Near the end of this particular correspondence he referred to my views as the OBryant Doctrine. I am of course well aware that doctrines, in the sense referred to herein, are generally reserved for presidents and so we both got a good laugh out of the idea. Still, it did make me think about, were I in a position to implement such a doctrine, what I would do and how I would direct American power abroad.
The doctrine would rest on the premise that man has a responsibility to his fellow man, best expressed in the institution of democracy. God did not create us to amass vast fortunes and live for the pursuit of pleasure but rather to fellowship with Him and to help our fellow man. Though we obviously cannot help all peoples at all times, we must do what we can. In other words, just because we cannot help everybody does not excuse us from helping anybody.
Why does the United States fill this role for the rest of the world? Because we are, despite all our mistakes and blemishes, that shining city on the hill Reagan spoke of on election eve in 1980. How else can one explain the fact that of all the new citizenships granted by every government on earth, nearly half of them grant citizenship to the United States. Italy, for example, must be a wonderful place to visit, but their new citizenships account for only .02 percent of the worlds total. Japan? Only .08 percent.
The US has 47.5 percent - nearly ten times the next highest (Canada, at only 11.4 percent). Most everybody, it seems, knows where the best place on earth is to live.
Primarily, however, the U.S. must fill this role because we have the economy, the military, and most importantly of all, the will to help others. The list is too long to detail of the disasters we have helped others through; of the unknown tons of food we have sent to those in need; of the volunteers; of the donations; and the assistance we have sent to every corner of the globe. And on occasion, we have intervened militarily.
Iraq is a perfect example. In every discussion Ive ever had with those who despise Bush for going into Iraq, theyve always pointed out some other trouble spot and demanded to know why America isnt intervening there. Indeed, good arguments exist that Iran or North Korea would have been a better focus than Iraq from purely a national security standpoint. Fair enough. But nations, like individuals, are not always motivated by self-interest alone. Even if we were, and even if we had not found over 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003 as Rick Santorum revealed late last month ending Saddams reign and his mass graves are perfectly legitimate reasons in and of themselves.
As Edgar Allen Poe correctly observed, the true wretchedness, indeed the ultimate woe is particular, not diffuse. That the ghastly extremes of agony are endured by man the unit, and never by man the mass
In other words, how can we say we would intervene if we saw a man beating a woman on the streets, or a woman abusing a child, or a group of children stoning a puppy if we would not also intervene if we saw one man murdering millions of people over the course of his reign? Each individual in the incomprehensible number of millions suffered personally - that they were in a group does not lessen their individual pain or our obligation to help them and end his rule.
No legitimate excuse exists in favor of inaction when measured against the horrific reality of Saddams Iraq. Respecting international law, some say. Rubbish. Laws are designed to protect humanity, not allow the destruction of it on a mass scale.
It is none of our business, others say. Equally rubbish. Sad indeed will mankind be when we believe the suffering of others is of no concern to ourselves.
To further this doctrine of responsibility, we must strengthen our ties with our allies while, at the same time, demand the reform of the United Nations to such a degree that it would be nearly unrecognizable from its current incarnation. I know there is no way to win popular support to completely pull out of the UN, so reforms will have to do. After all, it is not like we are in no position to demand change.
According to the United Nations Association, the U.S. sent $423,464,855 to the UN for its regular annual budget. That is 22 percent of the UNs total regular budget of $1,924,840,250. But wait, thats just the regular budget. There is also a peacekeeping budget that the U.S. gave nearly $1.3 billion: a whopping 27 percent of the entire UN peacekeeping pie. If the UN would not utterly collapse without our support, it would be reduced from its now near ineffectualness to complete irrelevancy.
Further, we can never again help establish or support tyrannical regimes. All too often in our past we have, contrary to our founding principles and for the sake of convenience, supported leaders little better and in some cases worse than barbarians. And to our eternal shame, the United States is merely cleaning up a mess it helped create in Iraq. Not only did the CIA help the Baath Party and Saddam to power but we also, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) arms transfers database, supplied approximately $200 million of Iraqs weapons imports over a 20-year period from 1981 to 2001 (interestingly, the top three suppliers during this period were Russia, China and France respectively).
We finally accepted our responsibility, but better late than never is a meaningless adage to the unearthed dead of Iraqs known mass graves and those who yet lay hidden from their loved ones in countless numbers throughout their country.
We must also be cautious concerning who we give financial aid and watchful that it does not line the pockets of a countrys leaders but rather reaches the people who need it. The U.S. sent $27,457,000,000 in foreign aid in 2005. The next highest contributor, Japan, sent slightly less than half that amount.
Despite such numbers, worldwide poverty is actually on the rise. The trillions of dollars spent over the last several decades prove that throwing money at a problem will not solve it. If we continue to send the money, it must be wisely directed to develop infrastructure, to provide education, and to ensure political and social stability. But these cannot flourish well without the proper environment, and that environment is democracy.
The foundation of any destiny we claim for ourselves and therefore any projection of our power must rest upon the principles of democracy. If we fight, it must be for freedom. If we lend our support, it must be to those who uphold the same ideals as we.
If any nation claims the United States as a partner, the endeavor must further the ends of liberty.
Perhaps Im too idealistic, or simply too naïve. Then so be it. I would rather be thus than bound to a narrow view of reality that admits to no possibility of improvement, where ideals are ridiculed and excuses to do nothing abound