Ron Paul’s vision for a Tea Party foreign policy

Thousands of Tea Partiers are converging on FP’s hometown tomorrow for Glenn Beck’s "Restoring Honor" rally on the Washington mall, which will feature a speech by Sarah Palin and, controversially, take place on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I Have A Dream" speech.  For all the overt displays of national pride at Tea ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of Tea Partiers are converging on FP's hometown tomorrow for Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally on the Washington mall, which will feature a speech by Sarah Palin and, controversially, take place on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech. 

For all the overt displays of national pride at Tea Party events, it can be difficult to discern how the movement sees America's place in the larger world. New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker addressed this uncertainty in a piece for our most recent print issue:

The two most famous Tea Partiers, in fact, are at the opposite ends of the foreign-policy spectrum. Where Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice-presidential candidate with her eye on 2012 and her muscular talk of a movement of "Mama Grizzlies," embraces Bush's assertive foreign policy, Rand Paul, the son of the Texas congressman, extends his dad's don't-tread-on-me philosophy at home to mean don't tread on others abroad.

Thousands of Tea Partiers are converging on FP’s hometown tomorrow for Glenn Beck’s "Restoring Honor" rally on the Washington mall, which will feature a speech by Sarah Palin and, controversially, take place on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I Have A Dream" speech. 

For all the overt displays of national pride at Tea Party events, it can be difficult to discern how the movement sees America’s place in the larger world. New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker addressed this uncertainty in a piece for our most recent print issue:

The two most famous Tea Partiers, in fact, are at the opposite ends of the foreign-policy spectrum. Where Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice-presidential candidate with her eye on 2012 and her muscular talk of a movement of "Mama Grizzlies," embraces Bush’s assertive foreign policy, Rand Paul, the son of the Texas congressman, extends his dad’s don’t-tread-on-me philosophy at home to mean don’t tread on others abroad.

Congressman Ron Paul has graciously written a short response to Baker’s piece which we are featuring on the site today. Paul makes the case that the movement should commit itself to a less militaristic vision of Republican foreign policy: 

As many frustrated Americans who have joined the Tea Party realize, we cannot stand against big government at home while supporting it abroad. We cannot talk about fiscal responsibility while spending trillions on occupying and bullying the rest of the world. We cannot talk about the budget deficit and spiraling domestic spending without looking at the costs of maintaining an American empire of more than 700 military bases in more than 120 foreign countries. We cannot pat ourselves on the back for cutting a few thousand dollars from a nature preserve or an inner-city swimming pool at home while turning a blind eye to a Pentagon budget that nearly equals those of the rest of the world combined.

While Paul’s views may not be representative of the entire Tea Party movement, it will be interesting to see if his brand of non-interventionist Republicanism gathers momentum. As Daniel Drezner recently wrote, the emerging generation of "Millenials," whose political experience has largely been defined by 9/11, two costly wars, and a global financial crisis, would seem to be the perfect audience for these arguments.  

 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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