Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.”     Frederick Bastiat

October 9, 2007

Tuesday Open Thread: Questions For Ron Paul Supporters

by Doug Mataconis

I did this once before, but this open thread is meant to follow up directly on the post I wrote yesterday about non-interventionism and Ron Paul’s foreign policy ideas, which I follow-up on in another post today.

So, here goes:

1. What is the appropriate way for the United States to respond in the wake of a major terrorist attack committed by an organized group that is receiving shelter and support from a foreign government which refuses to turn over the leadership of said terrorist organization upon demand ? Is not the foreign government committing an act of war by conspiring with a known enemy ?

2. Should a private American company be permitted to sell technology capable of being put to military use to nations that are either openly hostile to the United States or have come to power declaring their desire to expand their revolution to other nations ? What about nuclear technology ?

3. Let’s say Ron Paul is elected President. All the troops have come home, and the Navy is busy patrolling the inland waterways. If the Islamic Republic of Iran decided to blockade the Straits of Hormuz and cut off the Persian Gulf oil supply for whatever reason, would the President be right if he sent the Seventh Fleet to break the blockade ? If not, why not ?

4. Same scenario. Only this time, the Peoples Republic of China is aiming 10,000 surface to air surface missiles at Taiwan demanding it’s surrender. Would it be appropriate for the United States to send a naval flotilla to guard the island ?

Have at it.

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91 Comments

  1. 1. It is perfectly appropriate to conduct an attack or invasion of a country that is openly harboring a group that has committed a terrorist attack upon U.S. soil, and it’s also appropriate to affect regime change in that country. I completely supported the Afghanistan mission (and have been fairly supportive of the post-war mission…until Bush chose to quit pursuing bin Laden and al-Qaeda and exceeded his Congressional mandate).

    2. Yes and yes. Unless those companies are contractually bound not to sell that technology (as in the case of a government contractor or a company using proprietary goods or technologies not their own) it is completely appropriate for companies to freely trade goods and services with whomever they wish.

    3. Yes, but only because the Strait of Hormuz is recognized as international waters and shipping outside of the territorial boundaries of Iran should be allowed. However, the oil market is bound by supply and demand and prices the same as any other market. If the price of oil becomes prohibitive, the true free market incentive to develop alternative fuels and fuel technologies becomes viable. Iran is as dependent on the Strait for shipping oil as every other country and cutting off the channel would be cutting off their own nose to spite their face. Also, it would create an incentive for other countries to find alternative ways of shipment, which is why I think they would never do it unless their nation was already being invaded…which would make this argument a moot point.

    4. Gray area, but I’d say yes. While I’m generally non-interventionist, I generally apply that only to purely internal matters of sovereign nations. Clear and open aggression across defined international boundaries is a threat I feel must be addressed, especially if we have financial interests affected by such a conflict, and we have such interests in Taiwan. I believe that open and incontrovertible international aggression must be addressed, although I’m not supportive of the U.S. being the one to do it every time especially if there’s no real benefit in it to us.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 9, 2007 @ 2:28 pm
  2. Unless those companies are contractually bound not to sell that technology (as in the case of a government contractor or a company using proprietary goods or technologies not their own) it is completely appropriate for companies to freely trade goods and services with whomever they wish.

    Even someone who might use it against us or one of our allies ?

    Oh, sorry, I guess in RP’s world we wouldn’t have any allies would we ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 2:36 pm
  3. 1. Bomb, don’t occupy
    2. No
    3. Diplomacy, then coalition creation, then coalition invasion
    4. Same as 3. Coalition guards waterways not Taiwan

    Comment by Bruce Hoby — October 9, 2007 @ 2:38 pm
  4. Question

    #1: Ron voted for invading Afghanistan in response to 9/11 though he would have preferred letters of Marque and Reprisal. If Hezbollah attacked America a la 9/11 we would of course retaliate appropriately. Remember Iraq did not attack us.

    #2 Of course not that is not in our national interest.

    #3 This decision should reflect the will of the people through Congress in agreement with the President and our national security interests. Most likely the cost of replacing our oil with different suppliers (ALaska, Venezuela, Mexico etc..) would be less than aggressive warfare.

    #4 No sorry Taiwan your on your own, unless of course the American people and Congress decided it was in our national security interests and we must intervene.

    Do not forget the American people rarely favor intervention unless national security is at stake, or if they are decieved into thinking an existential threat exists (communism, Saddam, Islamofascism).

    Comment by joshuabrucel — October 9, 2007 @ 2:39 pm
  5. Doug, you said *you* were voting for Ron Paul. Is that still true?

    Was it ever?

    Comment by Buckwheat — October 9, 2007 @ 2:42 pm
  6. Joshua,

    1. I didn’t say anything about Iraq did I ?

    2. Did you read the Congressman’s Op-Ed piece. He came out four-square against all economic embargoes.

    3. You do realize that the market for oil is a global market right ? If the supply from the Persian Gulf gets cut off, it means that the price for all the oil that is available goes up. Simple supply and demand. Getting it from Alaska doesn’t change that fact.

    4. Then I guess we can all kiss our computer chips goodbye.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 2:43 pm
  7. Buckwheat,

    What does that have to do with a debate about foreign policy ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 2:44 pm
  8. Well, I can address all of your questions except for number 2. The question you posed about American companies selling technology to enemies is a good one.

    As far as questions 1,2, and 4 go, Ron Paul has never said that we would not intervene or not go to war. What he has said is that WHEN we go to war, Congress must DECLARE IT. Then we go over there and win. So there you have it. It’s OK to intervene in scenarios 1, 2, and 4 if Congress OK’s it… not just the President.

    Comment by Chris — October 9, 2007 @ 2:46 pm
  9. 1. Letters of Marque and Reprisal can be issued to catch any and all terrorists not wearing the uniform of a state. If a state is sponsoring or involved, the Congress may declare war and it should be fought as quickly and as decisively as possible. All options are on the table in a state vs state war.

    2. If there are laws prohibiting the sale of large scale weaponry to other states or citizens of other states then appropriate action with regard to the law should be taken. If there are no such laws, they can be written. If they are not written then the sale may go forth as the two parties see fit. The sale and purchase are not the issue. It is the use of such goods. If they are used or it is determined through intelligence that they are imminently intended for use against the United States all actions to thwart or respond to an attack should be taken. With an administration of diplomacy, such hostilities would be lessened but may not be eliminated. The defense of the United States may remain capable of an appropriate response at the President’s direction in prevention, or with the approval of Congress in response to acts of war.

    3. While there are no restrictions to the US Navy operating in international waters, they should act only against hostile actions. With a Ron Paul presidency, there is a decreased chance of such an action by Iran. However, should such action take place, the sellers of the oil may take action themselves for a change, defending and protecting their product before it reaches it’s market. It is not the responsibility of the United States to protect goods on their way to markets. That is what security agencies are for, and if that increases the price of fuel, all the better opportunity for other fuel options to hit the market at competitive prices. Maybe those wealthy OPEC nations will use some of their profits to protect their investments for a change.

    4. It would not be prudent to abandon our existing obligations on Day 1 of a new administration, and it is my understanding that Ron Paul agrees. Taiwan will be expected to build their own defenses and a solid timeline would force them to do so. They are more than justified in purchasing defense capabilities from US companies for their self defense. They may also hire private firms from anywhere they choose if they feel their own military is not capable. Diplomacy may be enough, because China will not want to lose favor with US markets where most of their production of goods is aimed. Should it not be enough, and China insists on taking military action against Taiwan, that is Taiwan’s problem to solve as they see fit. It is unlikely that China would take actions to harm their growing business prospects. The defense of Taiwan is none of our business. If anyone cries foul, let us remind them that when Burmese protestors and Darfur refugees needed help, action was not taken for the same reasons defense of Taiwan is not continued. China would likely lose all Western markets as a result, or Taiwan would surrender their sovereignty for fear of attack.

    Comment by Bones — October 9, 2007 @ 2:47 pm
  10. woops. I meant 1, 3, and 4.

    Comment by Chris — October 9, 2007 @ 2:48 pm
  11. Doug,

    Actually we would…he stated on the Wolf Blitzer interview that he would be willing to trade and negotiate with other nations. That can reasonably be assumed to mean that we will form alliances where necessary.

    The man’s not an idiot.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 9, 2007 @ 2:48 pm
  12. International trade is one thing.

    The question is whether he’d recognize that there are times when its in our interest to come to the aid of other nations.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 2:51 pm
  13. “Even someone who might use it against us or one of our allies ?

    Oh, sorry, I guess in RP’s world we wouldn’t have any allies would we ?”

    Unlike the vast sea of allies we have in the world right now, right Doug?

    We had the moral high ground after 911. Every country in the world was behind us, and what did we do with it? We threw it away and instead of going after the people responsible, we decided to go on a nation building mission and let Bin Laden run off to Pakistan and not go after him.

    Now the world hates us, Bin Laden is not even mentioned, and Iraq is a mess.

    Great job guys!!!!

    Lets see what else we can screw up.

    Comment by Mike Quick — October 9, 2007 @ 2:51 pm
  14. Doug,

    Also my position on selling technology takes into account the possibility it may be abused. However, even in the case of nuclear technology it’s unlikely that any nation would be able to build and maintain a nuclear arsenal capable of inflicting grievous harm on us. Nukes are an extremely expensive toy to buy and to keep and our defense budget is larger than the entire Iranian economy. As long as we maintain our strong military and don’t frivolously invade other countries, the fears about nuclear attacks from nation states are largely baseless.

    And I already made my point about us being justified to intervene in international aggression. I’ve no idea of Paul’s specific thoughts on it…all I’ve seen is his stance on involving ourselves in “preventative” and unprovoked wars or international wars that don’t help our national interest, and I completely agree with the man there. And his vote on Afghanistan clearly indicates he’s not an absolutist.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 9, 2007 @ 2:54 pm
  15. Great questions…. Send them to Paul’s office and see what they have to say. I don’t think it’s prudent for anyone to guess. Your seeking our answers. It would take a while to review Pauls stand on each issue. Right now it’s time to watch the debate. No Doug I didn’t make it to this one.

    I tend to provide a book of answers for my replies :) But this time I’m setting out on this one.

    Comment by Darel99 — October 9, 2007 @ 2:54 pm
  16. 1. Bomb them, but don’t engage in an extended war without congressional declaration of war, with congress deciding if the war is necessary for our national secutiry.

    2. No. Analagously, Wal-Mart should not be allowed to sell an axe to a known to a known axe murder. Libertarians who would permit this in the name of free trade don’t understand that absolute free trade is not a good thing. The more sensible libertarianism is consequentialism, not rights theory anti-initiation of force libertarianism. Trade should be free as is possible without putting the very freedom and market prerequisite for trade at risk of being destroyed. I’m confident Paul does not accept the irrational moral absolutist “non-initiation of force” version of libertarianism, but is a consequentialist.

    3. Is it a clear and present threat to our national security? If so then yes. If not then no.

    4. Does it threaten our national security? If so then yes. If not then no.

    Comment by Drena — October 9, 2007 @ 2:57 pm
  17. I’m not asking the Congressman’s opinion, I’m asking what his supporters think and how they’d apply what they think to specific situations.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 2:57 pm
  18. Hell, we won’t even have Britain as an ally in Iraq for much longer! Most of their troops are out and the rest are sheltering in a base at Basra Airport.

    LOL at attacks on Rep. Paul for being “isolationist” from the Bushies and neocons who have isolated America, involuntarily, more than at any time in its history.

    With no alternative big neighborhood bully such as the USSR, we are the only contender for Great Satan in the eyes of hundreds of millions, and not just Muslims.

    This is the achievement of the guy who ran seven looooong years ago promising a “humbler” foreign policy. Soon we’ll only have Micronesia and Costa Rica batting for our side.

    Comment by David L Nilsson — October 9, 2007 @ 2:58 pm
  19. I’m very sure he would recognize when engaging in an international war will help us in the long or short term (again, as evidenced by his yes vote on Afghanistan). He’s just not planning on pulling the trigger on people who “might” attack us…someday…in some distant alternative future where Middle Eastern countries with failing economies and no sense of self-preservation magically develop enough ICBMs to annihilate us without ever having to go through the bother of testing the delivery systems or the payload.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 9, 2007 @ 2:59 pm
  20. David,

    Good point…Bush doesn’t fancy himself an isolationist, but that’s pretty much the result of his policies.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 9, 2007 @ 3:01 pm
  21. Businesses who want to pass through a blockaded area in international waters should hire their own private contractors to make sure that they can pass through unowned waters. Blackwater? If U.S. military ships are not allowed to pass through, then the U.S. military should attack.

    Comment by Drena — October 9, 2007 @ 3:06 pm
  22. Drena,

    Blackwater is a security contractor. It doesn’t own carrier groups with anti-missile capabilities, which is what it would take to keep the strait clear. And I think they’ve got their own problems to deal with now in regards to the jobs they do have.

    There’s nothing wrong with the U.S. government patrolling international waters where we have an interest in being, in support of U.S. commercial ships…same as there’s nothing wrong with the Iranians, the Chinese, or anyone else doing it for their shipping.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 9, 2007 @ 3:12 pm
  23. Should have said “Blackwater is a limited security contractor”.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 9, 2007 @ 3:13 pm
  24. 1) is the textbook case for strategic bombardment. ‘Troops on the ground’ and ‘regime change’ mean ‘loss of life’ and ‘waste of time/money’ respectively. We have no right to make them into something else; we do have the right of justice, and, failing that, reprisal. In the instance of a new Taliban, we’re firmly within our right to bomb them after an appropriate time period to allow them to comply. Al Qaeda committed an act of war; harboring Al Qaeda is therefore an act of war.

    2) is a bit of misdirection. First, the sorts of technologies that are militarily useful in a conventional sense are actually behind what is in the open market. This is due, of course, to the time it takes to certify a design for military use due to the higher testing constraints. However, an enemy army may not be as hidebound as we are and may accept faster than we do. It is no longer even strange for front-line US equipment, including the F-22, to be beat by international allies in war games. What we would gain by a more free arms market in terms of improved equipment and capability far outweighs what limited lead we still possess, most of which is due to simply having more money, as the F-22 is horrifically expensive.
    As for the nuclear dimension, getting and using nuclear weapons is not particularly *hard*. Pakistan has already done it. India has done it. Any dedicated nation ought to be able to achieve it. The argument that we can stop such a nation is disingenuous. We can only hope to stop some group from using them.

    While the threat of nuclear annihilation is pretty stern, the truth is that nuclear weapons do not present that great a risk in the hands of terrorists. To be effective, the devices have to be either expensive and fiddly or large. They must be detonated some ways up in the atmosphere for maximum effect. There are simpler, cheaper, more effective ways to achieve the terrorist’s goal, which is not annihilation.

    Basically, the terrorist wants the population to modify its behavior such that it spends a disproportionate amount of resources on ‘combatting terror’ until it runs out of money. Doing this requires lots of acts with moderate damage rather than one act with severe damage. Like disease, terror does not wish to destroy its host.

    So, the point I’m trying to make is that the fear represented by the question is overblown and the response unwarranted.

    3) There isn’t any reason to assume the seventh fleet would be able to drive through the strait in any case. The cost in lives and equipment would be far higher than assumed. This is properly a case for invasion by the Marines, given the constraints of the tactical situation.

    However, as has been pointed out, doing so would hurt Iran far more than it hurts the US. Unless, of course, Iran trades the excess with, say, China, who now gets a sweetheart deal, so buys less on the international market, so prices go up a little instead of a lot.

    This is one reason embargoes don’t work. If the market is at all free elsewhere, the embargoes simply shift trading around. If they’re not, then someone profits from the embargo, as the French did off Iraq in the oil for food scandal.

    4) Taiwan needs to have boomers, at least two, preferably three. They need to be relatively modern and equipped with the latest in warhead technology. Then, it doesn’t matter what China thinks to do; it faces annihilation. All other methods of protecting China are not cost effective and present needless risk to our military personnel.

    If China, or any other country, invades a peaceable country, they ought to be met with the full extent of that countries retalliation. That way, aggressors can learn to ‘play nice’. However, it is up to each country to assure its own security. In particular, this means Saudi Arabia can find another big bully friend.

    Comment by Perry Munger — October 9, 2007 @ 3:14 pm
  25. 1.)Let’s just assume there was a connection between the 911 terrorists and Iraq. Regardless of the lack of evidence let’s invade Iraq and lets also make and assumption that there are WOMD in Iraq. I would still say lets follow our own laws get the congress to declare war and as Ron Paul would say “ Fight it and win it”

    2.)I believe trading with foreign nations that are “openly” hostile towards America is classified as treason, so no.

    3.)Iran has no Navy, question is irrelevant.

    4.)No, China is doing to America no harm. Ask yourself why every other nation in the world isn’t looking to get in a war that has nothing to do with them. We need to mind our own business and stop acting like Team America World Police. Besides what have the “Taiwanese” Done for us so far that will ensue our military aid? Provide crappy TV’s and laptops that are DOA? I think not.

    And I think its fair for me to ask you a question.
    What other canidate thats not corupt would you support and why?

    Comment by Aaron Schell — October 9, 2007 @ 3:17 pm
  26. UCrawford,

    I didnt say there was anything “wrong” with it. I understand what Blackwater is. That was just an example. A private company could however own more powerful weapons, including battleships, which could hire itself out to other private companies. That is the best route. The U.S. government doing it is a form of corporate welfare. The U.S. government is supposed to protect crime in the U.S., not crime outside of the U.S.

    However, like I said, the U.S. could simply attempt to pilot a U.S. government ship through the area. If they don’t allow it, then destroying the blockade through force is totally justifiable.

    Comment by Drena — October 9, 2007 @ 3:20 pm
  27. Drena,

    I understand where you’re coming from, I just disagree on the feasibility of it (considering the cost of the necessary technologies). I also don’t see it as corporate welfare but merely as a police action, same as a cop walking a beat. The U.S. government is supposed to protect national interests and individuals, not just those inside our borders. That’s why we didn’t write off the hostages in Iran or Lebanon back in the 80s and that’s why we protect U.S. flagged ships right now. Would I be okay with it if we didn’t provide that service? Sure, I doubt the Iranians would blockade the strait simply because we weren’t there because it would work against their long-term interests and we’d find a way to work around the loss of the Strait. But I’m not opposed to it either and consider it a reasonable cost. And I would consider it a necessity should Iran start attacking U.S. shipping.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 9, 2007 @ 3:25 pm
  28. 1) A declaration of war would be appropriate, although an ultimatum to the sheltering country (to turn over the terrorists) might or might not be an acceptable prologue depending on the circumstances. As I recall we gave Afghanistan a chance to turn over Bin Laden.
    2) The US government is clearly empowered by the Constitution to regulate foreign trade, so I think Paul would have no problem with some export restrictions. As a practical matter I think leaning towards free exchange rather than restriction is good, but there’s no reason to be permitting the shipping of gas centrifuges and biolab gear to avowedly hostile countries. This would actually be a good question to ask Paul, since as far as I know he hasn’t said anything on this topic.
    3) Protecting shipping on the seas is surely a legitimate use of military force. Given that any such blockade would hurt basically the entire world (except Russia and Venezuela or some such), I would expect Paul to assemble a coalition to pay for protecting the tankers.
    4) I’m not sure how a naval flotilla guards against batteries of missiles aimed at a country, but the broader question of course is whether we should step up in Taiwan’s defense. I actually think economic sanctions would be a greater deterrent than a fleet, with the added benefit that they’re unlikely to spiral out of control into a nuclear conflict. I also think (re)recognizing Taiwan (reversing our 1978 decision) would be helpful.

    Comment by bbartlog — October 9, 2007 @ 3:26 pm
  29. Disclaimer: The following are my solutions and not necessarily Ron Paul’s.

    1. Depending on the group you can issue letters of Marque and Reprisal or if the county harboring them is deemed a threat to national security by congress we declare war on that country and overthrow their government.

    2. I beleive that this may be considered a threat to our national security or since you are supplying a enemy with weapons it may be considered treason. Therefore congress would not allow it. But I think congress decides more than the president.

    3. the Strait of Hormuz is international waters right? By blockading it Iran is the agressor against the U.S. and all countries who use it. Since this is an attack on our economy we are justified in breaking the blockade.

    4. First thing that has to happen is Taiwan needs to ask for our assistance. If they don’t want us in their business we don’t belong. If they do I am not opposed to Naval protection (Ron Paul might be, send this in to his campaign). Diplomacy is the best solution in this situation. Understand our Navy would be there not in anticipation of a fight but knowing that China does not want to attack us and that doing so would put us in war and ruin relations with the West.

    Comment by Travis — October 9, 2007 @ 3:27 pm
  30. 1. Yes, the POTUS would be justified in asking Congress for a declaration of war. Please note that Ron Paul did support military action against the Taliban regime.

    2. That depends, common technologies that would be easily obtainable should not be restricted. Classified technologies certainly should not be traded and the law already restricts this. This will not change under a Ron Paul administration. Trade embargoes that have accomplished nothing and outlived their usefullness should be lifted.

    3. The Straights of Hormuz is international waters and vital to our interests. The POTUS would be justified in asking Congress for a declaration of war. I suspect we would have a lot of help. Heck, the Imperial Japanese Navy…oops the Naval Defense Forces of Japan would probably beat us to the punch.

    4. I bet you meant surface to surface missiles. The PRC already has a significant amount of military hardware aimed at Taiwan and a standing claim on their so called ‘renegade province’. Taiwan has a large, modern military and is quite capable of defending itself.

    Just for chuckles let us assume that the PRC military forces develop some competancy at something other than black marketeering. If the PRC attacked Taiwan it could be argued that this would endanger US economic interests. If those interests are vital enough to warrant it the POTUS would be justified in asking Congress for a declaration of war against the PRC.

    Comment by Ken — October 9, 2007 @ 3:37 pm
  31. 1. An attack on American soil – conveniently ignoring the fact that it would be FAR LESS LIKELY with secure borders, strong domestic defense, and a non-interventionist diplomatic relationship with the rest of the world – should be met with a response that targets only those responsible. If a sovereign nation like Saudia Arabia (home of far more extremists than many other nations) harbors or sponsors those responsible then they should be accountable to whatever force is necessary for America to respond to our attackers. If diplomatic requests to turn over the accused TO FACE JUSTICE THAT INCLUDES DUE PROCESS and not secret prisons, torture, etc.. The would deserve no better and no different than Timothy McVeigh got.

    2. This is already illegal and your question is moot. We have perfectly Constitutional laws that protect against this. Assuming that Dr. Paul would allow companies to disregarding existing trade laws is simply not an accurate representation of what fair and free trade with all nations would be. Licenses and other requirements are an integral part of ensuring that export trade is conducted in a way that DOESN’T create the ridiculous “GE is selling nuclear power to Iran!” scenarios you’re trying to get people to believe are possible. Look at http://www.export.gov/regulation/index.asp for basics about what CANNOT be exported under the law and search for information about “Export Trade Compliance.”

    3. In a situation such as you describe, you assume that Iran has the naval power to even attempt such an act, but putting that aside don’t you think the Arab world would respond to such an action by Iran even more quickly? After all, it’s THEIR money that Iran would be blocking just as much as the rest of the world’s oil? I think just the SIGHT of American’s naval might barreling down on them would probably send most Iranian sailors jumping into the sea to hide how badly they’d wet themselves. I think an action like that would end without having to fire a single shot.

    4. Lots of countries rely on Taiwan for an important part of their high-tech economies and protecting economic interests through diplomacy when possible and militarily when necessary ARE a legitimate function of government. Dozens of countries would stand with us to denounce such an open act of aggression by Communist China because they would ALL be affected by China’s actions. If Taiwan requested America’s help to defend themselves AND helping them is in the best interests of America then a DEFENSIVE action would be justified. Note that this is not a PREEMPTIVE WAR OF AGGRESSION, though.

    Comment by Dave E. — October 9, 2007 @ 3:41 pm
  32. Ooops. I didn’t finish the though on #1 – I meant to say “If diplomatic requests to turn over the accused TO FACE JUSTICE THAT INCLUDES DUE PROCESS and not secret prisons, torture, etc. then action just like we took against the Taliba would be appropriate when declared by Congress.”

    Comment by Dave E. — October 9, 2007 @ 3:46 pm
  33. David,

    Why should an act of war require proceeding through the court system ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 3:47 pm
  34. Doug,

    4. War between Taiwan and China is increasing unlikely because of the disastrous economic implications for both sides of the Taiwan straight. There is no way Taiwan is going to declare independence, and there is no way China is going to invade. When the two economies get even more entwined, the current political standoff will eventually become meaningless. It will just be a matter of pride for those Taiwan politicians and the nationalistic spirit of PRC. I think the Taiwan politicians will swallow their pride.

    Also the Taiwan and PRC situation by legal standards is a civil war. The US does not recognize Taiwan in any way. If the US does intervene, it intervenes in a civil war. Also by no means can the US government do anything to the Chinese government. They hold a trillion dollars of government debt. That alone would destroy the US economy.

    Comment by TanGeng — October 9, 2007 @ 3:49 pm
  35. Doug,
    An act of terrorism carried out by individuals (like Timothy McVeigh, for example) and NOT the act of a sovereign nation. If we were attacked by a COUNTRY, then we should engage that country in a war with decisive military action. Even the worst of war criminals in WWII got a trial in Nuremberg because they were trying INDIVIDUALS for their acts. War is for nations. Justice is for individuals.
    I hope that helps clear up any confusion about what I meant.

    Comment by Dave E. — October 9, 2007 @ 3:58 pm
  36. 1. Letters of Marque and Reprisal are effective and tested in time and has historical precedence. What of that do you not understand Doug?

    2. You mean like the $3.2 billion no-bid contract awarded to a Haliburton Subsidiary to construct North Korea’s first light-water nuclear reactor.
    (hint’ just add heavy water and a beryllium reflector and you have a breader reactor)

    3. He has never said he would have the navy patrolling the inland water ways of the US, he will be taking care of our nations business you can bet.

    4. I would not worry much about 10,000 surface to air missiles from China if I were Taiwan since they do not have 10,000 aircraft in the air over China for the Chinese to target. Surface to air missiles are designed to shoot down aircraft you know.

    Comment by libertyman — October 9, 2007 @ 3:59 pm
  37. Doug,

    I don’t really know if I will agree with Ron Paul on many issues. But here goes for issues 2 and 3.

    In the case of weapons technology, the US federal government has a duty to protect the country. Money the federal government spends for weapons technology should come with clauses that stipulate the technology developed will be under the control of the military. They military will decide whether or not such technology is safe for release to the public. It will be a direct contract between the military and the companies that sell to the military. The rest of the US government will merely be there to enforce that contract. The military should restrict distribution of nuclear bomb manufacturing and delivery technology. It should be done as through a contract of exclusivity. I don’t know what Dr. Paul’s position is on this.

    In the case of the Persian straight blockade, I think that the US will play a role in enforcing free trade. Seizure of US merchant ships that pass through that straight should have serious consequences. The navy is one of the branches of the military that Dr. Paul will fully fund. When US commercial interests are in jeopardy, the US navy will act. If need be, a declaration of war will be asked for. Again, I’m not sure of Dr. Paul’s position.

    Comment by TanGeng — October 9, 2007 @ 4:08 pm
  38. Doug,

    For scenario 1, I don’t know what would be the best answer. It depends on the size of the organization, its mobility, its organization, and the power of the various governments in concern.

    Taking out rouge organizations appear to be easier to do with bounty hunter and special forces than it is with an army. I’d probably target the organization first. Unless there is evidence that the government is actively supporting the group, rather than passively doing nothing, the government that “harbors” the organization would not be a target. It’s really complicated.

    Comment by TanGeng — October 9, 2007 @ 4:14 pm
  39. 1: The Letter’s as other mentioned would be a first attempt. If we can’t flush them then, we must remember that not all countries are willingly harboring terrorists. They may not want our military there, but that doesn’t mean that they want the terrorists either. Take the Phillipeans for example. We’re doing counter-terrorism there, and it’s been working very well. Here’s a hint though, we’re not firing any US weapons there. It’s one unit working with the locals to flush them out. Locals of other countries usually don’t like foriegn troops in their towns, it’s always best in counter-terrorism to utilize native forces more than your own.

    2: If we’re in an exclusive contract with the company (like almost all of our military equipment), then it would be a breach of contract. Notice our Government isn’t exactly screaming that US companies are selling F-14′s.

    3: Let’s say Iran did do exactly that. How do you think that would affect other Arabian countries that depend on oil exports. We wouldn’t have to send a single ship out there, the neighbors would do it themselves. Same is true even if they are only blocking US bound ships since we’re the largest buyers. Which is why we should trade more, not less.

    4: First, are you suggesting that Taiwan is requesting our help like South Korea? No problem then, because we have local support. Korea was different from Vietnam in the fact that South Korea didn’t want communism, so if the country asked, then we’d support them. If it’s only a gorrila group asking our help, and the Taiwanese government was indifferent (like Vietnam), then we’d just leave it alone. Notice after all our efforts Vietnam fell communist, that’s because the locals didn’t care if it was democracy or communism, so we didn’t have local support, which is why we lost the whole country, unlike Korea were we were able to save most the people that wanted democracy.

    There is a difference between helping people and forcing people. If they don’t care, there isn’t a single thing we can do about it, they have to care first for anything we do to be effective.

    Comment by Rand — October 9, 2007 @ 4:21 pm
  40. 1. The Taliban offered to turn bin Laden over for war crimes trial, TWICE. It was covered heavily in international news, but for some reason not in the US.

    Bush specifically turned down the offer and attacked Afghanistan anyway. Bush is the reason bin Laden wasn’t brought to justice.

    2. Throughout the eighties, The US GOVERNMENT sold military technology, including WMD technology, to Iraq. They also supplied and trained the mujahadeen terrorist organization we now call Al Qaeda. What’s more, we still treat the two biggest state sponsors of terrorism as our best friends…Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

    Dealing with such evil governments is always wrong. It was then, and it is now.

    George Washington was correct…we should stay out of the domestic politics of every other country, EXACTLY like we expect them to stay out of ours.

    3. If it’s “international waters”, then we’d have as much business keeping it free as anyone else would have to close it off.

    4. No, that’s none of our business. On the other hand, it shows a combination of grotesque corruption and socialist leaning that we call the illegitimate Communist empire “China”, instead of the government in exile in Taiwan, and that we refuse to acknowledge Taiwan, and for that matter that we do not more formally object to Communist Chinese occupation of Tibet and Southern Mongolia.

    Comment by KAZ Vorpal — October 9, 2007 @ 4:25 pm
  41. I just had a quick comment about the straits of hormuz scenario. If the straits are international waters (and I believe they are) then there is no reason that they would be blockaded save a state of war. Trade on the high seas is regulated by international laws regulating it, so this is more of a world issue. Should the iranians in this scenario arrest trade by force i.e. sinking american merchant vessels this would represent an act of war in which case we would be justified in attacking them. In short, this is a spurious question.

    Comment by josh — October 9, 2007 @ 4:26 pm
  42. On counter-terrorism, all of the ground commanders through the world that are fighting terrorism (either through the “War on Terror” or through the “War on Drugs”) have found the best tool to use against terrorists and drug lords is humanitarian aid, supporting the locals to fight the enemy themselves, and not actually doing any of the fighting yourself. By not fighting, they can’t use anti-US propoganda like the Al-Quieda is, because they see a helping hand from US, not a forceful one.

    The Philipeans didn’t want our troops there anymore than the Arab countries, which is why we have such a small force there. But that’s actually worked much better than Afganistan were we have large troop presence, and even better than Iraq were we have more troops-per-local than anywere else.

    Comment by Rand — October 9, 2007 @ 4:27 pm
  43. I just had a quick comment about the straits of hormuz scenario. If the straits are international waters (and I believe they are) then there is no reason that they would be blockaded save a state of war. Trade on the high seas is regulated by international laws regulating it, so this is more of a world issue. Should the iranians in this scenario arrest trade by force i.e. sinking american merchant vessels this would represent an act of war in which case we would be justified in attacking them. In short, this is a spurious question.

    Do you really think that an aggressive regime intent on imposing its will on the region would give a damn about international law ?

    Not to mention the fact that “international law” is a meaningless concept if there isn’t someone around to enforce it at the point of a gun.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 4:44 pm
  44. 1-Marque of Reprisal (Put a huge bounty on them, let their own turn them in for the reward)

    2-Yes, but only after the technology is no longer cutting edge. If you say that violates his free trade philosophy, you’re overlooking the obvious National Security Issue.

    3-Firstly, I don’t think the Navy would be patrolling inland waterways, nevertheless, what does Iran’s Nave consist of? A few rowboats, and oh, they just got a new (1988) jet-ski!

    4-It would be inappropriate to help, unless, of course, they ask for it, then, it’s up to the people (us) to decide whether or not to go.

    Comment by Jeremy — October 9, 2007 @ 4:47 pm
  45. 1. what UCrawford said

    2. Yes. Are they not humans beings? Maybe they want to use the weapons and technology for the same reasons as the U.S.? Ever wonder why they need food, sleep and shelter like us?

    3. Obviously, they have their own reasons. U.S. should only invade with the consent of most countries. If other countries aren’t willing to send their troops over; they probably don’t support it much. Bottom Line: mind your own business.

    4. Again, this is their civil conflict. What gives U.S. the right to play “police man”? Taiwan was formed of descendants of china. This is a civil conflict. This is why china is thinking “GTFO, plox?”

    Also, just because we are the USA doesn’t mean we have responsibility for everyone. Usually we are the ones who cause it. Do you realize that since WW2, we have lost every war, since? Have you ever thought about what’s wrong with the american culture? Why no other country is like us? There’s some good to it, but more bad to it, IMO.

    Comment by MY — October 9, 2007 @ 5:14 pm
  46. “We did not lose Vietnam…it was a tie”

    -Otto

    Comment by UCrawford — October 9, 2007 @ 5:18 pm
  47. 1-Marque of Reprisal or bomb them.

    2-I think we should quit doing that. I like the breach of contract approach.

    3-Yeah, right. The other Arab countries are going to let them do that and lose millions a day. We would have to get in line. (In other words “no”)

    4-No.

    Comment by Mary — October 9, 2007 @ 5:25 pm
  48. 1. Kick their butts, constitutionally, then leave.

    2. I can’t answer that question it’s a matter of national security. Wait, I kind of just answered the question.

    3. RP would let US farmers grow industrial hemp. Give it 10 years and it won’t even be an issue. In the meantime, I personally would not do a damn thing if they were to blockade. An Arab country would knock out the Persians non-existant navy and get the oil flowing again. If not? Oh well. Necessity is the mother of all invention, is it not? That’s MY opinion at this small point in time.

    4. Hey, do you know something that we don’t? Why, in the CIA World Factbook, is Taiwan the only country listed out of alphabetical order and stacked down on top of the European Union at the very bottom?
    As for going to war with China over Taiwan… nope. The addition of Taiwan to China wouldn’t give them any advantage over us or make them any more of a threat. China still can’t sustain an invasion, especially after we stop giving them money for lead tainted toys. China is a huge, long lasting country, they are bound to pick of the smaller surrouding guys once in awhile. Some people might die. That stuff happens. We did it not all that long ago in the big scope of things. I’m obviously not very educated on the issue but right now I can’t see any reason why Taiwan should or would lead us in to war with China. If China wants to bring it on against us then let them try and watch them die. China couldn’t win an invasion and I don’t think they could surround us and starve us out. It’s just not going to happen. Unless Hillary becomes president we will all still have guns.

    Comment by Chris — October 9, 2007 @ 5:34 pm
  49. LMFAO…

    Who’s Otto?

    tie xD

    Comment by MY — October 9, 2007 @ 5:52 pm
  50. Otto was the sadistic, Nietzsche-spouting, former CIA hitman played by Kevin Kline in “A Fish Called Wanda”. John Cleese’s character picked a fight with Otto over Vietnam so Otto wouldn’t shoot him. One of the best comedy characters ever.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 9, 2007 @ 6:02 pm
  51. These are kind of goofy hypotheticals, but here it goes.

    1) The goal will be to exterminate the terrorists without making things worse for Americans going forward. So, starting a full-blown war may not be prudent and may make things worse, even if it is within our rights. Control the borders and stop making enemies is the best defense against terrorism.

    2) American companies engaging in anti-American business practices is a form of treason. Who decides how much is too much and who has gone too far with whom is a legitimate function of government and the department of defense.

    3) It probably makes sense to place a number of very strategic phone calls. We’d probably be in our rights to do something militarily, but again, it has to make sense. Starting a war over there to free up oil will likely have the opposite effect. The thing about oil is that the only thing it is good for is selling. Somebody will sell us the oil. And, if their oil is black our money will be green.

    4) The Chinese don’t want a war with us. We don’t want a war with them. I doubt they’d do this, but if they do we should be prepared. Our first reaction should be to shut down trade with the Chinese. Is taking Tiawan worth 80% of their economy? If so, that will be a choice for the Chinese. The other thing to remember is that information technology is getting better in China too. I think time is on our side with regard to communism in China, and the people won’t take it indefinitely. Watch the Olympics. The Chinese want to be part of the world. They don’t want to own it.

    Comment by Steve — October 9, 2007 @ 6:10 pm
  52. 1. No, if the terrorist entity is only being “harbored” certainly the people of that nation are not responsible and shouldn’t have to pay with their lives for a messy invasion. The proper response is to issue letters of Marque and Reprisal which authorize private parties to go after the alleged perpetrators. But those who are issued letters are to obey international laws and any harm they cause to innocent people can be used against them.

    2. Why shouldn’t we encourage free trade even in nuclear technology? The only reason that we have companies working in this field is government subsidy – military industrial complex. If those companies had to compete in the open market, the price would go down for us and anyone else who wanted it. On the other hand, offensive weapons would not be something the U.S. should be purchasing. So, support for such companies internally should cease since we shouldn’t be spending taxpayer money on this sort of offensive rather than defensive technology.

    By opening up the market and refusing to subsidize “defense” companies, maybe we would finally get an inexpensive missile defense system.

    3. No. Congress declares war. The President has no legal authority to send our troops anywhere for oil or anything else. You forget that such an action would harm the nations which produce oil and rely on those profits. Never going to happen, but if it did, the incentive to make it stop is on the merchants being harmed.

    4. Absolutely not. In fact, even with today’s interventionist policy, our official policy with regard to China is a “one China” policy which does not recognize the Taiwanese government. In our eyes, they are part of mainland China and we would not defend them today. This is certainly bizarre policy ie; hypocritical.

    The right thing to do is to recognize Taiwan as its own nation and treat it on equal footing with China. Trade with both, abandon this idiotic “Most Favored Nation” business and allow the American people to decide with whom they’ll trade and not some beaurocrats in Washington.

    When issues like this crop up and the American people voluntarily boycott China, and the WTO cannot force products to come here over our moral objections, then such a boycott would have a real economic effect. China would have an incentive to change its stance.

    Allowing politicians to dictate with whom we can buy goods or boycott, is assanine.

    Furthermore, Americans could donate goods and services to Taiwan in an effort to help them. Currently, this is made illegal. Israel is the only government you can currently send donations (and billions upon billions of your own tax dollars whether you morally support them or not).

    Comment by Rick Fisk — October 9, 2007 @ 6:23 pm
  53. 4. In 1971 United Nations resolution 2758, resolved the issue of China’s legal representation in the UN to include Taiwan within the representation of China.

    There is no legally separate China / Taiwan in the eyes of the world body so why would the United States involve itself in the conflict should one arise. China has historically developed the Taiwan Islands and governed them since the 12th century.

    I think a wise move for the US politically and historically would be to mind our own damn business.

    I know that the US backed Chiang Kai-shek against the People’s Republic when he retreated from China mainland in 1949 but that is hardly a historical precedence but instead an example of the type of interventionism that Ron Paul warns about. We get involved in things we do not understand and it ends robbing us of our respect in the world and our treasure and blood.

    The advice of the founders and the advice of Sun Tsu in his “Art of War” would both caution us against engaging with an enemy we do not understand. While the two wisdom sources speak from different perspectives they are no less valuable wisdom to follow in state craft.

    I rightly prefer the state craft displayed in the work Ron Paul has done in his 10 terms in Congress of The United States and his considerable number of published written works, and inspiring speeches, over the bumbling records of work from the other wannabes like Rudy McRomney.

    Not one of them possess the state craft and financial skills to lead us in the troubled times ahead. We are about to start to feel the economic effect of sending all of our jobs overseas and then running up a huge debt with only wheat and corn, and raw materials or our real estate with which to pay our debts back to the world when our fiat dollar is no longer accepted by the world.

    Strict constitutional adherence will help us weather the coming storm from the inevitable blow back of our violent neo-colonial foreign policy, and fiat money financial adventuring.

    Ron Paul is best suited to deal with this situation as a thoughtful and trusted leader its just that simple. We need his wisdom, honesty, constitutional scholarship now more than ever before in our nation’s history in fact.

    Comment by libertyman — October 9, 2007 @ 6:36 pm
  54. “International trade is one thing.

    “The question is whether he’d recognize that there are times when its in our interest to come to the aid of other nations.”

    There’s no doubt at all in my mind that he recognizes that. But he recognizes there are other things that should temper that.

    1. The first question we should ask before we go to the aid of another nation is, “Do they want us to go to their aid?” If we don’t ask that question, then it’s just arrogance.

    (Relatively recent example of that:
    Two to three months ago, Bush was saying that we were still in Iraq because they wanted us to be there. If they asked us to leave, we would leave immediately. Within a month or so of that, they said we could leave any time. But Bush, of course, changed his tune. We’ve not heard anything like that from him since then. :P)

    2. The second part, if a country needs/wants our aid, is for it to be taken to Congress. 535 heads are better than one. Whether to inititate military action should not be the decision of one man. This is the reason our constitution delegates the power to declare war to Congress.

    And since Congress is supposed to represent the people, the people should make their wishes known, and Congress should take them into account. For if we go to war, it is the people who will be laying their lives on the line and the people who will be paying the bill.

    3. The third consideration is the cost. When we wage endless wars that don’t end (we occupy the country forever after that), it is destructive both to our prosperity and to our freedom. The cost is staggering, both in dollars spent and in stretching our military too thin.

    And as James Madison said: “…of all the enemies of liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded….No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

    Comment by Cathy — October 9, 2007 @ 6:46 pm
  55. Very nice post, libertyman.

    Even if Ron Paul doesn’t achieve any of the things he advocates for; He is, without a doubt, more derserving and worthy of the Republican nomination. He has sparked “revolution” with his words. He WILL go all the way!

    RONPAUL2008! FTW!

    P.S. Please VOTE in the Primaries. Register NOW and VOTE!

    Comment by MY — October 9, 2007 @ 6:50 pm
  56. Cathy,

    Very very well put. I whole-heartedly agree.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 9, 2007 @ 6:58 pm
  57. 1. A policy of noninterventionism means that terrorists and other countries won’t attack you in the first place. Nobody’s tried to attack Switzerland.

    2. Yes. See above.

    3. No. None of our business. Iran will starve before we do – they can’t drink oil.

    4. No.

    Comment by Frizzled — October 9, 2007 @ 8:25 pm
  58. Hopefully I’m not missing the point, but I believe President Paul would say that the decision on whether to act in any of these cases falls on the shoulders of Congress. Certainly in the cases of #1, #3 and #4 an act of aggression by the United States could constitute an act of war, which only Congress is able to authorize.

    Comment by Flemlord — October 9, 2007 @ 8:28 pm
  59. Frizzled,

    The word naive comes to mind when I read your response.

    Incredibily, incredibly naive.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 8:30 pm
  60. Wow, ad hom’d by the weblog author within 5 minutes. Does it get any better than this?

    Comment by Frizzled — October 9, 2007 @ 8:33 pm
  61. 3. Let’s say Ron Paul is elected President. All the troops have come home, and the Navy is busy patrolling the inland waterways. If the Islamic Republic of Iran decided to blockade the Straits of Hormuz and cut off the Persian Gulf oil supply for whatever reason, would the President be right if he sent the Seventh Fleet to break the blockade ? If not, why not ?

    Why on earth would Iran blockade the strait of Hormuz?! Iran is a rational player which talks big to try to dissuade an invasion, but rarely escalate disputes into physical violent confrontations.

    If this fantastical hypothetical actually happened, it would be up to CONGRESS to decide if this warrants declaring war, which I’m sure they would a long with a coallition.

    Comment by Mike — October 9, 2007 @ 8:37 pm
  62. Huckabee or Hillary 4 Prez!!

    Comment by oilnwater — October 9, 2007 @ 8:48 pm
  63. Why on earth would Iran blockade the strait of Hormuz?! Iran is a rational player which talks big to try to dissuade an invasion, but rarely escalate disputes into physical violent confrontations.

    Umm, you’re joking, right ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 8:56 pm
  64. oilnwater:

    First of all, LOL.
    Secondly, GTFO, plox?

    Anyways, Doug Mataconis:

    Do you really feel that America is responsible for everyone in the world? Does America have the “right” to interfere with other countries’ internal affairs? Is there even an “issue” in the world (right now) that actually involves the U.S.? Every damn issue the Bush Administration talks about is other countries’ issues. He is trying to force every country into democracy, then, reap their riches.

    Comment by MY — October 9, 2007 @ 9:01 pm
  65. No I don’t think America is responsible for everyone in the world.

    And I oppose the War in Iraq.

    However, I think that the non-interventionist suggestion that America does not have vital national interests beyond its own borders is both incorrect and naive given the state of the world today.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 9:04 pm
  66. I believe the world would be safer if America treats other countries like equals. If they try getting Iraqi oil the right way: buying them. If they’d quit assuming that Iran will use nuclear weapons to threaten others. So far, all the threats have come from America. Obviously, Iran should be hostile; America has enough nukes to destroy the world many times over. Like Ron Paul said; would we like China to start building bases in our country? America was the first to place nuclear missles in range of the Soviet Union. the USSR responded by placing missles in Cuba, and the U.S. gets pissed. Just because we think we can do anything doesn’t mean the rest of the world does. Every intervention that the U.S. has butted in, was for their own benefit. It’d be funny if they ACTUALLY cared about the Iraqi people. Or even their own soldiers!

    In general, butting into people’s business pisses them off, right? Just change the scale, country-wise.

    Off Topic, kinda: If you haven’t seen “Loose Change” I would reccomend you to watch it. A very interesting documentary. google “loose change” if you’re interested.

    Comment by MY — October 9, 2007 @ 9:23 pm
  67. 1. Take it to Congress, but I say yes. Far-fetched if the US is out of the Middle East, however.

    2. I dont think a government ban on selling weapons is effective. You will end up with contragate in any event – you are merely giving the govt a monopoly on the weapons business and that hasnt worked out real swell yet. The weapons will go to those who will buy them. So Yes, because if anything the costs and repercussions on a government ban on such sales outweigh the (in)effectiveness of such bans.

    3. Far-fetched, it would hurt Iran immeasurably more than the US. There would be a large price spike, and people may buy more of those electronic toyota cars, but people would be able to buy oil in any event. BTW Iran imports refined petroleum.

    4. Once again, really far fetched. It is inherent in the rhetoric of the PRC to talk big but they, like the Iranians in item 3, have the livelihood of the economy at stake. It is not a US military presence which deters the PRC from hitting Taiwan, its the repercussions on its trade and the closing of the sea lanes that would occur as a result of such an attack. China is a net importer of a significant portion of its raw materials. The country would grind to a stop.

    Comment by Daniel — October 9, 2007 @ 9:27 pm
  68. 1) Kill ‘em all.

    2) Kill ‘em all.

    3) Kill ‘em all.

    4) Kill ‘em all.

    Rudy ’08!

    ps Kill ‘em all

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 9:41 pm
  69. Posting with a fake email address and pretending to be me.

    Very intimidating.

    Not.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 9:48 pm
  70. You WOULD be a rudy nuby duby supporter…

    I bet you also think that muslims hate us because we’re “free.”

    People like you need to get a reality check. Learn about the world, not just it’s politics. Ever wonder why America makes their students learn about their own history? If so, why do you think? It would probably be a life-changing thing, if someone like you learns U.S. History through the natives’ eyes; the Africans’ eyes. As a matter of fact; the rest of the worlds’ eyes.

    Comment by MY — October 9, 2007 @ 9:50 pm
  71. P.S. Chris Crocker’s eyes, also.

    lol ( someone should know what I mean xD)

    Comment by MY — October 9, 2007 @ 9:52 pm
  72. You WOULD be a rudy nuby duby supporter…

    Umm, not so much dude.

    People like you need to get a reality check. Learn about the world, not just it’s politics. Ever wonder why America makes their students learn about their own history? If so, why do you think? It would probably be a life-changing thing, if someone like you learns U.S. History through the natives’ eyes; the Africans’ eyes. As a matter of fact; the rest of the worlds’ eyes.

    And you non-interventionists need to read history and realize that the foreign policy of nations outside the U.S. are not merely a reaction to what the United States does. They have their own motiviations. Sometimes for good, and sometimes for not so good. And the idea that we can just sit behind the borders of Fortress America won’t work today any more than it worked in the 1930s.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 9:53 pm
  73. Care to elaborate?

    Comment by MY — October 9, 2007 @ 9:55 pm
  74. Care to elaborate?

    On what ? My preference in the primaries ?

    Truth be told. But for a rather naive adherence to non-interventionist policies and some of the truly wacky supporters he seems to gather around him, Ron Paul is the only Republican candidate I can see myself voting for right now, at least in a primary.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 9:58 pm
  75. 1) Depends on a lot of factors. But largely, a complicit government is a complicit government. If we know the government was complicit, they declared war on us. So the president goes to Congress and asks for a declaration of war.

    2) Yes. Yes. Open sales you can keep an eye on.

    3) Are the straights international waters? Then yes. Otherwise, no. The question is silly because Iran without oil sales has to depend on their charming tourism business to stay solvent.

    4) Are we compelled by treaty to do so? Then yes. If not, no. This is also a silly question as we couldn’t stop China from taking Taiwan if they really wanted to, short of nuclear holocaust, and Taiwan isn’t worth it.

    Comment by rho — October 9, 2007 @ 10:02 pm
  76. Good Job. You have joined the revolution.

    RONPAUL2008

    “Vote or Die”

    You have to admit ( I know I did), when you first heard him speak: you think “this guy makes sense. How close were we to dictatorship?”

    When you look at the whole picture. you will understand what the neo-cons want to achieve. Watch “loose change.” Policing the world, NAU (north american union), National I.D. cards and patriot act.(only to name a few)

    “Anyone that sacrafices freedom and liberty for temporary security deserves none.”

    -Jefferson

    Comment by MY — October 9, 2007 @ 10:06 pm
  77. What didn’t work in the 1930′s? The US embargoed Japan because of their imperial rivalries in the Pacific, got counterattacked, then dragged by Britain and FDR very reluctantly into WW2. This assured that Russian totalitarianism ruled half of Europe for 60 years rather than the German variety. None of this was necessarily a better outcome for American interests or the rest of the world for that matter.

    The US would be uniquely FREE of natural enemies, if it were not for the tendency of people like Mr. Mataconis to seek foreign entanglements.

    Comment by Frizzled — October 9, 2007 @ 10:36 pm
  78. Frizzled,

    Nice historical revisionism. FDR’s Lend-Lease Act pushed us towards war, but there was no hesitance about it once we got bombed by Japan and Germany stupidly declared war on us the next day. FDR might have contributed to the pre-conditions for war, but he certainly didn’t cause the war. Economic competition with Japan is one thing…but we weren’t bombing their country prior to their attack on Pearl Harbor. And their aggressive military expansion was well underway in China before our involvement.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 10, 2007 @ 12:59 am
  79. Frizzled,

    Nice historical revisionism. FDR’s Lend-Lease Act pushed us towards war, but there was no hesitance about it once we got bombed by Japan and Germany stupidly declared war on us the next day. FDR might have contributed to the pre-conditions for war, but he certainly didn’t cause the war itself. Economic competition with Japan is one thing…but we weren’t bombing their country prior to their attack on Pearl Harbor. And their aggressive military expansion was well underway in China before our involvement.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 10, 2007 @ 1:00 am
  80. Yet again, the war-supporting interventionists demonstrate their lack of even basic historical knowledge…

    “The pre-emptive strike’s intent was to protect Imperial Japan’s advance into Malaya and the Dutch East Indies – for their natural resources such as oil and rubber – by neutralizing the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Both the US and Japan had long-standing contingency plans for war in the Pacific focusing on the other’s surface fleet, developed during the 1930s as tension between the two countries steadily increased.”

    “The Japanese high command was certain any attack on the United Kingdom’s colonies would inevitably bring the U.S. into the war.[8] A pre-emptive strike appeared the only way Japan could avoid U.S. interference in the Pacific.” (wikipedia)

    It is obvious that the US could have avoided Pearl Harbor if she had

    (a) not behaved as an imperial, colonial power in the Pacific

    (b) not maintained the military alliance with Great Britain.

    Non-interventionism (not isolationism) is the only sustainable basis for the foreign policy of a republic.

    The United States may learn this lesson one day, perhaps after the hundredth major terrorist attack in retaliation for supporting the Jews over the Arabs, or for supporting Britain over her enemies, or some other foreign conflict we decide to poke our noses into. Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who has the basic common sense to let foreigners get on with their own affairs, and look after our own borders.

    Comment by Frizzled — October 10, 2007 @ 1:29 am
  81. LMFAO…

    Who’s Otto?

    tie xD

    Comment by MY — October 9, 2007

    From the movie “A Fish Called Wanda”

    (“It’s Al-Q-q-q-qaeda C-c-c-c-oming to k-k-k-kill me!”).

    Comment by Akston — October 10, 2007 @ 1:59 am
  82. Doug,

    Please, many of us are well aware of many intricate details in the history of foreign policy. I know my history as well as any of you, being educated in history, economics, and political science at Hillsdale College, and studying con law under Clarence Thomas…prior to law school. Non-interventionists, including myself, understand and fully comprehend that other nation states’ governments will act in their individual self interests… perhaps you should study Public Choice economics… look up James Buchanan.

    You repeatedly associate non-intervention with isolationism, accusing us of advocating a “fortress” America–a fallacious assertion without any merit. We merely advocate that the federal government be held to the same standard internationally as we hold it domestically, that is, that it is prohibited from encroachment on the rights of others so long as they are peaceable.

    Comment by Benjamin Kuipers — October 10, 2007 @ 2:34 am
  83. O.K., my own quick (and meaningless) personal answers to those questions:
    Letters of Marque and Reprisal on the perpetrators, congress declares war on harboring state if necessary.
    No. It would be treason.
    No. Iran is destroyed at the hands of the oil producers and all the muscle they can hire. Or not, in which case the price of oil goes up. Good argument for diversification in oil production and alternate fuels. Might be a business opportunity there. Also, whose oil is it again?
    No. If the congress can be convinced that this somehow poses a clear and present danger (beyond an increased price of computer chips and the myriad products that use them), then they can declare war.

    Making things “more expensive” and “inconvenient” is not the same as killing Americans. Consumers who are short-sighted enough to buy all their goods from a single unstable supplier will always be at risk of radical price and supply fluctuations. The best cure for this myopia is to suffer its downside a few times.

    If there is demonstrable “clear and present danger” to American lives, the government should step in. That’s one of its primary roles.

    Using an American military to tailor other nations’ economies or governmental structures to our liking is not part of the constitution, and American taxes and lives should not be applied to it.

    Comment by Akston — October 10, 2007 @ 2:42 am
  84. Also, I found this commentary interesting. In it, the author discusses how people who hold a libertarian philosophy domestically, can sometimes advocate a rather statist foreign policy.

    Comment by Akston — October 10, 2007 @ 2:51 am
  85. Doug,
    Why is it you build in the assumption that just because the US government stays away from entanglements then there will be opposition? For instance, if Iran tried to blockade the Strait (with what, rowboats? Actually, they could just threaten the Strait from land with missiles which is what I assume you are alluding to) not only would other countries whose ships utilize the strait often have a gripe, but also quite a few wealthy and deep pocketed oil companies both here and abroad.

    Well, anyways, here goes my 4 answers:

    #1: if the attack was committed on US soil, territory over which the USG is basically contracted with to defend, then Congress has authority to do anything up to, and including, declare war. I think Pres Paul would perhaps first go the route of Marque and Reprisal as a stepping stone.

    #2: no

    #3: no, but he wouldn’t stand against other entities doing something about it.

    #4: see #3

    Comment by LPM — October 10, 2007 @ 3:41 am
  86. Many of these questions are complex because neither the United States nor any other state has the right to exist. For example:

    1. What is the appropriate way for the United States to respond in the wake of a major terrorist attack committed by an organized group that is receiving shelter and support from a foreign government which refuses to turn over the leadership of said terrorist organization upon demand?

    By natural right, a victim has the right to pursue a wrongdoer and demand compensation for injuries suffered. And if that wrongdoer is in league with others, the victim has the right to demand compensation from them to the extent of their involvement. The victim also has the right to hire or contract with others to do the pursuit for him and to recover from the wrongdoers the costs of apprehending them.

    Problem is, the US is not really any of those. No one hires or contracts with the US to provide security – the US has arrogated to itself that power and denied others the opportunity of assisting the victims. That in itself is criminal, albeit less so than the terrorist attacks. In a more just world, the US wouldn’t even exist. So, prescribing what the US should do in a response to an attack on Americans is a complex case.

    What I do know for sure is that, whatever the US does in response, it sure as hell has no right to compel me to participate in it.

    Comment by Joshua Holmes — October 10, 2007 @ 6:53 am
  87. Oh, sorry, I guess in RP’s world we wouldn’t have any allies would we ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 9, 2007 @ 2:36 pm

    Do you think allies are bought? Apparently you have to pay for your friends. In RP’s world other countries would no longer hate us for imposing our military strength to get what we want.

    Comment by Ken Cooper — October 10, 2007 @ 7:17 am
  88. Frizzled,

    Since when is it imperialism to maintain a fleet to deter attack from a powerful opponent? Based on the fact that Japan had expanded its reach quiet violently around the Pacific Rim and mainland Asia, it’s not imperialism to possess a powerful Navy, it’s common sense. And despite the fact that these wars involved territories that were colonial possessions of various nations prior to World War II, the United States committed no act of imperialism in the 30s or 40s to set this particular war off. It was all instigated by Japan’s conquests and capability to attack us (which they did).

    Imperialism on our part would have led to the war if we’d attacked the Japanese for expanding into Malaya and the Dutch East Indes. Imperialism on our part would have led to the conflict if we’d sent out own troops to invade those areas first to seize resources. Neither happened and the…the Japanese expansion had to do with Japan’s imperialistic aspirations, not those of the U.S. Our foray into imperialistic expansion had ended a couple of decades prior.

    Again, historical revisionism on your part.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 10, 2007 @ 8:29 am
  89. 1.
    A.) Direct talks with the foreign administration. If said administration fails to respond satisfactorily, and the failure is so grave that it could be construed as a government supported attack upon U.S. sovereignty, then *have a declaration of war passed in congress* and kick them in the junk.
    B) Whether it constitutes an act of war by the foreign government is a debate for Congress.

    2.
    A) Rhetoric and propaganda should be recognized as such. We are quite able to monitor foreign military actions, and if a nation *ACTS* aggressively towards us or our allies, then we react appropriately (with war being the last option and subject to a Congressional declaration of war). We should react to actions, not to words.
    B) The U.S. (and all countries) should seek to end use of nuclear technology here and abroad. (my opinion)

    3.
    If Iran were to interfere with a U.S. registered mercantile ship in international waters, Naval enforcement of internationally protected trading routes (for at least our own vessels) is warranted. Aggressive force is constitutionally prohibited without a declaration of war from Congress.

    4.
    It would be allowable to send them to international waters surrounding Taiwan… The U.S. has recognized the P.R.C. claims to Taiwan as legitimate. invading a foreign country to intervene in a civil war is an aggressive act of invasion and is not warranted. To make this action legitimate would require a U.S. declaration that Taiwan is NOT a state belonging to the P.R.C. and a declaration of war would be required to intervene on the bahalf of a foreign country.

    The only difficult question you have posed is “should we export nuclear technology”. This is a tough philosophical debate since Nuclear power is among the cheapest and cleanest forms of generating electricity currently available to mankind. Denying electricity to nations in need is unamerican, yet proliferation of such a dangerous technology is also unamerican… this is a very difficult question indeed.

    The remainder of your questions seek to reinforce the idea that our military needs to be used frequently, forcefully and at the whim of one man. I hope you and millions of other Americans will learn the risk this poses… SOON

    Comment by w3weasel — October 10, 2007 @ 9:53 am
  90. 1. Depends on how well the argument is made for conspiracy. If it is definitive (Afghanistan) we have the right to enter their territory and elimnate the enemy. If the link is insubstansive (Iraq), then we must respect that nation’s sovereignty and work with them to eliminate the cells or identify them when they emerge to try and carry out attacks outside the country.

    2. That’s a broad and loaded question, because there are many technologies that someone could “claim” to have military purposes (like jet engines, microchips, radar, satellites, etc) and we’ve already seen extensions of the definition of “hostile”. I’m afraid I’d be very much on a case by case basis for this and be wary of people trying to persuade the president to prevent this or that from going overseas because of the levels of self interest involved in restricting trade.

    3. International Water access should not be restricted by any country and therefore all countries have a right to stop Naval blockades in international waters (I continue to disagree with the blockade of Cuba by Kennedy).

    4. Taiwan has not been recognized as a completely autonomous nation and only if they are and ask for American assistance should our Navy be sent to help.

    Doug,

    You may feel Paul is unable to understand these realities by the rhetoric he preaches, but I believe him to be very realistic about the nature of the world around us, but asks himself first “do I need to do something” rather than just assuming the answer to that question is always “yes” and continuing immediately on to military or economic solutions. He strikes me as reasoned and informed about situations and not likely to fly off the hip about these situations, much more restrained than either Guliani or McCain. Those two are shoot from the hip reactionists and more likely to act first, think second than Paul or some of the other candidates. That’s one of the reason’s I detest and fear them. They have the cavalier attitude that got us where we are today (apparently at war with Islam). I can’t say Paul would or would not respond in the best possible way, but I think the mentality he brings is much more reasoned and careful than anything I’ve heard from the other candidates.

    Comment by Greg — October 10, 2007 @ 9:54 am
  91. 1. I believe Paul handled this appropriately after September 11 by introducing the September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001. He wanted to issue a letter of Marque and Reprisal pursuant to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution that would target Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda operatives without launching full scale war on another country (the text of the Act, H.R. 3601, 107th Congress is available at http://thomas.loc.gov). Countries that are uncooperative with this letter or that otherwise facilitate terror to the extent that they are a bona fide threat to our national security should be dealt with only after a Congressional Declaration of War. My understanding is that Iraq posed no such threat to us.

    2. The Second Amendment is analogous. Should a private company be allowed to sell guns to people who may use then use those guns against the U.S. Government or others? The answer is yes, but there are limitations on how and to whom. The same principle applies on the national level. The U.S. Government saw no harm in arming Iraq during its war with Iran during the 80s. Less than a decade later we were at war with Iraq. Should a private company also have been allowed to sell weapons to Iraq? I don’t see why not. There was no clear and present danger to our national security. There are laws like “state secrets” laws designed to protect our national security. These laws should not be broken, and neither should gun sales laws. The Second Amendment is analogous.

    Did I miss something? Did Ron Paul suggest that we should sell our nuclear secrets to hostile countries?

    3. I don’t believe we would be justified in breaking the blockade “for whatever reason”. If Iran had a legitimate reason for the blockade, well then far be it from us to break it. If Congress declares the blockade to be an Act of War against us, then sure we could go break it with a declaration of war—but personally, I’m loathe to consider purely economic actions to be acts of war. Oil is a dwindling, non-renewable resource, and the sooner we wean ourselves from it, the better off we’ll be.

    I don’t find it particularly helpful to engage in these sorts of unlikely hypotheticals. As the first commenter noted, Iran depends on trade through the strait as much as we do.

    4. It’s as if you don’t want us to ask: Why is China aiming missiles at Taiwan. Should we assume that it’s purely aggressive empire-building? It sounds silly, but this is how we get ourselves into trouble. We go around meddling in the business of other nations and we get entangled.
    If Taiwan invites us to provide security within its established territory, then perhaps we can work something out. This could be seen as a sort of free trade in security services. It’s somewhat analagous to our deployment of troops in Saudi Arabia, which Ron Paul is against, but each situation is unique. We shouldn’t feel an obligation to defend other nations, pro bono. Possible costs and benefits to OUR nation must be taken into account. In American tort law, there is no liability for a bystanders failure to help another in distress. There is a good reason for this: What risks are involved for the bystander, and are these risks acceptable?
    Now, if Taiwan wants us to start World War III by invading the sovereign nation of China, well then I must respectfully decline this invitation. A president’s primary concern is for the well-being of his own country. A president should not go ahead and be hero on behalf of the American people if this places to great of a burden on them. A huge tax burden, not to mention increasing security risks, are things for a president to consider.

    I wouldn’t draw a bright line rule against defense, but I’d like for a president to put the interests of his own nation first.

    Comment by Tim G. — October 10, 2007 @ 10:59 am

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