11 September 2008

And on the 9-11 Anniversary

Never forget:

We face real evil.

Real horror.

And real courage can fight it...

...whatever size our sphere of influence may be.


Ann said...

Very true. Thanks for the reminder.

Carissa said...

Kannie, on Connor's site you said:

"I've started pondering again whether it's right to officially intervene abroad to stop things like feeding people into shredders. My feelings still say yes, but that puts me very much in the minority, (which doesn't necessarily make me wrong ;-) ), and since I can't officially defend it yet, I have to just be quiet and ponder some more"

I hope you don't think that in order to advocate a non-interventionist foreign policy, one must think it is morally right to simply sit back and watch people in other countries starve or be killed (or any number of other terrible things that occur) without doing or "feeling" anything for them. Your "feelings say yes" to stopping horrible things because those things are morally reprehensible and stopping them from happening would certainly be a good thing for those suffering. The HOW is important, though, and has great implications.

What are your feelings in regard our domestic welfare state? State-sponsored welfare programs paid for with tax money? In my understanding, the constitution does not allow it. It's not because the framers didn't care about poor people. Similarly with humanitarian aid to other countries, the constitution just does not allow for it. It's not because we shouldn't care about other people. It's just that this form of aid needs to be given voluntarily and outside of government (and this is WISE). If we abided by the constitution's limits, our nation would benefit in being politically neutral around the world (regardless of what our private citizens were doing to help citizens of other countries). We could live as George Washington recommended when he said:

"The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible."

Imagine, if by staying politically neutral in the world (while individual citizens donating their own time and means to help whomever they chose to) we could be the America Reuben J. Clark spoke of:

"America, the great neutral, will thus become the Peacemaker of the world, which is her manifest destiny if she lives the law of peace."

Whenever we create political connections with other countries, it so happens that we create "enemies" along with our "friends". From my research, this is NOT what the framers wanted.

Anyway, these are just some of my thoughts. I didn't want you to feel like you should reject your charitable feelings- you absolutely shouldn't. It's wonderful that you have them!

Jennifer Dunn said...

Wow, I don't know you Carissa, but very thought-provoking comments!

A distant relative of mine said something about State-sponsored welfare programs--that the problem with them is that once they are begun, you can't easily get rid of them, even if the original need decreases.

In a way it applies to Foreign Policy--which is that now that we have involved ourselves in the interests of other countries, there's no easy way to go back. Considering how interconnected the world now is, I'd say it is impossible.

Also...what Washington said about keeping our commercial ties separate from political interests seems a good policy for Domestic concerns as well as foreign ones.

You've spurred a lot of random thoughts...I need to think some more!

kannie said...

Thanks, Carissa! :-) I didn't mean to say that those advocating a non-interventionist foreign policy don't have charitable feelings. They do (well, the human ones do, LOL), but as far as my understanding, their approach is that it's the *manner* as much as the goal, that matters - and perhaps more. That's why I used the "officially intervene" phrase in my comment, since it implies the use of some sort of pressure or force.

I'm just saying that, right now, I'm stuck weighing the rightness and benefits of intervention (the hard & fast way to get rid of one oppressor) and something more ... I don't know a good word - maybe "civilian?" Something like the Underground Railroad, but on a more global scale? Bring the poor and downtrodden (and abused and threatened) here?

I would love the US to be seen as neutral so that people could take us at our most noble motives.

You're absolutely right that the Constitution does not provide for humanitarian aid. I think Jennifer put really great words to my reservations about pulling back our interventions, though - I just don't know whether we *can* at this point.

That said, doing what's right is rarely easy. But the question in my mind is, "is pulling our fingers out of the pot really the right thing if the result allows evil to perpetrate more horrors?" I really am torn... not a comfortable place to be! Do we go back to what *should* be, or do we make the best of what we have now, or are they really exclusive? (And how do we do either?)

Carissa said...

I get ya. Does the "end justify the means?" kind of dilemma. Not easy.

I guess, the way I see it is if we choose the "quick and easy" way to get rid of oppression (unconstitutional political and military force) we must also face the unintended consequences that will surely come with that. I don't think most Americans know much about the "blowback" phenomena that results from this type of interference (think about Bin Laden's fatwa here as just one example).

If we stick to the foreign policy of non-intervention, we run the risk of allowing evil to perpetuate, oppress others, and grow without as much threat. Either way, the risks are great and success is not guaranteed. Therefore, I choose the "means" I agree with and can morally support, even when it includes the risk of something I abhor.

I used to be confused about the notion of pre-emption, our new foreign policy strategy. I supported it for a while (it's hard to go against the grain when you are a military family) but something about it just always bothered me. Since I have looked into the subject in greater detail, I cannot support the idea. It has been sold to us as an "ends justify the means" type of strategy but I don't believe it is morally just, no matter how good the intentions are or how desirable the outcomes. A great read on this subject is Hugh Nibley's "Christianity and Preemptive War". If you haven't read it, google it- very worth the time.

As to the impossibility of changing our foreign policy, or pulling back our interventions... of course it is possible (IF we had the right leaders and IF it's what the American people really wanted). But the likelihood of this happening is next to nothing because it is not yet a popular idea (just like strictly following the constitution with respect to domestic issues is unpopular and unlikely to change). I don't think the "unlikeliness of change" excuses us from standing up for what we believe to be correct principles in any case, though. I'm guessing you'd agree. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Jennifer Dunn said...

p.s. Thanks for the book recommendation. Hugh Nibley is amazing.