Editor’s Note: Andy Cohen and Doug Porter have collaborated on a four-part series about GOP Presidential contender Ron Paul that begins today in the OB Rag. We’ll be taking a close look at the Congressman’s visions with regard to foreign and domestic policy, his economic ideas and provide a historical context of what his candidacy means.
We have agreed to collaborate on this series because we see increasing numbers of young people drawn towards Ron Paul’s candidacy and would like to expose what we see is a false choice for dealing with the economic and political crises that face our country. Not everything about Congressman Paul is bad, but his elevation to near Rock Star status amongst certain disaffected voters is, we think, a very bad thing for this country.
For those of you reaching for your keyboards to reflexively type defensive tomes, we strongly suggest that you read our policy on commenting (it’s only unconstitutional when the government suppresses speech) and understand that nature of this website is that we have a point of view. We’ve seen what happens on other sites that are critical of Ron Paul—anti-Semitic remarks, personal attacks and denial of service attacks aimed at silencing those voices. We won’t stand for that here. It’s our sandbox, and that is the way it is. You are, by the way, welcome to disagree with us and express your disagreements here. Just play nice. Without further ado, here’s part one.
A Foreign Policy Overview
Congressman Paul sits on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and, unlike some of his competitors for the GOP nomination, has actually traveled abroad on non-junket and non-vacation trips. His non-interventionist and empire eschewing stances have made him persona non-grata amongst fellow Republicans, and his willingness to concede that there might be a connection between U.S. Foreign Policy and extremist Islamic groups anger engenders an almost neo-Stalinist response in Party circles, whereby he is airbrushed out of the “family” portrait on a regular basis. Witness the 89 seconds of air-time he got during the GOP’s foreign policy debate in South Carolina.
While some in the mainstream media call Paul a “Tea Party isolationist”, his foreign policy stances have in fact made him much more popular with some disaffected voters on the other end of the spectrum—young people with newly cultivated anti-war sensibilities. After all, the Congressman is for putting an immediate stop to (current or future) U.S. involvement in ground wars in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan/Pakistan. He advocates dismantling the world-wide network of U.S. military facilities in over 170 countries, saying “We were never given the authority to be the policemen of the world.”
Paul’s position that the United States should stay neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, along with his inclusion of Israel in his pledge to eliminate most foreign aid also alienates him from groups supportive of the Jewish state. His seeming “blind-spot” regarding the “special” relationships between the military forces of the U.S. and Israel and its corresponding set of associations on the corporate level never ceases to amaze me. Does he really think that complex situation can be resolved by fiat? Does he really think the American people will ever elect a Congress that wouldn’t vote for aid to Israel? Pigs will be declared Kosher before that ever happens—just follow the money.
Ron Paul’s top priority for National Security is securing the borders of the United States. While he admits to being troubled by the imagery of barbed wire fences with machine guns on the basis of these barriers being used to keep God-fearing Americans who want to flee the ever growing oppressive nature of the State penned in, his fear of immigrants and their anchor babies is greater.
When it comes to involvement in international organizations, you can count of Ron Paul’s opposition. Whether it’s berating the United Nations for wanting to disarm gun-totin’ Americans (as seen in this John Birch Society video) or using the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn to denounce the IMF (“These are the kinds of people who are running the IMF.”) you can bet the farm that Paul sees those groups as threats to American sovereignty. While there are plenty of things not to like about the IMF in particular, like the fact that it’s a foreign policy tool of the corporatocracy, Paul’s critiques are more based on a 19th century world-view.
And that perception gets us to the nut of the problem about Congressman Paul’s foreign policy stances (actually all of his positions): they are based upon the premise that the world needs to move itself back 150 years or so, and everything will be okay. That’s impractical, of course, which makes his positions all the more alluring to the naive or those ignorant of economic and political history. Even if we wanted to “turn the clock back”, the solutions and supposed realities of the days of old would crumble in the face of the demands of a world with six billion mouths to feed, a world that has seen horrific conflicts that have erased entire cultures and nationalities, and, most of all, a world whose economic powers are no longer relevant to its political boundaries.
Civilization is a measure of what societies become in the face of adversity. On this planet we have progressed through many stages of civilization, starting out with clans of hunter-gatherers, moving into empires ruled by individuals who claimed a special relationship with higher spiritual powers, and, lately, the mechanisms of the nation-state. Each of these stages involved changes in the definition of individual sovereignty that seemed necessary for some greater good.
Ron Paul’s solution to our contemporary woes is to empower Social Darwinism, the struggle and survival of the fittest sans most of the trappings of the State that creates a utopian society whereby the individual and their choices drive the social order. Implicit in this approach is that the collateral damage consisting of the denigration or destruction of those “less fit” individuals as acceptable. This leads us down the primrose path of subjugation of those deemed less human. It displays an extraordinary willingness to overlook the cruelty and horrors of our past as a people. Think slavery. Think Jim Crow. Think about the days when women were the “weaker sex”. Think of how migrant workers were treated. Think about the thousands of American soldiers that were sickened/died during the Spanish-American War thanks to an unscrupulous company that sold tainted tinned meat to the Army.
All this is not to say that Ron Paul’s followers are incorrect in their perceptions about the dysfunctionality of government or the sense that “We The People” aren’t doing very well these days. But no society anywhere has ever moved forward by moving backwards. And building a movement for “change” or “rEvolution” behind one person has an equally bad track record.
Up Next: Ron Paul’s Domestic Approach