Solutions for America: A Conservative Foreign Policy


Solutions for America: A Conservative Foreign Policy

August 17, 2010 3 min read Download Report
Marion Smith
Counselor to the President
Marion Smith, through his research and writing at The Heritage Foundation, relates...


The United States was founded on the belief that people have inalienable rights to life, liberty, and self-governance and that government’s first duty is to protect our freedom and security. America’s history of advancing liberty and rights at home and abroad is unparalleled. Our leaders should not apologize for that history; nor should they deny us these rights or neglect to speak up for them. America is an exceptional nation conceived in liberty. Its foreign and defense policies must reflect that truth.


  • Our Freedoms, Security, and Sovereignty Are at Risk. Current U.S. policies undermine the freedoms, security, and sovereignty that have served us so well. Bringing foreign opinions and laws into our courts, entering treaties that counter our interests, and giving supranational institutions moral legitimacy over the Constitution threaten liberty itself.
  • Engagement Is No Strategy. The Administration’s policy of engagement assumes that we must appease the anxieties of dictatorial states and international institutions as well as friendly nations. It has not worked. Iran, Russia, China, North Korea, and Venezuela have become more aggressive since President Obama took office.
  • U.S. Military Power Is Waning. A congressionally chartered panel that examined the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review has concluded that the U.S. military is on the verge of decline and must be modernized.
  • A Weaker Military Undermines Our Interests. Restraining spending on defense, failing to rein in entitlements, and massively expanding government’s role deprive our military of what it needs to protect our homeland, win the Afghan war, convince North Korea and Iran to forgo nuclear weapons, and make our diplomacy more effective.
  • U.S. Economic Might Is Declining. As the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom shows, the U.S. economy has fallen from the ranks of “free” with the largest overall decline in economic freedom of the world’s 20 largest economies.
  • Apologies Do Not Win Friends and Influence Enemies. The President’s job is to defend U.S. interests. His apologies have backfired, encouraging others to press the U.S. even harder to adopt policies against our interests.


  • Place Liberty First. Defending liberty should be the central goal of foreign policy and the organizing principle for the alliances, international institutions, and treaties we join. Our role as leader of the free world will not endure unless others know that America still stands for liberty and justice for all.
  • Invest in Peace Through Strength. A robust military is the surest way to deter aggression and reinforce diplomacy. We must modernize our forces, deploy missile defenses, and strengthen our alliances.

Defense Budget as a Percent of GDP

  • Win in Afghanistan. We must win in Afghanistan to ensure that it never again becomes a terrorist haven and to encourage Pakistan to deal with the terrorist groups and Taliban on its territory. To win will require renouncing a predetermined timeline and fully resourcing the counterinsurgency strategy.
  • Prevent Iran from Getting Nuclear Weapons. We must lead the effort to enforce sanctions on Iran’s regime and security organs; ban foreign investment, loans and credits, subsidized trade, and refined petroleum exports; and deny visas to its officials. We should expose Iran’s human rights abuses and support democracy activists, and we should deploy robust missile defenses to convince Tehran that its nuclear weapons will not achieve their objectives.
  • Take a Tougher Stand on North Korea. We must lead the effort to fully implement U.N. sanctions and prevent North Korea from procuring or exporting any component of a weapon of mass destruction; freeze the assets of any person, company, bank, or government complicit in that activity; and enforce international laws against North Korea’s illegal activities, including currency counterfeiting and narcotics production and distribution.
  • Strengthen Alliances and Build New Coalitions and Entities Around Shared Values. We must take the lead and increase cooperation with like-minded nations to advance liberty in every form—e.g., a Global Economic Freedom Forum to advance free markets, a Liberty Forum for Human Rights to promote individual freedoms and human dignity, and a Global Freedom Coalition to advance global security.
  • Undertake Responsible Arms Control. Under a “protect and defend” strategy, the U.S. should work with Russia to safely reduce operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads; deploy missile defenses against strategic attack; negotiate bilateral treaties countering nuclear-armed terrorism; and secure a global stability treaty emphasizing strategic defenses.
  • Don’t Sign New START. The U.S. Senate should not ratify the New START treaty signed by Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev. The treaty contains inadequate verification; constrains the U.S. ability to develop and deploy missile defenses; allows Russia to increase its deployed strategic nuclear delivery systems while America is forced to cut; and while U.S. policy stops the construction of new nuclear warheads, Russia and China can move ahead with robust modernization efforts.


Marion Smith

Counselor to the President