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October 8, 2007

Is Ron Paul’s Foreign Policy Good For America ?

by Doug Mataconis

Last week, the Manchester Union-Leader, one of the leading newspapers in New Hampshire, and well-known for having a conservative editorial page, criticized Ron Paul’s foreign policy views as the same type of isolationism that gripped the Republican Party, and the nation, in the years prior to Pearl Harbor.

Today, Ron Paul responds in a column in which he says that he advocates the same foreign policy as the Founding Fathers, a foreign policy that would still work today

If I understand the editors’ concerns, I have not been accused of deviating from the Founders’ logic; if anything I have been accused of adhering to it too strictly. The question, therefore, before readers — and soon voters — is the same question I have asked for almost 20 years in Congress: by what superior wisdom have we now declared Jefferson, Washington, and Madison to be “unrealistic and dangerous”? Why do we insist on throwing away their most considered warnings?

Well, one legitimate reason for thinking that this might be that the foreign policy that guided a nation of a few million people situated on the Atlantic seaboard in an era when the nearest threatening nation was weeks away by sailing ship might not be entirely applicable in guiding a nation of several hundred million spread across a continent in an era when weapons capable of annihilating a city can be delivered within hours, or delivered without warning in a cargo container. Or when a commodity that is, quite literally, the lifeblood of the world economy could be held hostage.

I’m not saying that the Founding Fathers were wrong, just that even they might have a different view of the world if they lived in the one we did.

Paul goes on to describe what his vision of a non-interventionist foreign policy would be:

A non-interventionist foreign policy is not an isolationist foreign policy. It is quite the opposite. Under a Paul administration, the United States would trade freely with any nation that seeks to engage with us. American citizens would be encouraged to visit other countries and interact with other peoples rather than be told by their own government that certain countries are off limits to them.

American citizens would be allowed to spend their hard-earned money wherever they wish across the globe, not told that certain countries are under embargo and thus off limits. An American trade policy would encourage private American businesses to seek partners overseas and engage them in trade. The hostility toward American citizens overseas in the wake of our current foreign policy has actually made it difficult if not dangerous for Americans to travel abroad. Is this not an isolationist consequence from a policy of aggressive foreign interventionism?

On the surface, Paul makes a point about the blowback that comes from aggressive interventionism without regard for consequences. That, quite honestly, is a fairly good description of the history of American involvement in the Middle East for the past several decades. Whether through ignorance or stupidity, the United States has engaged in policies that have served more to create resentment than to actually solve the problems that they were directed at.

But Paul’s criticism of embargoes as a tool of foreign policy, and his suggestion that the United States should not have any concern about radical or expansionist regimes obtaining potentially dangerous technology strikes me as a bit naive.

As Stephen Green points out, does this mean that Ron Paul would have no problem with American high tech firms selling the latest technologies to regimes like Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Syira, or North Korea ? Or with General Electric and Honeywell competing with the the Russians to decide who will sell the Iranians the latest nuclear reactor technology ? Only the most naive view of foreign intentions would assert that these regimes will simply go away and play nice if the United States withdrew from the world in the manner that he suggests, and that regimes led by men who have already made clear they apocalyptic visions will suddently turn peaceful.

Neville Chamberlin was wrong about that in 1938, and its still wrong today.

Or, as Stephen points out:

In 1940, The Imperial Japanese Navy was made from American scrap metal, and powered by American oil — as it shelled Chinese coastal cities. We should be proud that in 1941, we stopped selling oil and scrap iron to Japan. And we should be prouder still, that by 1945 the US Navy had reduced the Japanese fleet back into scrap. And we should be just as proud today that we’re using our strength and influence to prevent rogue regimes from gaining access to nuclear materials.

Why ? Because it’s in our national interest to prevent them from having those weapons and, unlike 1789, the national interests of the United States don’t stop at the Atlantic seaboard.

I like Ron Paul and I support him because he is the most pro-liberty candidate to run for President in a generation, if not longer. Whatever happens to his campaign, I would like to think that it will have positive benefits for the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, because it will remind people that we still exist and that we still matter. Like many libertarians, though, his foreign policy, when taken to it’s logical extreme to the extent he does in this Op-Ed response, simply doesn’t work in the modern world.

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65 Comments

  1. I know that, overall, I’ve been too harsh on Paul during this last few years. But when it comes to foreign policy, Paul makes big-L Libertarians look nuts, and small-l libertarians like me angry we ever supported him.*

    (*My first TV appearance was on Columbia, Missouri’s NBC affiliate, covering a meeting of Mizzou Paul supporters.)

    Comment by Stephen Green — October 8, 2007 @ 5:48 pm
  2. 18th Century Solutions to 21st Century problems. That should work. I mean it’s not like the world has changed all that much in the last 200 years. If it worked for Jefferson in 1808 there’s no reason to think it wont work now.

    If Paul wants to take a foreign policy page from Jefferson’s book, perhaps he should take one from the chapter about the Barbary Pirates.

    Comment by Stephen Macklin — October 8, 2007 @ 6:08 pm
  3. Doug:

    I think most of your analysis is spot on. How would the founders confront these challenges?

    Libertarians of all stripes (myself included) tend to act as though the founders of this country were saints. The founders great men with great ideals but they were far from perfect (though much closer to perfect than anyone currently in government). Can we say for sure that the founders would not have an imperialistic foreign policy? Of course we can’t. Thomas Jefferson was the one who began the policy of “manifest destiny.” The goal of manifest destiny was to buy and/or conquer all the land west of the Appalachian Mountains so that the U.S. would extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Then there was also this little thing called slavery.

    If we want to get into immigration policy and censorship, there was this little thing called the Alien and Sedition Acts which were passed during the John Adams administration. Under the Alien Act, non citizens could be imprisoned, without trial, if the president believed an individual was a threat to the country. Under the Sedition Act, anyone who spoke out against the government could also be subject to imprisonment without trial. Amazingly, these two acts were never put before the Supreme Court and would have likely (somehow) been considered constitutional at the time. The only reason these laws went away was because they were very unpopular and they were allowed to expire.

    I think we have to consider the bad along with the good when we look back at our nation’s beginnings, as uncomfortable as that might be.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — October 8, 2007 @ 6:08 pm
  4. You’re missing the forest for the trees, man. The spearhead of Paul’s political motion is to reorient our country’s focus towards a more civil interaction with the rest of the world based on the founding PRINCIPLES. Obviously, the world is a different place. Paul knows that.

    don’t join the dogs of war in the administration and over at Fox just because you can think of a couple of examples where being nice and open with our trading policies could backfire.

    It’s increasingly clear to all sane people who don’t have an axe to grind that restraining our government is the most important thing that needs to happen right NOW. This is done by adhering to a strict construction of the constitution.

    Laws are made to restrict the actions of individuals just as constitutions are made to restrict governments.

    Paul is clearly the only candidate who actually considers the constitutionality of legislation etc.

    Stop being a naysayer. It’s getting old.

    Comment by Dow Harris — October 8, 2007 @ 6:11 pm
  5. Principles don’t change, regardless of century. For a small l-libertarian like myself, it is refreshing to finally hear a Republican candidate to state the truth, that Americans have no more right to encroach on foreigners and their governments than do private individuals in the United States.

    The primary reason for the federal government to exist is to defend the United States from foreign agression. Defend against agression, not engage in beligerent behavior.

    Japan had no intention on somehow subverting the liberties of Americans, they merely wanted to conquer China… the embargo the U.S. levied brought this effort to a halt, and forced Japan’s government to attack the United States’ government. As Frederic Bastiat famously wrote, “If goods don’t cross borders, armies will.” Embargoes cause the misallocation of resources which would otherwise flow to their most valued use, and inevitably, war. The federal government has no constitutional grant of authority to place embargoes on trade.

    Congress may regulate, but this, at least, according to the framers of the U.S. Constitution if their thoughts are of value here…, does not extent to prohibiting trade althogether. Jefferson himself recanted of the unsucessful and self-acclaimed unconstitutional embargo of his second term.

    The founders never advocated ignoring the world, or those who would attack and kill, but they believed that free trade with all and alliance with none is the best policy. World power is not our concern: our concern is individual liberty.

    You cite Chamberlin to demonstrate a “mistaken” foreign policy… somehow citing history without the recognition that you simultaneously ignore the deep history of interventionist states which have rose to tremendous heights, only to catapult from the “pax romana” they enjoyed to the depths of despair and despotism.

    The founders did not envision a small country, limited in geography or proximity to the world, they imagined a great commercial, federate republic, stretching from ocean to ocean.

    Comment by Benjamin Kuipers — October 8, 2007 @ 6:22 pm
  6. Acorns incoming…

    “Stop being a naysayer. It’s getting old.”

    The sky is always falling for Ron Paul “supporters” on http://www.thelibertypapers.org.

    The culture of secrecy should be the big issue. A number of the Founding Fathers were also into Freemasonry and other secrecy garbage. Now it is secret societies, secret meetings, top secret, secret intelligence, secret prisons, secret torture, secrets of the CFR, etc. etc. etc. Secrets exist to hid things, to cover things up. As citizens we have a right to privacy, imo the State doesn’t have the right to keep secrets, because if the people aren’t supposed to know about it, chances are it is bad. Getting rid of all the secrecy, starting at the top, would be a good start when talking about a change in direction. It would require Americans to wake up and realize that secrecy isn’t a good thing. A secret society isn’t a free society.

    And don’t even bring up the bogus “secret intelligence keeps us safe” argument, read some of the writings of Robert D. Steele. It has been shown that upwards of 97% of the actionable and obtainable information out there can be obtained from Open Sources, especially with the advent of the Internet.

    Comment by Chicken Little — October 8, 2007 @ 6:25 pm
  7. secrecy couldn’t stop 9/11, and it won’t stop the next attack. Our reactive political establishment, with its reliance on “secrecy” and the fallacy that “secret intelligence = good intelligence” when it comes to valid, reliable, and actionable information, will make sure to it.

    Comment by Chicken Little — October 8, 2007 @ 6:28 pm
  8. And your analysis is reliant on secrecy. If information wasn’t hidden, suppressed, or generally kept secret by our bought and controlled media, the People could use the power of the markets to show these “high tech” firms, and megacorps like GE and Honeywell how they feel through their wallets.

    Attempts to boycott GE have already occurred, and were suppressed by the media. If we lived in a truly free society where information was open and not kept secret, then perhaps GE’s dealings would have become more widely known and a boycott would have been more successful.

    Information is power, the elites know this. If the people had this power, they could exercise it by not finding out who these companies are and boycotting them.

    But I guess getting the State involved, bullying around piss ant little countries in the desert, is a better approach?

    Comment by Chicken Little — October 8, 2007 @ 6:36 pm
  9. How can any of you sleep at night? The world has changed,the world has changed! No it has not,the weapons changed. North Korea is not nuking us, Pakistan is not,India is not,and the Russians and Chinese are not. Now, how come Iran will? What third world country would? They want them to keep us out,period. Suitcase Nukes,suitcase Nukes! Any country could hand one of them off at any time now. But Iran! You guys must not have much confidence in the biggest military war machine ever known. Unfortunately it cannot handle terrorism and never will be able to. Its time we look at the root cause and as the Prince told Rudy standing in front of the trade towers with a 10 million dollar check in his hand, its our foreign policy.

    Comment by Johnnyb — October 8, 2007 @ 6:38 pm
  10. Don’t you think Paul recognizes that when governments buy things, they are buying them with tax dollars? I don’t see any reason why Paul would not prohibit sales of dangerous goods to dangerous governments. Free trade, in Paul’s sense as I understand it, means trade among private entities. When a government buys something, that’s not free trade, because it’s buying something with someone else’s money.

    Comment by Drena — October 8, 2007 @ 6:48 pm
  11. To continue…I believe Paul’s unstated premise is that when nations become interdependent on trade, they have no reason to bomb each other. To destroy or bomb a trading partner is to harm your own economy. What needs to be done is to connect the world though a global capitalist system.

    Comment by Drena — October 8, 2007 @ 6:53 pm
  12. Like many libertarians, though, his foreign policy, when taken to it’s logical extreme

    And “with us or against us” isn’t an equally impractical extreme?

    Ron Paul advocates a humble foreign policy, not an inert foreign policy.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — October 8, 2007 @ 6:56 pm
  13. I’m not sure why this “blog” isn’t referred to as the big government papers? Ron Paul’s foreign policy is the consistent application of libertarian principles, and also the conservative wisdom of our Founders who were quite skeptical of “entangling alliances.”

    “Well, one legitimate reason for thinking that this might be that the foreign policy that guided a nation of a few million people situated on the Atlantic seaboard in an era when the nearest threatening nation was weeks away by sailing ship might not be entirely applicable in guiding a nation of several hundred million…”

    This is the same kind of ridiculous argument we hear everytime someone wants to ignore the counsel of the Founding Fathers. So exactly how many citizens do we need to keep the prudential view of the Founders on foreign affairs? What’s the number? Once our population goes over 100 million must we scrap their advice and start bombing Iraq, Kosovo, and dozens of other nations? If you think the Founders were wrong, just say so. But don’t try and pretend you follow their advice when you don’t.

    Why do new weapon systems, and faster means of travel demand we change our foreign policy? I’m not saying that it doesn’t, but you’ve provided no explanation on why we cannot have an “isolationist” foreign policy in the modern world. You just cite differences without explaining why the differences make a difference — an elementary fallacy.

    One could just as easily argue that a population of 300 million, new technologies, and an economy that permits millions of people to enter and leave the United States every year demand that we have national ID cards, socialism, a curtailment of civil liberties and anything else that a politician fancies. Why not?

    If you want to defend America’s sprawling defense industry, its wars, it overseas engagements, then do so, but don’t hide behind the libertarian veil. You’re not fooling anyone.

    Comment by Eric Wilds — October 8, 2007 @ 6:57 pm
  14. As it has been commented before, “principles” is the main word. Paul has a set of principles, one that were in existence from the founding of the country. If one is to criticize those principles, come up with new ones.

    The reason you have principles is so you will know what to do in any given situation. If you dont, you will be bumbling around like a bull in a china shop, alot like US foreign and domestic policy has been for some time.

    The only competing principle to Paul’s seems to be socialism.

    Comment by Daniel — October 8, 2007 @ 7:16 pm
  15. Drena,

    Don’t you think Paul recognizes that when governments buy things, they are buying them with tax dollars? I don’t see any reason why Paul would not prohibit sales of dangerous goods to dangerous governments. Free trade, in Paul’s sense as I understand it, means trade among private entities. When a government buys something, that’s not free trade, because it’s buying something with someone else’s money.

    Tell me where, in what he wrote in that Op-Ed, you get the idea that he would agree with the idea that it makes sense for the United States Government to prohibit Grumman, McDonnell-Douglas, General Electric, Honeywell, or any other American company from selling high tech military or industrial equipment or technology to a nation like Iran or North Korea.

    I don’t see it. And that’s what bothers me.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 8, 2007 @ 7:19 pm
  16. “his foreign policy, when taken to it’s logical extreme to the extent he does in this Op-Ed response, simply doesn’t work in the modern world.”

    Neither does interventionism. Whether its the soft interventionism of peace-keeping, foreign aid and multilateral treaties, or its hard interventionism such as embargoes, blockades, military bases and patrols, or full scale invasions, none of them seem to achieve their lofty goals.

    The small problem with Afghanistan, and the big problem with Iraq, was that the goals shifted to include nation-building. Ron Paul himself wasn’t opposed to the Afghanistan war on principle, but he wanted the approach to be different.

    Something about “letters of marque” being issued against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.. not quite sure there what that means. And he didn’t want nation-building to be part of the mission.

    Comment by Jono — October 8, 2007 @ 7:19 pm
  17. The idea that other countries will be lining up to attack us once we start minding our own business is the most ludicrous thing I have read this year.

    Even if they wanted to, might they not consider how it worked out for Japan when they tried it?

    Ron Paul is right — we are in almost no danger of being invaded. Pursuing a less belligerent foreign policy only makes us that much safer, and that much better off financially.

    Comment by Craig — October 8, 2007 @ 7:21 pm
  18. If we want to get into immigration policy and censorship, there was this little thing called the Alien and Sedition Acts which were passed during the John Adams administration.

    Yes, and Thomas Jefferson fought mightily against them, and what he saw as the fiscal excesses of the Adams Administration.

    After his election in 1800, Jefferson not only restored the liberty lost to the Alien and Sedition Acts, he cut government spending by 50 percent, enough to eliminate all internal taxes.

    Gee, which modern day presidential candidate does that sound like?

    Comment by Craig — October 8, 2007 @ 7:26 pm
  19. To those saying that Dr Paul’s stance is an 18th century solution to a 21st century problem, and thus incorrect…

    You are equivalently saying that a First Amendement solution to the Patriot Act or that a Fifth and Sixth Amendment solution to the Military Commissions Act are outdated and obsolete for they are the same as you describe above: 18th century solutions to 21st century problems.

    As Benjamin Kupiers correctly asserts above: libertarian priciples in U.S. foreign policy did not lead to the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor.

    Guess what did: American interventionism, i.e. a lack of libertarian principles in our foreign policy.

    Roosevelt, with the assistance of his Democratic Congress, continually placed embargoes on the Japanese; they even convinced other countries to follow our lead.

    The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for the Japanese was the U.S. embargo placed on scrap metal and oil coming out of the U.S. Those two import industries were the lifeblood of Japan’s war machine. The sudden loss of those resources only caused the Japanese to realize how dependent they were on other countries for those resources, and thusly how vulnerable they were to the whims of foreign governments. Such a vulnerability revealed the need of the Japanese for a Pacific Empire so those resources could be secured from within, making them self-reliant.

    We face a similar problem today: with over 40 percent of our national debt held by foreigners, and much of them continually re-lending their money once it’s repaid; we have become dependent on that line of credit to fund our government. But money always comes with strings attached. Guess what happens when they start making demands that we don’t meet: they stop buying T-Notes. Our government then won’t be able to meet its obligations. They’ll then face a simple choice: either cut programs and face the voters at the polls, or just print more money to fund them. It’s really an easy choice for them. Once they print the money to meet the obligations, we will likely fall into a hyperinflation spiral as foreigners holding bills that constantly decrease in value scramble to buy up real assets while the government continues to inflate.

    Eventually our money will be worthless, and our economy will be destroyed. We’ll have squandered America’s bounty on empire. We’ll then be forced to work in factories own by foreigners to meet the rent payment for our homes, owned by the same people. We’ll become vassals to foreign lords.

    Comment by Dave M. — October 8, 2007 @ 7:47 pm
  20. Craig,

    The idea that other countries will be lining up to attack us once we start minding our own business is the most ludicrous thing I have read this year.

    I didn’t say that. What I am criticizing is the equally ludicrous, and incredibly naive, idea that if America simply withdrew from the world in the manner that the neo-isolationists suggest then men like Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would abandon their own insane foreign policies.

    Even if they wanted to, might they not consider how it worked out for Japan when they tried it?

    Umm, you do realize that the attack on Pearl Harbor happened after almost two decades of isolationist foreign policy, and five years of willful ignorance of what the Japanese Empire’s ambitions in the Pacific actually were, don’t you ?

    Ron Paul is right — we are in almost no danger of being invaded.

    Outside of the guys who wrote the movie Red Dawn, I don’t think anyone has suggested that the United States is in danger of being invaded. But there are other ways, I would think you’d agree, that America could be threatened outside of outright invasion.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 8, 2007 @ 8:01 pm
  21. Dave,

    Roosevelt, with the assistance of his Democratic Congress, continually placed embargoes on the Japanese; they even convinced other countries to follow our lead.

    Does the phrase “Rape of Manchuria” mean nothing to you ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 8, 2007 @ 8:03 pm
  22. I saw a comment over on FMNN that seems very appropriate for this discussion, so I’ll paraphrase and expand upon it here. To all those who think that the inaccurate term “isolationism” caused Pearl Harbor, how do they explain 9/11? George W. Bush is about as far from what you call an “isolationist” as you can get, yet we were deliberately attacked. Hint: we weren’t attacked because of isolationism as you understand it. We were attacked because of the isolationism of Bush, Clinton, Bush Sr., etc who have been alienating the rest of the world from us with their interventionist foreign policy.

    I’m awful sick of the hawkish libertarians who insist that the rest of us are living in the past, when Bush’s policies demonstrate quite convincingly that hawkish ideas don’t work in the present.

    Even the majority of Americans are beginning to understand this fact, although they’re learning it slowly. Why can’t the libertarian hawks?

    Comment by Walt — October 8, 2007 @ 8:46 pm
  23. I keep reading this crap about how the 18th century wisdom of our founding fathers is not suited for 21st century America.

    That is just retarded and simple statement to make.

    That would be like saying that Sun Tsu’s 6th century BC, “Art of War” is of no value in the 21st century.

    These gentleman who founded our nation were made of some of the best minds of their day in America.

    I dare say their logic and reasoning and wisdom were good enough to bring this country this far, and by God I will support the value of that wisdom to this day and beyond.

    You better think before you put things like that in writing.

    Comment by libertyman — October 8, 2007 @ 8:56 pm
  24. You chickenhawk chest-beaters plum tickle me…you talk so big about war, but would probably piss yourself wet if you ever had to fight a real enemy yourself.
    So nice to sit back on your sofa and cheer on the troops, ra-ra, while another man’s son dies in a far-away land. Your bravery knows no bouonds.

    Ron Paul 2008.

    Comment by tomdawg — October 8, 2007 @ 9:06 pm
  25. Whoever wrote this is a complete disgrace to this website called the libertypapers. Shame on you DOUG. You are not understanding the Policy and its implications correctly. More bias.

    Comment by Steve — October 8, 2007 @ 9:16 pm
  26. Steve,

    Then perhaps you can explain to me how allowing technology transfers to openly hostile regimes would be a good idea.

    Or maybe you can tell me just how it is that adopting this new foreign policy will bring peace and enlightenment to the world.

    Because, you know, we’ve tried that one so many times before.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 8, 2007 @ 9:19 pm
  27. Your article is not based on logic.

    quote: Well, one legitimate reason for thinking that this might be that the foreign policy that guided a nation of a few million people situated on the Atlantic seaboard in an era when the nearest threatening nation was weeks away by sailing ship might not be entirely applicable in guiding a nation of several hundred million spread across a continent in an era when weapons capable of annihilating a city can be delivered within hours, or delivered without warning in a cargo container.

    If anything this new reality would argue against having bases overseas. If the US can hit any point in the world with ICBM’s, then what point is there to have 100 military bases all around the world in foreign countries? Why not save hundreds of billions a year and simply keep the troops at home?

    Is the fact that there are more destructive weapons available to enemies reason for the US to try to control the entire world in order to completely eliminate the possibility of any enemy ever threatening America? How is trying to control every inch of the globe realistic? It’s best if the US doesn’t try to pursue the unrealistic goal of preventing any potential enemy from ever gaining

    quote: Or when a commodity that is, quite literally, the lifeblood of the world economy could be held hostage.

    Wrong, America has oil reserves, and it can always synthesize oil from coal. America is spending far far more on military expenditure than it is getting back from any economic advantage that securing the world’s oil supply could have for it.

    Very inaccurate:

    On the surface, Paul makes a point about the blowback that comes from aggressive interventionism without regard for consequences. That, quite honestly, is a fairly good description of the history of American involvement in the Middle East for the past several decades. Whether through ignorance or stupidity, the United States has engaged in policies that have served more to create resentment than to actually solve the problems that they were directed at.

    But Paul’s criticism of embargoes as a tool of foreign policy, and his suggestion that the United States should not have any concern about radical or expansionist regimes obtaining potentially dangerous technology strikes me as a bit naive.

    As Stephen Green points out, does this mean that Ron Paul would have no problem with American high tech firms selling the latest technologies to regimes like Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Syira, or North Korea ? Or with General Electric and Honeywell competing with the the Russians to decide who will sell the Iranians the latest nuclear reactor technology ? Only the most naive view of foreign intentions would assert that these regimes will simply go away and play nice if the United States withdrew from the world in the manner that he suggests, and that regimes led by men who have already made clear they apocalyptic visions will suddently turn peaceful.

    /quote

    Ron Paul is NOT talking about selling sensitive military technology to foreign countries, he is talking about sanctions and embargoes against countries like Iran, Syria and Venezuala simply to placate certain domestic constituents (namely Jewish-Israeli Americans). Not only are these sanctions unconstitutional, they also cost American business hundreds of billions of dollars in lost business.

    Comment by Mike — October 8, 2007 @ 9:20 pm
  28. Tom,

    Where in my post did I even mention going to war ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 8, 2007 @ 9:20 pm
  29. Mike,

    Ron Paul is NOT talking about selling sensitive military technology to foreign countries, he is talking about sanctions and embargoes against countries like Iran, Syria and Venezuala simply to placate certain domestic constituents (namely Jewish-Israeli Americans). Not only are these sanctions unconstitutional, they also cost American business hundreds of billions of dollars in lost business.

    Ah yes, when all else fails, blame the Jews.

    As I’ve asked two people already, tell me where in what Ron Paul said in that article does it make a distinction between military technology developed by McDonnell-Douglas and hamburgers made by McDonalds ?

    He talks about unrestricted free trade (which I generally support) and the end to any economic sanctions as a tool of foreign policy, which, if that’s what he means, is just plain foolish.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 8, 2007 @ 9:23 pm
  30. Doug,

    Paul says he supports free markets does he not? Does that mean he supports a right for Wal-Mart to sell biological weapons? Does it mean he supports the right of known axe murders to buy axes?

    You’re not being charitable with Paul, by assuming that he might be insane. Of course he would not support free trade in all materials and to all parties.

    Comment by Drena — October 8, 2007 @ 9:28 pm
  31. Then perhaps you can explain to me how allowing technology transfers to openly hostile regimes would be a good idea.

    That statement is your fallacy.

    He never said he would permit our high-end military technology to be sold overseas. He didn’t say he wouldn’t, so it would be fair for you to ask for clarification, but it’s ridiculous to just assume he would go to that length.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — October 8, 2007 @ 9:34 pm
  32. What are we doing by not allowing trade with Cuba, for example? We are just slowing their eventual transition to a capitalist economy. Milton Friedman’s position is aligned with Paul on this. Friedman said that if capitalism is introduced into a country it causes more political freedom to result.

    So, when we isolate other countries by not trading with them, we’re just keeping them out of the global capitalist system and therefore making sure that those people continue to live under tyranny.

    Comment by Drena — October 8, 2007 @ 9:45 pm
  33. Jeff,

    He didn’t qualify his condemnation of embargoes did he to exclude things like technology transfers or nuclear power plants, did he ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 8, 2007 @ 10:06 pm
  34. Paul says he supports free markets does he not? Does that mean he supports a right for Wal-Mart to sell biological weapons? Does it mean he supports the right of known axe murders to buy axes?

    I don’t know, don’t ask me since it’s not my policy.

    And if you don’t see the wisdom in using economic means to isolate regimes like the mullahs in Iran or the Kim dynasty in North Korea, then I’m not sure we’re ever going to be able to agree.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 8, 2007 @ 10:08 pm
  35. You state that in this day, embargoes should be a legitimate tool. I have a good response to that I think. What right does the government have to tell me who and who I cannot trade with? I don’t think they have any right to do that. That is my personal choice and the government should not get involved in any way in what amounts to my decision. Obviously I wouldn’t trade with countries who I believe would turn around and threaten my home, but again, that is my choice, not the governments.

    You can interpret this as you will, but what I just stated is pretty much how I interpret it.

    Article 1 Section 9 of the US constitution, “Limits on Congress”

    No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one state over those of another

    I interpret that as, under no circumstances, can congress tell me which ports (nations) can I and can I not trade with. This makes you wonder whether embargoes in general are even legal under US law. When you go read section 2 of our constitution, the president sure doesn’t have the power to do this unless for some reason you consider an embargo as some sort of treaty (which it obviously isn’t as a treaty needs the consent of two nations, it cannot be unilateral).

    That is my stance on the matter.

    Comment by Andrew C — October 8, 2007 @ 10:16 pm
  36. I think it comes down to beyond all the rhetoric do I trust Ron Paul to make sensible decisions when it comes to foreign policy?

    The answer is yes. For all his speech about the ideal situation, I believe when it comes down to it, he won’t jeopardize the US on hopes of the ideal, but will protect the US from all enemies foreign and domestic with as much concern as possible to our own freedoms. Can I say the same about the other candidates…..NO!!!

    Comment by Greg — October 8, 2007 @ 10:17 pm
  37. The author Doug Mataconis is a bit misinformed if not naive. I do not think I see in Ron Paul’s reply anything about selling advanced technology to Russia, China etc. that had national security implications. You just made that up. Also, I would say that you are looking at embargos in the wrong light. What Paul means is that if we actually were friendly to the rest of the world, we might actually be able to freely roam and visit without getting our head sliced off by someone who hates us because we are bringing porn, homosexuality and greed to their country. Thats true freedom, not the what we have now. So Doug, have you been to Saudia Arabia or Pakistan lately? I think not, and thats why we are isolated now, rather than free to move about.

    Comment by Joe Lawson — October 8, 2007 @ 10:17 pm
  38. Doug I will answer your question. NO Ron Paul is talking about getting rid of managed trade. NAFTA, CAFTA, WTO and all the other crazy one way anti-American agreements we have signed. Paul means we don’t have to have an agreement to have free trade – it has nothing to do with burgers, technology or nukes you fool. Get a grip and investigate before you make such foolish statements. How old are you 23?

    Comment by Joe Lawson — October 8, 2007 @ 10:24 pm
  39. Paul certainly does not want Jefferson’s foreign policy. Jeffereson emposed the embargo that crippled the United States economy and did nothing to cause France and Britian to treat us with respect.

    Paul does not states the United States would do nothing in regards to hostile powers. If countries actually threaten us then he strongly believes we must take action – he voted to go into Afghanistan. But we should not start the fight and we should go after them just because they are “bad.” They must be an actual threat to real United States interests not the interests of corporations.

    Comment by Princeliberty — October 8, 2007 @ 10:26 pm
  40. He didn’t qualify his condemnation of embargoes did he to exclude things like technology transfers or nuclear power plants, did he ?

    It was an op-ed piece, not a 200 page position paper. I’m sure you can find many more edge cases that he didn’t specifically exclude, but would in practice.

    Like I said, it would be fair to request clarification. In fact, if you fancy yourself a journalist, you should do just that. press@ronpaul2008.com

    I’ll even write the question for you.
    “In your recent Union Leader Editorial, you spoke out against embargoes. Does your opposition of embargoes include arms embargoes? If so, do you draw a distinction between low-tech arms and high-tech arms?”

    Comment by Jeff Molby — October 8, 2007 @ 10:27 pm
  41. Thank you Mr. Jeff Molby for this good response to Doug Matagonis’ biased and misleading article:

    It was an op-ed piece, not a 200 page position paper. I’m sure you can find many more edge cases that he didn’t specifically exclude, but would in practice.

    It was an op-ed piece, not a 200 page position paper. I’m sure you can find many more edge cases that he didn’t specifically exclude, but would in practice.

    Like I said, it would be fair to request clarification. In fact, if you fancy yourself a journalist, you should do just that. press@ronpaul2008.com

    I’ll even write the question for you.
    “In your recent Union Leader Editorial, you spoke out against embargoes. Does your opposition of embargoes include arms embargoes? If so, do you draw a distinction between low-tech arms and high-tech arms?”

    Comment by Mike — October 8, 2007 @ 10:52 pm
  42. I won the bet.

    I bet that this would be the 35th in a series of “I like Ron Paul but” articles in which his position is over-simplified and/or misrepresented, followed by neo-connish “let’s kick ass, freedom is overrated” type nonsense.

    You’re too easy to call!

    Comment by dave — October 8, 2007 @ 11:03 pm
  43. Tell me where, in what he wrote in that Op-Ed, you get the idea that he would agree with the idea that it makes sense for the United States Government to prohibit Grumman, McDonnell-Douglas, General Electric, Honeywell, or any other American company from selling high tech military or industrial equipment or technology to a nation like Iran or North Korea.

    Technology they developed in the “free market?” Or technology they developed from government funding?

    I don’t see it. And that’s what bothers me.

    Also, what exactly is the problem with nations like Iran and North Korea besides what the media blares at us?

    If you have a problem with that, would you also have a problem with private companies profitting from research funded by public money?

    This really begs the question… Our government is defining who the “bad nations” are.

    Comment by js290 — October 9, 2007 @ 1:55 am
  44. Embargoes don’t work, economic sanctions don’t work. Where have they ever worked?
    They never hurt the government they are targeted against, dictators sit in their ivory towers and still rape their country regardless, the people of that country are the one’s that really suffer from embargoes and sanctions. If anything is shown by history about embargoes and sanctions, it is that dicators are further empowered by them.

    Comment by Ray — October 9, 2007 @ 2:21 am
  45. The time frame has nothing to do with it. The simple fact is that the United States does not have any serious conflict of interests with any other country in this world. The Iranians have never threatened us and couldn’t do anything to us anyway except for the fact that we have an army hostage to them in Iraq. And besides, any attack on us would be suicide.

    The only country in the world that is even capable of inflicting serious damage on the U.S. is Russia, but we do not act in a belligerent way toward them. Perhaps BECAUSE they have thousands of nuclear warheads.

    I’m afraid Doug and his supporters have fallen for the “evil demon” propaganda that is always put out before or during a war. So people like Ahmadinejad a depicted as crazy even though he has no control over the Iranian military in any case. And Kim Jong Il is sane enough not to attack even South Korea so why would he attack us? Indeed, the South Koreans are anxious to negotiate the re-unification or Korea with this “madman.”

    Who has ever used nuclear weapons against a civilian population? Mr. Common Man, Harry Truman is the only one. When has the world ever come to the brink of nuclear war? Only once, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. And who backed down? That Soviet “madman” Nikita Kruschchev.

    There is no country in the world today that poses any threat to the U.S. or even wants to. The only people who need for America to have enemies are the Israel Lobby and the Military-Industrial Complex.

    Eisenhower was opposed to both of them. We don’t need to go back to Washington and Jefferson.

    Comment by Rob — October 9, 2007 @ 2:28 am
  46. quote:

    Ron Paul is NOT talking about selling sensitive military technology to foreign countries, he is talking about sanctions and embargoes against countries like Iran, Syria and Venezuala simply to placate certain domestic constituents (namely Jewish-Israeli Americans). Not only are these sanctions unconstitutional, they also cost American business hundreds of billions of dollars in lost business.
    ///////////

    Ah yes, when all else fails, ignore reality and resort to ad hominem charges of anti-semitism.

    The Jewish-Israeli lobby is a powerful political force that politicians live in terror of offending. America is hated all around the world because of its support for Israel. Israel is a negative force in the middle. It is keeping 6 million native Palestinians out of their native land so that it can maintain a Jewish ethnocracy. Israel ravaged the only other democracy in the middle last year: Lebanon. It dropped hundreds of thousands of cluster bombs on civilian areas of Lebanon in contravention to the Geneva Conventions and US policy on the use of cluster bombs. The war against Iraq was heavily lobbied for by the Jewish-Israeli lobby, including several Jewish members of the Bush administration who in 1996 wrote a paper for the Israeli Prime Minister outlining a plan to “reshape the middle east”. These same Jewish-Israelis later sold the same plan when they were part of the Bush administration. There are pro-Israeli Jewish billionaires in the US who are very committed to advancing Israel’s power in the middle east. Israel is a first world nation with a population of 6 million that has 200-300 nuclear weapons and despite that receives more aid from the US than all African nations combined.

    Former President Jimmy Carter and many of other current and former politicians acknowledge that the Senate, Congress and Presidents are afraid of angering the Jewish lobby.

    Wake up.

    Comment by Mike — October 9, 2007 @ 3:29 am
  47. The above was in response to this:

    quote:

    Ron Paul is NOT talking about selling sensitive military technology to foreign countries, he is talking about sanctions and embargoes against countries like Iran, Syria and Venezuala simply to placate certain domestic constituents (namely Jewish-Israeli Americans). Not only are these sanctions unconstitutional, they also cost American business hundreds of billions of dollars in lost business.
    ///////////

    Ah yes, when all else fails, blame the Jews.//////////////

    Comment by Mike — October 9, 2007 @ 3:31 am
  48. Well one thing for sure… We have been practicing the “neo” interventionism now since WW 1 and massivley since WWII and it aint working..

    The Soviet Union went away… stopped ITS intervention all over the world… and what happens… THE U.S. STEPS IN UN-BALANCED AND TAKES UP THE SLACK. Thinks it DESERVES to take over… it won..

    NOW MORE THAN EVER WE NEED TO MAKE OUR FOREIGN POLICY HUMBLE!! There has never been a BETTER TIME IN HISTORY!

    Remember Russia still has the ability to DESTROY the world… it just doesn’t use that ability to threaten anymore.. but its there..

    Dr. Paul has ALWAYS said that Congress’s job is to monitor and determine threats.. That job won’t change with Dr. Paul as PRESIDENT.. I would dare say he would pay a helluva lot more attention to congress than has GWB

    Ron Paul is not a “neo” Isolationist… And the founding fathers Document… the CONSTITUTION OF THE U.S. is not quaint OR just a goddamn peice of paper…

    If it TRUELY is outdated.. then change it and take it to the people and PASS IT.. don’t IGNORE IT.. cause that leads to ingoring other parts and pretty soon u have turned it into what GWB & Gonzales have called it

    Comment by atvdude — October 9, 2007 @ 4:29 am
  49. isn’t it funny how the people who disagree with Ron Paul GO TO THE EXTREMES!

    they make these wacky conclusions without knowing where Ron Paul’s position really is.

    they are what i call NIT PICKING!!

    Comment by nick — October 9, 2007 @ 5:21 am
  50. Mike,

    Former President Jimmy Carter and many of other current and former politicians acknowledge that the Senate, Congress and Presidents are afraid of angering the Jewish lobby.

    Relying on Jimmy Carter for foreign policy advice is sort of like relying on Britney Spears for parenting advice.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 5:48 am
  51. Hey look, Ron Paul is making us debate the substance of issues. Which other candidate will do that?

    Comment by Chuck — October 9, 2007 @ 8:02 am
  52. For what it’s worth, I also have some differences with Paul on foreign policy – withdrawing from Iraq seems all right to me, but more global disengagement could turn out badly. However, he’s strong enough on other issues that I still support him. Also, when you look at his writings on social security or the gold standard, it’s clear that he’s aware (in general) of difficulties of implementation and transition. His aims may be radical, but I believe his policies would be informed by prudence.

    Comment by bbartlog — October 9, 2007 @ 8:31 am
  53. Relying on Jimmy Carter for foreign policy advice is sort of like relying on Britney Spears for parenting advice. -Doug Mataconis

    Anybody who equates Jimmy Carter to Britney Spears needs to refrain from posting.

    Comment by Barney — October 9, 2007 @ 9:52 am
  54. So you don’t like Ron Paul’s foreign policy if taken to it’s “logical extreme”. Let’s look at the other side and take the other candidates foreign policy to their “logical extreme” and what do you get. KABOOM!!!!! I think I like Ron Paul’s foreign policy a little better. At least I am still around to enjoy life and not killed by some world nuclear war.

    The problem in your analysis is that you want to look at the extremes (well really only one side of the extreme). The extremes are very unlikely to happen, especially with a Ron Paul presidency, as he will ensure that congress has a voice in the matter. I am a little more worried about the extreme with our current president and some of the other candidates than with a Ron Paul Presidency. In fact I am a little more worried with the not so extreme (if you call attacking small soveriegn nations as not so extreme) with the other candidates as well.

    Comment by TerryP — October 9, 2007 @ 9:58 am
  55. While constantly going on and on about how “dangerous” Ron Paul’s positions on Free Trade are you forget another key principle of his campaign platform – a return to the rule of law. Nowhere has Ron Paul EVER suggested or implied that he wanted to get rid of laws like our Export Trade Compliance laws (which I believe would be perfectly Constitutional under the “regulation of commerce”) which makes it A CRIMINAL ACT for an American company to trade in sensitive technologies with not only nations but individuals and organizations designated as “Terrorist,” “Entities of Proliferation Concerns,” “Specially Designated Nationals,” and others. So Kim Jong Il can’t LEGALLY call HP or IBM and order a supercomputer cluster or Teledyne to order CZ powder to make explosives. But he SHOULD be able to call and order medicines or wheat for the North Korean people for what should be obvious reasons.

    Comment by Dave E. — October 9, 2007 @ 10:32 am
  56. Doug, you wrote,

    “Does the phrase “Rape of Manchuria” mean nothing to you ?”

    Not particularly as an American citizen, no. As a human being I would have been, and am, appalled by Japanese atrocities in China and elsewhere, but the duty of the American government is not to the citizens of China, but to uphold and defend the liberties of the American people alone. Americans are taxed to pay for defense, for the government to defend our liberties against the world. As the Federalist Papers make clear, the federal government is a government of enumerated powers only, with the residuum being retained by the States. The 10th Amendment repeats this pre-existent fact without any equivocation. The U.S. Government is not constitutionally empowered to defend any people other than the American citizenry.

    Comment by Benjamin Kuipers — October 9, 2007 @ 11:54 am
  57. Well said Mr. Benjamin Kuipers. American citizens in a free society are free to pool their money and their efforts to help in humanitarian causes outside of the States, but the Constitution only empowers the federal government to defend the United States and its interests, and nothing else.

    Comment by Mike — October 9, 2007 @ 8:41 pm
  58. Former President Jimmy Carter and many of other current and former politicians acknowledge that the Senate, Congress and Presidents are afraid of angering the Jewish lobby.

    Relying on Jimmy Carter for foreign policy advice is sort of like relying on Britney Spears for parenting advice./////////////////////////

    It’s not just Jimmy Carter that says politicians are afraid of angering the Jewish lobby. Anyone who works in Washington will you tell you this privately. Stop making excuses for this powerful and greedy special interest.

    Comment by Mike — October 9, 2007 @ 8:44 pm
  59. Mike,

    But the question is how you define the vital national interests of the United States.

    I would submit that they don’t end at the seashores of the Atlantic and Pacific.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 8:47 pm
  60. Barney,

    Anybody who equates Jimmy Carter to Britney Spears needs to refrain from posting.

    You’re correct. My sincere apologies to Ms. Spears for associating her with an ignorant moron like Jimmy Carter.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 9:46 pm
  61. Well obviously there are still a lot of people that not only think we have the need to intervene politically, economically, and militarily around the world, they think we have some god given right to do it.
    I just wish your types wouldn’t distort Paul’s real or theoretical positions to boost that argument. He voted in favor of action in Afghanistan. I wouldn’t call that isolationist. He’s for a strong defense and a sane foreign policy. It’s the height of arrogance for any of you to imply that your knowledge and wisdom surpasses the caliber of minds responsible for the formation of this republic simply because “the world has changed since then”. The world changes but principles should not.

    Comment by crazychester — October 10, 2007 @ 3:03 pm
  62. Chester,

    I don’t think America has a duty to intervene anyway, I just happen to find the idea that we can simply withdraw from our current position in the world to be both unrealistic and naive.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 12, 2007 @ 2:36 pm
  63. Doug,
    ——————————————-
    But the question is how you define the vital national interests of the United States.

    I would submit that they don’t end at the seashores of the Atlantic and Pacific.
    ——————————————-

    Surely they do! Our ‘vital national interests’ are: our rights, our liberty, and our property within these United States.

    Is oil(or ANY commodity) from a foreign nation ‘vital’ to us? No! You make the assumption that we ‘own’ the property of other countries/people. If Iran owns X amount of oil, it is their right to NOT sell it to us, or to otherwise do with it as they wish. Food is ‘vital’ to me, yet I do not grow my own nor do I lay claim to growers crops and attempt to dictate to them their lives, I am dependent on others to do so for me and I entice them to trade with me by providing others with what they desire. This communal ownership, this ‘world’s oil’ talk is ripe for division and aggression.

    Though it might sound horrific if everyone else withheld trade with us, it wont happen unless we are prevented by OUR government from freely trading with others or if OUR government starts warring with other nations aggressively in our name. This is exactly why we must privately trade with others without government getting in the way or trying to dictate terms of the trade for political reasons.

    Comment by LPM — October 14, 2007 @ 11:29 am
  64. When Americans No Longer Own America

    The Dubai Ports World deal is waking Americans up to a painful reality: So-called “conservatives” and “flat world” globalists have bankrupted our nation for their own bag of silver, and in the process are selling off America.

    Through a combination of the “Fast Track” authority pushed for by Reagan and GHW Bush, sweetheart trade deals involving “most favored nation status” for dictatorships like China, and Clinton pushing us into NAFTA and the WTO (via GATT), we’ve abandoned the principles of tariff-based trade that built American industry and kept us strong for over 200 years.

    The old concept was that if there was a dollar’s worth of labor in a pair of shoes made in the USA, and somebody wanted to import shoes from China where there may only be ten cents worth of labor in those shoes, we’d level the playing field for labor by putting a 90-cent import tariff on each pair of shoes. Companies could choose to make their products here or overseas, but the ultimate cost of labor would be the same.

    Then came the flat-worlders, led by misguided true believers and promoted by multinational corporations. Do away with those tariffs, they said, because they “restrain trade.” Let everything in, and tax nothing. The result has been an explosion of cheap goods coming into our nation, and the loss of millions of good manufacturing jobs and thousands of manufacturing companies. Entire industry sectors have been wiped out.

    These policies have kneecapped the American middle class. Our nation’s largest employer has gone from being the unionized General Motors to the poverty-wages Wal-Mart. Americans have gone from having a net savings rate around 10 percent in the 1970s to a minus .5 percent in 2005 – meaning that they’re going into debt or selling off their assets just to maintain their lifestyle.

    At the same time, federal policy has been to do the same thing at a national level. Because our so-called “free trade” policies have left us with an over $700 billion annual trade deficit, other countries are sitting on huge piles of the dollars we gave them to buy their stuff (via Wal-Mart and other “low cost” retailers). But we no longer manufacture anything they want to buy with those dollars.

    So instead of buying our manufactured goods, they are doing what we used to do with Third World nations – they are buying us, the USA, chunk by chunk. In particular, they want to buy things in America that will continue to produce profits, and then to take those profits overseas where they’re invested to make other nations strong. The “things” they’re buying are, by and large, corporations, utilities, and natural resources.

    Back in the pre-Reagan days, American companies made profits that were distributed among Americans. They used their profits to build more factories, or diversify into other businesses. The profits stayed in America.

    Today, foreigners awash with our consumer dollars are on a two-decades-long buying spree. The UK’s BP bought Amoco for $48 billion – now Amoco’s profits go to England. Deutsche Telekom bought VoiceStream Wireless, so their profits go to Germany, which is where most of the profits from Random House, Allied Signal, Chrysler, Doubleday, Cyprus Amax’s US Coal Mining Operations, GTE/Sylvania, and Westinghouse’s Power Generation profits go as well. Ralston Purina’s profits go to Switzerland, along with Gerber’s; TransAmerica’s profits go to The Netherlands, while John Hancock Insurance’s profits go to Canada. Even American Bankers Insurance Group is owned now by Fortis AG in Belgium.

    Foreign companies are buying up our water systems, our power generating systems, our mines, and our few remaining factories. All because “flat world” so-called “free trade” policies have turned us from a nation of wealthy producers into a nation of indebted consumers, leaving the world awash in dollars that are most easily used to buy off big chunks of America. As http://www.economyincrisis.com notes, US Government statistics indicate the following percentages of foreign ownership of American industry:

    · Sound recording industries – 97%
    · Commodity contracts dealing and brokerage – 79%
    · Motion picture and sound recording industries – 75%
    · Metal ore mining – 65%
    · Motion picture and video industries – 64%
    · Wineries and distilleries – 64%
    · Database, directory, and other publishers – 63%
    · Book publishers – 63%
    · Cement, concrete, lime, and gypsum product – 62%
    · Engine, turbine and power transmission equipment – 57%
    · Rubber product – 53%
    · Nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing – 53%
    · Plastics and rubber products manufacturing – 52%
    · Plastics product – 51%
    · Other insurance related activities – 51%
    · Boiler, tank, and shipping container – 50%
    · Glass and glass product – 48%
    · Coal mining – 48%
    · Sugar and confectionery product – 48%
    · Nonmetallic mineral mining and quarrying – 47%
    · Advertising and related services – 41%
    · Pharmaceutical and medicine – 40%
    · Clay, refractory, and other nonmetallic mineral products – 40%
    · Securities brokerage – 38%
    · Other general purpose machinery – 37%
    · Audio and video equipment mfg and reproducing magnetic and optical media – 36%
    · Support activities for mining – 36%
    · Soap, cleaning compound, and toilet preparation – 32%
    · Chemical manufacturing – 30%
    · Industrial machinery – 30%
    · Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities – 30%
    · Other food – 29%
    · Motor vehicles and parts – 29%
    · Machinery manufacturing – 28%
    · Other electrical equipment and component – 28%
    · Securities and commodity exchanges and other financial investment activities – 27%
    · Architectural, engineering, and related services – 26%
    · Credit card issuing and other consumer credit – 26%
    · Petroleum refineries (including integrated) – 25%
    · Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments – 25%
    · Petroleum and coal products manufacturing – 25%
    · Transportation equipment manufacturing – 25%
    · Commercial and service industry machinery – 25%
    · Basic chemical – 24%
    · Investment banking and securities dealing – 24%
    · Semiconductor and other electronic component – 23%
    · Paint, coating, and adhesive – 22%
    · Printing and related support activities – 21%
    · Chemical product and preparation – 20%
    · Iron, steel mills, and steel products – 20%
    · Agriculture, construction, and mining machinery – 20%
    · Publishing industries – 20%
    · Medical equipment and supplies – 20%
    Thus it shouldn’t surprise us that the cons have sold off our ports as well, and will defend it to the bitter end. They truly believe that a “New World Order” with multinational corporations in charge instead of sovereign governments will be the answer to the problem of world instability. And therefore they must do away with quaint things like unions, a healthy middle class, and, ultimately, democracy.

    The “security” implications of turning our ports over to the UAE are just the latest nail in what the cons hope will be the coffin of American democracy and the American middle class. Today’s conservatives believe in rule by inherited wealth and an internationalist corporate elite, and things like a politically aroused citizenry and a healthy democracy are pesky distractions.

    Everything today is driven by profits for multinationals, supported by the lawmaking power of the WTO. Thus, parts for our missiles are now made in China, a country that last year threatened us with nuclear weapons. Our oil comes from a country that birthed a Wahabist movement that ultimately led to 14 Saudi citizens flying jetliners into the World Trade buildings and the Pentagon. Germans now own the Chrysler auto assembly lines that turned out tanks to use against Germany in WWII. And the price of labor in America is being held down by over ten million illegal workers, a situation that was impossible twenty-five years ago when unions were the first bulwark against dilution of the American labor force.

    When Thomas Jefferson wrote of King George III in the Declaration of Independence, “He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitutions and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation…” he just as easily could have been writing of the World Trade Organization, which now has the legal authority to force the United States to overturn laws passed at both local, state, and federal levels with dictates devised by tribunals made up of representatives of multinational corporations. If Dubai loses in the American Congress, their next stop will almost certainly be the WTO.

    As Simon Romero and Heather Timmons noted in The New York Times on 24 February 2006, “the international shipping business has evolved in recent years to include many more containers with consumer goods, in addition to old-fashioned bulk commodities, and that has helped lift profit margins to 30 percent, from the single digits. These smartly managed foreign operators now manage about 80 percent of port terminals in the United States.”

    And those 30 percent profits from American port operations now going to Great Britain will probably soon go to the United Arab Emirates, a nation with tight interconnections to both the Bush administration and the Bush family.

    Ultimately, it’s not about security — it’s about money. In the multinational corporatocracy’s “flat world,” money trumps the national good, community concerns, labor interests, and the environment. NAFTA, CAFTA, and WTO tribunals can – and regularly do – strike down local and national laws. Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man” are replaced by Antonin Scalia’s “Rights of Corporate Persons.”

    Profits even trump the desire for good enough port security to avoid disasters that may lead to war. After all, as Judith Miller wrote in The New York Times on January 30, 1991, quoting a local in Saudi Arabia: “War is good for business.”

    Comment by rtg — October 21, 2007 @ 8:52 am
  65. I totally reject this line of thinking as paranoid, ignorant of economics, and a violation of a simple concept of freedom. A tariff is a way for one group of Americans to take money from another group of Americans. If Americans want to purchase shoes made in China, that’s their choice, and you would deny them that choice.

    If American workers cannot compete with foreign workers, then their best strategy is to improve their education so that they can perform more valuable labor. If instead they fight for tariffs, then they are only stealing from each other. Tariffs for one industry only raise prices for everybody; we all end up stealing from each other and the end result is that we are all poorer.

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 21, 2007 @ 10:26 am

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