A Case for America Abroad

Recently, I was privileged to take part in the Fordham Political Union’s debate between Fordham’s College Republicans and College Democrats. Debating as a Republican, I discussed a question regarding the role America should play in a world increasingly affected by an authoritarian movement typified by China and Russia. While preparing for the debate, I will admit to feeling somewhat shortchanged, fully expecting the dialogue to consist of similar viewpoints mixed with some banter. I was quite surprised to discover that my Democratic counterpart set about a vision of the United States as a past-its-prime bully, one that must flee from the schoolyard or face retribution at the hands of its victims. I have heard this story told before, often by misguided wannabe Marxists or nationalism-crazed MAGA enthusiasts. These people take up dovish foreign policies because taking action requires spending money they would rather lavish on things that have nothing to do with the defense budget, or even worse, because they simply do not understand diplomacy.

I would like to, for a moment, clarify why I think the United States should continue to assert itself on the world stage. Of course, American history is littered with examples of regime change and imperialistic conquests, few of which are remembered particularly fondly by the people they were inflicted upon. However, I believe this strengthens the case for American involvement in the “new Cold War” against authoritarianism instead of weakening it, as many readily claim. Now more than ever, the world needs a strong presence standing for democracy and freedom, especially considering the clout we possess as a first-rate superpower in virtually every regard. If we were to withdraw, we would be ceding status as the preeminent state to a China that has shown no hesitation in repeatedly suppressing and brutalizing its citizens for even minor spasms of expression. We would leave our Ukrainian brethren to the wolves, going back on a solemn commitment to stop the most significant threat to international peace since 1945. Perhaps most importantly to the country’s economic health, it would mean abandoning Taiwan, the world’s powerhouse in semiconductor technology, which could quickly fall into the hands of an aggressive China waiting to bring American industry to heel.

Ultimately, the question of American involvement abroad can be quickly boiled down to one question: if not us, then who? Who will stand for liberal democracy while it withstands blow after blow on the world stage? You could point to the European Union, which lacks a standing army of its own, or the Commonwealth, which could just as soon dissolve after the death of Elizabeth II. If left to fend for themselves, an autocratic future would be immediately foreseeable. For that reason, and the many I have listed, it has fallen to us once more to take up the role of defender of liberty and virtue. We must not ignore the call.