From Matt Spalding, the Heritage Foundation: Supporters of Ron Paul have re-launched an old ad promoting the old idea of American isolationism. “We now are a nation known to start war,” Paul is quoted as saying. “We feel compelled because of our insecurity that we have to go over and attack these countries to maintain our empire.” The message here (and repeated elsewhere) is that Paul’s isolationism is aligned with the Founding Fathers and “what is truly American and truly constitutional.” Not only is this refrain a gross misrepresentation of American history but it offers dangerously misleading guidance to a nation that faces serious challenges at home and abroad… .
The Founders rejected modern approaches in American foreign policy—whether power politics, isolationism or crusading internationalism. They especially disagreed with the “visionary, or designing men, who stand ready to advocate the paradox of perpetual peace,” as Hamilton put it in Federalist 6. Instead, they designed a truly American foreign policy—fundamentally shaped by our principles but not ignorant of the place of necessity in international relations… .
The requirements of security are dictated by the challenges and threats we face in the world. “How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?” Madison asked in Federalist 41… .
The dangerous ambitions of power were to be found in the passions of human nature. As Hamilton wrote in Federalist 34:
To judge from the history of mankind, we shall be compelled to conclude that the fiery and destructive passions of war reign in the human breast with much more powerful sway than the mild and beneficent sentiments of peace; and that to model our political systems upon speculations of lasting tranquility, is to calculate on the weaker springs of the human character.
Necessity dictates that the United States must be ready to fight wars and use force to protect the nation and the American people. Hence Washington often liked to use the old Roman maxim: “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of promoting peace.” (graphic: Affiliated Auctions)