Schwartz's thesis is that American foreign policy is dominated by altruism and needs to adopt an ethic of rational self-interest. He explains how the only purpose of a proper government is the protection of its citizens individual rights. These first few chapters are written in his standard Objectivish boilerplate, which is Schwartz's only discernible talent. It is a barrage of floating abstractions that will fail to convince anyone not already in agreement.
The author states that, "Since the concept of self-interest pertains fundamentally to the individual, the idea of a nation's self-interest refers only to the political precondition of a person's living rationally in a social setting, which means freedom" (pg. 14). This is all very well. However in his argument, "fundamentally" becomes "only" and the cultural preconditions for political liberty are completely ignored.
One glaring example of Schwartz's inability to apply abstract concepts to reality is his treatment of "nationalism." According to the author, "nationalism" is always based on collectivism and requires tyranny:
This individualist approach to foreign policy disavows any form of nationalism. Nationalism is a collectivist idea, which regards the nation as the primary unit of life and which holds that the citizen is obligated to devote his energies to the glorification of whatever state happens to declare him its subject. (pg. 19)This characterization of "nationalism" is based on one discredited definition for the concept. Schwartz cannot distinguish Prussian nationalism from legitimate patriotism. Nor, does he have any inkling of how and why "nationalism" and the nation-state developed from earlier types of medieval polities. The creation of the sovereign nation-state was in response to Europe's endless religious wars. It came to be understood that the "nation" preceded the "state." The "nation" being an identifiable people who share certain cultural traits that makes them distinctive from all others. Generally, the people of a nation developed a regard and loyalty to one another that is not necessarily bad or "collectivistic." That people like Schwartz are incapable of feeling such a sense of comradery with their fellow Americans is their loss.
In fact, nationalism has often been an vital, if not central, component in fighting tyranny. Napoleon sought to impose an EU style empire upon Europe. His ceaseless military campaigns cost millions of lives. In large part, nationalism from Spain to Russia is what defeated him. President Trump in his magnificent speech earlier this month in Warsaw explained how Polish nationalism and national identity has defeated many tyrants over the centuries.
One root cause of Schwartz's failure to properly define nationalism is that he doesn't define "nation." Throughout the pamphlet he indulges in formal equivocation with the terms "nation," "government" and "state." "National self-interest" is anathema to Schwartz. Hence, the work's title.
Another aspect of Schwartz's ideological blinders is his refusal to identify the greatest threat to the USA and Western Civilization's security and freedom. Needless to say, this threat is the ongoing 1400 year jihad against Christendom (and everyone else). In this short pamphlet there are no less that twenty references to "totalitarian Islam." Schwartz is so clueless that he characterizes the jihad as a "new threat" that was recently concocted by al-Qaeda and the Ayatollah Khomeini (pg. 24).
Schwartz will not identity the enemy, his nature or threat doctrine. So, he's spectacularly unable to devise a policy that has some basis in reality and some promise of success. His policy recommendation is that of the "neo-cons" on steroids. He thinks "taking out" the Iranian regime (with which he is obsessed) will end the jihad. He provides no evidence for this bizarre contention. More likely, the Sunnis would just throw a party and move to fill the vacuum. When that happens, Schwartz would have us carpet bomb various Sunni countries. Decades, if not centuries, of European occupation did not end the jihad. The colonial powers were forever engaging in punitive operations to put down jihad based rebellions.
One glaring omission in this work is the issue of immigration. Or, in this case, the importation of the umma and jihad into the West. Schwartz, and his ilk, are too dense to see that most of the USA's jihad problem stems from the mass immigration of Moslems. The same truth is all too evident in Europe. Near the end of his essay, Schwartz stumbles upon the self-evident: "The appropriate policy towards such nations is the opposite of engagment: ostracism. Let these nation [sic] stand - or, more accurately, fall - on their own" (pg. 61).
All too obviously, containment is the best policy for dealing with the dar al-Islam. But, a consistent policy of containment would conflict with Schwartz's (and the Ayn Rand Institute's) no-borders fetish. So, he will not even consider it. Nor, will he distinguish between violent and "peaceful" jihad. How can a poisonous ideology be contained when the West has a Kantian moral imperative to import millions of its adherents? These adherents build mosques and recruit the weak, stupid and vulnerable of the invaded society. These adherents become politically active in order to subvert our government and other institutions. This "stealth jihad" is more insidious and dangerous than the violent kind. Carpet bombing Tehran will only encourage such efforts.
At root, Schwartz's problem is his profound rationalism (meaning his thinking in terms of floating abstractions). The history of Islam and nationalism is of no interest to him. The jihad on American and European soil is not his concern. He takes a few fundamental moral principles and then just plugs them into the issue at hand without knowledge or understanding. Proof? Much of this pamphlet was written in the early 1980s and its thesis was then directed at the Soviet Union. This earlier work has been conveniently stuffed down the Memory Hole. I cannot find a single copy or even reference to it online. Unfortunately for Schwartz, I clearly remember reading it in 1986. All he has done is replace "Soviet Union" with "totalitarian Islam" in much of this essay. It's as extreme a case of rationalism as one will find from ARI.
If you seek knowledge about the current threats to America, and how to rationally respond, this work will be of no help to you.