It seems the ethics of altruism has struck again: a selfless war in Libya at the expense of U.S. time and resources. I couldn’t help but yell into my car radio as I was listening to President Obama’s speech last night as he danced around like a jester trying to please the American people with deploying the U.S. military to yet another sand country. I was unamused.
The President invoked the strong chored of “responsibility” over and over again. His strongest statement:
To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.
I take serious issue with this extra-constitutional view of America’s international role. President Obama is seemingly implying that the United States is morally obligated to alleviate the ills of the world. Yet we find troubling gaps in this reasoning. We have ignored the brutal suppression of protesters in Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Syria, Yemen, and other totalitarian countries, not to mention the ongoing genocides in Africa, the violation of human rights in China, suppression of the free press in Russia, or the practices of socialist dictators in Venezuela and Cuba. I mention these other dark realities not to advocate American involvement, but to highlight the nature of American foreign policy, and the President’s misunderstanding of it. Many troubles plague this world, few of which endanger American interest.
The President swears an oath to defend the United States from enemies both domestic and foreign and wields power over the world’s most powerful military in order to carry out that oath. But in what sense does genocide in the Sudan endanger American interest? It does not. In what sense does the suppression of rights in Russia endanger American interest? It does not.
In what sense does a revolution in Libya endanger American interest? It does not.
Why then are we deploying the U.S. military in Libya? The President argues we had a responsibility to defend the Libyan people — that had we not interceded, Qaddafi would have leveled towns and killed an untold number of innocent people. But who endowed us with that responsibility? By what standard is that responsibility ours to take up? The only answer is the ethics of altruism.
Altruism demands from every man that he sacrifice himself for the good of others. It is the ethic of suicide and under its mantel of self-sacrifice, it has once again pushed America into a world conflict which has no relation to American interests (interests that the President has consigned to defend).
It would behoove President Obama to become reacquainted with his job duties; to not let hawks on the right or bleeding-hearts on the left to obscure his prime responsibility to represent, secure, and defend American interests.