[First - thoughts and prayers to the people of Ukraine.]
Generally, this blog is not about foreign policy. I haven't yet explained the tagline "Some things are complex, US politics ain't," but I will. In that explanation, I was always going to carve out foreign policy. Our US domestic issues are relatively simple at this point in history - they can be sorted out if we get back to solid First Principles.
On the other hand, the US role in dealing with foreign powers has always been a chess match. It is complex.
But, even in this realm, First Principles are at the heart of the matter.
Principle #1 - Life is Hard
As noted before, in the modern US we tend to forget just how bad life can be. We stupidly assume the current situation is the baseline and there is no risk of things getting worse. Unfortunately, that is not true. Unfortunately, that means we need to protect against that and even prepare for the possibility. Unfortunately, that means we need to be tougher, as a nation and as individuals. We have neglected these aspects of "adulting."
Principle #2 - People are Flawed
Vladimir Putin is evil. In the US, we tend not to use that term. Some don't even really believe it exists. But it does. And he is.
Under certain recent US administrations, the premise has been we could always "reason" with whomever we had a disagreement. That is not how it works. The truth of life and humanity is that, unless a group of people is united by shared values and morality, there is only one Principle: Might makes Right.
That is not how it should be. The whole point of this blog is to point that out. We need to re-agree on shared values and principles to save our domestic civilization.
But, we cannot simply hope that other nations, and particularly their tyrannical leaders, will also agree with those principles and will behave.
The United States of America needs to stand for freedom and human rights and needs to stand with other sovereign nations who want to do the same. To do that, we need to reaffirm those things within our own borders, and then we need to be as strong as we can be - never to impose ourselves on others, but to: first, protect ourselves and, second, to help others where we can.
Again, applying first principles to foreign policy is not as straightforward as it is to domestic policy. But, the basic idea is this: make sure you are standing up for what is right (that is, people) and then do the best you can to be strong enough to do it. As Teddy Roosevelt put it, "walk softly and carry a big stick."
"Blah, Blah, Blah. You are speaking platitudes that are obvious and, consequently, mean nothing," you might say.
Again, it would be presumptuous of me to pretend to be a foreign policy expert, but here are some specific applications of the principles (I wish much of this wasn't true, but it is):
we should never assume we can reason with tyrants - so, we have to proactively design ways to deter them and prepare for what they might do, rather than assume they won't engage in evil of all kinds,
the same goes for individuals and organizations, even within our own borders, who might aid and abet foreign tyrants for their own selfish reasons,
we need to have as strong a military as we can afford,
that military is for defense (not offense), but should be prepared as a no-holds-barred fighting force - not a social experiment,
we need to culturally re-affirm the value of and need for masculinity,
we need to be as self-sufficient as possible in strategically and economically critical areas, like energy and technology,
we need to unleash the power of our economy, rather than hamper it with socialism, social engineering and bureaucracy,
we need to recommit to our own founding ideals, so we can maintain the moral authority we have (had?) in the world. We should not impose our values on other sovereign nations, but we can continue to be a shining example others may choose to follow,
we need to remember there are reasons borders, especially our own, need to be protected,
we need to adult more.