There have been others writing on this topic and I've only seen links to articles like this criticism by President Clinton (to which I responded in a comment thread at Hot Air) or this piece by P.J. O'Rourke. The basic Establishment criticism now being echoed in some venues is that the Tea Party 'needs' a foreign policy (beyond that of John Bolton joining an election day Tea Party group, H/t: Dan Riehl; 25 SEP 2010 update by Michael Patrick Leahy at Big Journalism here). No one can speak for the Tea Party (why I describe in this piece) but the thrust of a distributed, small government, fiscally conservative distributed organization is one that will guide its foreign policy to a large extent. Parallels between how the emergent behavior of such a disintermediating force will play in foreign policy are interesting as the guiding precepts of thrift, frugality and expenditures only for the necessary come into play. Similarly as a small governance distributed organization, it will not look towards big government, centralized pathways for its foreign policy. Thus some outlines, and they can only be that at this point in time, can be generally sketched out, although some details may go beyond the sketching area while others will draw closer in within that area so as to avoid the edges. Thus each of the major thrust domains of the Tea Party will constrain the resultant foreign policy, and if you examine the thrust domains you get the sketch parameters.
Small or Limited Government
This domain is paramount and drives foreign policy. A shift towards smaller government has not been seen since the time of President Coolidge, and the shift of foreign policy then will indicate which direction the US goes with a Tea Party majority or even large plurality holding the purse strings of government in the balance. It is a view that draws away from large, international institutions just as it draws away from large national ones: these are concurrent beliefs in the strength of the individual to do good on their own and while the Nation is guided by the President on foreign policy, it is up to the people to fill in that guidance outline.
What results is not, exactly, isolationism of the pre-WWII era: Americans remember WWII and have no wish to repeat it.
Americans also remember that entangling alliances, dependence on foreign policy to keep a status quo, internationally, led to WWI.
This then shifts the Tea Party away from the artifacts of the Post-WWII era that have dominated foreign policy: the UN, IMF, World Bank, and other large scale, unaccountable multi-Nation organizations. If we have had problem with run-away, accountable government, the problems of runaway, unaccountable international institutions will not garner support from a Tea Party perspective. These large organizations that the US contributes the bulk of the funding to can expect either a massive draw-down and demands for accountability (via accounting firms, audits, and some form of Inspector General) or be completely de-funded and withdrawn from. If international institutions shirk the accountability, then they get the de-funding. Even if they become more accountable, they lose a lot of funding as they had to be told to be accountable in the first place and didn't hold themselves accountable to all who contributed to them. This can be an expected fallout of similar moves on the National side against unaccountable bureaucracies (ex. Federal Reserve, Fannie, Freddie, Sallie, Ginnie, Dept of Agriculture, Education, Energy, etc.). Thus what will come of that is something that looks far closer to 19th century US foreign policy and not like post-Theodore Roosevelt foreign policy (his examination of why international institutions that he originally favored are unworkable are in Chapter XV of his autobiography at The Gutenberg Project).
Thus limited funding for such institutions will be an outcome of a Tea Party foreign policy and those institutions will be very, very few and limited in nature. There will be no adoration for the multi-National organizations that create policies counter to the interests of the US, and they can expect to be cut off completely under a Tea Party driven foreign policy.
The US federal budget system is flat broke and living beyond its means.
Foreign policy gets cut, drastically by a Tea Party based foreign policy as this is part of the domestic policy review.
Expect funding for Palestine, Turkey, China and a few other prime hostile Nations to be slashed. Everyone else will take a cut. Humanitarian aid funding may be retained, but nowhere near current levels, and they will concentrate into the 'boots on the ground, post-disaster' sort of aid and not longer term, systemic aid. AIDS funding for Africa will dry up, as the way to stop the spread of AIDS is well known: have safe sex with very few partners. Sorry if that sounds moralistic, but that is how the disease is spread - via unsafe sex with lots of partners. If people can't figure this one out at this late date, then no amount of funding will help them to stop it... and what aid that does 'help' is limited to a very few cases and might be better served via charitable organizations with targeted tax cuts for them.
Foreign aid can also be expected to shift from the cash venue to the products venue: products are harder to pilfer, designated as to type and delivery point, easier to account for, harder to sell on the black market and generally help the US economy via production and delivery of same. Cash quickly ends up in the pockets of intermediaries and kleptocrats, and that lack of accountability or 'wink and a nod' to corruption will be curbed if not ended entirely. No good is done by letting leeches and skimmers siphon off aid from those who need it, and if they threaten us with arms, they announce they are our enemy.
We will no longer fund our enemies or the enemies of our friends. We don't have the funds to afford that and can't afford that now, if we would but think about it.
Overseas Military Presence
Outside of active war zones, there will only be a few logistics and supply bases for those zones left under a Tea Party foreign policy. If a deep ally wishes to have a base to co-train with us, that is one thing and we should honor them with a base and training with them, although it should be a training base.
Pragmatically this means that Germany, Italy, Spain, South Korea, Japan and a few other places will suddenly have empty lots available.
Those who are fighting enemies that are our enemies can expect continued help. That means Colombia against FARC, Philippines against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (and various others), Iraq against al Qaeda and generally anyone else against al Qaeda and their offshoots as well. Help means logistics help, INTEL help, and even boots on the ground if necessary.
In the Af-Pak region there will need to be some recognition that the reason for the conflict there dates back to the British Empire attempting to divide the Pashtuns, and then when they left that border being left without agreement as to where it should be. The resolution can be brokered locally, but must be done to finally settle matters there once and for all. Pakistan is unwilling to police the NWFP and other Pashtun lands properly, Afghanistan can't achieve that with their limited economy on their side of the border, and the Pashtuns haven't been able to figure out what they actually want on their own, either. At some point the Pashtuns have to be asked what they actually want, get everyone to stop having a conniption fit if they can actually make a decision, and then get some agreement that leaves no one satisfied but actually gets some understanding and agreement to talk it out without pulling in foreign terrorists, thugs, and killers. It may not be peace as we know it, but that is close to peace as they know it.
A cheap and easy way to go after those who think Private War is fun to wage against the US is to authorize Privateers. Privateers are not mercenaries: no one pays them to do their work. Privateers are accountable under military codes for their military work as they fly our flag for their actions. They are authorized by Congress, and the President can call upon them for work against foes identified by Congress. What they can do is grab stuff from and offer reprisals to our enemies, with both being glamorous but the grabbing offering the bread and butter part of the work. Privateers are in the business of taking support from those who are not Nations in proportion they have done to the US on a 1:1 basis. What they are authorized to grab they can then sell at auction, and that often goes beyond the material, itself, and includes the shipping and transport vessels of such material bound for our enemies. This is a low cost, high benefit operation to the US government and is a wonderful way to get those over-age for military work who still want to go after our enemies a way to do so. No one pays them to do that - they volunteer. They can die for this privilege. Which means they will not risk their lives foolishly. If it sounds like a strange version of the Repo Man, that is because that is what Privateers are. You can fear the police, but you dread the Repo Man.
Remember: thrift and low expenditures by the government drive decisions.
Lots of it with friends and allies.
No subsidies to any of it for homegrown businesses and talking with our friends and allies about reducing their subsidies to their homegrown competitors. Free people should be willing to play on a field where governments do not dictate outcomes and that governing systems determine competitiveness. This helps to reform all systems involved as free people will identify problems and seek remediation for them based on a value of absolute human liberty to prosper by one's own hand.
Perhaps a minor set of tariffs to Nations not liking us over much, but liking to trade with us a lot - they can pay for the privilege of not being a friend or ally, just a trade partner. This would not be enough to discourage trade, but enough to show that the value of human liberty has a direct cost to it. And it would be a way to get some income into the treasury outside of all other taxes.
The understanding is that trade amongst free peoples reinforces them, builds them up and enables them to exercise their liberty with greater strength for the benefit of all. Trade does not reform Nations: decades of trade with China has not changed the repressive nature of the system there and only moved it from a form of Communism to a form of Fascism. Neither form of government sees individual liberty as a good thing, represses it whenever it goes against the State, and will not set up humane laws for working conditions for its population, thus creating some of the worst working conditions on the planet that make the old sweatshops seem positively benign in comparison. We do like the cheap goods from China because China values human life so cheaply. Thus a minor but constant rebuke is in order, and even at 1% it would be minor, at 10% it would be noticeable but not impact prices too much in the US for all goods coming from China.
The American people do not support tyrants, dictators or systems made to repress the individual via the State. That is the point of the movement at home and becomes one abroad, as well.
Topics of Human Rights
As all humans are created equal, they deserve to create their own government to reflect their values and such government should not trample on the rights of its population in the areas of liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of worship and the absolute right of self-defense.
Small arms treaties have not, noticeably, changed the number of conflicts around the globe. Getting some agreement to stopping the creation of landmines is only partially successful as it is not a universal ban and as technology improves the ability of devices to discriminate between targets increases, not decreases. The old 'step on it and it goes boom' sort is a danger to everyone. One that senses mass, has a sensor system to determine the nature of who is stepping on it, and that automatically defuses itself if left in place for too long is of less danger to individuals immediately after a war zone shifts and becomes inert in days, not decades. As that is a weapons class of war, not for personal self-defense, it shows little applicability to items that do apply directly to self-defense: small arms.
In that realm the US is not a leader, but somewhere far back in the pack with Nations like the Czech Republic actually freely allowing and propagating arms in its civilian population that would shock many in the US Elite Establishment. Automatic weapons are far more common, per capita, there as they recognize the danger from authoritarian and totalitarian government having experienced the Nazi and Communist systems up-close and personal for decades. While requiring a permit to own fully automatic weapons, that is not a burden to the Czech people as they encourage individuals to understand and use responsibly the small arms necessary to defend themselves from tyrants and dictators. Bans on firearms are meant to make a people subservient to, and unable to resist, their government. Thus the UK has gone from a gun ban to those now pushing the idea that all paychecks should go to the State, first, and the State determine if you should get anything from your work. That took years to do, not decades, and the slippery slope of believing that arms are the problem of criminality and thuggish behavior belies the fact that criminals and thugs then see more people as victims and the government sees their citizens as serfs who work for the State.
This topic, currently not a part of US foreign policy, would be expected to appear as the Tea Party has a strong affiliation with personal liberty, self-reliance and self-control. There is no fear of an armed citizen as they exercise the positive, natural right to say that they will not be a victim to anyone from a street thug to their own government.
Freedom of worship expectations would re-orient US foreign policy more towards its 19th century roots and expectations of other Nations to follow the good example of Westphalian behavior of religious tolerance and the State not telling people what to believe. That only ends in death and destruction, while religious tolerance creates a more civil, more active society willing to work out what is best for all citizens and still uphold the common morals so as to have a civil society. Government cannot create morals in its people, but it can join with them to reinforce the concept that bad moral behavior that endangers the public has a high civil price to pay to it. As a Nation we expect to see basic human liberty to talk about these things, protect oneself from government turned thug, and get to a rational set of laws amenable to all via their sparsity to be the good result of religious toleration.
As the modern age has made a distributed system of communications available, protecting the right of free speech means that a free and unfettered medium of communication must be upheld as a basic part of our human rights. That goes from verbal speech to ink on paper to electromagnetic waves going from broadcast stations to radios and tvs to digital electronic exchanges over a shared inter-networked environment. The liberty of speech is scale free and there is no scale level where it needs to be made 'fair' or restricted or censored. As the Tea Party uses all media to exchange ideas and build a common ideal set, the extreme good of this human liberty is seen. Having distracters, dissenters and discourse allows for the marketplace of ideas to test out new concepts and put them through the wringer before they can get a food-hold in society as a whole. Good ideas cannot be grown in a monocultural garden, as the first idea to threaten the monoculture will bring it down. A robust, interactive environment providing safe haven for discourse for all peoples means that good ideas with merit will gain acceptance, and those without merit or that threaten human liberty will be discarded. As a people we welcome this free and unfettered system of communications as one of the greatest goods and highest liberties we have and we should seek to extend it to all mankind in all its venues. Luckily that is low cost as we don't have to provide printing presses, broadcast hardware and receivers, nor computers to anyone, just make the discourse systems open to the interchange of ideas. That is what human liberty and freedom of speech is all about and 'fairness' is in the eye of the beholder.
Those systems unwilling to tolerate freedom and liberty for their own citizens are enemies of these ideals and should understand that by the way we treat them... or don't treat them as the case may be. The greatest good can be done not by trying to 'help' citizens in Nations abrogating their basic rights, but in ignoring those systems and working to undermine their legitimacy so the people in that Nation can change it. We can advocate for human liberty everywhere, safeguard our own and show why those two must be done and let others know there is a cost to not allowing human liberty for one's own people in the way of our not working with you on anything.
In general, following the dictum of 'how they come to power, so shall they rule' allows for some insight in a people that don't want to be ruled and who want equal treatment by their government to all citizens as their touchstone. As we apply it at home, so it will be done abroad. The concepts of thrift, that is low expenditures for high returns, equality of treatment amongst equals, showing that there is a real world cost to not applying principles of human liberty and rights to the population of Nations, and keeping out of entangling alliances and slimming down the military so as not to be the 'World's Policeman' are all seeking to enhance liberty and freedom at home, keep government small and effective, and spread the blessings of liberty beyond our shores.
We used to do that, way back when.
And that part of our outlook now appears to be returning in full-throated voice, with this last year or so being the voice preparation for the choir that is about to take center stage and move the old fashioned 'wings' concept out of the theater. Too long have these voices been missing from the American Stage, and now they are about to change the way we look at ourselves, how the world looks at us and how we look at the world.
All of that starts with you.