No Apology for American Greatness

by DR. PETER BROOKES November 24, 2012

While conservatives might be in a bit of a post-election funk, this is no time to compromise our principles-especially on foreign policy and national security, where Team Obama's record has been less than stellar to say the least.

Rather, now is the time to dig deep and fight for the conservative principles that made this country the great and benevolent power it has been and should continue to be.

Surrender to the misguided efforts of this Administration on international affairs is by no means an option.

Instead, we should be insisting-indeed, demanding-that the following ideas become the bedrock of our foreign and national security policy:

  • Maintain a strong national defense. With the possibility of sequestration looming, we can't take this principle for granted. The best military in the world needs to be equipped with the finest weapons systems in sufficient numbers. Military might is an essential pillar of American power, alongside deft diplomacy and economic energy, which support our influence and protect our interests abroad. Diplomacy is always more effective when backed by the credible threat of the use of force. Weakness-even the perception of weakness-is a gateway to provocations from those who oppose us and seek to do us harm. Deterrence and dissuasion, based on military power, is critical to fending off those challenges to our well-being.
  • Rely on American power. The Obama Administration touts multilateralism and international organizations as the foundation of our international engagement. However, insisting upon this may be the exact reason that the Administration's policies have been so ineffective. Outsourcing our foreign policy on tough issues to the likes of the United Nations is a big mistake. As has been said before, a lack of consensus is no excuse for a lack of leadership. America should act multilaterally when it can and unilaterally when it must in support of its national interests. Period.
  • Assert American exceptionalism. This country is unique in the history of humankind. And never has one nation done so much for so many, for so little thanks as the United States of America. We are, without question, "exceptional." As such, we shouldn't be afraid of promoting across the globe the principles that made us great and will keep us great. We should never apologize for that.


American foreign policy really comes down to this question: Are this country's best days behind us, or are they yet to come?

The answer to that question is not pre-ordained-unless we refuse to speak out in the public square in the aftermath of the election for the conservative principles that made this country both great and exceptional.

Dr. Peter Brookes is a Senior Fellow for National Security Affairs at the Heritage Foundation and is a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. He writes a weekly column for the New York Post and frequently appears on FOX, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, NPR and BBC. He is the author of: "A Devil’s Triangle: Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction and Rogue States." Mr. Brookes served in the U.S. Navy and is now a Commander in the naval reserves. He has over 1300 flight hours aboard Navy EP-3 aircraft. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy; the Defense Language Institute; the Naval War College; the Johns Hopkins University; and Georgetown University.

Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.

Twitter: @Brookes_Peter

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