The U.S.A. on Foreign Policy

November 7, 2013
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Often times, we look back to the big thinkers and philosophers of history and think, “how would they react to the world today”. While we can’t bring them to the present, no matter how desperately we want to, we can imagine by thinking like them. Take Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862) a major figure in the transcendentalist movement and credited with first publishing the idea of civil disobedience; resisting government and society without violence. This man influenced Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. He spent months ‘experiencing nature’ by living in seclusion growing beans. So when presented with today’s issues… What would he do?

Well to start, we have to think of the social issues occurring in his time period. 1846 – America had declared war on the, still fairly new, Mexico with fresh troops on the way. Supporters cried that Mexico had killed many Americans and Protesters argued that those Americans invaded Mexican territory. Thoreau believed that the war was completely unjustified and saw no validity, so he refused to pay taxes. Sure, he was punished, but no matter what he remained firm in his belief that the U.S. should not invade countries because it feels it has the right to do so. Can you imagine how that would correspond to today’s events?

Even though there are added layers complexity, one – such as Thoreau – would have no trouble seeing that the United States are committing the same act today. All abroad, more countries seem to be ‘in need’ of a superpower’s assistance; now this isn’t to say that giving aid is a bad thing, but when more money is spent on programs in foreign countries than domestic programs - that need it just as badly - it becomes a problem. This connects more with the Mexican-American war when modern wars become very distant. The Mexican-American war was on the border with America and so, it was much more personal, unlike a war on the other side of the world with countries that don’t pose nearly as an immediate threat…

This problem is very political therefore, unless you refuse pay taxes, there isn’t anything a non-office-holding citizen can do to change it. One can, however, donate to third-party organizations that aid foreign countries so that the U.S. doesn’t have to. Doctors Without Borders is a large group of medical professionals who distribute medical aid to any country that needs it (they accept donations at It is a great way to ease America off of the world.

Now all of this sounds like American problems and American struggles, but by its very nature, this problem affects the entire world; even more so than the U.S. itself. The importance of simply staying out of other peoples’ business is so much larger than people realize. Sure there would be a hard time of withdraw, but just imagine what could become of it. There could be less tension in places where the U.S. is a foreign presence, potential wars could be prevented, and America could flourish internally causing more donations to third-party organizations! Now all of this is mere speculation… but sometimes things just need to change, even if the outcome isn’t certain.

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