Image by Amash, Restrained FP

The Case for a More Restrained Foreign Policy

Shawn McFall

Since the fall of the USSR in 1991, the foreign policy establishment has called upon the United States to lead from the front. Foreign policy experts preached that the United States could not take its ball and go home like it did after the First World War. The international community needed a leader. This train of thought in foreign policy has been predominate for the last 20 years. As a result, the U.S. has become the world’s policeman, acting on moral indignation instead of the best interest of the U.S. Continue reading “The Case for a More Restrained Foreign Policy”

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UVA’s New Slavery Monument: How to Remember the Founding and Slavery

Michael Lucchese

In the midst of great controversy about race relations and the status of Civil War monuments, the University of Virginia recently announced intent to build a memorial to the slaves who built and maintained the university before the Civil War.

According to the university’s website, the planned memorial will be called the “Freedom Ring” and is meant to resemble broken shackles. It is 80 feet in diameter — the same as the Rotunda Jefferson designed in the 19th century which dominates the campus. Continue reading “UVA’s New Slavery Monument: How to Remember the Founding and Slavery”

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A “Replace” by Any Other CBO Score

Chris Medrano

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released an updated score of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the proposed Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare.

At face value, the numbers are awful. Over the next decade, the report says 23 million people would lose their insurance under the AHCA.

But not all is at it seems. Continue reading “A “Replace” by Any Other CBO Score”

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Duty to the East: Sustaining American Security Commitments in Asia

Oliver Thomas

United States Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis arrived in Singapore on June 2 for the Shangri-La Dialogue, an intergovernmental forum on the future of Asian security.

Mattis’s second trip to the Asia-Pacific undergirds a time of ambiguity, uncertainty and aggressive posture in the region. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) continues to test new, more sophisticated ballistic missile variants. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is expanding its sphere of influence though extensive infrastructure investment and shifts in the People’s Liberation Army strategic doctrine. President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has shown repeated lapses in leadership as the country faces internal terrorist threats. Continue reading “Duty to the East: Sustaining American Security Commitments in Asia”

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4 Questions on Trump/Russia, From One Republican to Another.

Jeff Steigen

After James Comey was fired, the “I” word has been thrown around DC like a football, and the administration has been slow in its attempts to tackle the charging imbroglio. As a result,  43 percent of Americans think Congress should start the impeachment process. Thankfully, for the administration, the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller has provided some breathing room.

Isn’t that strange to think about? Most people probably never imagined a special prosecutor would be involved in this situation. But it’s happening, and in case people need a reminder after the Clinton email debacle, an FBI investigation means something. As patriots, we need to take this issue seriously.

So, as the Russia circus cools down for a while, I think there are several questions everyone—especially my fellow Republicans—should ask themselves. I’ve included my own thoughts in response to each one. Continue reading “4 Questions on Trump/Russia, From One Republican to Another.”

Trump Orb, Riyadh

Trump and Iranian Relations

Shawn McFall

President Trump’s first stop on his international visit was in Saudi Arabia, where he was met with a hero’s welcome and was awarded the King Abdulaziz al Saud Collar, Saudi Arabia’s highest civilian honor.

While the media focused on the theatrics and the content of President Trump’s address on islamic terrorism, very little coverage was given to President Trump’s calling for the isolation of the Iranian nation. Trump’s statement was also reaffirmed by Saudi King Salman when he said:

“All nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.’’ Continue reading “Trump and Iranian Relations”

Dog in yard

Recognizing the True, the Good, and the Beautiful

Luke Robson

Today, I had the pleasure of sitting in my backyard, smoking a cigar, and watching nature play out before me. Moments like these are what remind me of what is truly good in life. Seeing the local bumblebee flit from flower to flower, scavenging for pollen; watching my dog needlessly defend me from the deer which were loping through the trees. These are two examples of creation at its best, performing what it was created to do. In this moment, it was easy to glimpse the truth, goodness, and beauty inherent in my surroundings.

Unfortunately, it is not always quite so easy to see these transcendental qualities in everyday situations, but they are still there. Learning to color our lives with these transcendental qualities is key to human happiness and a life well-lived. Continue reading “Recognizing the True, the Good, and the Beautiful”

The Middlebury Campus, Charles Murray Visit Provokes Uproar, Alex Newhouse and Ellie Reinhardt

Tearing Down Fences: The Need for College Reform

Luke Robson

Despite the fact that people are questioning the ROI of a degree and student debt is rising, Americans are still clamoring for a college education. Who can blame them? After all, college is more subsidized than ever. The relative cheapness of a college degree, along with a stagnant job market makes a degree seem more necessary than it is, as its real value is lagging.

But is a college education worth the cost?

Unfortunately, there is a larger problem with colleges today than an economic return. The modern college system has a hidden cost which often goes unnoticed by applicants and their parents. Continue reading “Tearing Down Fences: The Need for College Reform”

Faulkner and Polarization: Image by Chris Medrano

Reading Great Books Can Help Stop Political Polarization

Michael Lucchese

Over the past few weeks, the American people reacted to news from Washington — from the firing of James Comey to the investigations into the Trump campaign’s alleged connections to Russia — in an utterly polarized way. Pundits on both the left and the right have spent ages hurling the worst insults and accusations at each other, and tensions in Washington are higher now than at any time since the Watergate scandal.

Meanwhile, many ordinary Americans across the country despair at the state of politics. The American people elected Donald Trump to “shake things up” in Washington, and all his administration has given them is constant scandal, controversy, and gaffes.

That’s not to say that Donald Trump is the root of Washington’s problems. Really, our country has become increasingly polarized since the end of the Cold War. In a 1985 speech, “The Courage to Affirm,” Russell Kirk, summarized the problem of polarization  by saying, “Those who immerse themselves in the mere process of [each] month’s events become the prisoners of time and circumstance.

Instead of looking to the ever-shifting currents of politicking in Washington, Americans should turn to the permanent, unchanging “self-evident truths” about human nature. These truths are best articulated in great novels, poems, and plays by authors through history, not in the nightly news or by bombastic radio hosts. Continue reading “Reading Great Books Can Help Stop Political Polarization”

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Criminal Sentencing and Unalienable Rights

Nathan Thompson

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These, proclaims the Declaration of Independence, are the unalienable rights with which we have been endowed by our Creator. These are the rights woven into the constitutional fabric of the United States.

And yet, for all the profound language of our founding documents, it remains the case that not every American enjoys these rights equally. In few places is this problem clearer than the realm of criminal drug sentencing and mass incarceration.

Recently, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered that federal prosecutors pursue the harshest possible sentences for criminal defendants when charges are readily provable. This includes mandatory minimum prison sentences even for minor, non-violent drug offenses.

Of course, one might ask why aggressively prosecuting illicit drug use is problematic. If we want to minimize the use of substances that cause bodily harm and disruptions to communities, does it not make sense to establish consequences steep enough to deter such use?

This kind of logic may appear reasonable at first glance, but the truth of the matter is that such an approach has institutionalized a system that incarcerates and punishes citizens—particularly African-Americans—at rates not seen anywhere else in the world.

The United States, home to just under 5% of the world’s population, houses roughly 22% of the world’s prisoners. The prison population has increased 700% since 1980 despite the fact that 90% of those new inmates are non-violent offenders. This means that several million Americans are currently imprisoned in facilities that are filled past capacity, the vast majority for offenses that did not physically harm another person.

But one of the single most worrying facets of this issue centers on criminal prosecution and race. For example, African-Americans and Caucasians report being equally likely to use marijuana, but the former are 3.7 times as likely as the latter to be arrested for its possession or use and more likely to face criminal conviction. Roughly 1 in 3 black males can expect to go to prison in their lifetimes. And while the majority of drug users and dealers in the United States are white, three quarters of those imprisoned for drug offenses are African-American or Latino.

Such racial disparities in rates of arrest and conviction are staggering and should be deeply troubling to us. But rather than focusing on the numbers, perhaps there is a more personal question we should be asking ourselves: What do we will for our fellow Americans?

When we speak of our founding documents, do we really believe what they say? Do we wish for every last one of our fellow citizens, regardless of creed or skin color, to enjoy the freedom to pursue a life of happiness? To be able to learn from his or her mistakes without a 25-year minimum prison sentence? Or are we comfortable living in a world where such freedom is denied to others—especially minorities and minors—for a lifetime because of a few poor choices? I would suggest that, if we are comfortable in such a world, some serious resorting of priorities is needed.

Republican senator Rand Paul was right on the money when he wrote that we should be treating the nation’s drug epidemic for what it is: a public health crisis, not an excuse to send people to prison and turn a mistake into a tragedy.

Such an attitude of willing the good for each of our fellow Americans is one we would all do well to adopt. After all, the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, if unalienable, are not partisan. Defending every citizen’s access to them shouldn’t be, either.