Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Off Topic Tuesday: Picking On Ron Paul

Lord help me, I’m going to say something nice about Ron Paul. First, let me get some preliminaries out of the way: as I have already detailed in the past, Congressman Paul cannot win the GOP primary and he could never be elected President of the United States. We don’t elect people from the House of Representatives to the presidency, the pro-war crowd would never support him, the big business lobby would never support him (he’s too capitalist for them, believe it or not), the Jewish lobby would never support him, none of the racial minorities would support him, the university liberals would never support him and the religious right would never support him -and that’s pretty much everyone aside from the Libertarians. However, I cannot help but feel for the man due to the way he is constantly singled out and picked on, by the Right more than the Left (only because the Left know he’s unelectable and he serves to divide the Right) when, agree with him or not, he has been probably the most principled and consistent politician in office in the last few decades. He does not deserve to be treated with the ridicule he often is and, as I have also said before, he is also right on quite a few things.

Right now, as it is primary season when the contest is ‘who is conservative enough’, the one issue he is picked on the most is foreign policy. His stated position on foreign policy is one of non-intervention. Frankly, I disagree with that, however, I don’t think Ron Paul is as far off the reservation as he is portrayed as in the media. I have heard people say they are afraid of Ron Paul because he would never take us to war, even if it was necessary. But, that is not exactly true. Ron Paul would say that NO president should ever take us to war because the Constitution says it is the Congress that has the power to declare war and conclude peace. So, just because Ron Paul was President of the United States does not mean that the USA would never go to war, only that it would have to be done (as in the old days) by a vote of Congress. However, let us get right down to the nub of the issue and that is Iran. The big issue at the heart of all the controversy around Ron Paul in the GOP primary is that he refuses to say he would go to war with or bomb Iran and he does not believe that Iran is a threat, he does not believe they are close to having the bomb and yet he also says he wouldn’t really blame them or be concerned if they did get the bomb.

In the name of full disclosure let me say that I am in favor of bombing the Islamic Republic of Iran just on general principle. I regard them as a criminal, horrific and illegitimate regime that the world would be better without. That is all there is to it. However, here again, I think Ron Paul is being treated unfairly. The truth is that none of the candidates are anxious to go to war with or bomb Iran. They just like to talk tough and pretend that they are. When pressed on the subject they all say that the military option should “remain on the table” but that it should always be the last resort and they get very, very evasive when a reporter tries to pin them down on exactly what circumstances would prompt them to take military action. All of them (aside from Ron Paul) basically advocate doing the same thing the US has been doing to Iran for years but all to no avail. So, I really don’t think there is such a vast gulf between what Ron Paul and the other candidates, realistically, would do regarding Iran, he’s simply honest in saying what he thinks and too principled to go against his belief in non-interventionism just because that is what the primary voters would want to hear.

Congressman Paul (and I almost hate to say this) is also correct when he says that Iran is simply not a threat to the United States. Even if they had the bomb they have no missiles they could stick it on that could possibly reach North America. The only way Iran could pose a threat to the national security of the United States is if they smuggled a weapon into the country with a person carrying it. Which, by the way, is something that hardly anyone seems concerned with guarding against. The World Trade Center was not destroyed by missiles launched from Afghanistan. If the U.S. had occupied Afghanistan in 1999 or 2000, that would not have stopped 9-11. What would have prevented it would be keeping dangerous and unauthorized people out of the country and that is something the US is still not doing and shows no real interest in ever doing. Blowing up Iran (satisfying as I would find it) would not make America safer, secure borders and ports of entry and keeping a close eye on foreign nationals inside the country actually would. Whether Paul would do that or not, I don’t know, but I do know he is technically correct when he says that Iran is not a threat to the United States of America. A threat to Israel? Certainly. A threat to Europe? Possibly. And Ron Paul would have no problem with those countries doing whatever they pleased to protect themselves. He would say it is none of our business what Iran or Israel or Europe does.

The whole issue is a fraud. I say that as someone who is not an unqualified supporter of Ron Paul. He loves to describe the United States as an “American Empire”, and I totally disagree with that. He thinks that if the U.S. were more like Switzerland we would have no enemies. I totally disagree with that, experience having proven that the U.S. is just as often criticized for not getting involved as it is for getting involved. For me, World War I is the best example of this. The Allies begged and begged and manipulated and cajoled the U.S. into coming into the war and then, once America did and the war was won, promptly blamed every ill-effect of it on America getting involved, even for the Versailles Treaty which the U.S. never signed. Where I will agree with Ron Paul is that so much, perhaps even the majority, of U.S. intervention and the U.S. military presence overseas does not serve any practical value in terms of American national security. How is America safer because of the 50,000 troops in Germany or the 30,000 troops in South Korea? After all, if North Korea ever got a wild hair and decided to invade South Korea those 30,000 American troops would not make any difference at all. Thirty thousand men between two Koreas with armies numbering in the millions is not a drop in the bucket. I don’t see how the United States itself is any safer because of our bases in Afghanistan, Thisistan or Thatistan. Enemies of the U.S. are extending their influence into Central and South America and the eyes of Washington DC are on the Middle East and Central Asia.

I do not share the foreign policy outlook of Ron Paul but I see no point in doing favors for people who don’t like the U.S. and I see no sense in offending foreign powers we have no problem with in order to smack down some petty dictator who is no threat to American security in the first place. For instance, how does it benefit the United States to have bases in Central Asia that (evidently) terrifies the Russians? Everyone knows the U.S. has no intention, will or desire to actually fight the Russians -ever. So, why maintain these bases that frighten them so? Because of Afghanistan we are told. But why do we need to be in Afghanistan? The Taliban was removed from power, Osama bin Laden is dead and now feeding the fish at the bottom of the ocean. So, what is the point of our continued presence in Afghanistan? Well, if we leave now, we are told, the Taliban will come back and take over again. By that logic we should never leave any country (though I sometimes wonder if that is not a reality as we still have thousands of troops in Germany, Italy and Japan). And, though I don’t want to sound heartless, but if we leave and the Taliban does come back … who cares? The Taliban did not attack us, they were no threat to us and they could do us no harm, again, unless we allowed them into the United States and then failed to keep track of them -a problem no one wants to address.

Ron Paul also makes a valid point that is never considered. When he gives it, interviewers usually ignore it and carry on as if he had never said it. The point Ron Paul makes with Iran is that U.S. forces are or have been established in both Iraq and Afghanistan, putting them on the eastern and western borders of Iran. How would the U.S. react to an enemy invading and occupying Canada and Mexico? Of course, the U.S. would never tolerate such a thing. Since at least the American Civil War the United States has quite frequently displayed behavior she would never tolerate on the part of any other power. This has often caused confusion and anger on the part of foreign powers. For example, the Japanese raised no fuss when the U.S. took the Philippines from Spain and so were rather annoyed that the U.S. would make such a fuss over Japan taking Manchuria from China. I’m sure, in 1914, there were some Germans who found it odd that the U.S. which had so recently sent troops into Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean was so outraged at their own soldiers being sent into Belgium.

I was never fond of the “Monroe Doctrine”. It seemed to me like little more than the U.S. claiming all of North, Central and South America as a “republics only” club. This was the doctrine which the U.S. invoked in pressuring France to pull out of Mexico, leaving Emperor Maximilian high and dry and ensuring his defeat at the hands of the loyal American ally Benito Juarez. Yet, how many times has the U.S. done, in other parts of the world, pretty much the same thing France did in Mexico. The U.S. would not tolerate any other power “interfering” in the Americas, what the U.S. claimed as its exclusive sphere of influence, yet the U.S. seems perplexed that other countries would be upset at all over American interference in their own sphere of influence. Many would argue that it is the character of the regimes in question that we are dealing with that makes all the difference. It sounds nice and all, but that’s really an absurd line of reasoning as the U.S. (like any other country) deals openly and sometimes in a very friendly fashion with regimes many would regard as terrible dictatorships. That is all a matter of opinion, who is “untouchable” and who is not. Paul has mentioned before the absurdity of the U.S. trading with Red China while still maintaining an embargo on Cuba. I think it is absurd as well, though I do so as one who doesn’t think we should be trading with China, but it is a double standard nonetheless.

Again, I certainly don’t agree with Ron Paul on everything, and he doesn’t have a prayer of getting elected President in this day and age or even winning a primary in either major party. However, it seems wrong to belittle or dismiss him. He has ideas worth considering, he has been proven correct in many of his economic predictions and he is presenting a challenge to the American people and the political establishment that, frankly, I love to see. Unlike many of my countrymen, including Ron Paul, I do not hold the Founding Fathers and the system of government they established as being “divinely inspired” or somehow sacrosanct (I would have been one of those horrible Tories had I been in New England in 1776). At the heart of all of his positions, Ron Paul is simply challenging people today to practice what they preach in terms of upholding the Constitution of the United States. If they really believe the Founders were so brilliant and the Constitution such a sacred document, they should have no problem in strictly adhering to it. That means no government interference in the economy, no entangling alliances, no military adventures or treating people as POW’s without a declaration of war and no cradle to grave welfare.

Additional note: one reason I cannot unequivocally support isolationism is the case of Iran itself. Ron Paul bemoans U.S. assistance in restoring the late Shah to power in Iran. I have no problem with that and one of (if not the) biggest complaints I have against Jimmy Carter was his failure to intervene and assist the Shah against the revolution that brought him down and elevated the current, horrific, regime to power.


  1. I Would love to see him president from a freedom standpoint. Americans are sick of the Patriot Act,NDAA and Sopa The country has to be fed up with Civil Liberties going away.

  2. Ron Paul is not the perfect candidate, there isn't one. But he is the best by far. While I have reservations about some of his more extreme positions in general I think he is right on the important issues. I won't quote the endorsement post from my blog. It is sufficient to say that I cannot see myself voting for any of the other candidates in the GOP. They all are just different versions of the same big government idiocy that we have been trapped with since FDR's tenure. They all represent to my mind George Bush's 4th term. Thanks but three is enough.

  3. I was very sympathetic to Paul, but his walking off during his interview with CNN was infantile, especially as he was being asked a completely appropriate question. If his newsletters contained advertising promoting racist ideas with headlines screaming as much, and if Paul really did disown them, why does his signature appear below each one? Is that how much his signature is worth? Is that how little thought he puts into his endorsements? He profited through them, and now he walks off when challenged. Now 's the time when sincerity and honesty would go a long way.

  4. If that's enough to put you off I doubt you will ever find a candidate to your satisfaction. All of them have at least some unsavory connections -all of them. However, it does highlight why Ron Paul could never win a nation-wide election. The Black population (which is 90% Democrat-owned anyway) would never consider voting for someone once that stuff came out nor would they vote for anyone who champions states rights as much as Ron Paul does because, rightly or wrongly, "states rights" is viewed as an evil term by the majority of the Black community. And, for almost every other group (and America is dominated by 'group politics' these days) there is something similar that would put them off of Ron Paul.

  5. I refuse to even comment on people in America running for elections, I don't think they SHOULD be ! The whole democratic system is proven
    to be useless by looking at the sort of "leaders" America has generated - at least in THIS century. Think of 33rd degree Masons like Roosevelt who gave away the entire Eastern bloc to his "ally" Stalin and so many others.

    However, I will say that though I am adamantly against any attack on Iran - there is NO reason at all to do so, just a bunch of phony, made-up

    But in the era of the Shah, the intervention to restore him to the throne was 100% right.

    I just saw a picture of him getting off the plane after his return to Iran in 1953, and
    was thinking how few people today think this was right. There is a lot of brainwashing going on through the media to portray the Shah as
    an "absolute dictatorship" and other nonsense.
    This is calculated to bother Americans brought up on ideas of freedom from tyranny.

    The Shah HELPED his people ; and all the crimes
    of Savak were immensely exaggerated, so that
    the Shah would be discredited forever after.

    Hence the US policy makers who refused to intervene this time, in 1978-9,
    would be not blamed for their unbelievable
    hypocrisy toward him.

  6. It amazes me that anyone could for an instant refer to what Savak did as "crimes" at all, exaggerated or otherwise. They did their duty to protect their country from the very gang of lunatics that are now running the show. It astounds me to no end that people will denounce the current regime for the lot of bloodthirsty murderers that they are and yet still refer to the those arrested by the Shah as "victims" -*they are the same people*!


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