Skip to comments.Ron Paul's "noninterventionism" fraud
Posted on 12/01/2007 7:52:54 AM PST by mnehring
The Muslim world is not fooled by our talk about spreading democracy and values. The evidence is too overwhelming that we do not hesitate to support dictators and install puppet governments when it serves our interests. When democratic elections result in the elevation of a leader or party not to our liking, we do not hesitate for a minute to undermine that government. This hypocrisy is rarely recognized by the American people. It’s much more comfortable to believe in slogans, to believe that we’re defending our goodness and spreading true liberty. We accept this and believe strongly in the cause, strongly enough to sacrifice many of our sons and daughters, and stupendous amounts of money, to spread our ideals through force. -- March 28, 2006
There are long-term consequences or blowback from our militant policy of intervention around the world. They are unpredictable as to time and place. 9/11 was a consequence of our military presence on Muslim holy lands; the Ayatollah Khomeini's success in taking over the Iranian government in 1979 was a consequence of our CIA overthrowing Mossadegh in 1953. These connections are rarely recognized by the American people and never acknowledged by our government. We never seem to learn how dangerous interventionism is to us and to our security. -- April 6, 2006
I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the Shah -- yes, there was blowback. The reaction to that was the taking of our hostages. And that persists, and if we ignore that, we ignore it at our own risk. If we think we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don't come here to attack us because we’re rich and we're free, they come here to attack us because we’re over there. -- May 15, 2007
Now, who is the author of these statements? Some liberal like John Kerry or Dennis Kucinich? Maybe some anti-American filmmaker like Oliver Stone or Brian de Palma? Or perhaps some militant Islamist from a group like CAIR?
No, the author is America's most prominent self-professed libertarian: GOP presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. And his growing public profile finally merits the small spotlight of my attention.
Dr. Paul (he's an M.D., as well as a congressman) has become the nation's foremost proponent of a foreign policy of U.S. "noninterventionism." This view holds that past American policies abroad have been immorally aggressive against other nations, provoking them to "react" against us in understandable, if not always justifiable, ways. By this interpretation of history, which parallels that of the communists and Islamists, America has been the great disturber of international peace. We are ever creating enemies where none really existed before. We did it during the Cold War; we've done it in the Middle East; we're continuing to do it today.
Dr. Paul's libertarian prescription? If only we'd stop meddling in the "internal affairs" of other nations and bring our troops home, the world would be a better, safer, healthier place. Al Qaeda and other terrorists, having no further reasons to hate us, would either become peaceful or aim their aggressions elsewhere.
Now, I'd like to point out an interesting parallel between this common libertarian view of America's foreign enemies, and the common liberal view of America's domestic criminals.
The same sort of arguments advanced by many libertarians, such as Rep. Paul, to "explain" the anti-American actions of foreign terrorists, also have been offered by liberals to "explain" the heinous acts of common criminals. Read any sociology or criminology text, and you'll find endless laundry lists of "causal explanations" for crime: poverty, neglect, poor parenting, lousy schools, poor "socialization," inadequate pre-natal care, hunger, disease, bullying, racism, police brutality, social stigmatizing, untreated psychological disorders, victimless-crime laws...you name it.
And in both cases -- foreign and domestic -- it's always American culture, society, and/or policies that are the toxic "root causes" underlying the actions of those who attack us.
Just as many libertarians like Paul treat the actions of al Qaeda and other terrorists as "blowback" for the sins of American society against them, liberal social-science professionals treat the actions of home-grown criminal thugs as "blowback" for the alleged sins of American society against them. These bloody acts are never the terrorist's or the criminal's "fault" (responsibility), you see; rather, they are all our fault, for "driving him" to do his dastardly deeds.
You may remember that during the Cold War, precisely the same sort of "explanations" were offered by liberals and, later, by left-libertarians such as Murray Rothbard to lay the blame for Communist aggression at the West's (especially America's) doorstep. It was our imperialist provocations around the world that were "driving" the Soviet bloc to "respond" by conquering and butchering millions, building weapons of mass destruction, constructing the Berlin Wall, etc. It was our economic and cultural "imperialism" that was driving indigenous peoples everywhere into the arms of the communists.
I defy anyone to draw a rational, meaningful distinction between such "explanations" for criminal or terrorist aggression, and "excuses" for it. After all, "causal explanations" for human actions aim at exonerating the actor for committing them, by treating those acts as if they were not under the actor's conscious, volitional control, but as if they were instead deterministically driven "responses" to external provocations or "causes."
Just as I reject the liberal "excuse-making industry" that denies volition and rationalizes the acts of criminals, I am totally fed up with the disgraceful foreign-policy perspectives of those libertarians who portray the United States as the causal agent of every evil on earth -- thus rationalizing the atrocities of foreign terrorists and despots.
Ron Paul has become the most visible exponent of that malignant view of America. In my mind, his "blowback" excuse for 9/11 -- and "excuse" is exactly what his "explanation" amounts to -- is sufficient to completely disqualify him for any American public office, let alone for the role of commander in chief of the U.S. military.
For example, Paul repeatedly cites as aggression U.S. government actions that helped to topple and replace the Iranian regime of Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953. However, Paul rarely mentions these days (as he did on Dec. 3, 2002) that the U.S. and Britain did so "to prevent nationalization of Iranian oil." Instead, Paul's account of the extremely complex events transpiring within Iran in those days are reduced to a simplistic fairy tale of U.S. imperialism against a "democratically elected leader," a superficial fantasy that grossly distorts the full truth.
For one thing, it was not "Iranian oil" being nationalized, but that of the British company that had drilled for it, and which had it stolen by the Mossadegh regime. Mossadegh refused all subsequent diplomatic efforts by Britain to broker a deal to peacefully regain that expropriated property; indeed, in October 1952, he declared that Britain was "an enemy." Later, this pillar of "democracy" resigned in 1952 when the Shah denied his demands for broader "emergency powers"; he was reappointed by the Shah only when street demonstrations by his supporters threatened to overthrow the government. Back in power, Mossadegh then systematically began to communize the Iranian economy.
All this took place in the context of our Cold War with the Soviet Union, which had been plotting to extend its influence in Iran, via its puppet, the Tudeh Party, in order to gain control that nationalized oil. At the same time, U.S. intelligence agencies and the Eisenhower administration worried that Mossadegh was getting dangerously close to the pro-Soviet Tudeh Party.
Was it therefore unreasonable or wrong for the U.S. and Britain to take action to topple a dictatorial, increasingly leftist regime, in order to regain that stolen property and, more importantly, to protect American national security interests? Can this 1955 action in defense of private property and against totalitarian Soviet expansionism reasonably be blamed as the "cause" of "blowback" much, much later -- such as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard takeover of the U.S. embassy in 1979, 26 years later? or the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, 40 years later? or even the destruction of four U.S. airliners, the Twin Towers, and part of the Pentagon in 2001, 48 years later? Or is that "blowback" charge mere excuse-making for Islamist thugs and cutthroats?
The manipulative use, by Paul and too many libertarians, of vague, undefined smear terms such as "interventionist" and "neocon" permits them to blame the U.S. government for virtually anything it does in our legitimate, long-term self-defense, anywhere in the world. Actions to thwart coercive threats, such as forging defensive alliances, are "interventionism." Helping other nations counter a growing peril from a declared U.S. enemy nation (Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Iran, etc.) is "interventionism." Sometimes, even trading with adversaries of dictatorial regimes (e.g., trading with Taiwan, an enemy of China) is "interventionism."
The only "moral" alternative they imply, therefore, is a de facto, hunkered-down pacifism: a steady retreat by the U.S. from any interactions in the world -- lest we diss some backwater bully, cross his arbitrarily declared boundary lines, offend him for his subjective notions of religious or cultural blasphemy, or thwart his laughable claims of "national sovereignty."
Part of the sloppy thinking at the root of "noninterventionist" lunacy is the tacit equation of individual rights with "national sovereignty" -- and also the equation of "economic interventionism" (against peaceful individuals) with "political interventionism" (against despotic regimes). Philosophically, these twin equations are completely bogus.
Only individuals have rights or "sovereignty"; and only those governments that recognize the individual rights of their own people have any legitimate claims to exist. Dictatorships thus have no "rights" or "sovereignty." Likewise, the concept of economic "interventionism" -- developed by the Austrian school of economics to describe coercive governmental interference with free individuals in the marketplace -- cannot be equated with political "interventionism" against governments, especially against dictatorships.
Ron Paul (along with those libertarians who agree with him) therefore completely misunderstands the philosophical foundations of individual rights and freedom. The mere fact that he and his backers sanctimoniously claim such lofty language does not mean that they are true defenders of individual rights and liberty. That is clear from Paul's stands not just on foreign policy and national defense, but on such issues as immigration and abortion, where he ironically takes what can only be described as "government interventionist" stands.
For a detailed look at Paul's warped foreign-policy perspective, sample his commentary "The Blame Game," where he declares, "There was no downside when we left Vietnam." No downside? Here he blithely evades the wholesale butchery and the enslavement of millions that transpired after our ignominious retreat from Southeast Asia -- and the consequent, devastating loss of America's credibility, both as a military power and as a reliable ally. Add to this Paul's infuriating use, in the same commentary, of the word "empire" to describe U.S. foreign policy aims -- which claim, contrary to all historic facts, rationalizes the bogus charges raised against America by communists and Islamists, giving aid and comfort to these enemies of the U.S. Add to this also Paul's indiscriminately declared hostility to "war" as such, which (regardless of his protestations) can only translate into a de facto pacifism and isolationism.
Is this foreign-policy outlook realistic? Not since about 1789.
The relentless advance of communication, transportation, satellite, and weapons technology has simply obliterated the geographic "isolationism" that was still largely possible at the time of America's founding.
When a plot hatched in remote mountains in a backward nation like Afghanistan, with conspirators drawn from places like Saudi Arabia, can bring down iconic buildings in New York and Washington, DC --
-- when Chinese rockets can "blind" in outer space the U.S. intelligence satellites that we depend on for our nation's defense --
-- when Iranian rockets and subs can threaten to shut down international shipping lanes, thereby interfering with free trade --
-- when Islamist terrorists and despots can shut down at whim international traffic in a commodity as basic as oil, etc., etc.
-- it is no longer possible to pretend we can draw any meaningful national-defense line at the water's edge. Those days are long gone.
National defense today requires the ability and willingness to project credible power globally, in direct protection of the very trade, travel, communications, and contacts among peoples that Ron Paul and many other libertarians declare to be the pillars of international relations and peace.
Without the forward projection of U.S. military power -- through foreign bases (which implies alliances), naval-carrier battle groups, special ops forces, advanced military aircraft, and first-rate intelligence agencies (which means an effective CIA, NSA, etc.) -- the "foreign-trade-and-travel" model of foreign policy prescribed by Dr. Paul and many libertarians would be revealed for the ridiculous fantasy it is.
Well, then, is this foreign-policy outlook principled?
What "principle" does it cite? A vacuous "noninterventionism" that clashes with the proper defense of U.S. interests and the individual rights of Americans? As his coercive positions on abortion and immigration underscore, Ron Paul doesn't even grasp what the principle of individual rights is all about. His is the traditional, platonic view of "natural rights" shared by many other libertarians, which tacitly equates anti-government positions with pro-liberty positions -- as if they are the same.
Okay, but is Ron Paul dangerous? Not politically: He hasn't a prayer of winning the GOP nomination, let alone the White House (though he could throw the general election to the Democrats if he decides to run as a third-party candidate after the primaries).
However, Ron Paul -- or, rather, what he represents -- is dangerous philosophically.
In an essay titled "The Anatomy of Compromise," philosopher Ayn Rand wrote: "When opposite basic principles are clearly and openly defined, it works to the advantage of the rational side; when they are not clearly defined, but are hidden or evaded, it works to the advantage of the irrational side."
Ron Paul's public equation of vital and valid principles -- such as "individual rights," "liberty," and "free markets" -- with intellectual trash-talk about American imperialism, anti-immigrant border fences, the fetus's "right to life," and the de facto pacifism of "noninterventionism," only confuses and discredits those critical principles in the minds of millions. This is dangerous, because it obliterates the true meaning of the key moral principles that should undergird our politics and laws.
The resulting confusion -- if unchallenged -- will set back the cause of reason, individualism, and capitalism for decades to come. And that's not something we can afford as we confront the ongoing Islamist threat to our way of life. To win that war, we require, above all, moral and intellectual clarity. That clarity is something the candidacy of Ron Paul imperils, demonstrated by his following among self-proclaimed champions of individual liberty.
To paraphrase an old joke, then:
Ron Paul is my second choice for President.
My first choice is anybody else.
(Note: A forthcoming article in The New Individualist (January-February 2008) by Stephen Green will address Dr. Paul's problematic views on a range of other issues, as well.)
In other words, even though the US isn’t located anywhere near the Middle East, American boys must continue to die in some Middle-Eastern hellhole because .... what was the reason again?
Oh yeah, so the CFR globalists can continue their worldwide agenda. Of course.
Randians are not libertarians. And given Ron Paul’s association with Rothbard and Rockwell it’s hard to see how anyone could be any more “old school” libertarian than him.
I think you forgot you were logged into Free Republic instead of DU and KOS.
Well, judging by the outright hostility some on this forum have to actually following the US Constitution, it’s an understandable mistake.
Are you a Canadian living in Canada? Your FR page appears to show so. If this is so, we are Americans and they are our citizens fighting in Iraq, not yours.
Straight from the horse's "mouth".
Amazing how otherwise sane “Conservatives” simply gloss over this "Hate the USA 1st" Leftist insanity that exists at the heart of Paul’s campaign because he demagogues so feverishly on this hot button issue or that hot button issue.
Total B.S. I didn't read any farther since this is such crap. Yes, we installed the Shah, and Carter, the crook, was responsible for undermining him and bringing the Ayatollah back from exile. Why would the Iranians do what they did to Carter (helped to cost him an election, humiliated him day after day, etc.) since he was at least partially responsible for helping their Islamic gov't gain power? They OWED Carter and repaid his help by taking our people hostage. Hardly seems likely they were unhappy with our installing the Shah since we uninstalled him too - to our obvious detriment and because Carter is an un-American s.o.b.
I do believe you have your own issues to address.
Do not question us on the US constituion. We are Americans, not Canadians like yourself.
Does debate stop at the border?
What’s your point?
You should have kept reading. It started w/ those comments by Paul and then the author shows him for the fraud he is.
And here's another shocker for you. I think for myself. I decide who I choose to vote for not by their label but by what they say and if I agree with it. I know this is a foreign concept to the 'faithful' but there it is
for your consideration
Point is you are not American. Do not tell us what our constituion says and what we should do. Espeically some fool from the north trying to tell us how great Ron Paul is. He is a moron. We know because he is in our Congress and one of our citizens, not yours.
Outstanding evaluation of Ron Pot Paul.
Just because you want to hide under you covers and scream the “boogie men don’t exist, the boogie men don’t exist” does not make it so.
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