Ron Paul’s Political Suicide

I used to think of Ron Paul as a thoughtful libertarian who was naive about foreign affairs. Who can forget his probing, contrarian questioning of Alan Greenspan on Humphrey-Hawkins testimony days over the years? It was nice to have someone like Paul in Congress. But Paul is a minor figure in national politics and most Americans probably didn’t know much about him until recently.

Suddenly, however, because Paul is running for president and got invited to a major debate and then made an extremely foolish statement about the war*, a lot of people are paying attention to him and his isolationist views for the first time. His public reputation is not holding up well to the scrutiny, to put it mildly. And as more people look into his background they are finding evidence that national defense may not be the only area where he has dumb ideas.

Now Paul faces a challenger for his House seat in 2008, and given his embarrassing debate performance it’s not unreasonable to expect that his constituency will punish him.

Probably none of this would have happened if Paul had not attended the debate, and it almost certainly would not have happened if he hadn’t decided to run (again) for the presidency. His isolationism was tolerable in an idiosyncratic backbencher but not in a Republican presidential primary contender. I assume that voters in the general election will not tolerate similar attitudes in either party’s candidate.

*The fact that Giuliani demagogued his response to Paul doesn’t lessen the foolishness of what Paul said.

27 thoughts on “Ron Paul’s Political Suicide”

  1. The US is by the far the most dangerous threat to global peace, self interested imperialism supported by dishonest virtous propaganda is starting to fall on deaf ears around the world. The US is no longer the leader of the free world its time that this epoch came to a close America withdrew from all foriegn lands.

    America no longer has the credibility to play an international role, further the world doesnt want America to play this role.

    Ron Paul might be on the fringe, there is no way he will become President but he is right on the money, its time for the US to adopt a pacifist role much like Germany after the 3rd Reich.

  2. I don’t understand what you mean by making a foolish statement about the war. If you mean it was a foolish statement because the debate was hosted by Fox News, and attended by a handpicked crowd in South Carolina, with idiots without an iota of foreign policy experience like Giuliani included, then I guess it was foolish because they wouldn’t get it. But his statements are most definitely supported by the CIA and the 9/11 Commission, and Giuliani is so absurd to espouse such a simple-minded idiotic idea like “they hate us because of our freedoms.”

    The statement was not foolish; politically, perhaps one could consider it foolish because of those in attendance, but it certainly speaks to the fact that he is honest and not just pandering to the crowd.

    And he isn’t exactly an isolationist. He just does not support foolish meddling in the affairs of other countries. Like Iraq. That was just foolish, absolutely foolish. It didn’t help us at all, and we cannot afford it. I mean, even if it were a given that we SHOULD be involved in every other country’s affairs, like the Project for a New American Century might suggest… but we cannot afford it, we just can’t. We’re spending way more money than we have, borrowing billions a day from other countries, and printing off money out of thin air. Come on. There just isn’t enough money to keep doing this. We have got to stop, and start trading with these people, not fighting with them. It’s all about money, and we dont have any of it.

  3. No, Diquea, I meant that Paul’s comment is foolish because isolationism doesn’t work when you’re facing an enemy that wants to destroy your civilization, commit genocide against everyone who resists and forcibly convert the survivors to his religion.

    And yes, war is expensive, but being defeated in war is more expensive. Would you rather we saved our money and lost a few cities instead? Oh, that’s right: they never would have attacked us if we didn’t invade Iraq. 9/11 was an inexplicable aberration, of course.

  4. Well, seeing as I my entire family is from “the rest of the world”, I must attest to the accuracy of Giuliani’s statement. If you ask “them” why they hate us, they will never say “because of your freedom” but if you listen to them talk for a while, that’s exactly what they say. Here’s an example of a common statement: “Too much freedom is a bad thing. Take America for example….” That’s literally saying it. But they also hate America because of its wealth – which is a direct result of freedom.

    What people like Craig Tindale hate, of course, is that America is currently the dominant country by default. Of course, what typically escapes the notice of Craig and his ignorant ilk is that America’s population growth is in large part due to accepting the escapees from the rest of world so they can take advantage of America’s freedom to make the most of themselves. Which they do. That, of course, leads to wealth creation and that wealth is accumulated to the creators.

    I also find it hysterical that Craig wants America to “withdraw from all foreign lands” – until there’s a problem. THEN it’s America’s “duty” to fix it – like the two nasty wars that Europe got itself into and that America tried to stay out of in the 20th century. Then, of course, America protected Europe from the communists. I guess America was okay then. Now, “the world” is either busy emulating American economic success or busy wallowing in self-loathing and scapegoating America while it collects ever smaller unemployment checks.

    And I do love the Marxist collectivist bullshit of “the world”. How the hell did Craig get so smart that he knows what everyone in “the world” thinks? Typical Marxist delusions.

    To the rest of the world, I say: suck it up, buttercup. That’s the nice version of what I want to say.

  5. Paul is not an “isolationist” as you say. He believes in defending against terrorists.

    He supported the war in Afghanistan.
    He sponsored a bill in which we would pay private, local bounty hunters to capture Osama bin Laden, because it was hard for the US troops to get in there (and they didn’t get him). It would also allow us to declare war on Osama and try our best to get in there, with full force, which we did not have in Afghanistan.
    He did not support the Iraq War because it had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. Now it does, of course, because we have allowed al Qaeda to get into the country.

    He believes in personal defense of our country, and he also believes in securing our borders. Bush leaves them wide open. Al Qaeda, any time, could fly into Mexico and walk across into Arizona or New Mexico. The patrolling National Guard have been sent to fight in Iraq. Under President Paul, the National Guard would be in America securing our borders and keeping anyone who shouldn’t be coming over out, rather than sending them to Iraq to be killed and tripling their tours of duty.

    In other words, we would be much safer. He’s not embarrassing at all; he’s completely right.

  6. Our invasion of Afghanistan was necessary but not sufficient, because the problem is not limited to bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Resurgent radical Islam, backed by Middle Eastern dictatorships and triumphant after defeating the USSR and, in its view, the USA since the 1970s, openly pursues global jihad and seeks nuclear and other WMD. They will get such weapons if they are not stopped.

    In this context the USA could not allow Saddam Hussein’s Iraq — strategically located, a relentless backer of terrorism and anti-American subversion, with a long history of using and developing WMD — to continue doing business as usual. Iraq was the obvious sweet spot for the necessary attack by us on the Islamofascist nexus. If we had not invaded Iraq (and had not instead invaded one of the other nodes of the Islamofascist nexus, such as Iran, which would have been much more difficult), we would have been perceived to have lost our nerve, as we had done (as our enemies, not entirely without reason, saw it) in Somalia, Vietnam, etc. Then we would eventually have had to confront the same enemies from a weaker position.

    We had long tried to cultivate Middle Eastern dictators who might be bribed or persuaded to function as our agents. However, these attempts by us were ultimately unsuccessful as they were unable to prevent anti-American attacks culminating in 9/11. Bush’s subsequent move into Iraq, and his efforts to cultivate Iraqi democracy (which I believe will succeed if we do not abandon them), were part of a plan that looks bold and radical only until one considers that it was the only reasonable plan left after all of the other plans failed. The problem is that having conquered Iraq we stopped, instead of pursuing our plan to its logical conclusion by deposing the Syrian and Iranian regimes. But the basic plan is still sound, IMO, and I am not aware of a workable alternative.

    The problem with Ron Paul and many other libertarians (and I am a libertarian) on national defense is that they bog down in second-guessing tactical issues which they confuse with moral issues. Not initiating aggression does not necessarily mean that you wait for your enemy to get the drop on you before you respond. If your enemy is not only developing WMD but also vowing to destroy you, and is already making attempts to do so, I think that it is both moral and prudent for you to attack your enemy first. Paul’s prescription of a low international profile for the USA, combined with a withdrawal of our military assets from around the world, would not only not provide an effective military response to enemies that would inevitably attack us again at home, it would actually encourage those enemies by telegraphing weakness. We got lucky because bin Laden misjudged us and attacked prematurely, awakening us to the threat (imagine Hitler attacking in 1935). But the threat is still there and will not go away if we retreat, nor will it go away if we do anything less than counterattack and keep attacking until the Iranian mullahs, Assad, Hezbollah et al are all either dead or demoralized.

  7. Here are statements I found two years ago that I’ve kept

    Commandant of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, said on state television. “God willing, the 21st century will see the defeat of the U.S. and the Zionists, and the victory of freedom-seeking nations of the world. The final goal of the [1979] revolution is to create global Islamic rule and a regime of law to be led by the Imam Mahdi”.

    The [Iranians] President’s chief strategist, Hassan Abbassi, has come up with a war plan based on the premise that “Britain is the mother of all evils” – the evils being America, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, the Gulf states and even Canada, all of whom are the malign progeny of the British Empire. “We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization,” says Mr Abbassi. “There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them… Once we have defeated the Anglo-Saxons the rest will run for cover.”

    The IRGC chief warned that Iran was seeing through “critical days” and “fate-determining years”. He described the purpose of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution as the “Salvation of Muslims” from the hands of the “oppressive U.S. and Israel”.

    And there’s this in the news today:

    Iran planning strike on Europe: analyst
    May 23, 2007 – 6:34AM

    Iran is attempting to draw up plans to strike targets in Europe and has reconnoitered European nuclear power stations, a security analyst told a meeting at Britain’s parliament.

    Claude Moniquet, president of the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Centre, a private think-tank in Brussels, said his organisation also had evidence Tehran has increased the number of its intelligence agents across Europe.

  8. Anybody who uses the term “Isalmofascist” reveals himself to be a charlatan and uneducated.

    National Security Marxists have no concept of how “free market economics” works, as Hayek stops at the shores. I think this is cover for their general lack of manhood and refusal to accept duty as an armed citizen and first defender of the realm.

    [Can’t come up with a logical argument, eh? BTW, you might learn how to spell before you accuse others of lacking education. -Jonathan]

  9. Craig Tindale says “America no longer has the credibility to play an international role, further the world doesnt want America to play this role.”

    Our 12 trillion dollar economy and super-power military is the definition of credibility. Whether the world loves or hates us doesn’t change the dominant role we play in the world.

    The definition of no credibility is a hillbilly from Texas who believes political evolution came to a halt in 1789. Only Islamists who believe evolution ended in the 7th century have less credibility.

  10. “America no longer has the credibility to play an international role, further the world doesnt want America to play this role.”

    Really? The whole world happens to share your personal political opinion and loathing of the United States?

  11. Giuliani’s comment was off point and mischaracterized what Paul said, but it was still probably effective for most listeners. Giuliani is a lawyer (like me) and if his opponent opens himself up to a brutal response (even if he is right) you jam your fist down his throat, and pull his guts out. That’s the game, and that is how it is supposed to be played. Giuliani is good at that kind of thing. He is basically a thug who not only wants to win, but to humiliate and destroy his enemies. This bit of unnecessary demagoguery gives me some hope — It shows his thuggishness. That is the only thing I like about him. I want him to be commander in chief, because I hope he would give free reign to what I perceive as a basic brutality about his personality. Right now we are joke in the world, neither feared nor loved, just despised. A stone killer in the White House for four years could begin to turn things around. Unfortunately, even Rudy is probably too soft for the job.

  12. This all takes me back to 1996, my very first presidential election as a voter. As an idealistic (meaning uneducated and often high) 18 year old libertarian-leaner, I was on my way to casting a vote for everyone’s favorite habitual nth place presidential candidate, Harry Browne.

    The thing that swayed me away was interacting with the true-believer Lew Rockwell types, who were the most evangelical of Browne’s supporters. Making the Socialist Party USA boosters seem well balanced in comparison is quite an accomplishment, and they did it with apparent ease. Talking with these people for a few moments convinced me to hold my nose and vote Dole.

    While I’ve been sympathetic to these people’s domestic agenda, their foreign policy always struck me as foolish. Even as a stupid 18-year-old, I’d read enough history to know that isolationism, instead of securing peace, almost always encourages attack from aggressive foreign empires. Sitting behind your frontiers and believing you can hide behind your metaphorical Maginot Line is a good way to get a metaphorical panzer division rolling across your very real heartland. And what’s up with the visceral Abe Lincoln hatred guys? He’s been dead for 150 years, stop with the frothing at the mouth already.

    It’s somewhat comforting to know that the same fanatical people who in subsequent years convinced me to permanently avoid any direct connection to the LPUSA are still so determined to have their candidates seen as utter loons. And when their candidates help them along, well…

    On the topic, though, I am amazed Giuliani was the only candidate to feast greedily on Paul’s eviscerated carcass of a national political reputation. I mean, at this point in his campaign, I half expect McCain to threaten violent sodomy on anyone who even looks at him wrong, all the while basking in that weird skeletor smirk he’s got and humming something from Pet Sounds. Seriously, he’s creeping me out.

  13. Lex – something we finally agree on: “… if his opponent opens himself up to a brutal response (even if he is right) you jam your fist down his throat, and pull his guts out.” Exactly what the thugs who run the Arab world and Iran need now! Ron Paul and Obama do not exactly impress these guys!

    And, oh your forgot to mention, he is no thug when it comes to social issues. Plus, he has genuinely moved in direction of supply side economics despite his lawyer background.

    Sorry but the hero of religious right Sam Brownback must have been a gigantic disappointment when he said that even in case of rape we have to protect that “baby” … believe me, that “baby” will NOT be in God’s (or, if you prefer, in Allah’s) image to his/her mother.

    I had written the GOP off by summer of 2006. With Giuliani in the picture, I even wrote a check and have some hopes for 2008. So here is my advice to the religious right — you will get what you want IF you just keep your religious views to yourself and not bring it to the public sphere. Unlike the liberals, I could care less who, where, or how you worship as long as you do impose it upon me … and I think Giuliani made it quite clear: government out of our pockets, out of our bedrooms, and out of our places of worship.

  14. Brownback is a nice guy. I saw him speak last Fall. He’s not ready for the presidency, though. However, he is a very appealing speaker and may have more long-term prospect than many people think. We shall see. Speaking as a person who is part of the Religious Right, I vote for the least bad candidate like everybody else. If it is Rudy v. Hillary, no contest.

    Giuliani comes from a hard, competitive background, and he is not a guy who cares about pushing the edge of the rules to win. Michael Barone said, as near as I can recall, “the American people do not want a president who is a nice person, but someone who will ruthlessly employ the powers of his office for their benefit.” The world is an ugly place (original sin being what it is) and a president needs to make hard, prudential decisions. I think Mr. Bush is, deep down, too kind a person to do what is needed. Giuliani is not, as far as I can see, a kind person in any way at all. Until Jesus Christ returns in glory, we will have to live in the world as it is. And that includes dealing with the thugs of the world in a language they can understand. Too bad it is that way. But it is.

  15. Lex – exactly — now we are in complete agreement as long as you see realities of the world as they are and not wish as they were. I just would like to remind you that the international arena has, particularly in regards to those societies that are internally not bound by the rule of law , absolutely no rules. And any group of people who try to impose their Jesus Christ (or Marx, or Shariah) gloriously on the rest of the world so that nice guys can govern are nothing but a bunch of fools. There is no heaven (you choose the brand, environmentalism being the latest product on the shelf) on this earth. Our only REALISTIC hope lies in extending the rule of the law to the darkest corners of the world. Tactical mistakes will be (and have been) made but I think George Bush has diagnosed this problem better than any American president since Truman. Now we need a good salesman like Giuliani who is not afraid of offending our enemies’ or their apologists’ sensibilities, not a nice guy who can wave the cross and prove the prejudices of ignorant Muslims right.

  16. “And any group of people who try to impose their Jesus Christ (or Marx, or Shariah) gloriously on the rest of the world so that nice guys can govern are nothing but a bunch of fools.”

    This religious moral-equivalency that is blithely expressed doesn’t fit well with reality. Sulaiman does it in passing here and it’s heard in more virulent forms in other bits of conversation that go something like this: “The tyrannical mullahs are making it rough for folks that come within their sphere of influence in Holland. It’s terrible to live under religious fanatics whether they are Islamic or Fundamentalist Christians.” (Paraphrasing from a recent interview of a gay American author having returned from the Netherlands, with Bill Moyers) as if, in this example, the tolerance of the religious Christian right in this country closely resembles the same sort of intolerance and constriction of personal freedom that Islam requires.

    Imagine being on your own, as a non-religious person (much less a blazing deviant) in the midst of one of the two “fundamentalist groups”. There is, at least in modern times, no comparison between the two with respect to tolerance and so there is no excuse to bring the two groups up in the same breath in this way.

    Perhaps this is simply a way for people to soften criticism of a world outlook that is skewed and emphasize our common humanity. It is fuzzy thinking though. It obfuscates the reality of the situation of the last couple hundred years: that is, to the extent that Sulaiman’s thought that “Our only REALISTIC hope lies in extending the rule of the law to the darkest corners of the world” has occurred it has overwhelmingly occurred under the influence of the Christian world.

  17. Tyouth – Christianity, like Islam, is judged by its actions when it controlled the state — not in its defanged form today under a secular political structure. Compare Christianity of yesterday with Islam of today to understand my point — both mythologies are cut from the same cloth of ignorance and intolerance. And no, it was not under “Christian” world that the rule of law was extended — neither Greece nor Rome was Christian until Christianity descended on civilization like a plague for over a thousand years.

    As in summer of 2006 just a reminder to all those who bring your religion to the public sphere: people like I (a rather large and significant minority) will stay out of the elections and you will be stuck with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Chuck Schumer. Take your pick — religion as you please as long as you do not force other individuals in your private sphere OR Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama as your president. I do not want a man (Sam Brownback and his ilk) who thinks protecting the “baby” of a raped woman is the job of the state as my president. I don’t think Christ – a Jew who preached peace and love – would have agreed with this kind of barbarism.

  18. Christianity, like Islam, is judged by its actions when it controlled the state — not in its defanged form today under a secular political structure.

    Why is this your standard of comparison? The whole point of the Islam/Christianity comparison is that Christianity has been civilized as compared to the way it was in the past whereas Islam has not. The Christianity then vs. Islam now comparison is your idiosyncrasy. Most of the people who equate Christian and Muslim fundamentalisms are comparing those movements as they are today. They are at least making the right comparison even though their conclusions are ridiculous.

  19. “I do not want a man (Sam Brownback and his ilk) who thinks protecting the “baby” of a raped woman is the job of the state as my president. I don’t think Christ – a Jew who preached peace and love – would have agreed with this kind of barbarism.”

    For myself, I reckon that abortion is the more barbaric action (I have reservations here about rape, still we’re talking about what a barbarian would do reflexively). It is an interestsing question though. Certainly the most conservative view hold that protecting the baby (or potenetial baby) is the right course. I expect Old Testament orthodoxy would and I suspect New Testament Christianity would also opt for protection of the potential child but I’m just spectulating. Maybe some knowledgeable person would give an opinion of what Christ might think about it.

  20. Somewhat off topic, but quotes like this one drive me mad:

    “…its time for the US to adopt a pacifist role much like Germany after the 3rd Reich.”

    These lefties are so stupid, uneducated and parochial. Where do people get these ideas?

    First of all, I suppose he is talking about West Germany. In communist East Germany, pacifism could get you in jail, end of story.

    West Germany rearmed in 1955 and introduced conscription. If Germany´s military role was constricted to local defense, it was because other European nations felt safer that way.

    Now, after half a century of peace and especially after the breakup of the Soviet Union and reunification, most Germans came to the conclusion that the cold war had been a big misunderstanding and only a policy of detente had peacefully ended the standoff. Of course, half a century of peace in Europe would not have been possible without American forces, but why admit that?

    Germans today do not feel threatened and want nothing more than a permanent holiday from history. But this is not really pacifism. It is convenience.

    As I know from experience, Germans don´t much care about wars unless the USA or Israel are involved. They don´t stop any wars or do anything for human rights. They like Putin! They like the Chinese! They are not concerned that their subsidized trade with Iran might prop up a dangerous regime. They are against nuclear power, but Iranian nukes are none of their business. The discussions you have in the US simply do not take place.

    And finally: the same German government that called the Iraq war illegal enthusiastically supported the bombing of Belgrade. The US did the actual work, as usual, but this very government was whipping up support with talk of a new Hitler named Milosevic and stories of concentration camps. Why the Serbs, but not Saddam? Don´t talk to me about principle. or credibility.

  21. Do you mean foolish statement as in, a stupid thing to say when surrounded by so many pro-war people, or as in simply wrong?

  22. I mean that I think Paul is profoundly wrong on the merits of his argument. That he spoke his mind in a setting where he knew most people would disagree with him is a different point, and one that I think reflects well on him.

  23. Why Don’t You Read Dying to Win by Robert Pape. Then you will see how much political suicide is actually going on with the current administration. If you read this book then you may realize why those terrorists want our nation destroyed. Jonathan, you are obviously not informed on terrorism to criticize it.

  24. I take it you think that we provoked the 9/11 attacks by stationing troops outside of the USA, and that our best policy in the current war would be to bring all of our troops home.

    Instead of telling me that I am uninformed you might consider that I interpret events differently than you do. But then you would have to read this thread, and you would have to make an actual argument for your position, and you would have to support your argument with something more substantial than a reading assignment. Good luck.

    Unless you were mainly interested in planting a link here, in which case, congratulations, you win.

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