Instead of Bombs and Bribes,
Let’s Try Empathy and Trade

by , October 06, 2009

What if tomorrow morning you woke up to headlines that yet another Chinese drone bombing on U.S. soil killed several dozen ranchers in a rural community while they were sleeping? That a drone aircraft had come across the Canadian border in the middle of the night and carried out the latest of many attacks? What if it was claimed that many of the victims harbored anti-Chinese sentiments, but most of the dead were innocent women and children? And what if the Chinese administration, in an effort to improve its public image in the U.S., had approved an aid package to send funds to help with American roads and schools and promote Chinese values here?

Most Americans would not stand for it. Yet the above hypothetical events are similar to what our government is doing in Pakistan. Last week, Congress did approve an aid package for Pakistan for the stated purposes of improving our image and promoting democracy. I again made the point on the floor of the House that still no one seems to hear: What if this happened on U.S. soil? What if innocent Americans were being killed in repeated drone attacks carried out by some foreign force who was trying to fix our problems for us? Would sending money help their image? If another nation committed this type of violence and destruction on our homeland, would we be at all interested in adopting their values?

Sadly, one thing that has entirely escaped modern American foreign policy is empathy. Without much humility or regard for human life, our foreign policy has been reduced to alternately bribing and bombing other nations, all with the stated goal of "promoting democracy." But if a country democratically elects a leader who is not sufficiently pro-American, our government will refuse to recognize them, will impose sanctions on them, and will possibly even support covert efforts to remove them. Democracy is obviously not what we are interested in. It is more likely that our government is interested in imposing its will on other governments. This policy of endless intervention in the affairs of others is very damaging to American liberty and security.

If we were really interested in democracy, peace, prosperity, and safety, we would pursue more free trade with other countries. Free and abundant trade is much more conducive to peace because it is generally bad business to kill your customers. When one’s livelihood is on the line, and the business agreements are mutually beneficial, it is in everyone’s best interests to maintain cooperative and friendly relations and not kill each other. But instead, to force other countries to bend to our will, we impose trade barriers and sanctions. If our government really wanted to promote freedom, Americans would be free to travel and trade with whoever they wished. And if we would simply look at our own policies around the world through the eyes of others, we would understand how these actions make us more targeted and therefore less safe from terrorism. The only answer is get back to free trade with all and entangling alliances with none. It is our bombs and sanctions and condescending aid packages that isolate us.

Read more by Rep. Ron Paul