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A Foreign Policy Lesson From Star Wars

Venezuela is falling apart. Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran are insane.  The rest of the world sucks.

At some point during the Old Republic Era in Star Wars lore (before Episode I), the Republic was crumbling and the Jedi were stretched thin and under attack. The Jedi withdrew from the Republic and stayed out of galactic affairs for a time.

The world’s cop faces the same problem.  The nations of the earth are in disarray and everyone expects the United States to get involved in everything.

While Marco Rubio dazzled us with his knowledge of the nuclear triad during the GOP debates, we are reminded that some politicians and presidential advisers think that foreign policy is the essence of government.

Domestic policy is for chumps.

Isolationism as a permanent ideology is just as dangerous as one of perpetual intervention, but it may be required for a time when domestic policies are dividing the nation.

Let’s look at Venezuela.  As a human being, of course we feel terrible for what is happening there. As Christians, we should find ways to assist in humanitarian causes and spreading the gospel. As a nation, we should hope for an outcome that preserves the rights of the people and one that seeks their well-being.

But foreign policy is not the realm of the church.  And since it is the realm of the state, we have to ask ourselves when is it worth our time and our resources.

To that end, we find several justifications for intervention.  Discussions revolve around two goals:  The national interest and the moral crusade.

The moral crusade tends to be the more noble option, yet in every case, it is unclear what degree of devolution must exist before prompting intervention.  With no objective morality, this cause in the international community can lead to untenable precedents.  The moral crusade would compel us to intervene in every corrupt nation on earth.  We would have nuked the Kim’s in North Korea already.  We would have prevented the Chinese from becoming a communist dictatorship.  We would have listened to Patton.  But what about smaller scale, fleeting atrocities? The Rwandan Genocide wasn’t 40 million people, but it was close to a million in just four months. And when Ivanka cried over a supposed gas attack in Syria, the President launched the tomahawks.  Then, we wonder if Europe is justified in wiping out our power grid over climate change.  Are the nations on the UN human rights council justified in attacking Missouri or Maryland over police brutality?  Are a few hundred deaths justification for intervention?  Are a thousand? Why is 20,000 less concerning than 80,000? How long do you wait?

The national interest tends to be subject to pretzel logic that is rivaled only by commerce clause case law and legislation. Everyone disagrees with what is in our national interest, yet when the time comes, basically any intervention can be found to be in the national interest.  But we know that this justification is deficient because in cases like Rwanda, the United States was not affected, but we should have intervened because the UN could not stop the genocide.  We have no idea what all is going to happen in Venezuela. Syria has been a failure despite our involvement.

It may be time for the United States to address the world and say “we wish you all the best, but we’ve got to take care of some personal stuff, we need a mental health day.  We’ve got to address our own finances and domestic policies. So we’re taking a few years off. We’ll be back if something really bad happens, we want to help, but we need some alone time.”

This is what some thought Trump would do.  Whereas his trade policy was disagreeable, as is isolationism, we thought he was doing it to get things in order, to point out the hypocrisy of other nations’ trade policy, using fair trade to get us back to free trade.  Then Trump had to call himself Tariff Man.  We don’t want fair trade as the permanent policy of the United States.  And I would make the case we don’t want isolationism to be the permanent policy of the United States either.  But sometimes you’ve got to try something different.

Sorry to disappoint Little Marco, but Venezuela can figure it out themselves. We gave at the office.

For more information on the Venezuela situation, check out these articles:

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