for our country to settle and mature its recent institutions, and to progress, without interruption, to that degree of strength and consistency, which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, command of its own fortunes.”  And again:

    If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off when we may defy injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest guided by justice shall Counsel.

    Rather than trap themselves in some absolute and permanent doctrine of nonintervention in the world, the Founders advocated a prudent and flexible policy aimed at achieving and thereafter permanently maintaining the sovereign independence for Americans to determine their own fate.  And without providing for our own security, how can we hope to control our own destiny or command our own fortunes?

    The requirements of security are dictated by the challenges and threats we face in the world. “How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?” Madison asked in Federalist 41.

    The means of security can only be regulated by the means and the danger of attack. They will, in fact, be ever determined by these rules, and by no others…. If one nation maintains constantly a disciplined army, ready for the service of ambition or revenge, it obliges the most pacific nations who may be within the reach of its enterprises to take corresponding precautions.

    The dangerous ambitions of power were to be found in the passions of human nature. As Hamilton wrote in Federalist 34:

    To judge from the history of mankind, we shall be compelled to conclude that the fiery and destructive passions of war reign in the human breast with much more powerful sway than the mild and beneficent sentiments of peace; and that to model our political systems upon speculations of lasting tranquility, is to calculate on the weaker springs of the human character.

    Necessity dictates that the United States must be ready to fight wars and use force to protect the nation and the American people.  Hence Washington often liked to use the old Roman maxim: “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of promoting peace.”  The Founders made sure they were prepared and were not reluctant to use force.  How else can we choose peace or war, as our interest guided by justice shall counsel?

    National security is a challenge for all nations, but particularly for democratic political systems dedicated to the limitation of power.  Many actions necessary for security employ the use of force and proceed in ways that are often secretive and less open than democracy prefers. Likewise, national security sometimes requires restrictions and sacrifices that would be inimical to personal liberty were it not for significant threats to the nation.

    The solution to this dilemma is not to deny the use of force or to make it so onerous as to be ineffective. Rather, it is to establish a well-constructed constitution that focuses power on legitimate purposes and then divides that power so that it does not go unchecked, preserving liberty while providing for a nation that can—and will—defend its liberty.

    Government spending, its massive bloat and constitutional overreach must be on the chopping block. But the core and undisputed constitutional responsibility of the United States government to provide for the common defense is not up for negotiation.

    At a time when we should be seriously thinking about our strategy and commitments anew in an increasingly dangerous world—doing so in the context of unlimited government spending and uncontrolled debt that threatens to force us in to national bankruptcy and undermine our very sovereign independence—we should be wary of claims, however tempting in the moment, that the naïve ideology of isolationism has a place in the pantheon of America’s principles.

    Posted in Featured, First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    81 Responses to The Ideology of Isolationism

    1. It is so typical that the Heritage Foundation – Hamiltonians to the core, would offer a critique of the principles of non-interventionism in a purely Hamiltonian light.
      The Federalist papers were not simply an unchallenged precursor to what would eventually become our written Constitution.
      The anti-Federalists held up the ratification of the Constitution & two main sticking points were the formation of a perpetual standing army & the power of the Congress – not the Executive, to declare war.
      Furthermore, Ron Paul's views on the proper role of the military & American foreign policy in the world are totally misrepresented; the Congressman has never advocated for disarmament that would leave our national defenses to weak to protect this nation.

      • Ignore these terrorists that have infiltrated the conservative movement …this foundation was started by Paul Weyrich, Edwin Feulner and Joseph Coors … I live in Franklin Texas …it is well known fact of what these guys have been up to since LBJ … Don't fall for their lies..

    2. The question that remains at the heart of the issue between those of us who believe the purpose of American foreign policy is to protect only our people & their liberty & those who believe that our liberty can only be secured with 900 bases abroad in 135 countries, is this:
      If we cannot "trust" our allies (Germany, Israel, Japan, S. Korea, etc…) to procure their own defense systems & be responsible for their own security, are they really "allies"?

    3. Tar Ball says:

      Viet Nam is a good example of military failure due to politics. We lost in Viet Nam militarily, however we 'won' by 'Americanizing" the people there. War is something not to be entered into lightly. It should only happen as a result of a proper declaration of war by congress , and with a clear vision of the purpose of the mission. The war against communism in South East Asia, was no different than today's 'war on terror'. There is no country to attack for terrorism against us…….only an ideal.

      This is just more saber rattling for the military-industrial complex benefactors. Ron Paul advocates a strong defense and that should not be defined as "isolationism".

    4. Lane says:

      This is tripe, of course. Ron Paul is not an isolationist. He supports freer trade than any neo-conservative. He is a non-interventionist. It's fine to disagree with him but if you're going to put forth an intellectual argument against his views (which are grounded in the Austrian school of economics), you should at least do it honestly.

    5. Rhetro says:

      So… Madison must have been an isolationist because in his inaugural address, he outlined what should be our national mission statement:
      "To cherish peace and friendly intercourse with all nations, having correspondent dispositions; to maintain sincere neutrality towards belligerent nations; to prefer in all cases amicable discussion and reasonable accommodation of intrigues and foreign partialities, so degrading to all countries, and so baneful to free ones; to foster a spirit of independence too just to invade the rights of others, too proud to surrender their own, too liberal to indulge unworthy prejudices ourselves, and too elevated not to look down upon them in others." Sounds just like Ron Paul's platform

      • Trout says:

        Read some of the speeches by James Madison's Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, who is often labeled as the best Secretary of State in our history. Adams is exactly Ron Paul.

    6. harryinitiative says:

      Well, Ron Paul has always said that if there is an actual threat he would want congress to declare war as stated by the constitution?

    7. Ron Paul is not an isolationist. I used to like this site but lately it seems heritage has lost it's way.
      He is the only one that has a plan or a chance to get America back to the great country she once was.

    8. onceproudamerica says:

      Really sad the the Heritage foundation needs to use distortions, and sophistry to try to make a point. Non-interventionism is NOT Isolationism, and you folks know it!

    9. John says:

      Opposing Imperialism is not Isolationism
      http://reason.com/archives/2012/01/16/opposing-im

    10. Dan Hovey says:

      I don't think Paul is advocating a pacifistic approach. I feel, as I believe he does, that being prepared for war is necessary but instigating and creating war, often to meddle in other countries political disputes, is where we are going wrong. We have an amazingly well trained, high tech armed forces who can respond to true threats to this nation at a moments notice. Supporting over seas bases is a waste of our resources. We should be prepared for war or peace. I feel we choose war far too often.

    11. Lzy says:

      Great! You've figured out that the Founders and Ron Paul are both not isolationist, but non-interventionists. Huge difference! It's a wonderful that you've realized the difference between defense and being the world police. Thanks for playing.

    12. RP12 says:

      Anyone suggesting that Ron Paul is an isolationist or that he is soft on defense either hasn't been listening or is controlled by the establishment.

      He was spoken specifically to each of those issues.

    13. John says:

      Opposing Imperialism is not Isolationism http://reason.com/archives/2012/01/16/opposing-im

    14. Ben Barnes says:

      Who profited from war during the founding of the USA? The people of this great nation gained liberty, respect, and injured the creepy clutches of tyranny. Who stands to gain profits from war in this day and age?

      1. Military Contractors- billions (probably trillions even) are spent on weapons development by our military and farmed out to contractors to manufacture.

      2. Financiers- In the world of manufacturing it takes money to make money. Billions in interest are earned by banks loaning money to manufactures in the procurement of raw materials, outsourced components, and labor.

      3. Uncle Sam- Yes, even our own government reaps profits from this by taxing corporations that manufacture its good required to wage war.

      4. Politicians- The contractors manufacturing war goods are always pushing lobbyists into the doors of Congress to get contracts. Lobbyists gain from their efforts of lining pockets. Also, it beneficial to members of Congress to know where they should invest their personal assets for huge returns on investments.

      5. Trickle Down Economies- Yes, now that we have the resources to wage war and they've been financed and procured through spending bills in Congress, we have created a thriving economy for the United States of America all because we have been instilled with fear that big boogly Al-Quaeda (in many cases installed into governments by our military) is out to get us.

      Here are the things we forget:

      1. Troops- Members of our military are no longer serving the people of this country in this scenario. They are pongs used to destroy sovereignty of other nat

    15. Ryan says:

      NON-INTERVENTIONISM! We can talk and trade, just not bully everyone.

    16. Tom says:

      Calling Ron Paul an isolationist is like calling your neighbor a hermit because he doesn't do donuts in your lawn and throw bricks at your windows.

    17. Greyrey says:

      No foreign entanglements. Is this the Heritage Foundation or Huffpo.

    18. Jason says:

      Not that I am a RP supporter at all but doesn't he caution against interventionism? That's not quite the same thing as isolationism although they are certainly close

    19. Stephen Reid says:

      This is a horribly researched article as the premise and conclusion are based on falsehoods. Ron Paul is not an isolationist and in no way suggests isolated ourselves from the world. His foreign policy includes EXPANDING our trade and travel with the world including to countries like Iran and Cuba.

      Paul's military policy is NON INTERVENTIONIST, which is completely different. This means that we don't go starting wars without a declaration of war, that we don't have active military bases on foreign land. This was practiced through World War II – including by Theodore Roosevelt, Washington, Woodrow Wilson, and FDR.

    20. Isolationism is a word used to smear those who don't want to step into every conflict that appears on the globe. It is a quick label for anyone opposed to a military venture that might be controversial. We are supposed ot be a nation of laws but even though the constitution says Congress shall have the power ot make war it is often circumvented by politicians who think they can make political points with unsubstantiated theories. The Domino theory to justify the Vietnam war is one example. When such laws are broken and allowed to stand the representatives of the people in Congress need ot be ousted and replaced with people who understand and will perform their obligations without getting in lock step with a demagogue.

    21. Stephen Reid says:

      Ron Paul has also said that he has nothing wrong with going to the Congress to DECLARE a war. Declaring a war is significantly different than presidential action and the representatives of the people get to decide. A declared war states a clearer purpose and reason for the action – along with having true support from within the nation.

    22. Jacob says:

      I've said this so many times I fear I sound like a broken record: Ron Paul is not an isolationist, he is an non-interventionist. I know the media and the establishment would wish otherwise – which is why we continue to hear "Ron Paul is an isolationist!" but it is simply not true. Allow me to explain why he is not.

      Isolationists believe their country should be completely separate from any other country. This includes not forming alliances, not entering war with other nations unless absolutely necessary, and having no trade relations with foreign countries. The country is truly isolated.

      Ron Paul, as a non-interventionist, does not believe this. He advocates that war should be waged only when Congress votes to wage it – something the Constitution outlines. His issue with the wars, or conflicts, or whatever word you want to use that we fight today is that they are waged without a declaration of war from Congress.

      Furthermore, Paul desires free trade throughout the world for America. It's really quite simple: if foreign nations have trade routes with America that are profitable for themselves, they will be less likely to attack America as it would hurt their own economy. It incentivizes peace through trade, not peace through military intervention. In addition to staving off possible attacks from foreign powers, free trade would help our own economy as it would lower prices and the cost of living (but that is another post).

      Finally, Ron Paul is not afraid to use military action. He advocates for America to put more troops on the border with Mexico to protect us from the drug wars occurring there. He voted for military action to seek and destroy Osama bin Laden. He wants us to have such a strong domestic military that it would be insane to attack us in the first place, and if an attack did occur, retribution would be so strong and so swift, other countries would question the wisdom in attacking us.

      I agree with the point your making in that isolationism is bad and not in line with our Founding Fathers. I disagree with you lumping Ron Paul into that ideology. If anything, he is that candidate who most closely aligns with the Founders on foreign policy. You should learn more about a person's ideology before attacking it. You would have been right if you would have questioned isolationism. You are absolutely wrong for calling Paul's foreign policy isolationism or contrary to the Founder's ideology.

    23. Dr. Paul does not advocate a diminishing of our "common defense", neither in our readiness, our willingness nor our spending. What he very specifically advocates is eliminating our "global policeman" , "global occupier" mentality and the associated cost. A very different position than alluded to in the hit piece above.

    24. Bruno Gilson says:

      This article is a fraud for the elite "ruling class." I would not have believed that the Heritage Found would not stand for LIBERTY & FREEDOM.

      Come on Matt you have misrepresented what Ron Paul said along with our Founding Father's which is that empire building is not in the countries best interest. We are BROKE and we are TRILLIONS of dollars in debt not BILLIONS – TRILLIONS! Is this what our Founding Father's agreed to? NOT! This is not isolationism it is stopping the empire building that we can not afford and that is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

      CIA/Military Intelligence illustrate Ron Paul's 'CLUELESS / DANGEROUS' Foreign Policy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yd00ASg0Jgw&fe

    25. Andrew Krauss says:

      I have never heard Paul say that his foreign policy is simple isolationism. Never. I think you would be hard pressed to defend Iraq and Afghanistan as security measures for Americans at home. They are money pits and we are no safer than we were in 2001.
      The attitude that Paul and his supporters are naive leads me to believe that militant Republicans are beginning to doubt their own views of foreign policy and this "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality.
      I do not believe that the United States is the source of all hatred in the world. But it is fair to say that our eagerness to thrust our intentions on other sovereign nations without real American security in mind is dangerous and actually makes American citizens less safe. The military and the ability of Congress to declare war was not to push our ideology on others, but rather to protect those values here at home against foreign threats. That means here at home with a clear and present danger. I know the arguments for WW II are going to come out, but that was a real threat to our way of life. Korea, Vietnam, two wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Panama, and countless other military operations do not fit into Washington and the Founder's idea of foreign policy.

    26. mark says:

      have you read " Revolution_a manifesto" by Ron Paul? his comparison of isolationanism versus non-interventionism is quite marked….he does not define himself as an isolationist ( one who does not engage other nations, but rather does not interfere in their self-government…what gives US the right to do that????

    27. Adam Feller says:

      By this same logic, someone who walks into a store, conducts business in a friendly manner, without threatening or beating anyone up is clearly anti-social.

      Ron Paul is not advocating pacifism. If the nation's true security is at stake, he is not saying we should turn the other cheek. This is a straw man that big government conservatives often like to construct, because attacking Ron Paul's true positions would expose them as imperialists hellbent on protecting the financial interests of the military industrial complex.

      We have the most awesome military force the planet has ever known. No other nation comes close. But that is not enough for some Republicans. They will not be happy until we have enough firepower to destroy all life on the planet ten times over, because just killing us all off once is not enough in the name of national security.

      We do not need to subsidize the national security of nations or entire continents that are economically able to do it themselves (Japan, Europe, Kuwait, South Korea, Israel, Saudi Arabia, to name a few). They have developed economies that are strong enough to look after their own interests.

    28. Donald Dunnam says:

      In defense of Ron Paul's foreign policy.
      The facts remain. We pushed democracy on Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and other Mid East countries. What did we get for our efforts? They started killing Christians. What many of these Ron Paul haters who push their religious agenda on people forget, is that to rule the world they must be willing to give their power to the anti-Christ. Read the Bible and pay attention to what it actually says for a change. I would rather be an isolationist than part of the new world order that is being pushed. At present with governments pushing all religions into a one world let's just get along scenario some who claim to be wise overlook that in the end it delivers the world into the end time prophesy of one world government, one world religion and one world money.
      George Washington Farewell Address, Philadelphia, September 17, 1796
      Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness – these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

      Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct, and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it?

      The nation prompted by ill will and resentment sometimes impels to war the government contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject. At other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility, instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations has been the victim.

      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. So far as we have already formed engagements let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.

      It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world, so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense, but in my opinion it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.
      Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.
      Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest, but even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand, neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that by such acceptance it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

    29. When our national language is Chinese and we are losing the next world war and it takes a wheelbarrow of money to buy a roll of toilet paper you will understand Ron Paul. He's not a genius just an honest man with commen sense. Something that is surely lacking on the author of this article.

    30. Dr.Greg Belcher says:

      For it's tortured logic in support of empire, this essay is only exceeded in it's brazenness by the authors' pejorative labeling of a foreign policy against which he makes a case, poorly.

    31. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Ron Paul lies when he says he's "non-interventionism" and being "a non-interventionist." He's not a non-interventionist and he doesn't believe in non-interventionism. He's an isolationist and he believes in isolationism.

    32. Barack Mugabe says:

      Isolationism will allow military to be even stronger, the military we have now we can't afford. It's basic math, if we don't cut all spending we lose everything.

    33. Michael Hiles says:

      Clearly Matt Spalding has neither an understanding of the distinctions between non-interventionism and isolationism, not an understanding of how Dr. Paul adamantly chooses a strong defense but refuses to succumb to the hawkish war mongering propoganda promulgated by the shareholders of the military-industrial complex. Clearly which is being perpetuated here in an article that would be better suited on FoxNews than a site like Heritage. Seriously, I thought Heritage Foundation was better than this, but I am now seriously rethinking my support.

      For those who are interested in learning the truth behind Ron Paul's foreign policy position IN HIS OWN WORDS instead of from this kind of war mongering propoganda, I invite you to listen to him here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtQTTSmc-CU

    34. David says:

      Ron Paul is right.
      I agree totally with Ron Paul. We should take care of ourselves first and let other nations take care of themselves. If thats what you call isolationism, then so be it.

    35. WPKage says:

      Anti-interventionism is not synonymous with isolationism.

      All the outposts (foreign bases) in the world aren't going to help you if you leave the back door (the border) off it's hinges…

    36. Arnoud says:

      I don't think Paul supporters being in favor of his foreign policy has much to do with your founding fathers being isolationists yes or no. What I have seen is that a lot of his supporters are actually people that get their info from a lot of sources and make up their minds about what is logic and good for your country. They are pasionate, some are well articulated and most importantly they are multiplying.

      Ron Paul is an isolationist only where it comes to military aid. But I will let the Dr fend for himself: http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul303.html or here for the vid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44wo8IhuHfQ
      I fact checked it and it's spot on. We can argue about his conclusion, but to me they make a lot more sense then your reasoning above.

    37. patesta says:

      Ron Paul is not isolationist, nor a pacifist, not even anti-war. He is a non-interventionist that wants to start war only with a declaration of war. It's not that complicated, and it's not extreme.

    38. Chris Hobson says:

      Ron Paul doesn't advocate isolationism, he advocates not starting wars. BIG difference.

    39. Colleen says:

      Yes, it is a gross misrepresentation of the founder's intent and also of Paul's intent today. His NOT an isolationist. All you claim here that is right and our American legacy is exactly what Paul advocates and not what you opine w/o any proof whatsoever. Please provide a source to prove your claim that Paul supporters are, again. equating Paul's policies isolationist. He completely and unequivacably supports the very claims you make here concerning our founding father's and their wisdom, which you DO provide sources. Anyone who wants to refute this article can easily do so but I am tired of it, tired of the distortions and outright lies intended to distort a good man's stand. It is despicable and it is obvious to anyone who cares to look below the surface, even on the surface it shows, and see the true objective of the criticisms of Dr. Paul are because the momentum for freedom has gained beyong the power of the elite controllers grasp. No amount of manipulative reporting will change the tide any more than Al Gore can. Give it up we know this is an attack and not an objective opinion. So, you tell me what it is you have so against the constitution that you will resort to this, (undermining the American people's ability to discern) and to destroy ALL hope of stopping global tyranny? Hmm.? Why do you hate the most constitutional politician of our time? What is it that causes people to be so obsessed they will abandon journalistic integrity and join the diabolical effort to destroy our only hope of restoring our sovereignty? Why do you "dangerously mislead" this nations voters to choose a candidate loyal to global law over our own beloved constitution and why is Heritage Network allowing it to be printed on their site? You are all responsible for this. Shame.

    40. Dr. Paul is not an Isolationist, he is a Non-Interventionist. There is a difference, and if you actually look into the Republican Candidates, the others are more Isolationist than Ron Paul. Heritage you have lost a lot of creditability with this article. I guess you would rather have America go bankrupt than to see a little reduction in Military spending.

    41. WhoKilled999 says:

      http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fr1788-1….
      ART. 6.

      The most Christian King shall endeavour by all the means in his Power to protect and defend all Vessels and the Effects belonging to the Subjects, People or Inhabitants of the said United States, or any of them, being in his Ports Havens or Roads or on the Sea near to his Countries, Islands Cities or Towns and to recover and restore to the right owners, their agents or Attornies all such Vessel & Effects, which shall be taken within his Jurisdiction; and the Ships of War of his most Christian Majesty or any Convoys sailing under his authority shall upon all Occasions take under their Protection all Vessels belonging to the Subjects, People or Inhabitants of the said United States, or any of them & holding the same Course or going the same Way, and shall defend such Vessels, as long as they hold the same Course or go the same way, against all Attacks, Force and Violence in the same manner, as they ought to protect and defend the Vessels belonging to the Subjects of the most Christian King.

      ART. 7.

      In like manner the said United States and their Ships of War sailing under their Authority shall protect and defend, conformable to the Tenor of the preceeding Article, all the Vessels and Effect belonging to the Subjects of the most Christian King; and use al their Endeavours to recover cause to be restored the said Vessels and Effects, that shall have been taken within the Jurisdiction of the said United State or any of them.

    42. DON THE BRITTON says:

      Our foreign policy sucks. We go all around the world paying leaders of all kinds of countries to like us, if they don't do as we tell them we take them down. Does bully come to mind? At the same time we have been invaded by twenty million illegals that are destroying our economy. It is obvious that we think we can manage other countries better than we can manage our own. Does dogooder come to mind? What is wrong with Ron Paul's golden rule policy? It sounds a lot better than buy your friends and kill your enemies,.our current policy.

    43. HeritageFan says:

      Good article, but unfortunately you’re missing the mark. I wish you would write an article explaining the difference between being an isolationist, which Ron Paul is not, and being a non-interventionist, which Ron Paul is. That would clear up a lot of confusion. If you’re going to try to state someone’s foreign policy position, please make the effort to get it right.

      • JRS says:

        I wrote a very similar response early sunday morning thanking the author for not getting Paul's position correct. I guess I must've been a bit too catty in thanking the author for playing but to please try again… LOL… I must be classified as a PaulBot now because I want Heritage to be truthful… let's see if they'll print this response.

        • jweb says:

          They issue 75% of mine. Mention Jesus Christ and it's off. Seperation of Church and State?…That's a very poor arguement once it gets truly opened up. State needs godliness more now than ever before. We the People Live and we will not be corporate servants! Liberty or death!

    44. FormerHeritageDonor says:

      This is the second Ron Paul hit piece I've read from the Heritage Foundation this year. The good folks at Heritage apparently can't seem to actually attack Ron Paul on his foreign policy stance, and instead bring out the Red Herring of Isolationism. Doctor Paul will continue to get my vote and my Monetary support. The Heritage Foundation no longer will.

    45. DB3603B says:

      Amen to HeritageFan! I've been trying to find an instance where Ron Paul has indicated a lack of desire to provide for the defense of the US. The canard is always isolationism. If nothing else comes from Mr. Paul's election run, let us all hope that an intelligent discussion of the role of every part of the government under the CONSTITUTION becomes our anthem.

    46. Bobbie says:

      notice a definite false and misleading perception of Ron Paul that deprives people an honest opinion of their own. happens too much in areas that have come to be trusted. Radio and the insulting, childish impersonations patronizing him are ridiculous.

      It leads to suspicion when few respect the value this man promotes of this country for which she can stand strong once again. If you read and interpret the peoples American Constitution and the documents that stem from it, will resolve all ailments this country has been suffering under wrongful leadership with an agenda to destroy. This isn't for Ron Paul, this is for America. This isn't for the people who endorse Ron Paul, this is for America and the strength and esteem she once built in the hearts of all who chose to become American.

      There's a female talk host who said herself, "Ron Paul is too old!?" age discrimination that directly prejudices Ron Paul! Who has more wisdom, than an elder? Who has the longest record of integrity and dignity to defend the strength of this country throughout his life time? With the vigor of the youth behind Ron Paul, this country's recovery can be quick!

      Ron Paul is just as much aware of the uprise of caliphates as anyone else and will handle it reasonably implementing necessary defense not the neglect of it as current demonstrations prove.

      Ron Paul uses his genuine work ethic to defend the American peoples Constitution why don't you think he wants to share the Constitution with the world as much as he wants to defend it from the world that has lost all respect for it under weak American leadership? Foreign policy is just as much a problem as domestic the only difference is domestic is in our face getting worse everyday!!! Ron Paul will hold all that are accountable, accountable during his presidency. Something this current pres, totally refuses at high costs of thievery.

    47. Libertarian says:

      And this is why those who are educated on topics such as these discredit people such as "Matt Spalding" as a neutral columnist. If you don't know the difference between Non-Interventionalism and Isolationism, then maybe Mr. Spalding you should (at the least) Wikipedia the difference…

    48. Kyle Dincler says:

      You incorrectly label Ron Paul an isolationist. He is NOT an isolationist. He is a non-interventionist.

      You argue that the founders were not isolationists. You are correct. They were not.

      You said:

      "The classic statement of this is Washington’s Farewell Address, sometimes wrongly read as isolationist dogma. Yes, Washington rightly warns us against “the insidious wiles of foreign influence” and yes, Washington correctly states that in extending commercial relations we should have as little political connection with those nations as possible. That’s not isolationism but common sense."

      This is NOT "wrongly read as isolationist dogma." It couldn't be, on account of the "commercial relations" part. This is NON-INTERVENTIONISM, and this is EXACTLY the same as what Paul believes. You call it common sense to have commercial relations with foreign countries while avoiding political connections.

      Congratulations! You agree with Ron Paul! And Ron Paul agrees with our Founders' foreign policy of non-interventionism.

    49. Jean-Luc H. Ulmer says:

      This is a racket.

    50. Jean-Luc H. Ulmer says:

      Necessity dictates that the United States must be ready to fight wars and use force to protect the nation and the American people. Hence Washington often liked to use the old Roman maxim: “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of promoting peace.” The Founders made sure they were prepared and were not reluctant to use force. How else can we choose peace or war, as our interest guided by justice shall counsel?

      How could you skew that so terribly?

    51. Patrick says:

      The difference between a "non-interventionalist" and an isolationist would be what? I would take it to mean that the "non-interventionist" believes we shouldn't get involved in small conflicts when they can be nipped in the bud. Kind of an, "Let's just wait until Hitler breaks the Soviets and conquerors the U.K. Then maybe we'll think about intervening, somehow." This would be opposed to the isolationist who occupies the hole in the sand right next to the "non-interventionalist."

    52. Mannafeast says:

      The founders were correct in their assesent of retaining enough strength to deter another nation from seeking our demise. That is not to say, by being strong, they went looking to dictate to others their ideals through that strength. They saw the inherant dangers by being students of the history of man, and refused to allow other nations to dictate the way their nation participated in the worlds problems and to become interventionist in those problems.
      Today this nation has allowed itself to economically ruin itself by being directed to involvment in global problems through its membership in the UN, and through its military industrial complex.
      Ron Paul sees this as one of the reasons we are coming to economic collapse and seeks to return to a position of only using force when that use is needed in our defense while we re-strengthen our total position.

    53. Spiritof76 says:

      Please tell us why the American taxpayers must continuously pay for the defense of prosperous Europe, Japan and S.Korea for 50 or60 years. I agree with Ron Paul that we should close all the foreign bases and bring our troops home. The Constitution requires the Congress to declare war first, no exceptions. Once that happens, the troops must have full authority for swift action and complete victory with no intereference from the politicians. What we have today as foreign policy is insane. Moreover, we can not afford it. We are broke as a nation!

    54. Jackie says:

      The Paul supporters will support Paul no matter how loony or how out of touch he is with world affairs. He has no concept of anything current and lives in some insular world of 50 years ago. Nice guy, just wrong. The ideology of Iran and the concept that they are just fine with a nuclear weapon is beyond absurd. To throw the only democratic country, Israel, to the wolves in the most unstable region in the world is more than naive and smacks, unfortunately, of anti semitism.
      Paul is wrong – we do not need any form of isolationism, we do need our allies, and we must do these things for our own survival.

    55. Oldud says:

      I have been present when Congressman Paul has attempted to articulate his policy on the use of the military and it was an incoherent muddle. He really lost me when he compared the security efforts of the USMC in Afganistan to mall security. I had no idea what he was trying to say other than mall cops could do as good a job as the Marines. There was nothing to be taken out of context because I heard the man say it and then repeat it.

    56. AWM says:

      Your words seem to uphold the finest traditions of the Republican National Committee -and would be better posted there.
      The majority of your readers come to The Foundry seeking a voice of honest conservatism -not party propoganda.
      As recently as a year ago, Heritage was the first stop in my daily online search for news and opinion.
      I was (then) confident that the majority of information I found there, was filtered through the United States Constitution.
      Heritage is now my 6th or 7th stop…
      You (and Heritage!) should understand: when articles such as this are presented, you short-change the intelligence and committment of your readers……and you do so at your own peril…..

    57. Christian says:

      What about following the Constitution and only going to war when Congress declares war? Why is it interventionism is somehow more "American" than what Ron Paul is advocating. W. Cleon Skousen argues in his book, "The 5000 Year Leap," that what the founding fathers believed in was not isolationism, but something similar to that of Switzerland. Isn't that what Ron Paul is advocating?

    58. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Ron Paul is not the problem. Look at the countries we are now in or have just pulled out of. Are those countries now democracies? Are the people more free that before we spilled our young's blood and spent billions of our dollars? In the long run, will anything change? If that make us "isolationist" so be it.

    59. Margaret Hood says:

      I kept my nose clean and didn't speak out when they came for catholic, I didn't speak out for the Hungarian, and i didn't speak out when they came for the Jews, and when they came for me, nobody spoke out and my cries went unheard!!! TOO LATE!

    60. Richard Lahan says:

      We tried the isolationist/non-interventionist tack from 1918-1941. The world found us on December 7,1941 and dragged us into WWII. We should not police the world or get involved in nation building or deploying troops to every despotic dirt pile on the planet. However, we cannot afford to hide within our borders and trust that the world will ignore us and leave us alone. We ignore the rest of the world at our own peril. We must be involved on the world stage in order to protect our national interests.

    61. Richard Lahan says:

      I agree with Ron Paul's concern about national debt and deficits but his foreign policy scares me.

    62. Richard Lahan says:

      We tried the isolationist/non-interventionist tack from 1918-1941. The world found us on December 7,1941 and dragged us into WWII. We should not police the world or get involved in nation building or deploying troops to every despotic dirt pile on the planet. However

    63. Michael says:

      It seems that many people are drawing a distinction between "non-interventionism" and "isolationism." I agree there is a huge difference (the former encourages free trade, the latter autarky), but it is clear from Matt Spalding's blog that he isn't even writing about economics. He's writing about foreign policy. We can discuss vocabulary all day long, but let's at least get to the heart of what Spalding is arguing. He's contending that Ron Paul fundamentally misinterprets early American Foreign Policy principles as explicated by Washington & Co. Whereas they adopted non-interventionism as a grand strategy (subject to change over time), Ron Paul misinterprets it as a fundamental principle. This, as I see it, is the crux of Spalding's argument. Let's move past vocabulary and talk about substance.

    64. Paul says:

      Our profligate spending (and yes, pursing an interventionist policy is costly) will erode our credit to the extent that we may find ourselves unable to repay our debts (due to consequent higher borrowing rates) and therefore be forced to negotiate those debts with our creditors. Who are our creditors – foreign countries: notably China. What demands might they make of us to allow us to write down our obligations and continue borrowing? For one – perhaps stop spending so much on defense. We can make the decision ourselves, or someday have it forced upon us.

    65. lanikfs says:

      Mr. Spalding, you said "If one nation maintains constantly a disciplined army, ready for the service of ambition or revenge, it obliges the most pacific nations who may be within the reach of its enterprises to take corresponding precautions."

      Very eloquent…and very hypocritical in the context of your argument. If this rational perspective can justify security measures by USA, is it any less valid a perspective on the part of other nations? If not, then considering those other nations' points of view…who, more so than any other country, maintains constantly a disciplined army ready for the service of ambition or revenge…in their own backyard no less? I do not need to provide the answer…and the fact that EVERYONE knows the answer is enough by itself to prove my point. But I will tarry with the following question. Would you then demonize those other nations for taking corresponding precautions? That is akin to blaming the dog for getting aggressive towards the boy jabbing it with a stick.

    66. lanikfs says:

      Indeed, it is the strong US military muscle, too often flexed, around the world that fosters resentment and hostility. It is that military presence which has been directly cited as a chief provocation for nearly all terrorist attacks this country has suffered. It is these military entaglements which have cost more American lives (and many more foreign civilian ones as well) than have been saved (again including foreign as well as domestic). It is this sword in the hand of modern US politicos that is used to play the game of "power politics"…an approach you rightly state was rejected by the Founders.

      It is that permanent military occupation that Paul would recall and there is no shortage of military and foreign intelligence experts who agree with him. Paul has not, nor has he ever, ruled out going to war as an option. He simply advocates a common sense, consititutional approach of not threatening another nation with violence without first offering evidence that they present an imminent threat and then respecting the authority of Congress to declare war. Of course you know this as well as most of the commenters here, but I explain it for the benefit of those you may have misled.

    67. lanikfs says:

      Other positions you have falsely attributed, either explicitly or implicitly, to Paul for which you are obliged to either source or retract are that he would:
      1) Withdraw totally from the world
      2) Advocate a paradox of perpetual peace
      3) Espouse an absolute and permanent doctrine of nonintervention
      4) Not provide for our own security
      5) Prohibit having a readiness for war
      6) Be reluctant to use force when necessary
      7) Question the US government responsibility for defense

      If your answer to any of these is his recall of our permanent troop deployments around the globe, then go back to the beginning of my responses and read again.

    68. Jared Myers says:

      This entire article was a waste of Matthew Spalding's time. Ron Paul is a non-interventionist, NOT an isolationist. The terms sound similar, but they are worlds apart in practice — which makes this entire article moot.

    69. anon says:

      I think Mr. Spalding may be referring to Dr. Paul as an "isolationist…" b/c Mr. Spalding confuses non-interventionist policy with witholding aid to Israel?

    70. Kirk Mazzia says:

      what a load of crap this article is. Pure propaganda

    71. Rick Bernico says:

      Any time a Ron Paul supporter uses the term neo-conservative to describe someone who disagrees with them shows me the blatant disingenuousness of the supporter. Furthermore, Ron Paul does not blatantly come out and say he is an isolationist, he tap dances around the issue with myopic rhetoric that his brain dead or mindless minions eagerly parrot. The fact of the matter is Ron Paul has his Paulbots spinning in a constant state of agitation exactly the same way that Barack Obama has his supporters ready to commit all sorts of chaos should he not win again.

      Non-interventionist … isolationist … semantics. There is absolutely no way in this world that we could not and should not help a country, an ally that we have treaties with. We are bound to support and help defend those countries through those very same Constitutionally permitted treaties. Paulbots do not care about the rest of the world. If mass genocides are occurring then Paulbots say, "who cares, none of our business."

      Ron Paul is the perpetrator of these evil thinking and apathetic Paulbots because he has them all stirred up like an angry hornets nest. The world would be much better off if Ron Paul were to return to being just a glorified midwife delivering babies. Then, at least, he would be doing something productive.

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