Ron Paul's Folly
Ron Paul errs in his foreign policy, but it is false to call him an isolationist. For example, he promotes a strong foreign trade policy. The confusion comes from his “non-interventionism,” a policy he summarized before Congress on September 16, 2003:
“We have no constitutional authority to police the world or involve ourselves in nation building, in making the world safe for our style of democracy. Our founders advised against it and the early presidents followed that advice. If we believe strongly in our ideals, the best way to spread them is to set a good example so that others will voluntarily emulate us.”
He has also said, “We can achieve much more in peace than we can ever achieve in these needless, unconstitutional, undeclared wars” (Republican debate in Des Moines, Iowa, August 5, 2007); that, as a Christian, he chooses peace (Values Voter Presidential Debate, September 17, 2007), and he titled a 2007 essay, “I Advocate the Same Foreign Policy the Founding Fathers Would.”
Thomas Jefferson said in his first inaugural address, “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliances with none.” This is apparently Dr. Paul’s model. But while “Peace, commerce and honest friendship” are certainly worthy ideals, when reality and ideals clash, the idealist usually loses. It’s like a pacifist confronted by people sworn to his or her destruction; s/he will soon be a dead pacifist.
Jefferson’s vision was far more realistic in 1801 than now. Never minding that strong commerce by nature intervenes for our benefit, two crucial forces exist today that Jefferson never envisioned: Technologies capable of annihilating millions, and fanatics committed to their use.
Dr. Paul is right in saying that Islamic radicals want to destroy us because of our foreign policy and because of our attacks against them. But that is only part of the picture. The whole is that they seek to bring us down because of the freedom, especially religious and cultural, that we represent. It is not just our use of force; it is who we are and what we represent that motivates them to war against us.
Yet Dr. Paul considers terrorism to be a crime, not warfare. Bill Clinton took that exact approach in response to the terror attacks of the 1990s, and the result was 9/11. It wasn’t our strong foreign policy that convinced Osama bin Hidin we were weak as he planned the 9/11 attacks; it was our insipid response to earlier strikes.
The terrorism-is-a-crime approach fails to account for the Islamic radicals’ suicidal intentions. With all respect for Dr. Paul’s commitment to the rule of law, trying to stop suicide attacks with prosecution is like Wile E. Coyote brandishing a parasol to deflect a falling boulder. Suicide bombers don’t want to live, thus making themselves available to the law. They seek death; and how does one prosecute a dead terrorist?
More critically, what good does such a policy do after an attack? If, God forbid, a city is laid waste by a terrorist nuclear or biological weapon at the loss of a few hundred thousand lives, would a President Paul be as gleeful that he had followed his principles as he callously claimed that Bush administration officials were at the opportunity to go to war in Iraq?
We can dedicate ourselves to setting a peaceful example – but it will be to no avail against an ideology committed to our destruction. And how on earth does one reconcile an advocacy of peace as a foreign policy with the violence that will follow once a President Paul completes President Obama’s betrayal of Israel to her sworn enemies?
Moreover, with the globalization of commerce, attacks on our allies are far more injurious to us now than in 1801; how will President Paul’s foreign trade fare when we leave trade partners open for destruction?
Is it of no moment to Dr. Paul that Islamic radicals who are sworn to the destruction of liberty, including ours, are gaining power in multiple nations? How will American interests be helped if they succeed in establishing a caliphate of sharia law throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East?
Iran is undeniably committed to rejecting a President Paul’s examples of peaceful conduct; how are our interests protected if they succeed in developing and using nuclear weapons? What city has to be vaporized before we protect ourselves? Tel Aviv? Manhattan?
It intrigues me that Dr. Paul advocates withdrawal from the United Nations while falsely citing the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency report as evidence that Iran is not arming itself.
I concur with Glenn Beck: Dr. Paul would be a wonderful Treasury Secretary. But as President, his foreign policy would be Obamian in its catastrophic results.