Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Moral Foreign Policy

[posted by Callimachus]

Reliving the Ford Administration during the late celebrations of his life reminded me that this was the moment the Republican Party enshrined "morality" in its foreign policy, though it was not Ford's doing and in fact it was a repudiation of the foreign policy Kissinger was running under Ford's authority (or want of it).

The 1976 GOP convention might end up being the last of the old breed, the kind of convention where the nomination really hung in the balance when the hall doors opened. Ford had to hold off Ronald Reagan and it was no sure thing that he would accomplish it. Reagan's performance in conceding at the end just about assured himself the nomination in 1980.

When I read over the "moral foreign policy" passage in the platform today, I can see how much of it was tailored by "Reagan's Raiders" specifically to embarrass Ford, and how much of it was crafted with an eye to the immediate realities of the Cold War. Jesse Helms, among others whom nobody ever accused of being politically high-minded, had a hand in shaping it.

But there it is: Unintended consequences and all.

The goal of Republican foreign policy is the achievement of liberty under law and a just and lasting peace in the world. The principles by which we act to achieve peace and to protect the interests of the United States must merit the restored confidence of our people.

We recognize and commend that great beacon of human courage and morality, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, for his compelling message that we must face the world with no illusions about the nature of tyranny. Ours will be a foreign policy that keeps this ever in mind.

Ours will be a foreign policy which recognizes that in international negotiations we must make no undue concessions; that in pursuing detente we must not grant unilateral favors with only the hope of getting future favors in return.

Agreements that are negotiated, such as the one signed in Helsinki, must not take from those who do not have freedom the hope of one day gaining it.

Finally, we are firmly committed to a foreign policy in which secret agreements, hidden from our people, will have no part.

Honestly, openly, and with firm conviction, we shall go forward as a united people to forge a lasting peace in the world based upon our deep belief in the rights of man, the rule of law and guidance by the hand of God.

Ford's snub of Solzhenitsyn; Brezhnev at Helsinki, all now distant chapters in a cold war. Platforms come and go, but somehow, on some level, the thing stuck. "[L]iberty under law and a just and lasting peace in the world ... principles ... the restored confidence of our people ... face the world with no illusions about the nature of tyranny ... must not take from those who do not have freedom the hope of one day gaining it." Probably because four years later Regan won the election and actually began to run the show that way -- at least most of the time.

People say now we're at the end of the curve that began in Kansas City that August. That George W. Bush has run that ship on the rocks, and we'll go happily back to realpolitik. People who lay claim to the compassion of others merrily advocate pulling out of Iraq the better to let the Sunnis and Shi'ites butcher one another, as though that conflict was rooted in the people's desires and not propelled from the top down. What are they to us, after all? Just more surly brown people.

Addendum: Good lord, you think we Republicans/Americans are intolerable with our striving for morality? Imagine us without it.

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