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This is going to rile up some of Ron Paul’s fans

Unlike Dale Amon, one of this site’s editors, I am not much of a fan of Ron Paul, or at least, not a fan of some of the people who back and cheerlead for his campaign. I can respect, even admire, how he has been consistent in pointing to the folly of central bank financial manipulation, which is why his campaign against the Fed is something I admire. I can also appreciate how he has pushed some important libertarian ideas into the political culture. A lot of people whose views I respect say that he has done a tremendous amount of good. And they argue that yes, that whole business about the letters back in the late 80s and early 90s was poor and did not reflect well on his judgement – hardly a good thing in a potential POTUS – but hey, plenty of people make mistakes and Paul has disowned this stuff.

But one of the things about the Ron Paul campaign that has concerned me is his foreign policy stance. I am not complaining about his anti-interventionism. That’s entirely consistent with a libertarian point of view; it draws on the wisdom of realising that one intervention inevitably breeds another and and another and so on in endless, disastrous profusion. But where he seriously leaves me behind is when he starts to make excuses, or gives the impression of doing so, for lousy regimes and individuals. Case in point being a video arguing that there would be a parallel between how Americans might feel if foreign troops were based in say, Texas, and the situation regarding US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tim Sandefur, a long-time critic of Ron Paul (he has called RP a “conman” and not a libertarian), has a ferocious article about the video, and in particular, brings up the issue of the American Civil War to highlight what he thinks is wrong with the video’s underlying premises and arguments.

“The video starts out by inviting us to sympathize with the Islamofascists, who, we are told, are led to military “resistance” against a foreign occupier—that is, the United States. Imagine that, say, the Chinese or the Russians maintained a military base in Texas, and that thousands of armed troops from such a nation were patrolling American streets. Wouldn’t that be awful? So surely we can understand why al Quaeda in Mesopotamia plants roadside bombs to kill American soldiers, no?”

“One notices right away that this opening sentence demands that we ignore the differences between the American forces in Iraq or Afghanistan, and the forces of al Qaeda and its allies—or the relative characters of the nations or institutions on whose behalf they act. American troops, representing a democratic nation that liberated Iraq from the barbarism of Saddam Hussein and helped to institute the first-ever democratic governments there and in Afghanistan, are to be regarded as the moral equivalent of, say, the People’s Liberation Army patrolling the streets of Dallas. Of course, once one accepts this moral equivalence, one is prepared to accept anything.”

Then, several paras later, this is:

“The climax of this moral equivalency comes in the middle of the video, when we are explicitly invited to imagine ourselves joining with some Holy Army of Martyrdom to “defend our soil and our sovereignty” by fighting against this invading army—and to feel sorry for these freedom fighters who are (so sad) labeled by an unfeeling world as terrorists or insurgents. This absurdity mutates into a thinly veiled accusation that Americans are simply committing genocide. At this point, one loses any interest in watching further.”

“Soil and sovereignty” is a particularly interesting choice of phrase: note that even this video does not have the chutzpah to suggest that those who strap bombs to their chests or set IEDs by roadsides in the Middle East are doing so in defense of, say, justice, or individual rights. It is just a question of “soil and sovereignty.” Of course, “soil and sovereignty,” or “Blut und Boden,” has long been the favorite slogan of all fascists. What it really means is, “room to oppress with impunity.” It is the demand for the freedom to enslave. Failure to recognize this is what has so often led otherwise sensible and sensitive people to mistake despotic thuggery for wars of national liberation—often until it is too late, and the bell tolls for thee.”

A question, though, is that its defence of intervention into brutal regimes does beg the question of who gets to decide which regimes fail a test of decency and should therefore be dealt with? But it is a good article, and I recommend the whole of it. Here is the final paragraph:

“By ridiculing the notion of defending democracy and preserving the peace in the Middle East, by regarding the troops of a democratic coalition in a region pock-marked with totalitarian fascist states as equivalent to a communist military patrolling the towns of Texas, the video ignores the difference between justice and tyranny, between peace and desolation, between freedom and slavery. And one who chooses to blind himself to these differences has chosen to blind himself to everything of importance in the world.”

Exactly so. If one is serious about belief in expanding freedom, would one not, to take another example, want to do something about the guy down the street who is known to be torturing his wife and kids, even if his actions had no direct bearing on one’s own?

At the same time, this article, by constitutional scholar and classical liberal, Randy Barnett, is a thoughtful item about some of the possible contradictions and problems associated with issues of sovereignty, liberty, and war.

But the question remains: however powerful the sort of arguments that Sandefur presents – and they are very powerful – who gets to decide that it is okay to pull the trigger? That is what makes these debates so infernally difficult.

90 comments to This is going to rile up some of Ron Paul’s fans

  • Andy in London

    I think you misrepresent Ron Paul’s point.
    Take the wifebeater/torturer analogy. Ron Paul is basically saying, that when the wifebeater comes and smashes in our windows, he isn’t doing so because he hates our decor, he is doing it because we interfered with his wifebeating.
    The point Paul makes is that all our current crop of politicos say that AlQaeda attack us because we are free and they hate our freedom.
    This just isn’t true. They hate us because we interfere in their equivalent of wife beating.
    Now there are valid arguments for and against stopping wife beating, but we need to be honest about why terrorists want to attack us / wife beaters want to smash our windows. It isn’t cos we are free or because we have nice decor.

  • steve

    Spot on Andy. The point of Paul’s argument is that their is a reasonable expectation that the terrorism would stop if we stopped intervening in the middle east. This expectation is not true if the terrorism is about our freedoms.

    If what you want is to end despotic governments, then be honest about the expected blowback. The MSM routinely reverses the causality.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Andy, the West has been involved in the Middle East for one reason or another for centuries; the likes of Al-Quaeda don’t just object to US men(and women) on Saudi soil, or wherever. They object to any Westerners doing business there. Period. it would be almost impossible to cut the Middle East off from all Western contact.

    Islamists are indeed riled at the West. But their reasons for being riled don’t deserve any respect. They are riled about things that happened centuries ago. Even. Ron Paul regime would need to face that. I see little sign of such realism.

  • Besides, Andy, while what you are saying may or may not be true (see JP’s comment above), this is what you are saying – not RP, as far as I can see. Where has he ever acknowledged (let alone emphasized, for the sake of moral clarity) that the metaphorical neighbor is, in fact, a “wife beater”?

  • Agammamon

    “One notices right away that this opening sentence demands that we ignore the differences between the American forces in Iraq or Afghanistan, and the forces of al Qaeda and its allies”

    I don’t think this follows.

    Imagine the uproar we would have if any country invaded us and set up a base inside the US, even if said countries soldiers behaved themselves impeccably.

    If, say, Belgium were to intervene in our wars and occupations and decided to institute a no-fly zone over the US and attack military targets in order to bring us to heel, we would go ballistic.

    Not to mention that our history with the middle east goes back a ways. Our current response to them is in response to their actions which are in response to previous actions by us, on-and-on for several generations.

    Its not just a matter of they bombed us and now that we’re defending ourselves its not fair that they get mad about it.

  • I think many of us have ceased to believe the threat assessments coming out of the mainstream/governmental institutions. None of these governments respect private property, as becomes rather obvious if you pay attention to SWAT raids on people’s houses in the U.S. under the pretext of illegal drugs. The army does, or did similar things in Afghanistan/Iraq.

    This is not to say there isn’t a threat; I just suppose the bureaucrats are generating excuses for increasing their power. Previous actions have destabilized the Middle East, and I suspect future actions shall simply serve to distress the area further, so that the U.S. has an excuse to maintain a presence there.

    But don’t mind me so much. Mind Iraq. If it starts falling apart as the Kurds, Sunni, and Shia start fighting with each other, it might be a clue the U.S. doesn’t have stability as it’s first priority. I could have done a better job at ‘nation building’ when I was in high school (not that anyone should particularly be engaging in nation building).

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Well. I’m not that much riled up, but on the other hand I’m not that much of a Ron Paul fan either. But who else takes the budget and bloat issues seriously? And if those are allowed to fester, what will a little foreign policy fatuity matter?

  • Indeed, PFP. Come the FL primary, I’m looking for a medium-sized and rather well-cushioned laundry clip…

  • Rob H

    First off The idea that we can agree with each other on here let alone with every policy decision of a politician is ludicrous. The main thing to know about Ron Paul is that he wants to get Govt. out of the way of the people. That is enough for me.

    All the clap trap about his foreign policy stance is really confusing for me. Paul is saying that people don’t act rationally when someone occupies their land and for heavens sake it is not as though the allies don’t kill people they don’t mean to kill. He is not saying that collateral damage should be eliminated (thats impossible) what he is saying is that collateral damage in war leads to resentment and attracts people to islamofacism. I think he is right and his point is entirely congruent.

    And thats without even touching on the industrial military complex who have a vested interest in constant war, are almost totally funded by legalised theft from people and are certainly no friend of freedom.

    I sometimes think that libertarians are so used to railing against anything that requires taxes to run that when it comes to the one area they agree needs funding by the state they can’t help but go hell for leather on the spending….

  • Jacob

    Ron Paul’s argument shows that he has no idea what he is talking about, at least about the Middle East.

    Makes you think whether he understands other issues or is just parroting pleasant libertarian slogans.

  • Gene

    For those of you positing an “invasion” of the U.S. by China or Belgium: The proper analogy would be the U.S. government INVITING Chinese or Belgian soldiers to establish a base in Texas. Would a lot of Americans be upset about that? You bet. Would a small handful of Americans take terroristic actions against those soldiers, or their countries? Possibly. Would a plurality or better of ordinary Americans applaud said terroristic actions? No freaking way.

    Would the governments and peoples of the majority of the United States’ allies applaud or tacitly approve of such terroristic actions? Would many of those governments assist, directly or indirectly, those terroristic Americans in their actions? Again, no freaking way.

    This issue is much bigger than one country vs. another; be very careful about the scenarios you imagine.

  • John B

    Westerners have a different view of history to those from the Mid East.
    2012 s just a continuation of 1683 (Battle of Vienna(Link)) to many Mid Eastern minds. The time in between has just been an unfortunate interlude.
    Battles that were lost are now being won.

    And there were the Barbary pirates who made life very precarious for westerners around the Mediterranean and beyond until the 19th Century, at which time I think it was mainly the US naval force that stopped their activities.
    “From the 16th to 19th century, corsairs captured an estimated 800,000 to 1.25 million people as slaves.”(Link)

    Ron Paul does not quite grasp this, I think.
    But then nobody can understand everything.

  • John B

    Sorry, wrong link corrected.

  • I would also like to second what Andy said. Well put.

    And I don’t understand why this point of view should be problematic. Anyone will get upset if you invade their country, but ESPECIALLY barbarians. All Ron Paul is doing is making clear that if you want to go stop wifebeaters, you need to be prepared for a long fight, and it isn’t at all clear to me that the government came clean about how long and costly this fight would be. Certainly stopping wifebeaters is a worthy cause, but everything demands a cost-benefit analysis, and the hypertrophied rhetoric coming from both sides on this debate makes it hard to discuss one in public. Either you’re a baby killer, or you hate America. Ron Paul is one of the few with another perspective, and it’s really frustrating to see libertarians, of all people, skewering him for it.

    For the record, I’m not a fan of his foreign policy either, but you know what else I’m really not a fan of? People who claim to be for personal liberty refusing to support the person who has done more to get attention for the libertarian cause than anyone else in living memory besides maybe Ayn Rand. The perfect is the enemy of the good, you know. Ron Paul is not perfect, but what would you prefer? Mitt Romeny? Get serious.

  • James

    Islamists are indeed riled at the West. But their reasons for being riled don’t deserve any respect.

    Some of their reasons certainly do deserve respect. Mosaddegh, 1953 and the USS Vincennes incident in 1988 being two of the perfectly understandable reasons why Iranian Islamists loathe America.

  • neil

    Its our Fathers, mothers, sons, daughters that are going to war in these countries. Not these other candidates and not very many that are calling the shots. Once upon a time there was a draft due to a illegitimate war. Lots of people just like you and me died for a shitty piece of Jungle and they had no choice. Now some of these hotshots that skipped out because they were busy building careers are trying to keep the chain going. This thing with Iran is suicide.

    We need to step back and heal ourselves, fortify, fix our people. There was 14 murders in Chicago on Thursday, thats fucking nuts, and society is losing it big time. More soldiers commit suicide than have died in combat for at least 2 years now, literally double. Its shocking what is happening to our country.

    I voted for Obama, in the last few years its like i have come out of this haze, i had been brainwashed to vote, not think, buy the next iphone. I had never even taken the time to find out who Ron Paul was ever, not even in 08. But after watching the decline of this nation and waking up, i cant help but be all for RP because the stances he has proclaimed for decades will help this nation heal, and he will have his term/terms, and we will get a chance to vote again. If we havent already slid into a complete police state by then.

    Please guys, there is so much riding on this. Do not let the small things break us apart. Unify in solidarity with the canidate you feel in your heart will help this nation the most and secure a future for my and your children. I m not a religious person at all, nor am i an athiest, please know that i wish the best for all of your familys in this very scary times ahead of us.

  • Valerie

    Neil,
    With all due respect, 75% of those who served in Vietnam did so as VOLUNTEERS, not draftees.

  • lucklucky

    If Ron Paul says that the Arab Regimes are legitimate enough for US to deal with them – have an Embassy etc – then why he gives the legitimation to other authors just because they use violence?

    The only explanation is that Ron Paul is a Pacifist with leftist tendency to give respect only to those that use violence at same time same that he says it is bad that we use violence.
    Does Ron Paul give respect to those that don’t use violence like many opressed women? No he doesn’t
    he only respect those that use violence.

    It is a clear case of guilt.
    Ron Paul gives legitimacy to Al Qaeda because they use weapons and kill a lot.
    If Italy was under Red Brigades attack and the Red Brigades attacked Unite States then Ron Paul would knee to the Red Brigades and stop dealing with Italy.

    We see here again the wrong paralellisms from Ron Paul supporters and the absurd logic behind it.

    Ron Paul only respects and gives legitimacy to those that use Weapons. Specially if they are employed against USA.

  • As compared with many others, I agree with Dr. Paul’s foreign policy views and the logical support he supplies for them. The reality is, though, that even if elected, there would not be an anouncement on the day after his taking office that all US military units would be immediately leaving for home. There would be no massive flotilla of “Liberty” aircraft emabarking for the four corners of the earth to fetch the military home, to be dumped at the closest receiving station to await discharge. But there would be a draw down commencing, and most importantly, the world will be served notice that the US will be minding its own business at home from now on and that the other nations of the earth should consider minding theirs.

    To say that one understands why, is not to to defend. He has no more love or respect for islamist terrorists than you and I but correctly observes how our own government’s actions have led to these conditions.

    Valerie, with all due respect, all draftees did not end up in Viet Nam (there were about 2.2 million of them during the conflict). All draftees are placed in the pool- it’s just a way to fatten up the numbers. Also in the pool are all those who enlisted in order to seek adeventure, escape the marshall, or to gain some small element of control of where in the pool they would end up. I myself, faced with the draft, enlisted in the Navy in order to avoid a foxhole in the jungle. As it turns out, one of my Navy friends had been stationed in-country, captured, tortured, and escaped. For all my attempts to plan, it may have just been luck that spared me.

    I’d like to remind people that RP has not been touting his ideas for the last decades becausee he is so proud of something he invented himself. There is an awfully large body of really thoughtful people dating back hundreds of years that supplied him with this ideas. You should also recognize that he is not an Elmer Gantry con-man but a canny politician who, unlike his brethren, has espoused this ethic of his for at least most of his career without the usual weekly “restatement.” I am certainly not a confidant of his but I am willing to bet my family’s future he has given great thought over the years to how he would proceed, once given the authority, to move towards his ends without suddenly pulling the stool out from under the world, and I believe his first actions would be carefully selected, symbolically powerful, and ultimately effective.

    For all I have seen or heard lately, the Westchester Dog Show of Republican politics has been populated with one prize pup and a handfull of pound escapees. They’re just not in the same class.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Allan Ripley:

    “To say that one understands why, is not to to defend. He has no more love or respect for islamist terrorists than you and I but correctly observes how our own government’s actions have led to these conditions.”

    I don’t quite agree. The problem with the islamist murderers of 9/11 and others is that, even if you could find one or more proximate causes of their rage, it is not entirely clear that it would be correct to pull out of country A or B, or stop supporting a country, or stop trading with one, etc, in order to appease the terrorists and hope they get less angry.

    For example, a common cause for Islamist rage is the West’s support of Israel. Yet even when Western countries try to encourage a peace settlement vis a vis the Palestinians, or give aid to non-Israeli countries, or whatnot, it makes no difference. Looks at what happened when the Second Intifada was declared shortly after the Oslo Peace accords of 96, etc.

    If you look at some of the terrorist outrages of the past 30 or so years involving Islamists, not all of this can be easily traceable to the actions of a specific Western state (and by the way, this “blame the West for everything is itself a form of victim culture that any libertarian should regard with scorn). Take the East Timor issue (that had been raised by OBL). How on earth can the West or any other self-respecting power cave in to the demands of fanatics on the grounds that we don’t want to get them angry?

    Joshua:

    “Anyone will get upset if you invade their country, but ESPECIALLY barbarians.”

    Quite possibly. Why should be worried that savages get upset if we try to stop their savagery? You might as well say that burglars and rapists will rob and assault people more if the police try to stop them in their tracks. Sounds like a fairly defeatist argument to me.

    “All Ron Paul is doing is making clear that if you want to go stop wifebeaters, you need to be prepared for a long fight, and it isn’t at all clear to me that the government came clean about how long and costly this fight would be.”

    I dunno. I think, having read the views of people such as Don Rumsfeld and others, that they are pretty clear that dealing with certain regimes was going to take some time.

    “Certainly stopping wifebeaters is a worthy cause, but everything demands a cost-benefit analysis, and the hypertrophied rhetoric coming from both sides on this debate makes it hard to discuss one in public.”

    Well quite. The cost/benefit analysis of say, intervening in Iraq had to take into account the likely consequences of deposing a vicious regime, such as the possibility of that country fracturing into different parts, a possible upsurge in violence from dead-enders and jihadis, and set that against the vast amount of misery inflicted by the previous regime, the costs of the sanctions, the no-fly zones, as well as by weighing the possible threat of that regime to its neighbours, its track record of using and seeking WMD, supporting terror, etc. The analysis that the US and other governments came up with was to get rid of such a regime. But it is fair to state that such a weighing of the pros and cons is not easy.

    “Either you’re a baby killer, or you hate America. Ron Paul is one of the few with another perspective, and it’s really frustrating to see libertarians, of all people, skewering him for it.”

    I don’t think that is the point that Sandefur or I am making. Rather, the point is that the video being attacked drew a bogus and in fact dubious parallel, and those who made this video got criticised heavily as a result.

    Some – not all – libertarians are a bit too quick on the trigger finger with accusing anyone who demurs from a strict “do-nothing” foreign policy of being a “warmonger” or, to use the ultimate supposed insult, “a neocon”. I think what I am trying to do with such posts is remind some people that it is a bit more complex than that. I think I indeed even pointed this out in the final paragraph.

  • Rob H

    I don’t think he is saying we should appease terrorists. I see no evidence for this and this seems to be the main argument against his foreign policy stance.

    I think he is saying that despite our intervention the west is no safer than before. He is saying that we keep sending young western men to their deaths for what reason?

    It is patently clear to anyone with half a brain, or anyone who has been on the ground that in both Iraq and in Afgan there has been asbsolutely no clear objective for the operation. There has been no measurable indicator of success or failure (because otherwise people might realise we lost both conflicts). Going to war or staying at war has been politically easier for some politicians than making the case for Peace.

    Dr Paul, as a Christian, values innocent Afgani lives just as much as innocent western lives. He is right to count the cost of these as well.

    Finally, even if you are invited to help solve a problem in a nation don’t expect any thanks and do expect resentment if you make the problem worse.

    Interestingly, I read recently about the Chinese moving in to tap in to the afgan oil reserves.

    Iraq is now more of a Hell hole than it was under Sadam and is about to deteriorate, Afgan will be once we leave with our tails firmly between our legs.

    We lost both conflicts.

    For all those hawks on intervention out there, pre-emtive intervention is only ever justifiable if you win, if you reach your target if you make things better. It is only ever justified before embarkation by selling the end result. If you don’t get the result you paid for then you feel like you were sold a dud. You were.

  • Stephen Willmer

    “…there are valid arguments for and against stopping wife-beating”

    Hmmm. I’m always suspicious when the word “valid” is deployed in argument but, that aside, it would be better to say that from a libertarian perspective there are intellectually coherent reasons for not stopping wife-beating. I hope it is axiomatic that few of us could rejoice in such reasons. But then I’m more of an interventionist, ahem.

    Btw, Mark Steyn the other day linked at The Corner to a quote of Ron Paul’s to the effect that domestic big government welfare would be safe under a Pauline administration because the closure of all those overseas bases would keep the welfare cheques coming. If that’s really what Dr Paul thinks, he’s a piker among libertarians(at best)

  • RobH: yes. I don’t see a resolve to pull our military out of countries as refusing to deal with them or trying to appease anyone. I see it as “I’m sick of playing this game with you lot and am taking my marbles home.” It’s not appeasement, it’s not any sort of capitulation. It’s a responsible adult act that we try to teach our kids.

    Johnathon: I take your point and completely agree with the “Blame the West” bit and your reproach of that meme. But with regard to the spate of attorcites over the years, in which all players have taken some part, I have no particular issue with seeking out and destroying enemies that have done more than talk threats. Chasing down the al-Qaeda thugs and killing them in less than ten years would have been a good example. The two current major “not-wars” have been little more than exercises in pounding scarce resources, i.e, money and fine young people, down a filthy rat-hole. We have really had such mostly unsatisfactory results with the “send in the Marines and kick ass” reflex over the past seventy years or so that it seems clear to me that we need to consider new approaches. When one considers the attendant “health of the State” factors, which we can all see clearly, this seems even more evident.

  • Rich Rostrom

    The “soil and sovereignty” argument is particularly idiotic when one notices that most of the Islamists fighting in Iraq were from other countries, and that most of the Islamist violence in Iraq and Afghanistan has been directed against Iraqis and Afghans.

    Also, of course, a lot of the violence is about political control by particular factions, who want the country’s wealth for themselves. The notion that the Sunni Moslems in Iraq who made common cause with Al Qaeda were fighting for Iraqi sovereignty is astoundingly fatuous.

    Equally fatuous is the notion that if we just leave the wife-beaters alone, they’ll leave us alone. Barry Rubin has a case in point: in 1980, he watched an Arab scholar (a Marxist, as it happens) speak at a British university on the Shia opposition to Saddam Hussein. His presentation was entirely factual. And there were Iraqi security agents in the audience, one of whom told him “You cannot say these things!”

    The bad actors will not be content with no direct interference. Our mere awareness of what they are doing is a threat to them – unless we agree to keep strict silence. They will bribe and intimidate in our countries to enforce that silence.

    The cancerous rot of gangster rule spreads, and it will eventually spread everywhere if it is allowed to flourish unchallenged anywhere.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Allan Ripley, thanks for your courteous response, and I want to add this to your paragraph here:

    “The two current major “not-wars” have been little more than exercises in pounding scarce resources, i.e, money and fine young people, down a filthy rat-hole. We have really had such mostly unsatisfactory results with the “send in the Marines and kick ass” reflex over the past seventy years or so that it seems clear to me that we need to consider new approaches. When one considers the attendant “health of the State” factors, which we can all see clearly, this seems even more evident.”

    I think new approaches are always important. I personally happen to take the view that Afghanistan is a waste of time for the West now, even though I think justice and self defence did dictate that the West was right to hit the Taliban in 2002. And I think some measure of justice was involved re Iraq.

    But your point is absolutely right; dealing with certain threats calls for far, far more than just sending in troops/whatever. An interesting point was made in Don Rumsfeld’s recent memoirs (which show him to be a decent, and smart man if his account is accurate). He argues that Bush and others made a serious error in not doing nearly enough, after 9/11, to take the propaganda fight to the Islamists, in the way that the West did after 1945 regarding the Soviet Union (Radio Free Europe, etc). For a fraction of the cost in blood and treasure, the West could arguably have received a far better “return” in countering the impact of radical preachers and the like.

    I would be interested to know what Ron Paul would make of this.

    A subject for more postings.

  • Jonathan –

    Why should be worried that savages get upset if we try to stop their savagery?

    That was answered in the later part of my comment: because their getting upset has a way of costing us blood and treasure, and we have to weigh that cost against the benefit of stopping their savagery. Especially when, as in the present case, it isn’t clear that we’ve stopped it, or are likely to stop it in the near future.

    Some – not all – libertarians are a bit too quick on the trigger finger with accusing anyone who demurs from a strict “do-nothing” foreign policy of being a “warmonger” or, to use the ultimate supposed insult, “a neocon”. I think what I am trying to do with such posts is remind some people that it is a bit more complex than that.

    Yes, but what you achieve by only ever posting things that are critical of Ron Paul is giving everyone the impression that you’d prefer one of the regulars. Look, there is a candidate running for president of the US and polling respectably *right now* who wants to end the Federal Reserve, cut the budget by $1trillion, end the War on Drugs, end all foreign aid, and veto just about everything else on the basis that the federal government has overstepped its constitutional bounds. And what pops in your mind to post about him instead is that he made an analogy about foreign policy that you don’t like? Honestly. It would be one thing, you know, if he were an Al Gore type – happy to hand danegeld hand-over-fist to barbarians to appease them. But Ron Paul’s critique of US foreign policy is neither spineless nor unpatriotic nor inconsistent. Isn’t there, you know, maybe something else you want to say about Ron Paul besides only ever criticizing? Or don’t you like the idea of cutting the government down to size?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Yes, but what you achieve by only ever posting things that are critical of Ron Paul is giving everyone the impression that you’d prefer one of the regulars.

    Well I don’t prefer the “regulars”, Joshua. This is probably only the second time I have said something on this blog that is seriously critical about Ron Paul. I know it might surprise some people, but not all libertarians who want small government etc, are happy about some of the things he has said and done (such as voting against NAFTA (?), his dubious associations with neo-confederates “states rights” types and the like, his support by the far right, some of his comments on Israel, etc). Also, let’s stop pretending that Ron Paul is some sort of messiah or rock star. He isn’t.

    As I said, the best thing he has done is a sustained and critical look at the Fed. He’d make a great Treasury Secretary, starting with an external audit of that organisation (as Paul Marks of this site has pointed out). And yes, he’s been brave and right on the drugs war, various other issues.

    But any fair appraisal of him needs to look at the overall picture, which means foreign policy is a key element. And although I support his opposition to ANY foreign aid, his comments on Iran etc are often little better than Chomksyite nonsense. No wonder some truthers like him.

    In any event, we need to remember that any elections will also change the composition of Congress, which for those who are concerned about Big Government, is arguably as serious a battleground as the race for the White House.

  • Russ

    Good article, Johnathan. Imho, it is Paul’s inability to make such complicated issues simple without opening himself to serious backlash that makes him untenable in the foreign-policy arena.

    Then again, we put up with Joe Biden. So maybe he’d be okay with good handlers. :)

  • Does anyone remember Islamofascism being an issue before we (The U.S.) set up shop in the Middle East?

    Israel is a great place, populated with great people.

    But the U.S. has been funding both sides of an arms race between Israel and her neighbors for decades.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could mind our own business?

    Does anyone truly believe that any foreign policy difficulty can be improved by injecting Hillary Clinton and the Obama State Department into the mix?

    The cliche going around over here is that “Calling Ron Paul an isolationist is like calling your neighbor a hermit because he doesn’t come into your yard and house and break all your stuff.”

  • This is probably only the second time I have said something on this blog that is seriously critical about Ron Paul.

    Compared with how many times, exactly, that you’ve said something seriously supportive?

    Also, let’s stop pretending that Ron Paul is some sort of messiah or rock star. He isn’t.

    Kindly point to anywhere that I have said any such thing, or even given the impression that I think so. Ron Paul is doing a great job shifting the debate to libertarian-friendly terms. If saying so leads you to the conclusion that I think he is a “rock star” or a “messiah,” then you are a difficult person to communicate with.

    But any fair appraisal of him needs to look at the overall picture, which means foreign policy is a key element.

    Certainly. But this post mainly quotes uncritically from an article that never gets around to mentioning, for example, that Paul voted for the War in Afghanistan, while certainly implying that he opposes it, which claims that Iraq and Afghanistan are no more foreign to us today than Georgia was to Vermont in 1861, uses a pedestrian guilt by association fallacy to cast Ron Paul as a fascist rather than engaging his point, and never even once concedes the obvious point that people dislike invaders, regardless of how much good they’re doing (indeed, he sidesteps it with a deeply flawed analogy with the American Civil War). That’s a “fair assessment” of Ron Paul’s foreign policy, is it?

    More than anything, I question the set of priorities that underlies this post. Ron Paul is far from perfect, but unless I’m missing something really obvious he is a damn sight better than everyone else currently running for president save one (Gary Johnson). Why are libertarians choosing to spend their time writing articles that are only critical of Paul, while saying nothing in his favor? It seems like the wrong argument at the wrong time.

  • Jacob

    “I think he is saying that despite our intervention the west is no safer than before. He is saying that we keep sending young western men to their deaths for what reason?”

    No.
    Paul is saying the USA had no RIGHT to intervene.

    He could have made the point that the intervention is too costly and gets meagre results. But that was not his point.

    He went out of his way, several times to make the point that the intervention is IMMORAL because the US violated the sacred rights of Saddam to butcher his populace and neighbors. (Saddam was resposible for more than 1 million deaths, in two major wars he started).
    He showed he is a “truther” – i.e. – a nut. Not by opposing the intervention, but the arguments he used, enthusuastically.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    If I may suggest it, Ron Paul may not mean that military intervention is always wrong, but that it’s always bad. Since the bad thing is sometimes the right thing in the real world, it doesn’t follow that he’s disavowing a military response in all cases, only that he would make one reluctantly.

  • Laird

    “Imho, it is Paul’s inability to make such complicated issues simple without opening himself to serious backlash that makes him untenable in the foreign-policy arena.”

    That makes no sense at all. If these truly are “complicated issues” (and I agree that they are), then by definition they can’t be made simple. So if someone tries to do so but doesn’t succeed to your satisfaction that makes him “untenable”? I find that untenable.

    Personally, I find Paul’s analogy perfectly good. If the Chinese or Belgians or whoever constructed miliary bases in Texas,* imposed “no-fly zones” over the country and patrolled our cities, we most certainly would be angry, and would undoubtedly resort to guerilla tactics (as we famously did during a notable Revolution a couple of hundred years ago). I would be among them. That snarky Sandefur essay is constructed entirely on a straw man: the claim that Paul posits “moral equivalence” between al Qaeda and the western forces. He does nothing of the sort; he merely asks us to understand the motivations of the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. They (many of them, anyway) are certainly fighting for “soil and sovereignty”, and if they aren’t speaking about “justice or individual rights” it’s probably because (a) that’s certainly not the immediate issue, from their perspective, and (b) it’s not a part of their culture anyway. And it’s their culture; they have a right to it, however it differs from ours. They don’t care if you disapprove and, frankly, neither do I. MYOB.

    (And what was the point of that truly nasty comment about “robbing them of their oil”? That never happened; Sandefur offers nothing to support the comment; and it has nothing to do with the rest of his essay anyway. It’s just a throwaway hit-and-run sucker punch, the tactic of a deeply dishonest man. But I suppose it’s typical of the rest of his essay.)

    We were right to invade Afghanistan after 9/11; we may have been right to invade Iraq if it was truly harboring al Qaeda fighters, although toppling the odious Saddam Hussein regime was purely incidental to that. But once the destruction of al Qaeda and its bases was accomplished we should have simply left. Let the locals create their own government; it’s none of our business. It’s not our place to “defend democracy” anywhere but inside the US.

    No one, not even Ron Paul, is saying that Iran isn’t a threat, or that we need to be cautious concerning it. Opening a dialog with them couldn’t hurt. Iran is a pit bull, and we need to keep a wary eye on it as we back away. But it doesn’t help if we keep poking it with a stick. Bad things will surely ensue.

    I have issues with many of Ron Paul’s ideas, but in the main he’s the best on offer. Especially since most of our problems today are domestic, not international. I’ll gladly accept some “weakness” (if that’s what it truly is) in foreign policy for his clear-sightedness economic and monetary policies and on the constitutional limits to government.

    * Note: we were never “invited” into either Afghanistan or Iraq, as one commenter here has stated; we simply invited ourselves, and have remained there at the “invitation” of puppet governments we installed.

  • Mikey McD

    Johnathan Pearce’s ‘might makes right’ position is unacceptable to freedom loving humans. Who are we to butt into the cultures, morals, laws of another nation?

    Johnathan Pearce’s ‘might makes right’ position empowers any nation to force their morals, beliefs, culture, laws down another nations throat via the use of force.

    Johnathan Pearce does not understand the difference between a strong defense and a holier than thou offensive foreign policy.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Johnathan Pearce’s ‘might makes right’ position is unacceptable to freedom loving humans. Who are we to butt into the cultures, morals, laws of another nation? Johnathan Pearce’s ‘might makes right’ position empowers any nation to force their morals, beliefs, culture, laws down another nations throat via the use of force. Johnathan Pearce does not understand the difference between a strong defense and a holier than thou offensive foreign policy.

    Thanks for repeating my name three times. It is so easy to forget.

    Mikey McD, the first sentence immediately made me realise that you haven’t really understood the issue very well, to be charitable about it. Your first sentence is pure moral relativism. So, to take my earlier example, if you see and know that a man down the road beats his wife and kids, then I assume you say to others that it is not for you to judge this man’s very real and authentic culture about how to deal with family disputes. And of course, as we know, there are morons out there who do claim that to condemn such behaviour is being “judgemental”. But we cannot avoid judgement if we want to preserve a shred of self respect.

    Consider: I actually asked the question, when querying Sandefur’s point, about how we get to decide that a regime is so bad and so dangerous that it has to be confronted. But Sandefur is right that this not an issue that can be ducked. You, on the other hand, seem to indulge in pure moral relativsm.

    By any yardstick, the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, were vile; they tortured and murdered – as a deliberate aim of subjection – on a vast scale. The Taliban has instituted, whenever it has had the chance, a form of totalitarian, theocratic rule so total that it is beyond the imaginations of most people living in the relative comfort and liberty of the West. And you have the fucking nerve to ask the nonsensical question as to who are “we” to say that such Medieval barbarism is wrong.

    If you cannot accept that it is right and legitimate to judge certain regimes as evil, then how can you defend your own freedoms if you do not believe in any sort of morally objective yardstick?

    And my views are not about a “holier than thou” foreign policy, to use your passive-aggressive form of words. The fact is that by the most liberal, wide-ranging standards, it is pretty easy to see how a belief in self defence would involve the idea of taking down regimes that were dangerous to others as well as vicious to the people unlucky enough to live under their rule.

    For shame.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    “Personally, I find Paul’s analogy perfectly good. If the Chinese or Belgians or whoever constructed miliary bases in Texas,* imposed “no-fly zones” over the country and patrolled our cities, we most certainly would be angry, and would undoubtedly resort to guerilla tactics (as we famously did during a notable Revolution a couple of hundred years ago). I would be among them.”

    Wrong. The Kurds were pleased that the no fly zones existed to prevent Saddam’s violence, ditto the Shiites in the south, and so on. Of course the Sunnis were not so happy at having such no-fly zones, but then they held the rest of the country under their control via Saddam’s crime family regime.

    In fact, for the parallel to work, you would have to posit the case of a Texas that is divided into different ethnic parts, with some areas being protected by no-fly zones, and some not.

  • I haven’t read the Saunder piece, and I don’t really know who he is or care what he thinks – he’s not running for President. I watched that video, though, and it is an absolutely ridiculous, over-the-top piece of hysterical propaganda. I’m all for a bit more isolationism from the US, including reducing the number of bases where they are not crucial to the US security or trade interests and for stopping all foreign aid. But that video…ah, never mind.

    What gets me about RP are two things. First, I agree with Laird and others that “its-the-economy-stupid” time, big time. But then – and correct me if I’m wrong – military expenditures constitute only a minor share of the fiscal hole in which the US currently finds itself, the lion share being due to various internal entitlements and obligations. Yet RP oddly seems obsessed with foreign policy matters more than with anything else. To me it sounds like worrying about some light rain, while there is a gaping whole in the bottom of your boat. Yes, I know he likes to talk about ending the Fed (which indeed should be ended ASAP), but if anyone really believes that ending the Fed will magically recover the sinking ship that is the US economy, they are deluding themselves.

    The other thing that gets me is that I just noticed by going through this thread that, any time the discussion hits RP foreign policy opinions, I see endless back-and-forths about what RP supposedly meant by this or by that. My question is: why do we have to guess? Why doesn’t he just come out and say – indeed, stress – that Islamists are fascist scum (but we still should get out of Irag or Afghanistan or whatever) – that would make him sound much saner and much more honest, and much less like the trufers that are so fond of him. Or that the Mad Mullahs and the A-DinnerJacket are indeed mad and truly dangerous (but that it still may not be a good idea to take them head on) – I don’t know if I would agree with that parenthetical, but again, it would make him sound much more in touch with reality. Instead, he sounds exactly like those very trufers, while his well-intentioned and sane supporters keep performing mental acrobatics to read good and sane things into his words, and to read all the trufer crap out of them. Sorry, but it’s not working.

    Now, all that said, and as others have noted, RP may indeed be the best least bad on offer. Seeing as that is the case, and knowing full well that he has no chance in hell actually taking the WH, I may just bring myself to hold my nose and vote for him, just “to send a message”, as they say.

  • JP, I find a lot to agree with in your position – in fact, most of it – but the wife-beater analogy is problematic, the main reason being – yes – cultural. The wife beater (or a neighborhood thug of some kind, which is a better analogy because, unlike a “mere” wife beater, he threatens the entire community) lives under the same culture that you do, while the oppressed Kurds or Shiites (or Afghan women) don not. That is the sad truth, and so I believe that we should have intervened in Iraq and Afghanistan only if we had very good reasons to believe that they were a threat to our security (and I’m not saying we didn’t have such reasons). Also, and not least importantly, we should have gotten out as soon as Saddam and his sons were dead or captured. Same for mullah Omar.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Sorry Laird, but I have another point about this paragraph:

    “That snarky Sandefur essay is constructed entirely on a straw man: the claim that Paul posits “moral equivalence” between al Qaeda and the western forces. He does nothing of the sort; he merely asks us to understand the motivations of the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. They (many of them, anyway) are certainly fighting for “soil and sovereignty”, and if they aren’t speaking about “justice or individual rights” it’s probably because (a) that’s certainly not the immediate issue, from their perspective, and (b) it’s not a part of their culture anyway. And it’s their culture; they have a right to it, however it differs from ours. They don’t care if you disapprove and, frankly, neither do I. MYOB.”

    First of all, like you, I supported the overthrow of Saddam’s crime family regime for the sort of reasons you gave. But once the insurgency broke out (arguably down to a shocking lack of Coalition planning and intelligence), it had to be confronted. And no, I don’t for a second liken these characters to say, the colonists fighting British rule in the late 18th Century. (In that case, it was about people breaking free of British rule, not about people resisting the overthrow of a tyrannical, Baathist regime). The parallel is not valid, IMHO.

    And it is absurd anyway to argue that the “insurgents” are brave Iraqi patriots pushing out evil invaders – for a start, many of these insurgents were not even in Iraq prior to the invasion of 2003; they came from abroad to Iraq; many of them viciously attacked Iraqis themselves (killing tribal leaders and others, for example) and attempted to forment civil war. If they were really interested in “soil and sovereignty” of Iraq, then it does rather depend on whose soil, and whose sovereignty. The question does rather vary depending on which ethnic group in Iraq you happen to talk to.

    Alisa, I could not agree more about how RP could show a little more willingness to state the nature of the regimes you mention.

  • Mikey McD

    Johnathan Pearce, your ‘neighbor beating his wife’ example is naive. So we ignore Darfur, Sudan, etc… yet we care enough for the kiddos of middle east terrorists to save them? Or maybe OIL has something to do with it? LOL.

    The moral yardstick for the US = is our oil supply at risk.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Johnathan Pearce, your ‘neighbor beating his wife’ example is naive. So we ignore Darfur, Sudan, etc… yet we care enough for the kiddos of middle east terrorists to save them? Or maybe OIL has something to do with it? LOL. The moral yardstick for the US = is our oil supply at risk.

    Ahhh, so in your previous comment, you made it clear that we have no right to use force to deal with barbarous regimes because we have no right to judge others; and yet when I point out the moral emptiness of this, you then accuse the West of being inconsistent. That is a different argument. It is undeniable that the West – or at least certain nations – are and continue to be inconsistent about foreign affairs. But just because the US/others have not dealt with every asshole regime in the world (Sudan, wherever) does not mean it is wrong to deal with those it has dealt with. An inconsistently applied policy of overthrowing certain dictators is still good in that dicatators are overthrown.

    As for the usual “it is about oooiiillll!” line, I would be interested to know if there is oil in Afghanistan and Bosnia.

    In any event, there is a perfectly respectable case for saying that it is good that a murderous regime (Saddam) no longer has access to oil revenues.

  • My comment has been in smite control for over 12 hours now. Any chance of getting it released?

  • What gets me about RP are two things. First, I agree with Laird and others that “its-the-economy-stupid” time, big time. But then – and correct me if I’m wrong – military expenditures constitute only a minor share of the fiscal hole in which the US currently finds itself, the lion share being due to various internal entitlements and obligations. Yet RP oddly seems obsessed with foreign policy matters more than with anything else. To me it sounds like worrying about some light rain, while there is a gaping whole in the bottom of your boat.

    This is a good point, but I still have two quibbles with it. First, military expenditure is still a huge portion of the budget, even if it’s not the biggest (you’re right that Medicare is the biggest). So, if you’re serious about balancing the budget, the military is a good place to start, if not necessarily the best place to start. If, like Ron Paul, you believe in a non-interventionist foreign policy, it’s also the obvious place to start. Second, no one else running for President is talking seriously about cutting Medicare and Social Security either, so I’m not sure what point there is to blaming Paul for not talking about things no one else is talking about. He’s still the best one on offer in terms of the budget.

    Now, if you could think of some reason why the US needs the largest military budget in the world, that would be one thing – but I’m with Laird on this. The US military is merely for defending US interests. It isn’t for liberating other people from their homegrown dictators. So, the War in Afghanistan was worth it (and Ron Paul voted for that – a fact which the article Jonathan quotes uncritically from fails to mention), the War in Iraq probably not, and in either case we should pack up and go home as soon as our narrow objectives are achieved. Nation-building is not our job, and Ron Paul has a point.

  • And it is absurd anyway to argue that the “insurgents” are brave Iraqi patriots pushing out evil invaders – for a start, many of these insurgents were not even in Iraq prior to the invasion of 2003; they came from abroad to Iraq; many of them viciously attacked Iraqis themselves (killing tribal leaders and others, for example) and attempted to forment civil war.

    Agreed. But let’s do keep in mind that they came to Iraq because US forces were there. It wasn’t as though they were circling the place waiting to come in the moment Saddam was weak.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Agreed. But let’s do keep in mind that they came to Iraq because US forces were there. It wasn’t as though they were circling the place waiting to come in the moment Saddam was weak.

    Well indeed. But if it was right for the US/Coalition to be there to deal with a matter (like getting rid of a brutal regime), then too bad. But the video, remember, tries to conjure up the idea of such people being defenders of “soil and sovereignty”. As I said in reply to Laird, that takes a rather flexible view of which sort of people and territory one is talking about.

    The argument that we riled up groups X or Y by going into a country, and that ergo, we should not have done so, is a bit like saying that when police enter an area to arrest a bunch of thugs, that it will annoy the locals.

  • The argument that we riled up groups X or Y by going into a country, and that ergo, we should not have done so, is a bit like saying that when police enter an area to arrest a bunch of thugs, that it will annoy the locals.

    The obvious difference being that the police are responsible for enforcing a settled set of laws which are binding on the thugs in question. There is no settled international law, and in any case the US Army isn’t responsible for enforcing it. The difference you are trying to obscure here is precisely the relevant one Ron Paul is talking about.

  • Paul Marks

    Ron Paul had a good day yesterday – he came second and a good second.

    He will not come second in South Carolina (inspite of all the money he is spending there) and he will certainly not come first.

    If Romney wins in South Carolina the race is over.

    If someone else wins then that person will face Romney in later contests.

    But that “someone else” will not be Ron Paul.

    All other discussion is rather pointless.

    However, I will indulge it.

    Ron Paul (by an Act of God) becomes the nominee.

    He faces Comrade Barack Obama in a debate.

    And Comrade Barack turns to Ron in the debate and asks (and asks POLITELY) “was I right to have Bin Laden killed?”

    Then Comrade Barack sits back and watches as Ron Paul UTTERLY DESTROYS HIMSELF.

    Alternatively Comrade Barack could ask “was the United States right to fight Adolf Hitler during World War II?”

    Or any of a vast number of other questions (questions the msm will not ask Ron Paul UNESS HE BECAME THE NOMINEE).

    Any of them would do.

    Ron Paul would destroy himself with is his reply to any of a long list of questions.

    If I can think up questions that would destroy Ron Paul (and I can think of many – any of which would lead to him destroying himself by his reply). Do his supporters really not think the media/Obama campagn can not do the same?

  • Joshua, I don’t think that there’s any substantive disagreement between you and me, but let me respond for the sake of clarity. The part of my comment that you quoted should not be separated from the rest of that comment. IOW, I don’t have a problem with the mere fact that RP calls for serious reduction in military and other overseas expenses. My problem with that, in addition to what I said in that bit that you quoted (i.e. the stress that he, quite oddly, puts on that matter), is how he goes about discussing the issue (a point discussed in the second part of my comment).

    To summarize: my main overall problem with RP is his being too close to single-issue nuttery. But, not being too picky (who can afford that in this day and age) I’d be more than willing to overlook that, seeing as I mostly sympathize with that particular single issue. The big particular problem is that RP seems to be obsessed with that particular issue for very, very wrong reasons.

  • Second, no one else running for President is talking seriously about cutting Medicare and Social Security either, so I’m not sure what point there is to blaming Paul for not talking about things no one else is talking about.

    Because that is the single most important issue that has been facing the US (and indeed the entire West) for a very long time, and will continue facing it in the foreseeable future? Because The Fed, the foreign-policy and even the war-on-drugs issues pale in comparison of their importance (and they are indeed very important)?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The obvious difference being that the police are responsible for enforcing a settled set of laws which are binding on the thugs in question. There is no settled international law, and in any case the US Army isn’t responsible for enforcing it. The difference you are trying to obscure here is precisely the relevant one Ron Paul is talking about.

    Joshua, that is a very fair point, but then again, remember that in the case of Iraq, we had all those multiple violations of various UN resolutions, the 1991 ceasefire, etc, etc. Yes, I know that the UN is a joke, but then again, as some said at the time, if UN resolutions cannot be enforced, then there is no point to the UN existing in the first place.

    It is true, as Ron Paul and others would say, that it is not the US’s job to be the world’s cop. I agree. That said, the reason why the US has often behaved as such is by default; it is because other major powers are either too weak to enforce any decent international norms these days (the UK), too cynical and frightened (France, China, Russia), or some combination of the two. The Anglosphere nations have tended to pick up the role as a result, catching the inevitable “blowback” that RP has talked about. I admit this is a serious problem.

    It would be nice if a future US/other administration could issue the following sort of statement: “For far too long, you have relied on this country to pick up the equivalent of your dirty clothes off the floor, sweep your yard, take you home from the bar when you are drunk, fixed your finances, handled the affairs of your bum relations, and made sure your plumbing works properly. Well, welcome to adulthood. We are not doing this any more. Goodbye”.

  • To summarize: my main overall problem with RP is his being too close to single-issue nuttery.

    Yes, but Ron Paul has four signature issues, actually: a return to the gold standard, a return to strict constitutionalism, and a devolving of federal powers to the states get at least as much air time in his books and stump speeches. The undue fixation on the military issue is yours. And Jonathan’s.

  • Jonathan –

    Great comment, and I agree completely with the last two paragraphs.

    Minor quibble with this bit

    then again, remember that in the case of Iraq, we had all those multiple violations of various UN resolutions, the 1991 ceasefire, etc, etc. Yes, I know that the UN is a joke, but then again, as some said at the time, if UN resolutions cannot be enforced, then there is no point to the UN existing in the first place.

    I guess what I don’t really like about this is that it mixes motives. If we’d merely been enforcing UN resolutions in the name of international order, that would be one thing, but in reality UN resolutions were used as an excuse for a war that was wanted for independent reasons. If the argument is that the law must be enforced, that is all very well, but the law is not the law if it is enforced capriciously at the whim and for the self-serving motives of the enforcers.

    I should state here if it isn’t clear that I was for the Iraq War based on what information I had at the time. I have had some occasion to reevaluate. I don’t necessarily mind that UN resolutions are used as a smokescreen for a war that is wanted for independent reasons (it’s like arresting Al Capone on tax evasion) – but let’s not pretend that UN resolutions are law. They were an excuse, plain and simple.

    All things equal, I’d prefer to live in Ron Paul’s world, where the US doesn’t really participate in the UN and doesn’t spend money and effort trying to fix other people’s problems for them. I.e., more or less what you said in your final paragraph. I agree that Ron Paul would be much more appealing if he would put it that way, rather than (to borrow your phrase) sounding like Noam Chomsky here and there, and I also agree with Alisa earlier that there are serious questions as to why he DOESN’T put it the way you did. It’s hard to know what he really means.

    I still think the cost-benefit analysis of all serious candidates running for president puts him in strong second (Gary Johnson is the clear best in my opinion), and for that reason it is disheartening to me to see posts like yours that prefer to tear him down rather than build him up.

  • Another one from me languishing in smite control. Since the one from yesterday never got posted, I”ll try to do a G-rated summary here.

    I like Jonathan’s latest comment and agree with the last two paragraphs. I think the first paragraph is a bit off base in that those sanctions weren’t being enforced for the purposes of upholding the law but rather as a pretext for action. The law is not the law if it is enforced capriciously.

  • Part two of smited comment:

    I agree that RP could do a better job not sounding like Chomsky, and agree with Alisa that the fact that we have to try to read between the lines to get at his motives is suspicious. That said, he is still the second-best person currently running for president (Gary Johnson is the clear best IMHO), and it is disheartening to see posts like this one that prefer to tear him down rather than build him up.

  • The undue fixation on the military issue is yours. And Jonathan’s.

    Maybe. I can’t say that I’ve followed RP speeches etc. closely enough, so I’ll defer to your (supposedly closer) observations. Besides, I just want to hope that you are correct:-)

    I have to add here that I have other serious problems with RP, but they are rendered irrelevant in light of the apparent fact that his chances of actually becoming PotUS are nil.

    Anyway, a question to anyone who knows: RP had announced that he’s skipping FL. Does this mean that he’ll be off the primary ballot there or what?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Joshua, I have only posted about RP in a critical vein about twice on this blog before, including his views on foreign affairs. Hardly an “obsession”. I write about issues such as banking and economics far more.

    And whether it is “disheartening” to focus on the serious flaws, as I see it, in a candidate, is a bit of a poor reason for me to hold my fire on this occasion. I am not a cheerleader for any political faction in the US or indeed anywhere else. No US voter is going to change their mind on my account, I would have thought.

    I also think it behoves (sorry about that pompous word) for libertarians, of all people, not to get too starry-eyed about a candidate and be prepared to ask the hard questions.

    There is another thing: there is a real need for some of the better ideas that RP espouses (such as curbing or scrapping the Fed, rolling back Big Government, ending the Drug War, ending overseas aid, etc) to enter the mainstream of public policy. Libertarian ideas already strike a lot of well-meaning people as nutty or scary. It does not help if some of the folk promoting said ideas are easily portrayed as conspiracy nuts, or if they hang out with such loons (such as Stormfront and the Alex Jones outfit), etc.

    Gary Johnson would be preferable, that is true. He is also younger and seems far more of a genuine libertarian on social issues.

  • I also think it behoves (sorry about that pompous word) for libertarians, of all people, not to get too starry-eyed about a candidate and be prepared to ask the hard questions.

    Quite true, and I hope I haven’t come across as starry-eyed for Paul, since I’m far from it. But I wonder whether your post is asking the hard questions. You’re quoting uncritically from an article that, among other things, claims that Georgia was no more foreign to Vermont the 1800s than Afghanistan is to us now. Honestly. Not to mention, it skewers Paul as someone who draws moral equivalence with Al Qaeda without bothering to mention that he voted for the War in Afghanistan. It is a disingenuous article.

    It does not help if some of the folk promoting said ideas are easily portrayed as conspiracy nuts, or if they hang out with such loons (such as Stormfront and the Alex Jones outfit), etc.

    I would say it does not matter if some of the folk promoting, etc. etc. The media will portray libertarians this way no matter who is doing the talking until they get used to libertarians. So, better someone like Paul, for whom the charge sticks a little, for the first wave. That way, when the second wave comes along, the media cannot resort to the usual dismissal, since the second wave is obviously sane by comparison. That would be Gary Johnson.

  • Smite control again.

    Points –

    (1) The word “obsession” is putting words in my mouth again. My point is that you’ve never said anything nice about him on this blog, not that you are being irrational.

  • (2) I think it doesn’t actually matter who is in the spotlight – the media will portray anyone they aren’t familiar with as a lunatic. If the charge sticks a little this time, it means they’ll have more trouble making it stick next time, when someone more level-headed (like Gary Johnson) comes along. My point is that they don’t need any help from people like us, so stop helping them.

  • (2) I think it doesn’t actually matter who is in the spotlight – the media will portray anyone they aren’t familiar with as a lunatic. If the charge sticks a little this time, it means they’ll have more trouble making it stick next time, when someone more level-headed (like the former New Mexico governor) comes along. My point is that they don’t need any help from people like us, so stop helping them.

  • (3) Agreed no one should get starry-eyed about a politician, but then, no one here is doing that, so it’s an odd thing for you to say. IN any case, it’s hard to see your post as asking the hard questions, given that it quotes uncritically from an article that says all kinds of laughable things – like, for example, the Georgia was every bit as foreign to Vermont in the last century as a nation in central asia is to us today. It also accuses a politician whose name has been removed to avoid the annoying smite control filter of drawing moral equivalence between the US and some groups fighting it without mentioning the obviously relevant fact that he voted for the was in said central asian nation. It is not a serious article. If you want to ask the hard questions, choose an article that does that.

  • Laird

    I’m with Joshua on this. Our invasion of Iraq, which I supported at the time, was* an outgrowth of the fight against al Qaeda and the invasion of Afghanistan. It was driven by knowledge that Iraq was supporting and harboring al Qaeda, and that formed a legitimate basis for the action. (The supposed existence of WMDs might also have been a legitimate basis, but that’s more problematic because whether they actually posed a threat to the US is debatable.) But the removal from power of Saddam Hussein, odious as he was, was not a legitimate basis for invasion. (And I couldn’t care less about his violation of various UN sanctions; at most, that provided a convenient excuse for what we needed to do, but it was far from sufficient justification by itself.) The US military should be used for the defense of the United States, nothing more, and Hussein posed no credible threat to us. We have no business roaming the world seeking monsters to slay (and in any event we can no longer afford that sop to our vanity). If you think that makes me “morally empty”, Johnathan, you’re welcome to your opinion.

    But I do like your paragraph about “welcome to adulthood.” Well said. My feeling exactly.

    Alisa, I agree with Joshua that the “fixation” on military issues is yours, not RP’s. He seems to speak to it only in response to explicit questions. If he really does have a single issue I think it would be the Fed, although in reality most of his positions can be reduced to strict constitutionalism. His focus is definitely domestic, which is what we need right now.

    * or should have been, anyway; there are those who think it was mostly motivated by a desire to finish up his daddy’s war.

  • Johanathan Pearce

    Joshua, you used the word “fixation”, which comes pretty close to saying that someone is “obsessed”. Anyway, I am not going to play semantic footsie with ya.

    BTW, just in case anyone thinks I am being unfair to Paul, I should add – as I made clear in the original comment – that he has a lot of good qualities. I also note that he has refused to go along with the attacks on Romney for MR’s background in private equity. That is good to see and shows class.

    In case anyone asks, the candidate who I dislike a lot is Gingrich. I am not sure he is trustworthy at all. But then maybe he has calmed down.

  • Laird

    Johnathan, I agree with you about Gingrich. And no, he has not calmed down.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Laird, your last comment (on Saddam’s threat to us) strikes me as odd, as far as I can reason it out. Lest I have misunderstood you, let me explain why I say this.

    If you agree that Iraq posed a threat (for the reasons you give, which I share), then it follows that one of the reasons it posed a threat was due to the monster who was in charge of it (SD). His actions towards neighbouring countries, his sheltering of terrorists, his financing of terror, etc, was part of the threat he posed. Removing him from power was not an altruistic act; as the US voted in 1998, his removal was seen as being in the long-term security interests of the US and its allies in the MidEast.

    As a logical consequence, then, removing him from power had to be connected to the original reasons for invading (dealing with terror). It is not possible to separate the one point from the other, in my view.

    Also, this is not about finding bad guys “to slay” as an end in itself.

    You may be interested to know that Rumsfeld, in his memoirs, discussed the possibility, right before full combat operations started in March, 2003, of the West offering Saddam a deal: quit power and go to into exile under some immunity, in return for ceasing your brutal rule. It might not please those seeking justice, but it might have been a less costly solution to the problem than invasion and what happened afterwards.

  • Laird

    I don’t entirely agree with that, Johnathan. What I meant was that it was not sufficient reason for us to invade Iraq simply because Hussein was a monster and was ill-treating his people. That was their problem to deal with, not ours. The invasion was justified solely because of the threat he posed to us (not to neighboring countries), which primarily consisted of harboring and financing al Qaeda. That threat could have been eliminated either by removing him from power or by destroying his ability to cause us harm (their training camps, etc.). We did both. Fine, although we could have been content with either, and if that meant eliminating his capacity for harm while he remained in power (monster and all) that would have been fine, too. And in any event, once that was accomplished our mission was finished and we should have left, not remained there for 8 more long years.

  • lucklucky

    Ron Paul gives advantage to thugs more than the others.
    If someone puts bombs Ron Paul respect them, he says clearly for all to hear that is one reason for him to drive the USA away.

    If someone writes a letter Ron Paul doesn’t care. You have to put a bomb.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Laird, it is impossible for me to see how we could have left Saddams gangster regime in place while destroying terror bases. As soon as we had ceased, he could resume his antics and we would have to resume.

    And we should remember that the policy of no fly zones and sanctions – which was costly – had lasted for 12 years. That most have also cost the taxpayer a fortune.

  • It does strike me as interesting that Ron Paul’s rhetoric on Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel mirror that of George Galloway. Funny thing is that tend to sound most similar when appearing on “Press TV”. They both also have a nice habit of spending time with and being praised by jew-haters and pro-Islamists.

  • MattP

    Does anyone remember Islamofascism being an issue before we (The U.S.) set up shop in the Middle East?

    Yeah, actually. The Muslim Brotherhood predates us “setting up shop” (and the state of Israel) by decades.

    Just because the PaulBots are sufficiently brain dead not to understand these sorts of things don’t make them untrue.

    I suppose the fact that the loss of Andalusia is one of the prime motives for Al Qaeda’s war on the west is exactly the sort of thing that would slip by a PaulBot.

    Who would prefer to imagine their grievances begin with our fascist invasion of their national territories.

    Ron Paul is a loon. But he has far more on the ball than anyone silly enough to support him.

    Rick Perry recently called him out on his high-pocrisy. The method of his madness.

    He knows that most of the crap he votes against will pass. So what does this “principled” man do? He loads up the bills which are destined to pass anyway with pork, then casts his vain vote against the bill that not only does he know but hopes will pass into law. So he can make the twin claims that he voted against something and brought home the bacon at the same time.

    The man is disgusting. He is a cheap whore parading about as a principled virgin.

    He mumbled something incoherent about the Constitution when he was called out, then tried to switch the subject to Santorum. Apparently, larding up various bills to fatten up the home district while casting meaningless “NO” votes that everyone understands will have zero effect is Ron Paul’s definition of strict constitutionalism.

    Speaking of “strict constitutionalism,” is anyone besides me sick to death of this historically illiterate fool posing as if he, and only he, understands what the constitution permits in the way of foreign policy?

    To believe that nonsense, one would have to adopt the position that the men who wrote the damned thing didn’t understand their own scribbling. John Adams fought an undeclared “quasi war” against France. Thomas Jefferson fought an undeclared war against the Barbary coast pirates.

    You know what these idiots thought? That when a state of war existed, it was superfluous to declare war. All you needed was for Congress to pass legislation authorizing military forces to participate in such hostilities that already existed.

    In other words, an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). Also known as exactly what Congress gave George Bush.

    I do not often find myself in a position to defend Barack Obama. As a legislator, he was a non-entity. But let’s give the man his due! He didn’t spend decades establishing himself as a non-entity; he used each office as a perch to campaign for a higher office.

    Ron Paul? He spent decades, off and on since the seventies, establishing himself as a non-entity. True, he’d lard up bills he was confident would pass without his vote, hypocritically secure that his colleagues would deliver what he dared not honestly do himself.

    But none of the bills he sponsored actually made it into law. ONE, only ONE, of his bills made it to a vote. This out of over 600 that he sponsored since first entering Congress.

    I remain curious, and hope some PaulBot can explain, how this lying little weasel is somehow supposed to deliver on his grandiose promises when he’s never delivered on a damned thing in his life.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    BTW, I don’t think anyone has really come back to me on my point that the Coalition occupation of Iraq was, in part, about occupying three very different ethnic areas (Sunnis, Kurds, Shiites).

    This point, remember, is very different from the video’s idea of Texas under foreign invasion. The fact that such Western occupation of Iraq was partly designed to prevent Saddam doing more by way of attacking in say, the Kurdish area, goes to the heart of the point Tim Sandefur made when he talked about such episodes as the US Civil War and the struggles of blacks in the South. It is very difficult to have a debate if people don’t actually get a hold of the points being made.

    Also, I don’t quite understand why Laird was so angry about Sandefur’s comment about “robbing their oil”. He meant to be sarcastic because a lot of the people – including those allied to the political campaign of Dr Paul – do routinely run out the “it was all about the oil” line on this subject, and he pointed out, with reference to sky-high prices, why this argument is not very persuasive.

    The more I read Sandefur’s article, despite some reservations and questions, the more powerful I think it is.

  • For what it’s worth, I agree that Iraq has to be seen as three distinct sub-nations within one along ethnic lines, and that the objection of Sunnis to occupation are independent of the the other two. Just because the Sunnis object, it doesn’t follow that all of Iraq objects – right.

    By the same token, the idea that Kurds and Shiites (well, the Kurds, anyway) might have welcomed the US occupation doesn’t commit the Sunnis to accepting it. So, I’m not really seeing your point.

    Imagine Mexico occupied Texas, and the Latinos and Indians are fine with this, but whites and blacks are not. Would whites be obligated to give up their feeling that their sovereignty has been violated, merely because Latino and Indian minorities supported the invasion?

    I think you see where I’m going. Paul’s point that we’re stirring up resentment holds even if there is a significant portion of the population that does not resent it (which I will grant you for the Kurds; I’m not so sure about the Shiites). The point remains that before you go stirring up such resentment – which is inevitable – you should be sure that (a) you are justified in what you are doing and (b) you are willing to deal with any consequences of the resentment you stir up, in the sense that the benefits of your goal are worth the price of blowback. It is not clear to me that either of these conditions are met in the case of Iraq.

  • Response to Jonathan’s question languishing in smite control.

  • Joshua, you used the word “fixation”, which comes pretty close to saying that someone is “obsessed”. Anyway, I am not going to play semantic footsie with ya.

    Cute, kiddo, but my reference was to a fixation on foreign policy issues, which you then misinterpret as my accusing you of being fixated on Ron Paul in general. If it’s “semantic footsie” to ask that what is clearly there be understood to mean what it clearly means, then you really have bought in to this whole postmodernism thing, eh?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    By the same token, the idea that Kurds and Shiites (well, the Kurds, anyway) might have welcomed the US occupation doesn’t commit the Sunnis to accepting it. So, I’m not really seeing your point.

    Well that is a fair point. But remember that if – and if – it is right to rid Iraq of Saddam, then inevitably, the ethnic group from which he drew his support (Sunnis) was less likely to be happy to see their meal ticket removed than with the others.

    Your reworking of the Texan analogy to bring in new elements would obviously make an occupation a different story. But the video, remember, drew no such distinctions and did not address the point, which adds to my view that this was a shoddy piece of work.

    No, I assumed you were accusing me of being fixated with Ron Paul’s foreign policy. Again, I have only mentioned this character in main posts about twice. For Christ’s sake.

  • I suspect it was me who first brought in here the fixation/obsession point, and I am now sorry I mentioned it. Please, everyone, try to forget and move onto more important points? An interesting case in point may be MattP’s comment above.

  • Paul Marks

    I will say this for Ron Paul – apart from what I have already said (many times and in many places) that he understands the two central economic challenges of our time (the credit bubble financial system on the monetary side and the welfare state on the fiscal side) and the other candidates (sadly) do NOT.

    Ron Paul has defended Mitt Romney over the absurd attacks made on his time as CEO of Bain Capital (a company that Romney helped create – he functioned as a real old style capitalist with “skin in the game” as they say, not as this John Kay Financial Times “let us divide ownership from control” nonsense – Kay takes what is one of the biggest problems facing modern business and thinks it is a GOOD thing, something that has naturally “evolved” rather than been pushed by high Income Tax rates – and by Capital Gains Tax, Inheritance Tax and endless regulations).

    Bain Capital made mistakes (all companies do) and YES it was out to make as much money for investors as possible.

    But there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

    Newt Gingrich talking about “fair rates of profit” is just being ignorant.

    And Rick Perry (of whom I expected better) talking about “vulture capitalism” is just being an arsehole (no apology for the harsh word).

    Neither of these men has worked a day in the “private sector” (sorry Newt working in Washington D.C. dependent “private companies” does not count). And they simply do not know what they are talking about – and that is the kindly interpretation.

    I am no fan of Mitt Romney, but these ignorant attacks are just about the only things that might turn me into one.

    And, of his foes, only Ron Paul has jumped to the DEFENCE of Mitt Romney (in spite of their vast differences in policy).

    That shows (to use a line from the late Enoch Powell) that Ron Paul is someone who one could trust to “go tiger hunting with”.

    Which is a very large point in his favour.

  • Your reworking of the Texan analogy to bring in new elements would obviously make an occupation a different story. But the video, remember, drew no such distinctions and did not address the point, which adds to my view that this was a shoddy piece of work.

    The conclusion from the analogy remains the same: that people will resent an occupation, however irrationally. So, your haggling over these details is beside the point. Perhaps Paul should have taken the time to spell out those details, but I think he is talking about invasion in general, and not the case of country-which-cannot-be-named-for-fear-of-smite-control in particular. So, you’re basically faulting him for having made a general point when you really wanted him to make a specific one, because that would’ve been easier to for you to argue against. I’m starting to understand why you read that Sandefur article so uncritically…

  • Alisa –

    Would that be the same MattP who calls Ron Paul a “loon” and anyone who defends him a “PaulBot?” Does that person’s language suggest to you that he is interested in having a serious discussion?

  • By the way – while we’re on it, that video was released by a PAC, not Paul’s campaign directly. Now, sometimes PACs are front groups for official campaigns, and that seems likely to be the case in this instance. I wonder, however, if anyone has checked. If it’s a fan video rather than an offiicial campaign video, that changes the discussion a bit, and we’d be better served finding some actual speeches of Paul’s and going from there, I think.

  • Joshua, honestly, with all the respect due to a person I do not know at all (such as MattP), I really do not care right now what that person is interested in or not. This thread is not about me or you or MattP, it is about Ron Paul (because, unlike all of us, he is running for President). So what I’m interested is at the moment is RP, and in particular the point brought (incidentally) by MattP, which is:

    He knows that most of the crap he votes against will pass. So what does this “principled” man do? He loads up the bills which are destined to pass anyway with pork, then casts his vain vote against the bill that not only does he know but hopes will pass into law. So he can make the twin claims that he voted against something and brought home the bacon at the same time.

    I’m really asking.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Joshua, I actually have to say I found MattP’s language totally over the top. We have our disagreements but I don’t regard Paul fans as robots. In my experience, most are on my side and I have a lot in common with them.

    I mean, compare most of his fans with the sort of folk who slobbered over Obama in 2007-08. Case in point: Andrew Sullivan. How’s that working for you, Andrew?

    So while I am a critic, I am not ignoring the fucking awful quality of a lot of the political class.

    And don’t get me started on say, Sarkozy or the Italians. Or most of the British ones, either.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Sprry Joshua, but this still does not work:

    “The conclusion from the analogy remains the same: that people will resent an occupation, however irrationally. So, your haggling over these details is beside the point. Perhaps Paul should have taken the time to spell out those details, but I think he is talking about invasion in general, and not the case of country-which-cannot-be-named-for-fear-of-smite-control in particular. So, you’re basically faulting him for having made a general point when you really wanted him to make a specific one, because that would’ve been easier to for you to argue against. I’m starting to understand why you read that Sandefur article so uncritically…

    But it is a fault to draw a crude analogy. If you don’t pick up the specifics, then you can compare just about any examples you want to get the conclusions you want. You know what, I of course can understand the general argument that says it is unpleasant to have foreigners moving in, or patrolling the skies above, or whatnot. Of course. But it is simply dishonest not to grasp the details here. It is those details (different ethnic groups, etc), which shaped and drove the policy of the West to Iraq since 1991. The Bush snr, Clinton and Bush II administrations did not treat Iraq as one.

    If you visit the Kurdish region of Iraq, and asked a local whether they were pleased that their airspace was patrolled by NATO, thus foiling the kind of murderous attacks they had previously endured, you and I know the answer they would give.

  • But it is a fault to draw a crude analogy.

    Agreed, but what politician is not guilty of that?

    I think you and Paul may be talking past each other to some degree, given the difference in analogy. Your point seems to be to agree that there will always be blowback, but that if the costs of blowback outweigh the benefits obtained, it has been worth it.

    I do not think that Paul disagrees with you about that. I think he disagrees with you that liberating the Kurds passes cost-benefit – or, more accurately, that it wouldn’t be an appropriate goal for the US military even though it does in human terms. The US military is only for self-defense.

    Since he sees the war in that light, he is making the case against it in the way that a politician makes the case against anything he opposes: by painting it in the worst possible light. The video is meant to persuade voters. So sure, it’s a crude analogy. But that just brings us back to where we started: why, given that all politicians I am aware of release videos drawing crude analogies and indulging in all other sorts of rhetorical laziness, do you feel the need to fault him for it? It seems like there are better politicians for a person interested in advancing the cause of liberty to focus on. Paul’s platform is the second-best out of all the current candidates, and a huge improvement over what we can normally hope to see in a typical election cycle. It just seems to me like libertarian priorities would lead you to post thing supportive of Paul more often than critical of him, and yet I don’t recall a main page post of yours that was supportive of him ever. This isn’t to say he doesn’t deserve criticism, just that it’s a strange set of priorities for a libertarian posting on a libertarian blog to have. Especially given how laughable portions of that article you quoted are! Paul has a chance of being a real power broker at the Republican convention, and thus helping that party step away from some of its statist tendencies. I think it’s worth us suffering through a little Chomskyite phrasing if Paul can drag the Republican platform his direction, yes, even on foreign policy.

    All this, of course, assuming that Paul approved that video in the first place – which isn’t entirely clear, actually.

  • Alisa –

    I’m sorry, are you aware of anyone else running for president who does any different? So if Paul behaves like a politician – because he is a politician – and everyone else running behaves like a politician – because they are politicians – and Paul’s platform in general is not just a little better than theirs but actually much better than we can normally expect to see in a typical election cycle, then I think the calculation still comes out very much in his favor. Or am I missing something?

    You and some others here seem to be laboring under the impression that those of us defending Paul are doing so because we’re fanboys. I know it probably won’t do any good for me to repeat yet again already that I am not, but I’ll do it in the hope that it gets through this time. Really, seriously, I’m voting for Gary Johnson in the for-real election. Really, seriously, I don’t think Paul is perfect or even all that great. I just think he’s a vast improvement over what we normally have on offer, and that libertarians should be promoting him in public rather than tearing him down, as this post does.

  • Alisa –

    Answer to your question in smite control. Short summary: since all politicians do that, and Paul’s platform is considerably better than theirs, I’m still not seeing anything not to like. He’s not perfect, but he’s much better than average. Isn’t that enough?

  • Laird

    “Ron Paul is a loon. But he has far more on the ball than anyone silly enough to support him.”

    A funny line from an otherwise stupid post. Sorry, Alisa, but I don’t think that passage you quoted merits much discussion. The man has been essentially single-handedly trying to change the culture of Washington for decades, but until he succeeds he still has to work within it. If everyone else is larding the bills with pork it would be foolish in the extreme for him to deny his constituents, and only his constituents, those benefits which everyone else is enjoying. But if everyone else would forgo them he would too, gladly. In my own small way I am exactly the same: I personally think Social Security is an immoral Ponzi scheme, and will work to change or abolish it, but until that happens I’m not going to refuse to accept the payments when the time comes. That would be harming myself to absolutely no purpose. So I don’t fault Paul for looking out for his constituents while trying to change a deeply flawed system. No rational person should.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Joshua, again I think you making a good point here, which I am happy to acknowledge:

    “I think you and Paul may be talking past each other to some degree, given the difference in analogy. Your point seems to be to agree that there will always be blowback, but that if the costs of blowback outweigh the benefits obtained, it has been worth it.”

    When talking about “blowback”, another thing that any politician thinking about defence has to ask, is what are the consequences of a “do-nothing” policy, or, for that matter, a policy that takes a very minimalist view of defence.

    Now, let’s just assume that it is 9/12, 2001, and Ron Paul is in the White House, just elected. He can, for example, only act in ways that he thinks will cause the least possible “blowback”. He could announce a programme of complete US military and even civilian withdrawal from the Middle East. In the short run, though, there might be a continuation of violence, if only because Islamists assume they have got the West on the run, and will carry out more attacks. It is, I am afraid, one of those what-if scenarios that no one will be able to judge.

    In any event, Joshua, you can count on me to use the example of RP, and his allies, on areas where I think he has been right from the start, especially, as Paul Marks notes, on domestic economic policy. There is no doubt in my mind that the insolvency of the US Federal Govt is now a serious national security issue. To be so reliant on overseas savings is not just bad economics, it is also dangerous.

    The same arguments, with certain nuances, also apply to the UK as well.

  • Joshua and Laird: thanks for the response.

  • Monster

    Quote:

    “Ron Paul is a loon. But he has far more on the ball than anyone silly enough to support him.”

    A funny line from an otherwise stupid post. Sorry, Alisa, but I don’t think that passage you quoted merits much discussion. The man has been essentially single-handedly trying to change the culture of Washington for decades, but until he succeeds he still has to work within it. If everyone else is larding the bills with pork it would be foolish in the extreme for him to deny his constituents, and only his constituents, those benefits which everyone else is enjoying. But if everyone else would forgo them he would too, gladly. In my own small way I am exactly the same: I personally think Social Security is an immoral Ponzi scheme, and will work to change or abolish it, but until that happens I’m not going to refuse to accept the payments when the time comes. That would be harming myself to absolutely no purpose. So I don’t fault Paul for looking out for his constituents while trying to change a deeply flawed system. No rational person should.

    Posted by Laird at January 12, 2012 09:15 PM

    Spot on!