It’s not easy to watch the tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan this week.
With the Taliban claiming control of Kabul, stripping Afghan citizens of their most basic rights, and putting thousands of American diplomats and citizens in harm’s way, it’s hard to resist the urge to want to do something to fix this.
After all, the U.S. is the world’s superpower. Why shouldn’t we drop the hammer when we see others suffering?
To answer that question, we should first revisit some recent history.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, American politicians (with strong support from the public) decided to invade the Middle East, waging a new “war on terror.”
As we know now, that only proved more complicated as time went on.
You see, “stopping terrorists” and “protecting American interests” quickly became code for propping up political regimes, arming militaries, and attempting to train local forces into capable, friendly allies.
Politicians and the Pentagon were hell-bent on engineering stability in the Middle East—or so they claimed. Instead, the opposite happened. Rather than ushering in an era of peace, democracy, and civility, our military’s presence saw a spike in militant terrorism, political unrest, and anti-American sentiment.
In our vain attempts to fix the rest of the world under the guise of self-defense, we’ve created more problems than we’ve solved.
One man has been trying to warn us about this for a long time. You may have heard of him before… his name is Dr. Ron Paul.
This week, Dr. Paul was trending online for the first time in a while. One particular clip from his farewell address in 2012 was making the rounds, often with the caption “Ron Paul was right.”
In this address, he warned about blowback from a prolonged military presence in foreign countries.
“Violent anti-Americanism has engulfed the world. Because the phenomenon of ‘blow-back’ is not understood or denied, our foreign policy is destined to keep us involved in many wars that we have no business being in. National bankruptcy and a greater threat to our national security will result…”
His son, Senator Rand Paul, shared another clip of remarks that have since been nicknamed the “what if?” speech.
“What if our foreign policy of the past century is deeply flawed and has not served our national security interest? What if we realize that the terrorist threat is our consequence of meddling in the affairs of others and has nothing to do with us being free and prosperous?
“What if propping up repressive regimes in the Middle East endangers both the United States and Israel? What if occupying countries like Iraq and Afghanistan and bombing Pakistan is directly related to the hatred directed toward us?”
How’s that for a warning? He nailed it right on the head.
Many of us were taught about the Golden Rule as children: treat others the way you’d like to be treated.
Sadly, this principle seems to go straight out the window when we feel unsafe or threatened. But the truth is that many evil and reprehensible things have been done throughout history in the name of safety.
Feelings of comfort or “doing the right thing” do not trump the moral obligation to treat people with dignity and respect their autonomy. And just because someone is suffering doesn’t mean we should meddle in others’ affairs half a world away.
These ideas are at the core of our 6th children’s book, The Tuttle Twins and the Golden Rule. It’s based upon Ron Paul’s arguments against controlling others—whether they are individual people or entire countries.
In this book, these big ideas are introduced through a fun summer camp story. It even includes a cameo of our favorite Doctor as “Chief Ron,” a camp counselor with plenty of wisdom to share.
There are a lot of adults out there today who are obsessed with controlling others… the last 18 months have proved that through and through. And if you want to help fix that, the best thing you can do as a parent is to teach your kids that they should follow the Golden Rule.
There are plenty of problems in America, and we wouldn’t want soldiers from another country to come boss us around and tell us how to solve police abuse, overcrowded prisons, welfare dependency, homelessness, and more. The Golden Rule suggests, then, that we should mind our own business and not meddle in the affairs of others, either.
Remember: the ideas of today are the politics of tomorrow. We’d be wise not to skip the basics.
Until next time…