|Au Revoir, Ron Paul! 11/14/12|
On November 14 Ron Paul gave his farewell speech to Congress. He is retiring after serving as a US Congressman from Texas' 14th district. Ron Paul was a three-time candidate for President, once as a Libertarian (1988) and twice as a Republican (2008 and 2012).
Ron Paul claims to be a Libertarian. I share many of his strongly Libertarian sympathies. In his essay Civil Disobedience Henry David Thoreau wrote, "That government is best which governs least" (often misattributed to Thomas Jefferson). Ronald Reagan summed up the essential truth of Libertarian Conservatism very well in his farewell address: "I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts." Paul would seem to concur with these noble sentiments.
I agree with much of what Paul has to say about economics, private property and an overly intrusive federal government -- including the heinous abuses of the TSA. Paul is provocative on the issues of an out-of-control federal reserve and raises the intriguing possibility of a return to the gold standard. Paul is right to object to a wasteful and intrusive federal government.
Ultimately, however, I find that Ron Paul is neither a Libertarian, a Republican, nor even a Conservative. He seems to believe most of all in "Ron Paul-ism" -- a curious mixture of Libertarian economics, neo-confederate nostalgia and isolationism.
|Ron Paul Uses Confederate Flag backdrop|
Does this help Republicans woo back non-White voters?
These are all factors to be weighed, but they are tangential to my deepest objection to Ron Paul.
Ron Paul's foreign policy is far to the left of President Obama's (see earlier post, A Bi-partisan, though perhaps not Tri-partisan, Joke, 11/9/12). He is in favor of Liberty, but only up to the water's edge.
|US Army liberates Dachau, 1945|
A Noble Purpose
Today the USA stands as the only superpower left in the world. In many parts of the world, if the United States does not act, then nothing positive will occur.
Ron Paul in his farewell address on 11/14/12 said, "This attitude has given us a policy of initiating war to “do good,” as well. It is claimed that war, to prevent war for noble purposes, is justified. This is similar to what we were once told that: “destroying a village to save a village” was justified. It was said by a US Secretary of State that the loss of 500,000 Iraqis, mostly children, in the 1990s, as a result of American bombs and sanctions, was “worth it” to achieve the “good” we brought to the Iraqi people. And look at the mess that Iraq is in today."
Many citizens of a war weary nation might be tempted to nod their heads in agreement. "What a horrible thing for an American Secretary of State to say! How terrible that we killed 500,000 children in Iraq!"
Ron Paul was alluding to a Sixty Minutes interview on CBS with President Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeline Albright and this is exactly what she said...
The problem is that Ron Paul is just telling part of the story, distorting the truth to serve his own ideological ends.
Madeline Albright immediately regretted speaking as she did that day. "Albright wrote later that Saddam Hussein, not the sanctions, was to blame. She criticized Stahl's segment as "amount[ing] to Iraqi propaganda"; said that her question was a loaded question; wrote "I had fallen into a trap and said something I did not mean"; and regretted coming "across as cold-blooded and cruel". The segment won an Emmy Award. Albright's "non-denial" was taken by sanctions opponents as confirmation of a high number of sanctions related casualties." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanctions_against_Iraq)
Did "500,000 Iraqis, mostly children" really die as a result of "American bombs and sanctions" as Ron Paul says they did?
1) We know that UNICEF estimated that 500,000 children may have died as a result of sanctions and that Saddam Hussein used this as propaganda directed against his enemies. Other sources, however, suggest that the total affected may have been as low as 100,000. "This rise in the mortality rate accounted for between a minimum of 100,000 and a more likely estimate of 227,000 excess deaths among young children from August 1991 through March 1998" Source: (http://www.casi.org.uk/info/garfield/dr-garfield.html). Yet another source, the Project on Defense Alternatives in an article from 2003 called "The Wages of War" estimated "probably ... 170,000 children". The real truth of the matter is murky to say the least.
|United Nations: Imposed Sanctions on Iraq|
August 6, 1990 (Four days after invasion of Kuwait)
3) Why were these sanctions imposed in the first place? The Sanctions were a direct result of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. They were imposed by the UN on August 6, 1990 only four days after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Thus one can argue, as Madeline Albright did, that it was Saddam's policies that resulted in the premature deaths of some children in Iraq.
5) Why were the sanctions lifted? The sanctions were lifted as a direct result of the USA-led invasion (vociferously opposed by Ron Paul) of Iraq in 2003 and were specifically cited by Tony Blair as a coherent reason (unlike WMD) for supporting the invasion.* For a fuller treatment of the effect of the UN sanctions on Iraq please see this 2002 article from Reason magazine...http://reason.com/archives/2002/03/01/the-politics-of-dead-children.
The Butcher of Baghdad
Ron Paul claims to holds liberty in high regard. If so, why does he seem to deny support for liberty among our allies throughout the world? Do the Iraqis not deserve to be free of a murderous dictator? Did the Czechs in 1938 not deserve freedom and autonomy? The Poles in 1939? Do Afghan girls not deserve a chance to receive an education?
Has the US blundered in any of its military interventions? Yes, the Vietnam war was a series of tragic miscalculations that cost over 50,000 American lives. After 2003, the occupation of Iraq was miserably botched and nation building was a costly mistake. The surge policy of escalation in Afghanistan adopted by President Obama remains highly questionable to this day.
Is there waste and inefficiency in our military procurement system? Unquestionably (see earlier post Colonel John Boyd, 1/6/12).
Commander Kelly must insist, however, that these facts do not outweigh the truth that there is no viable alternative to the United States remaining engaged and exerting principled leadership in our the world; we cannot retreat into the turtle shell of isolationism as Ron Paul suggests.
* The late Christopher Hitchens wrote, "March 2003 happens to mark the only time that we decided to intervene, after a protracted and open public debate, on the right side and for the right reasons. This must, and still does, count for something." For his full take on the Iraq war see Christopher Hitchens article -- Did I get the Iraq War Wrong? : http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/did-i-get-the-iraq-war-wrong-no/story-e6frg73o-1111115840625
How ironic that Hitchens the socialist should stand up for human liberty while Ron Paul, the putative "libertarian" should be an apologist for dictatorship and tyranny!
Hitchens on Iraq