It was a foregone conclusion that President Obama wasn’t going to change his stripes when it comes to economic philosophy and policy. Like Republicans and other Democrats, Obama is a died-in-the wool socialist and interventionist. He believes in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, food stamps, public (i.e., government) schooling, farm subsidies, foreign aid, and other welfare-state programs. Like his statist cohorts on both the left and the right, he is also a fierce advocate of the war on drugs, a federal program that has brought nothing but death, destruction, corruption, and loss of liberty all over the world.
Thus, no one, and especially not libertarians, ever thought that there was a possibility that Obama’s election to the presidency would mean any shift toward the philosophy of economic liberty and free markets. If anything, libertarians were convinced that his election would mean even more socialism and interventionism.
But Obama had the opportunity to move America in a dramatically different direction with respect to civil liberties and foreign policy. He could have used his presidency to move America away from its decades-long program of militarism, empire, and interventionism and toward our nation’s founding principles of peace, prosperity, harmony, and a limited-government republic.
Instead, Obama permitted himself to be just another president, an ordinary president, no different from George W. Bush, whose policies and programs he has simply continued. Obama’s two terms in office are nothing more than Bush’s third and fourth terms in office.
It didn’t have to be that way. When Obama was campaigning for president, he expressed an understanding of the importance of civil liberties, especially given his background as a lawyer and a law professor. He also expressed opposition to Bush’s war in Iraq. Granted, his campaign statements weren’t models of consistency, but there was enough there to give people hope that he just might lead the United States out of the Cold War, national-security morass in which it has been mired since at least 1945.
I’m not talking about minor reforms. I’m talking about a presidency that could have brought a monumental, revolutionary shift in the role of the U.S. government in foreign affairs. Obama had the chance to be that type of president — to go down in history as a person who ensured that civil liberties were fully restored to the American people and, even more dramatically, he could have initiated the necessary steps toward restoring a constitutional republic to our land.
What would an Obama civil-liberties, foreign-policy revolution have entailed?
- A permanent end to all U.S. foreign interventionism, invasions, occupations, and coups.
- Bringing all U.S. troops home and discharging them, not only from Iraq but also from Afghanistan, Germany, Africa, Latin America, and everywhere else around the world.
- Closing and abandoning all U.S. military bases in foreign countries. A good place to start would have been with the Pentagon’s and CIA’s prison camp and judicial center at Guantanamo Bay.
- An end to all sanctions and embargoes. The half-century-old embargo at Cuba could have gone first.
- Closure of the CIA, NSA, USAID, and all other Cold-War era military and intelligence departments and agencies.
- Dismantling of the entire Cold War-era military-industrial complex and national-security establishment, including a closure of the thousands of useless military installations all over the United States.
- An end to all U.S. foreign aid.
- A permanent end to U.S.-sponsored kidnappings, renditions, torture, assassination, and indefinite detention. To discourage officials from ever engaging in such conduct in the future, Obama could have ordered the criminal prosecution of all U.S. officials who committed such acts, including those who did so in the name of “national security.”
- An end to all surveillance of the American people and everyone else around the world.
- An end to the drug war through the legalization of all drugs.
Obviously, Obama would have needed congressional authorization to achieve much of this, but he could have led the way. That would have been a presidency that would have had meaning to it.
Revolutionary? Of course! But not compared to America’s founding principles. Those were America’s founding principles!
Today’s statists say that restoring America’s founding principles wouldn’t be practical — that doing so would make America “unsafe.”
Nonsense! It’s the other way around. It’s militarism, empire, and interventionism, including the anger and hatred they engender among foreigners, not to mention the ever-increasing taxes and debts to pay for it all, that continues sending America into an downward spiral.
Consider Switzerland, a country whose foreign policy is based on the founding principles of America. Its government is strictly limited to national defense — no overseas bases, no foreign empire, no foreign interventionism, no coups, no mass surveillance, no war on terrorism, no CIA, no NSA, and no military-industrial complex.
No one jacks with the Swiss. That’s because the Swiss government minds its own business, just as the U.S. government once did. It’s also because the Swiss citizenry are fierce and competent fighters. Everyone knows that messing with Switzerland would be like swallowing a porcupine, which is why no one messes with Switzerland.
Obama’s presidency has turned out to be a real nothing, and America remains mired in the morass of foreign-policy statism. Why, Obama still hasn’t even closed Gitmo!