America’s Foreign Policy: Self-Interest vs. Self-Sacrifice
By Peter Schwartz Recorded January 25, 2006
The United States is the world’s preeminent military power. Why then are its foreign-policy efforts so regularly frustrated? From Vietnam to Lebanon to Somalia to the current morass in Iraq, why has America been so incapable of decisively defeating its enemies—enemies that are militarily far inferior?
In this talk, Peter Schwartz of the Ayn Rand Institute maintains that success in foreign policy, including success in waging war, depends ultimately on the strength not of a nation’s weapons, but of its moral philosophy. And in that area, our country has been tragically deficient. The fundamental reason we have been failing to defend America’s interests is that our intellectual and political leaders embrace the altruist premise that the pursuit of self-interest is morally wrong. And, Mr. Schwartz argues, unless we uphold the opposite philosophy—the view that self-interest is morally good—we will not be able to protect America’s freedom against foreign threats.