The much anticipated foreign policy speech by President Obama this Thursday will likely be a more concise verbalization of the Obama Doctrine — a currently discombobulated foreign policy philosophy in much demand to be hashed out. The President will likely strike tones of ‘duty’ to fellow man, ‘sacrifices’ demanded on humanity’s behalf, and will wrap up the strategic posture of the United States in the Middle East during this Arab Spring.
But as we wait on the edge of our sofa cushions for Thursday, we shouldn’t expect much divergence from the President’s moral code of altruism — the code of morality that states man should place others above the self; that he has a responsibility not to his own well-being, but the well-being of others.
This morality plays out throughout the Libyan episode we witnessed this spring. The President spoke of “our responsibilities to our fellow human beings” and that to “measure our interests against the need for action” is an insufficient model and cannot be an excuse “for never acting on behalf of what’s right.” Aside from the fact that foreign policy’s only moral purpose is to serve American interests, what does the President mean by “what’s right?” Right by what standard? His standard is altruism.
In order to understand altruisms incongruence with foreign policy, we must first understand the nature and purpose of foreign policy. Thomas Jefferson once said, “It is to secure our rights that we resort to government at all.” What he meant was that because each individual enjoyed certain inalienable rights, and that if those individuals wished to live amongst each other peacefully, it became necessary to delegate the use of force and judiciality to a government in order to secure domestic tranquility from those who would violate our rights such as criminals, murders, and thugs.
Foreign policy is no different in principle. Criminals, murderers, and thugs may exist in the form of other states wishing to do violence against our rights. The government is then tasked, rightfully so, to defend our rights from foreign threat where ever those threats arise. It is not within the confines of foreign policy to frustrate the efforts of dictators, or to spread democracy at the barrel of a gun.
An altruistic foreign policy philosophy shifts the entire focus from the lives and rights it was established to protect, to the lives and rights of others that have no weight or practical significance to ours. At the expense of our tax dollars, our military, and our resources, we have engaged in an unbeneficial crusade for our “fellow human being.”
On Thursday, the President will defend his altruistic morality and attempt to wrap it nicely in the American flag and call upon us to accept it unquestioningly. But keep in mind the impulses of the American Revolution and the fundamental — and moral — purpose and scope of our government, and you shall not be fooled.