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Thread: Thoughts on U.S. Foreign Policy

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    Founder's Club Member Brass Magnet's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Thoughts on U.S. Foreign Policy

    There’s been a lot of debate on the forums recently about foreign policy and just how much we should be involved violently in affairs around the world. We seem to have basically two sides to the issue around here:

    The interventionists: Interventionists generally want to preemptively use force against other nations in a way that seems best to the interests of the U.S., and/or to spread democracy. They also are usually for protectionist trade measures such as uneven tariffs and trade agreements or lengthy embargos. There are different flavors of course but for this post I'm concerned with forceful interventionism.

    The non-interventionists: Non-interventionists generally want to have a strong defense but would not like to involve themselves violently in the affairs of other nations unless faced by a true imminent threat or attack. They also favor true free trade and diplomacy as a means to an end over the use of force.

    A third type of foreign policy that is being incorrectly bandied about around here is isolationism which is akin to an ostrich with his head in the sand. Interestingly, both interventionism and non-interventionism share some points with isolationism. Non-interventionists share the isolationists desire to stay away from using preemptive force against other nations. Interventionists usually share the isolationist view of protectionist trade measures. Therefore, either interventionists or on-interventionists could be disingenuously described as isolationists.

    The key argument being used to defend either foreign policy around here has been it makes us safer.

    Interventionists argue that if not for our military bases around the world we wouldn’t be able to react fast enough to a threat. They argue that we must preemptively attack other countries when they may soon pose a threat to us. In short, they believe in using force with the seeming best interest of the U.S in mind, whether or not we are under an imminent threat or attack.

    Non-interventionists believe that it’s in our best interest to have a peaceful, lead by example, type of influence around the world. They argue that interventionism has made us less safe by causing other peoples to dislike us for messing around in their affairs and having bases on their soil. In short, they believe that free trade is a great incentive for nations to get along with one another and meddling only creates an atmosphere of distrust and even hatred.

    Since we, as a nation, have been practicing interventionism; arguably since just before our entry in to WWI, there is a long track record of us getting into trouble because of some of our actions. This is unfortunate for interventionists because they really have no way to prove their case in –and this is a key distinction- the modern world. If an interventionist says that we saved X amount of people by doing A, a non-interventionist can merely say that less people would have died if we would have stayed out of it. The only way an interventionist could decisively prove that interventionism is the best policy to keep us safe is to try non-interventionism for a number of decades and compare. Even then, it would be difficult as the new “modern world” may have entirely different patterns of engagement. Conversely, if non-interventionism had been the policy for the last hundred years, it would be a trial of interventionism that may prove the case.

    So, we really can’t use safety as an argument to decide which policy is better because both foreign policy advocates desire to be safe and believe their policy is best to that end. Therefore, the score remains:

    Interventionists = 0
    Non-interventionists = 0

    Now there is the legal argument based on the laws of our nation. What powers of foreign policy does our Constitution allow us as a nation? With the preamble the Constitution starts:

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America
    .

    Now we move on to powers of Congress in Article 1 Section 8 where in the preamble we have:

    The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
    And here are the key, enumerated powers of congress having to do with the military:

    To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
    To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
    To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
    To provide and maintain a Navy;
    To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
    To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
    So clearly, congress has the power to provide for the common Defence and the enumerations state how they may provide for it. It appears, by my reading of it, that they have the power to use either type foreign policy being discussed.

    Article 2 has the powers of the President:

    Section. 2.
    The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
    He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
    The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
    Section. 3.
    He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.
    Here it is clear that the President is Commander in Chief of the U.S. armed forces when they are called into service. The most simplistic reading would provide that since he has no power to call them into service except under imminent threat or attack, which is necessary and always assumed as seen in some of the earliest writings, it must be congress who votes to intervene. However; this has been changed by various Supreme Court opinions and the war powers resolution of 1973.

    So, with originalist interpretation one could argue that although interventionism was possible through the congress, it was much harder and took longer to get the authorization. I believe this was intentional and is fairly clear that it was meant to limit interventions. It would be hard for a constitutionalist or strict constructionist to disagree. Without the broad executive power, ceded by the congress to the President and the executive branch, we would not be capable of anywhere near the amount of interventions via the CIA and other agencies. The congress itself would have to vote to forcibly intervene in the affairs of other nations.

    Because our nation seems to legally have the power to intervene forcefully but it has been made too easy/blown out of proportion and we had founders on either side of the issue I make the score:

    Interventionists = 1/2
    Non-interventionists= 1/2

    But what if we go back into some of the theories on which our country was based? Among other writings, a clue may be garnered from the Declaration of Independence:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
    First, in the eyes of the writers, we have certain unalienable rights and that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As a side note, it was debated whether or not “property” should have been included instead of “the pursuit of happiness” but in any case these are seen as the unalienable sovereign rights of man. It’s also abundantly clear that this did not just apply to our citizens, but all of mankind.

    Continuing:

    “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
    It is clear here that the writers believed that governments are to be given power derived from the people to use in securing those people’s rights but what powers can be derived from the people? The answer is that government can only derive from them that which the people posses. All other powers may be unjust powers or usurpations. As a person, one has the right to his life, his liberty, and his property but has no right to another’s. If a person has no right to initiate violence towards another, a group of people has no collective right to such; nor does government.

    An example would be that in a gated community they may decide to hire a security guard to protect their property from thieves but they may not give that guard the power to go into a neighbor’s house to steal his property or otherwise abuse another’s rights. Also, since rights apply to all of mankind, I may not use the power vested in the guards of my gated community to preemptively attack the one across the street to take their parking spaces.

    I believe this last deliberation is the key issue that decides that non-interventionism is superior to interventionism. We haven’t the right to meddle. Although you may have a vicious dog, I may not preemptively decide to go onto your property and kill it because it may attack me some day. If you have some resources that I do not, I cannot take them because I feel it makes me more secure. It goes without saying that I couldn’t invent a “neighborhood war on phone sex” and tap your phone line.

    Therefore I make the final score:

    Interventionists = FAIL
    Non-interventionists = WIN

    Although some interventionist measures may not violate rights, it’s clear that violent interventionism does. If one adheres to the concept that all rights must be respected, one cannot be in favor of forceful interventionism. To me it is clear that to advocate both is utter and blatant cognitive dissonance.
    Last edited by Brass Magnet; 08-29-2011 at 01:30 PM.
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    Campaign Veteran GLOCK21GB's Avatar
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    I say we should go back to the isolationist days of Pre WW2, PULL our troops from every over seas base that's not our Territory. While leaving our Fleets scattered in the Atlantic & Pacific Oceans to protect our territorial waters to our left & right while leaving two carrier battle groups close to China just in case they get stupid plus 1 SSBN Missle Sub..... We are a Nuclear super power no 1st or 2nd world Nation will attack us & not be Nuked...
    Last edited by GLOCK21GB; 08-29-2011 at 06:18 PM.
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    Campaign Veteran since9's Avatar
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    It hasn't been 1945 since...

    ...1945. A single nuke would cost the country who launched it about a million times more than it cost in terms of political and economic backlash.

    The only justification for launching a nuke these days is being hit by one. Even then, if it's a one-off deal, restraint and a conventional response would earn massive world-wide brownie points.
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    Regular Member HandyHamlet's Avatar
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    Our government can't even balance a checkbook. Not to mention that our President and DOJ sells guns illegally to drug cartels.

    Foreign policy?

    Please...
    "Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties."
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    "Some time ago, a bunch of lefties defied the law by dancing at the Jefferson Memorial, resulting in their arrests. Last week, a bunch of them pulled the same stunt and - using patented Lefist techniques - provoked the Park Police into having to use force to arrest them."
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    My Foreign Policy is simple.
    Act Right, or We'll blow Your Ass Up!!
    Problem solved!
    NEXT!!!

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    Regular Member SFCRetired's Avatar
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    After having seen, first-hand, how some other countries' citizens (and governments) truly despise the United States, even after we have poured billions of dollars into their economies, I am in favor of eliminating foreign aid entirely, reducing the number of U.S. bases abroad, and making sure those bases we do maintain overseas are in countries who are genuinely friendly to us.

    I am firmly against armed intervention unless there is clear evidence of a planned or imminent attack against the U.S. This would include against our bases or embassies and our shipping.

    The President's ability to engage U.S. troops without a declaration of war should be much more severely curtailed.

    Isolationism will not work in this age. Neither will this country acting unilaterally as the world's policeman work.

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    Founder's Club Member PrayingForWar's Avatar
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    This is a very well thought out and referenced post Brass. I really can't strongly disagree with the conclusion...

    Quote Originally Posted by SFCRetired View Post
    After having seen, first-hand, how some other countries' citizens (and governments) truly despise the United States, even after we have poured billions of dollars into their economies, I am in favor of eliminating foreign aid entirely, reducing the number of U.S. bases abroad, and making sure those bases we do maintain overseas are in countries who are genuinely friendly to us.

    I am firmly against armed intervention unless there is clear evidence of a planned or imminent attack against the U.S. This would include against our bases or embassies and our shipping.

    The President's ability to engage U.S. troops without a declaration of war should be much more severely curtailed.

    Isolationism will not work in this age. Neither will this country acting unilaterally as the world's policeman work.
    I can pretty much agree with this position.

    In regards to Iran specifically and Ron Paul, they've been rather clear they wish to see our country destroyed, along with Israel. I was not impressed at all with RP's position that
    "screw it, let Iran build nukes. It's our own fault they want them." I'm paraphrasing of course, but that "blame America First" insipid leftwing bull$#!t sickens me to no end, and I could not possibly vote in the primary for a man who said it.

    So do we wait for Iraq to build and test nukes? How about waiting until they deploy one on Tel Aviv? Or how about after they deploy one in Houston or LA? At some point we need to understand that when a group of rabid religious fanatics are openly chanting "Death to America", and taking steps that would allow them to act on their threats something should be done before they can embark on such endeavors. We're not talking about rational people who respect human lives, or even people lucid enough to value their own lives more than ours. These idiots believe God himself is going to reward them with women, honey, and soft little boys.
    Last edited by PrayingForWar; 08-30-2011 at 03:29 PM.
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    Founder's Club Member Brass Magnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PrayingForWar View Post
    This is a very well thought out and referenced post Brass. I really can't strongly disagree with the conclusion...



    I can pretty much agree with this position.

    In regards to Iran specifically and Ron Paul, they've been rather clear they wish to see our country destroyed, along with Israel. I was not impressed at all with RP's position that
    "screw it, let Iran build nukes. It's our own fault they want them." I'm paraphrasing of course, but that "blame America First" insipid leftwing bull$#!t sickens me to no end, and I could not possibly vote in the primary for a man who said it.

    So do we wait for Iraq to build and test nukes? How about waiting until they deploy one on Tel Aviv? Or how about after they deploy one in Houston or LA? At some point we need to understand that when a group of rabid religious fanatics are openly chanting "Death to America", and taking steps that would allow them to act on their threats something should be done before they can embark on such endeavors. We're not talking about rational people who respect human lives, or even people lucid enough to value their own lives more than ours. These idiots believe God himself is going to reward them with women, honey, and soft little boys.
    First, thanks for your kind words PFW. Second, I'd like to keep this as a thread on foreign policy in general and would prefer that candidates aren't discussed too much if possible. People on both sides sometimes have a hard time seeing past their like or dislike of certain candidates. For instance, I could go on about what I think my prefered candidate really meant when he was talking about foreign policy. Instead, I'm going on about what I think. Hearsay is inadmissible right?

    I think that the answer on when to intervene is in the case of a imminent, specific and credible threat. Saying that you are going to destroy someone without the means to do it is not specific or credible. Saying that you are going to destroy someone someday with a nuclear weapon is not immiment nor credible if you have no nuclear weapons. Saying that you are going to use the nuclear weapon you've just developed to destroy the U.S meets all three criteria.

    For example; I think you'll notice that countries that have nuclear weapons, even untrustworthy ones, are pretty careful of the rhetoric they use. As we always say, an armed society is a polite society. A person who says he's going to get a gun and shoot you is much less credible than a person with a gun at his side who would say the same. Although you worry about the first person and would take steps to protect yourself from him, the second person could be rightly drawn on. I don't think I need to elaborate on the parallels here too much. Suffice it to say that if ones rhetoric doesn't change when he is armed, whatever he gets will be of his own making and at the same time; if you'd decide to draw on the person running away to go and get his supposed gun, whatever you get will be of your own making.

    If the goverments powers are derived from the rights of an individual the same standards apply to both. I may not use force unless I am in reasonable fear that an action will imminently be carried out against me which will strip from me my life, liberty, or property.
    Last edited by Brass Magnet; 08-30-2011 at 04:11 PM.
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    Campaign Veteran since9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MR Redenck View Post
    My Foreign Policy is simple.
    Act Right, or We'll blow Your Ass Up!!
    That's about as effective as "the beatings will continue until morale improves."

    As for the OP, I'm a moderate, in that I believe it's best not to interfere in the interests of other countries, but only so long as refraining from doing so is not akin to turning a blind eye while a thug beats an old lady in a back ally. I'm a proponent of free trade, but only so long as it's truly free. If they're jacking prices by hiding government tariffs into production cycles, pre-trade, then it's a tariff, and that's not free trade.

    It's similar to living in a neighborhood. You really could care less what's going on in your neighbor's bedroom, unless one of the people involved is an innocent victim. Similarly, you don't care what sort of tree house he erects in his back yard, provided it's not painted hot pink in violation of the neighborhood covenants. Finally, you're happy to trade a gallon of homemade ice cream for a box of homemade cookies, until he claims that one box of cookies is worth two gallons of homemade ice cream, at which point you say either "tell you what - throw in an apple pie and we'll call it a deal." If he doesn't, it's time to say "ok, neighbor - no trade."

    Foreign policy really isn't all that complicated. It boils down to the old addage about swinging a cat. You can swing it as far and wide as you want, so long as it doesn't affect anyone else. When it does, negotiations will ensue. If you continue to insist on hitting others over the head with your cat, what follows next will include some demands, and if you keep swinging it, possibly a beat-down.

    That's been the gist of foreign relations among mankind for the last 2.5 Million Years. Just about all animals on our planet have similar foreign policies, including every cat and dog I ever owned.
    Last edited by since9; 08-30-2011 at 08:30 PM.
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    Founder's Club Member Brass Magnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    Foreign policy is complicated, very very complicated. Back in the day, maybe pretty uncomplicated. The Interwebs, global trade/economies, make it very complicated to just keep to yourself. If foreign policy were simple (uncomplicated) then all the money poured down the international drain would not happen. Besides, policy is different than relations. You can have all the policies you want, if you do not have good relations, your policies don't mean jack. Enlightened self interest, or a space alien invasion.

    If someone whacks me over the head with a cat, I will most certainly not respond with negotiations to preclude a potential second whack over the head with a cat. It can not be said for certain that the cat will not latch on with its claws on the first whack.
    No doubt; overall foreign policy is complicated. The basis; or rules if you will, behind how that policy is excersised should not be complicated. Chess is a game with fairly simple rules for example, but the strategy is anything but simple.

    Good relations is key, for sure, and if you have good rules behind your foreign policy, keeping on someones good side shouldn't be nearly as hard.
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    Founder's Club Member PrayingForWar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brass Magnet View Post
    No doubt; overall foreign policy is complicated. The basis; or rules if you will, behind how that policy is excersised should not be complicated. Chess is a game with fairly simple rules for example, but the strategy is anything but simple.

    Good relations is key, for sure, and if you have good rules behind your foreign policy, keeping on someones good side shouldn't be nearly as hard.
    Global politics and chess have certain similarities. You cannot merely set up a defensive posture and refuse too move. Even bad moves by your opponents force you to move and reveal a weak opening. Your pawns can never move back, and we already have too damned many queens.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PrayingForWar View Post
    Global politics and chess have certain similarities. You cannot merely set up a defensive posture and refuse too move. Even bad moves by your opponents force you to move and reveal a weak opening. Your pawns can never move back, and we already have too damned many queens.
    The cool thing about the difference between chess and international policy, prayingforwar, is that unlike chess, moves are largely situationally dependent and very reversible.
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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    I say we don't play the chess game. Defend and protect ourselves and ours. Let's leave the other queens and pawns out of it.
    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

    U.S. v. Minker, 350 US 179, at page 187
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    rights, due to ignorance." (Paraphrased)

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    Quote Originally Posted by PrayingForWar View Post


    ....In regards to Iran specifically and Ron Paul, they've been rather clear they wish to see our country destroyed, along with Israel......
    Did I read this sentence correctly?

    Do you really believe that Ron Paul wants to see our country destroyed? Disagree with him all you want, but I really do not see how you could reach such a conclusion. I am hoping what you meant was " in regards to Ron Paul's Iran comments, Iran has been clear........"

    If you could clear up my confusion it would be most appreciated. Please don't take this as trying to be a troll or trying to bait you, I am genuinely confused.

    In regards to Ron Paul and his foreign policy. He would not send troops to Iran, or anywhere else on his own. He does not believe in undeclared wars, as they are not authorized in the Constitution. That being said I believe, and have heard nothing to the contrary, that if Congress were to declare war on Iran, or any other country, he would wage war, and do so effectively. Just because he is unwilling to send troops unilaterally does not mean he would not wage war, when and if war was declared.

    After the attacks of 9/11/01 he introduced a bill to congress to issue "Letters of Marque" against Bin Laden and several others.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sudden valley gunner View Post
    I say we don't play the chess game. Defend and protect ourselves and ours. Let's leave the other queens and pawns out of it.
    OK, I'll attack Kazistan with 3 armies
    cheers - okboomer
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    Quote Originally Posted by sudden valley gunner View Post
    I say we don't play the chess game. Defend and protect ourselves and ours. Let's leave the other queens and pawns out of it.
    It's difficult to successfully carry out foreign trade ($$$$$) when the foreign countries in which you've built factories keep taking them over by force. The military is the extension of our foreign policies which tend to curb such take-overs. The policies also keep the U.S. citizens working overseas safer than turning a blind eye.
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    Quote Originally Posted by since9 View Post
    It's difficult to successfully carry out foreign trade ($$$$$) when the foreign countries in which you've built factories keep taking them over by force. The military is the extension of our foreign policies which tend to curb such take-overs. The policies also keep the U.S. citizens working overseas safer than turning a blind eye.
    Well, that's an easy solution. Revamp our trade laws so that it is monetarily advantageous to build those factories here.
    Last edited by georg jetson; 09-22-2011 at 11:13 PM.

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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by since9 View Post
    It's difficult to successfully carry out foreign trade ($$$$$) when the foreign countries in which you've built factories keep taking them over by force. The military is the extension of our foreign policies which tend to curb such take-overs. The policies also keep the U.S. citizens working overseas safer than turning a blind eye.


    Why use our military to protect private individuals building private factories in foreign countries? The true capitalist entrepreneur would get burned once and build elsewhere.
    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

    U.S. v. Minker, 350 US 179, at page 187
    "Because of what appears to be a lawful command on the surface, many citizens, because
    of their respect for what only appears to be a law, are cunningly coerced into waiving their
    rights, due to ignorance." (Paraphrased)

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    Regular Member DangerClose's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SFCRetired View Post
    The President's ability to engage U.S. troops without a declaration of war should be much more severely curtailed.
    It was interesting watching a Ron Paul press conference video from when Clinton was being impeached. Paul said he's voting for impeachment, but that the charges should be far worse than what they were. He said Clinton should have been charged for those Middle East bombings he did without Congressional approval. Not sure if I've ever seen Ron Paul as mad as he was in that video.
    Quote Originally Posted by sudden valley gunner View Post
    Why use our military to protect private individuals building private factories in foreign countries? The true capitalist entrepreneur would get burned once and build elsewhere.
    Like is finally happening in California.
    Last edited by DangerClose; 09-27-2011 at 05:07 AM.

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