In our post-republic era, much is made of the U.S. Constitution and its accompanying Bill of Rights, even though it is clear that the government and the courts rely less and less upon their unconditional application, and more upon political intrigue and the winds of public opinion to determine if and how these basic laws will be applied to public policy. The Bill of Rights, or rather the first ten amendments to the Constitution were ratified by the states approximately fifteen years after the Constitution came into effect. They are designed to guarantee to the citizens of the several states basic natural law rights and this is noted in their preamble. Again, while they are a legal document and part of the constitution, they also represent a partial explication of the natural law that applies to all men and women, in all parts of the earth, for all time.
How then should Americans conduct themselves with nationals of another country who do not recognize the same freedoms? The Supreme Court of the United States declared in the late 1700’s that when the United States broke all ties with the monarchy, sovereignty devolved upon the citizens, so that citizens were sovereign over themselves, and that officers of the government held civil authority only and that was delegated to them by the sovereign citizens. This is not the case in the rest of the world and is the primary argument for American exceptionalism. Citizens of other countries owe their obedience to the sovereign of the country. For example in England, obedience is owed to the Queen and her government, in the Middle East, obedience is owned to the religious leaders. There, to replace a tyrannical government by force of arms is revolution indeed. Here, it is recognized as a right of the people. Therefore, Americans should not expect that our Bill of Rights should apply to anyone in any other country but our own.
The question arises, what shall we do about the reported cases of tyranny and inhumanity in other countries? The answer is little or nothing at all, as a government. Each nation is sovereign unto itself. Pronouncements by the United Nations notwithstanding, each nation should be left alone to work out its own political problems within its borders. The United States may express its concern though diplomatic channels, and share the message of liberty in that manner and by radio broadcasts, which in some countries are jammed by the government in power. But the primary method of promoting liberty abroad is by respecting the sovereignty of other nations, and attempting to promote good will through trade. The invisible hand of the market, described by the economist/philosopher Adam Smith, does more than regulate prices. It also stimulates demand for new products and new ideas, including liberty. So our invasion of liberation should not be by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, but by Coca Cola, McDonalds, J.C. Penny, and Ford.
But there are other ways for American citizens whose love of liberty burns brightly within their breasts. There is yet another outlet remaining for such people. They can immigrate to those countries they perceive to be held under the boot of oppression. They can set up shop there as many expatriates have done before them, to trade, to import and export, or to offer their skills as doctors, engineers, scientists, and professors. Like Christian missionaries all over the world, who bring the message of Christ informally while providing valuable, marketable skills to countries that need them, expatriates can bring the message of liberty, along with the skills they have to offer. The idea of liberty is attractive, as Dr. Ron Paul says, and once the seed of liberty is quietly planted, it takes roots in the heart of the oppressed. Nevertheless, one must be discreet, careful not to disrespect the party in power, lest be marked as spies, secretly fomenting revolution.
Then, of course, Americans are always free to join revolutionary forces in a country that is in political upheaval, or at war with another country that is abhorrent to liberty. Many Americans joined the British and French forces fighting against Nazi Germany, long before the United States declared war. Thousands of Americans financially supported Ireland in it fight for independence from the British, and thousands of other have supported Israel in it struggle to survive by sending money, and by immigrating there.
So there are many ways we can spread the message of liberty and civil rights throughout the world as individuals, without having the American government attempt to act as the policeman of the world. America has no business in nation building, which is often just a cover for a capitalist driven imperialism. We should remain open and cordial, ready to trade, and to build relationships with key players in other countries with whom we can share the message of liberty. Ever eager to make peace, we should never strike the first blow, diplomatically or militarily, but respond decisively and devastatingly should we be attacked. Most importantly we should vigilant at home to ensure that the rights and liberty that is so precious to us, remains available and intact to ourselves and our posterity.