Ron Paul On The News Hour

Say what you will about PBS, but you won’t find ABC News spending 20 minutes talking to a Presidential candidate:

Here’s Part One:

And here’s Part Two:

A few thoughts:

  • Woodruff asked Paul what he thought the interests of the United States that were worth defending and I don’t think he ever really answered the question. He spent a good deal of time talking about what’s wrong with American foreign policy, but never really answered her question directly. It’s a legitimate question, and it deserves an answer.
  • It’s going to take a lot more than just cutting back on defense spending to fix what’s wrong with the economy and the Federal budget. Discretionary spending, which includes defense spending, is a small part of the budget compared to so-called non-discretionary spending — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. Saying that we can solve our economic problems by cutting defense spending to the bone isn’t much different from what the rest of the candidates are saying. It’s note the warfare state that’s going to bankrupt us, it’s the welfare state. And it’s time the American people realized it. So far, Ron Paul is the only candidate who’s spoken that particular truth, and he’s in the single digits.

On the whole, this was a fairly good interview. And it’s refreshing to see Ron Paul talking about something other than the War in Iraq, because there’s a lot more than that to the freedom agenda.

Of course, since it was on PBS, it’s likely that more people will see the YouTube video than actually watched the broadcast.

  • Steve

    I thought Woodruff did a great job interviewing Ron Paul. You can tell she’s not just a political hack like so many on the major news networks. Someone who can have a conversation with Ron Paul on a high intellectual level. All in all, this is one of my favorite interviews with Dr. Paul.

    Nice to see an interview where there’s no deliberate bias toward Dr. Paul.

    This little clip inspired me to contribute to his campaign again.

  • Matthew

    This is one of the finest interviews I saw of Ron Paul. He had the time to discuss some of the important issues that the networks don’t really give him. I also think it gives him the needed exposure to the demographic that watches PBS. My experience thus far is people in the latter half of there life don’t know much about Ron Paul, and this is definately the kind of thing that he needs to continue to do to get awareness among that demographic.

  • Michael

    This was an honest a fair showing of what Ron Paul is all about and what his core values have been for over 18 years of public service as a US Congressman. The corporate main stream media is blatantly unfair to this good man. You must ask yourself “why?” is this mans message and platform being smeared and squelched by his own party and the media. Think for yourselves folks.

  • John Howard

    Ron Paul supporters can buy some attention from the dishonest corporate media – they will give attention to anyone with money because someone with money is a potential advertising customer and they will not want to offend or insult a potential customer. Support Ron Paul with your dollars, not just your comments.

  • UCrawford

    Doug,

    He answered your foreign policy question…he stated that none of the missions we’re undertaking today serve our national interests. See my post on your foreign policy thread regarding where our troops are stationed to see what he’s talking about (a section that you made no counter-argument to, you merely changed the question). None of our missions overseas are currently about national security, they’re about securing the empire, and as Paul correctly pointed out in his thread empires don’t collapse because of military failure, they collapse because the underlying economics can no longer support wide-flung military interventionism. He’s absolutely right and that’s what we’re headed towards with things as is.

    You’re correct on that it will take more than removing our troops from overseas to fix our economy. Paul noted that too…what’s he’s doing by removing troops from where they’re not needed and cutting off foreign aid is buying time so we don’t face economic collapse while we work on our domestic issues.

    Note his comments about our imperial attitudes towards “the world’s” oil supply in the first half of the interview. He correctly ties that to a philosophy of imperialism. As you’ll recall I pointed out to you yesterday that a large part of your apparent foreign policy position is premised on the same philosophy. Care to rebut?

  • Paul

    Ron Paul does so much better in these types of interviews than the attack interviews or the “Rudy McRompson Show” debates. It’s quite understandable. Nobody enjoys being attacked, and standing around during a two hour debate, only geting 6 minutes speaking time, while listening to the mud pour out of the other candidates, can only be frustrating.

  • UCrawford

    I think that does work against Paul sometimes, though. He can expound on the reasons behind being anti-war or anti-government and in a more or less unlimited forum he can put a rational, logical argument together that just about anyone can find some common ground with. Unfortunately, he’s one of many candidates and most voters just don’t have the time or inclination to sit around all day watching PBS. He needs to find a way to explain his beliefs in the short debate formats too and I think sometimes he struggles doing that. That’s why I was harping on finding another issue or two besides Iraq to use as a core platform to hone his message. I was glad to see him veer over into healthcare, though…he gave a short and fairly concise answer as to how to deal with healthcare and I think he could make that message fly in the debates if he chose to focus on it.

  • http://www.lunchworks.net Jeff Molby

    Doug’s right that he somewhat skirted the question, but his answer is already on the record. Which interests are worth defending is a decision to be made by the legislature. The executive is tasked with executing the decision.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org Doug Mataconis

    Jeff,

    As even Thomas Jefferson recognized when he authorized action against the Barbary States without seeking Congressional authorization, sometimes the President’s duties as Commander in Chief require him to make a decision regarding military action without having the time to consult Congress.

  • Bob

    Jeff,
    Are you saying that President Paul would never ask congress for a declaration of war?

  • David from Texas

    Wonderful interview!

    Finally, somebody has asked the questions that I have wanted to ask Ron Paul for a long time. After watching that interview, I am more convinced that Ron Paul is the by far the best candidate running for President.

    I particularly liked the way that Ron Paul answered the questions about Medicare and welfare programs here at home. Ron Paul knows where the priorities are, he is sensitive to the repercussions of cutting programs, and knows which ones should be cut first, and how fast each one should be cut. It seems that he will do it in the best way possible. He is very Reaganesque, and I suppose that he will work hard to do what Reagan had said that he would try to do and failed.

    I also particularly liked his answer to why he decided to forego his congressional pension. This man is a person of strong character and principle. How fortunate we are to have this man running for President at this crucial point in American history.

    Go Ron Paul!

  • Chepe Noyon

    Doug, Jefferson’s action was not wholly without Congressional authorization; the Congress did authorize him to take military action against the Barbary States “and also to cause to be done all such other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war will justify.” In effect, they did exactly what the modern Congressional resolutions did: they declared war without literally doing so. It seems that Congressional mushmouthing is nothing new.

  • LPM

    Doug,
    Could you define what you mean when you say “the interests of the United States that were worth defending”?
    I would say that freedom and liberty are top priorities, as well as law and order. These are domestic issues though, not international.

    Whether or not China allows trade with us to sell us inexpensive TV’s or if Iran doesn’t want to trade oil, these things are not ‘in the interest of the United States’, but rather economic interests of specific groups within the US.

    If you are talking about, perhaps, the fate of Israel, or possibly any other democracy in the world which our government might be ‘friends’ with currently, then the question should be put to Congress, not just a unilateral decision of the President. I would suggest that ANY such decision to defend another nation, or pick a side in a civil war, or overthrow a government should be strictly viewed through the prism of ‘do not engage in entangling alliances’ as we have been warned from the past.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    his comments about our imperial attitudes towards “the world’s” oil supply in the first half of the interview. He correctly ties that to a philosophy of imperialism. As you’ll recall I pointed out to you yesterday that a large part of your apparent foreign policy position is premised on the same philosophy. Care to rebut?

    It’s not a matter of imperialism or mercantilism, it’s a matter of protecting the free flow of a commodity that is vital to the economy of the United States and the world. Though it’s unlikely under current circumstances, if a situation were to develop where control of a signficant portion of that commodity were to fall into unfriendly hands, or if shipping lanes were to jeopardized, someone would have to do something about it.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    LPM,

    How’s this for a start ?

    The free flow of trade, making sure international transportation didn’t fall victim to the blackmail of hostile nations, and preventing the acquisition of certain technologies by certain nations.

    You may feel safe in a world where a man who talks about bringing about the reign of the 13th Imam has nuclear weapons, I don’t.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    If you are talking about, perhaps, the fate of Israel, or possibly any other democracy in the world which our government might be ‘friends’ with currently, then the question should be put to Congress, not just a unilateral decision of the President.

    Considering that Congress authorizes military aid to Israel on a regular basis, I assume you have no problem with it then ?

    I really must say I don’t understand the fetish with letting Congress decide our foreign policy. The Founding Fathers would not have approved of that one.

  • Craig

    [quote]It’s not a matter of imperialism or mercantilism, it’s a matter of protecting the free flow of a commodity that is vital to the economy of the United States and the world.[/quote]

    As if Saddam Hussein would have stopped selling oil! We need the oil, the sellers need the money. Why would they cut off the flow?

    What the invasion of Iraq did was DISRUPT the free flow of oil, by generating a guerrilla military resistance to the occupation. The oil that was supposed to pay for the invasion has instead been reduced to a trickle, and oil prices have skyrocketed.

  • JAB

    Doug, in his Robert Taft Club speech Paul mentioned our military spending (he differentiated this from ‘defense spending’) will eclipse $1 trillion next year. You don’t think cutting this by, say, half would be significant?

  • Chepe Noyon

    Doug, I am surprised at your assertion that the Founding Fathers would not have approved of letting Congress decide foreign policy. My read is that they wanted Congress to decide everything, with constraints based on the Bill of Rights and states’ rights. They were quite clear that they were afraid of the executive growing too powerful.

  • http://www.rlc.org Bill Westmiller

    Woodruff asked Paul what he thought the interests of the United States that were worth defending and I don’t think he ever really answered the question.

    It would have been difficult for Ron to explain why the incantation of “national interest” is the wrong question. There are no collectivized American interests, only the whimsical preferences of rulers, solely used to justify interventionist policies.

    The only proper interest of government is to protect the nation against attack, or a real, imminent, and clear threat of attack. It isn’t the “business” of government to be protecting the financial interests of anyone beyond our shores. Ron doesn’t support mercantalism, which is the common motive of most foreign military adventures.

  • oilnwater

    doug m. is a closet neocon, screaming to be set free.

  • Matt C

    Man, sometimes I just don’t get it. Apologies in advance, but I’m kinda frustrated.

    “It’s going to take a lot more than just cutting back on defense spending to fix what’s wrong with the economy and the Federal budget.”

    Dead on. No kidding; I agree. My question is: *how on *earth does this constitute a qualification or hesitation to support Dr. Paul.

    Here’s the situation:
    Candidates 1-17 (yes, I’m including both parties): utterly fail to acknowledge any problem with current spending and debt levels
    Candidate #18 (Ron Paul): proposes a not-quite-adequate (in your opinion) solution to the problem.

    It seems like the sane thing to do is write a note saying “I don’t think your solution is adequate … “. Put that note in an envelope with your donation do Dr. Paul’s campaign.

    Did you see Giuliani and Romney in the who-can-say-how-peachy-everything is contest? All we need is, um “optimism”, and y’know keep our chins up, and there won’t be any financial problems, clearly.

    Doug, or anyone: tell us which GOP candidate you prefer, and why his solution to our economic problems is better than Paul’s.

  • Sunshinysmile

    Hhhmmm…I was under the impression that empire-building funds and defense funds were from two different kitties, and that the empire money was WAY more than defense monies. Someone please explain.

  • UCrawford

    Doug,

    Again, Ahmadinejad doesn’t have control of nuclear weapons, nor will he should Iran acquire them. True military authority lies with the ruling council of clerics in Iran, not the office of the President, the president’s office is not representative of the council’s views (as pro-Western Khatami found out), so Ahmadinejad’s opinion is largely irrelevant. I’ve brought all of this up before in these threads. Do you actually pay attention to the factual points people make to rebut your argument, or do you just ignore them whenever they discredit your position?

    You’re wrong about Paul’s foreign policy position, Doug. You’re factually wrong, you’ve never made your case for why the foreign policy you’re suggesting is better than Paul’s and most of the arguments you’ve made the last few days have been intellectually dishonest attacks against Paul’s presumed position unsubstantiated by anything except your own speculation. Over the last week you’ve crossed the line from being a skeptic who raises legitimate concerns about Paul’s positions and his campaign to being a pessimist just looking for something to bitch about.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org Doug Mataconis

    Crawford,

    Yes, half-sane mystics with control of nuclear weapons. Nothing to worry about.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org Doug Mataconis

    You’re wrong about Paul’s foreign policy position, Doug. You’re factually wrong, you’ve never made your case for why the foreign policy you’re suggesting is better than Paul’s and most of the arguments you’ve made the last few days have been intellectually dishonest attacks against Paul’s presumed position unsubstantiated by anything except your own speculation. Over the last week you’ve crossed the line from being a skeptic who raises legitimate concerns about Paul’s positions and his campaign to being a pessimist just looking for something to bitch about.

    The Congressman is the one who, I think, has the burden of putting forward the case for a new foreign policy. Beyond talking about bringing the troops home from Iraq and pretty much anywhere else, I’ve heard nothing that sounds like a coherent foreign policy for the 21st Century.

    And this is talking about the guy I actually like.

  • oilnwater

    iranian religious leaders are not Sufi’s (the mystic school of Islam). and doug, yes you are definitely a straussian. it’s hard to believe you bother pretending anymore.

  • UCrawford

    Doug,

    Half-sane!?! They’ve been running a socialist country for 30 fucking years. They run one of the most efficient and effective intelligence services in the world. They’ve masterfully played Bush into attacking their mortal enemy and handing control of the country over to a political group (SCIRI) that’s allied with their government. They’re a hell of a lot more sane than any of the neo-conservatives talking about nuking them.

    Oilnwater’s right, Doug, your foreign policy arguments are straight out of the neo-conservative playbook. Nothing you’ve pushed is compatible with libertarianism.

    And Paul did put forward his case. He noted and explained why our underlying economics can’t support the current foreign policy, he noted that much of what’s happening in regards to terrorism is a result of blowback from our foreign interventionism, and he demonstrated that he’s not the pacifist you portrayed him to be. You want reasons for why our current military configuration doesn’t fit our national interests? I listed 11 of them for you earlier. You want Paul’s reasons? Then write his campaign and ask for them. Currently you’re just speculating with insufficient information, you’re creating straw man arguments for his position, and you’re knocking those down.

  • http://doublethinkblog.blogspot.com Jono

    Ron Paul has *GOT* to start articulating against Hillary-care. He needs to go over the accounts, to talk about all the pork and subsidies that the other candidates would continue, and how he would be a fiscally responsible president.

    For now, he should leave Iraq alone, and the gold standard alone. We’ve heard him talk about those 2 ad infinitum.

    His record proves he would be against excessive spending. He needs to start speaking against tariffs and taxes. Everyone hates taxes, so start promising a reduction in income taxes.

  • UCrawford

    Doug,

    And if Ron Paul is the guy you like, then you should actually put in the effort at accuracy in your commentary. Write to his campaign and ask him these questions if he’s the one you want to debate on foreign policy and not the people who read your blog whose arguments you generally cherry-pick or ignore. Otherwise, it’s just a smear job by a pessimist not willing to do the research for a proper story.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org Doug Mataconis

    Crawford,

    Actually the mullahs have run a religious dictatorship for the past 30 years. Hardly the type of people I’d trust with nuclear weapons. And, no, I don’t think we should go to war with them.

    Think what you will about my opinions. As it stands, I still think Ron Paul is the best candidate out there, even if I think he’s largely off-base on most foreign policy issues outside of Iraq.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org Doug Mataconis

    And if Ron Paul is the guy you like, then you should actually put in the effort at accuracy in your commentary. Write to his campaign and ask him these questions if he’s the one you want to debate on foreign policy and not the people who read your blog whose arguments you generally cherry-pick or ignore. Otherwise, it’s just a smear job by a pessimist not willing to do the research for a proper story.

    I’m not a full-time journalist, so, no I’m not going to do that.

    I’ve simply decided to comment on things that I’ve read. Nobody has to agree with me….as the Ron Paul supporters who’ve been on my back for eight months now, from the day I said that the campaign was a long-shot at best, can fully attest.

  • Brad Linzy, Evansville, IN

    ATTENTION Ron Paul supporters!

    The average Joe Sixpack still has almost no idea who Ron Paul is. It’s time to get your asses up off the internet and do something, anything, to get this message out there.

    Homework assignment: some time in the next week, get out of your house and go hold a Ron Paul sign on a busy street in your neighborhood.

    Spread the word.

  • UCrawford

    Doug,

    A religious dictatorship that hasn’t attacked us. A religious dictatorship that’s no threat to attack us. A religious dictatorship that doesn’t have the economic resources to possibly build a nuclear arsenal of sufficient size to destroy us. A religious dictatorship that’s given every indication that it’s as pragmatic and self-interested as any non-religious dictatorship you could possibly name.

    So tell me again why Iran’s a threat? And interestingly enough all of these arguments are equally applicable to Iraq.

    “I’m not a full-time journalist, so, no I’m not going to do that.”

    Huh…so you’re saying you can say whatever you want about someone with no particular need for accuracy or research because you don’t work for a newspaper. Interesting position, Doug. Do the courts accept that sort of logic from you when you try a case?

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org Doug Mataconis

    Crawford,

    The same Iran that held 50 Americans hostage for 444 days. The same Iran that positioned anti-ship missiles at the Straits of Hormuz about ten years ago. Are they a threat today ? No. Do they have a potential to be a threat to international stability in the future ? Absolutely.

    Should they be permitted to obtain nuclear weapons ?

    Well, whether you or I agree on that doesn’t matter, because I think September’s events in Syria make clear that Israel will not permit it. And, quite frankly, I don’t blame them one bit.

    so you’re saying you can say whatever you want about someone with no particular need for accuracy or research because you don’t work for a newspaper. Interesting position, Doug. Do the courts accept that sort of logic from you when you try a case?

    I’m saying that I’m expressing my opinion.

  • Mike

    You’re right Doug, oil is a vital commodity, and therefore the US should do everything it can to guarantee its uninterrupted flow, namely stop supporting Israel, and end the sanctions and military hostility against Iran.

    Strategically Iran is far more important to American interests than Israel, and the potential is there for a strong American-Iranian alliance.

  • UCrawford

    Doug,

    Oh, you meant the employees from the embassy where the CIA Chief of Station is located? That would be the same CIA, I assume, that overthrew the Iranian government in 1953 and installed the Shah (and worked with SAVAK, his extremely brutal security service). Hmmm…wonder why’d they take embassy workers hostage, among them 6 CIA workers? Must be because they’re a bunch of ignorant savages. And how many of those hostages were killed or died in captivity? None? Why those heathens…we should instantly nuke them all!!!

    “Should they be permitted to obtain nuclear weapons?”

    Of course not, only civilized countries deserve nuclear weapons. Like the United States. We never start wars with anyone. It was Saddam’s fault for selfishly keeping our oil for himself and making Bush’s daddy upset. (sarcasm off)

    Sure, they should have them. We do, don’t we? Or is it your position that deterrence and national sovereignty are privileges reserved exclusively for the West?

    “The same Iran that positioned anti-ship missiles at the Straits of Hormuz about ten years ago.”

    Which they’ve launched at whom in international waters? Oh wait, I forgot that Middle Eastern nations don’t have the right to defend their own borders. Ignorant savages…they have no faith in the inherent decency of the white man’s culture.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Mike,

    You’re kidding right ?

  • UCrawford

    “I’m saying that I’m expressing my opinion.”

    I’m picturing Doug Mataconis arguing a case right now:

    “Your honor, my client is absolutely innocent and the prosecution’s tactics are misleading and unfair. I’d tell you how they’re unfair, but then I never bothered to look it up in any of the legal books in my library. It’s a lot of work, those specific rules are awfully hard to find, and those books are boring. Anyway, that’s my opinion…it’s not like I’m a journalist and have to back this stuff up.”

    Dedication to truth and accuracy in what you write or say is what you should aspire to. It’s not something reserved only for people of certain professions. If you think it’s unimportant when discussing Ron Paul, then the Paulestinians do have a point about you.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Which they’ve launched at whom in international waters?

    15 October 1987 — A U.S. flagged tanker was hit by an Iranian Silkworm missile while at anchor.

    14 April 1988 — The U.S.S. Samuel Roberts was struck by an Iranian mine while sailing in international waters.

    In fact, during a two your period from 1986-88, the Iranians routined mined the international waters around the Straits of Hormuz

    And, oh yea, there’s last year when they were caught red-handed sending shiploads of weapons to Hamas.

    And, yes, I do think that there are some nations who should be prevented from obtaining nuclear weapons. Those would be the nations most likely to actually use them.

  • UCrawford

    And I won’t agree that the Iranians are good partners in an alliance, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be buying their oil and trading with them.

    Well, except for the fact that 30 years ago they kidnapped Americans working for the intelligence service that overthrew their elected government and put a brutal asshole in charge.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Crawford,

    Personal attacks on my professional integrity are not appreciated.

    I happen to disagree with Ron Paul on a single specific issue. I think he has an incomplete view of where America’s national security interest lie, and I think his suggestion that it is feasible to bring all the troops home from every place they are deployed fails to take into account the power vacuum that would be created if the United States were to withdraw from the world in the manner he suggests.

    You, and the Paulistinans may disagree with me, but do not question my motives.

  • UCrawford

    Doug,

    Hmmm…last incident was 20 years ago while Iran was under the control of Ayatollah Khomeini and we were funding Iraq in their war against Iran. And I believe we retaliated for the Samuel Roberts incident by hitting their oil platforms. So you’re saying that we should never open diplomatic relations with them again because they possibly attacked someone offering material support to their mortal enemy’s war against them 20 years ago? That’s a bit unrealistic, don’t you think…especially considering the fact that it’s our interventionism that provoked it?

    And I believe that Hamas is engaged in a war against Israel and not us. That’s relevant to us how? Oh right, because we support the government of Israel in everything it does because we’re interventionists.

  • UCrawford

    Doug,

    I’ve stuck up for you in the past when I thought you were being wronged and I hold you accountable when I believe that you’re wrong. I’m not accusing you of being a liar, but I am saying that your last few articles have been sloppy and poorly supported. I’m sorry if you don’t appreciate that, but if I go after the Paulestinians, the “truthers”, and the Nazis for making bad arguments I’m not going to go easy on you just because I happen to agree with you sometimes.

  • UCrawford

    Or even if I agree with you a lot, which I do. Except on issues regarding Ron Paul for the last week or so.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Crawford,

    Hamas is a terrorist organization that has killed innocent Israelis and innocent Americans who just happen to be visiting Israel.

    Anyone who supports them is supporting a terrorist organization. Again, that doesn’t mean that we go to war with them tomorrow. But it does mean that we should seriously consider economic sanctions and other non-military means of isolating any government that engages in such activity. And it lends further credence to the idea that a government that has a history of supporting groups that target innocent civilians should be prevented from obtaining technology that will allow them to kill civilians on a mass scale.

  • UCrawford

    Doug,

    How many of those Americans were specifically targeted by Hamas and how many got caught in the cross-fire because they happened to be visiting a war zone?

    And perhaps you should read a little about the Mujaheddin e-Khalq. That’s the Iraq-based, anti-Iranian terrorist group that often targets innocent civilians in Iran with the goal of overthrowing their government. We’ve tended to treat them a lot more leniently than the standard anti-U.S. terror group considering that they run operations from Iraqi territory.

    Iran’s done its share of dirt, but we’ve hardly been the innocent bystander in all of this.

  • UCrawford

    I suppose that the concept of innocence in a war depends greatly on where you’re standing. The Palestinians see themselves as innocent. After all, they were minding their own business in Palestine until we decided to give it away to the Jews as reparations for the Holocaust in Europe without the Palestinians’ consent.

    Funny how it keeps coming back to U.S. interventionism again and again.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Actually, the United States had almost no involvement in the creation of the state of Israel beyond voting for it in the U.N. Security Council.

    Palestine was a British Mandate dating back to the League of Nations and there had been pressure for the creation of a Jewish homeland even before World War II. For better or worse, the holocaust simply made it inevitable.

    And, history does not the fact that the original partition plan included both a Jewish and an Arab state in what was then Palestine. It was the Arabs who refused to talk peace and declared war on Israel before it even existed.

  • UCrawford

    We voted for it nonetheless, and we were the ones taking the lead on the Security Council, so it’s still interventionism no matter how you cut it.

    And how many of the Palestinians got a vote on this partition plan? Did they tell the League of Nations it was okay for their homeland to be taken? And who is the chief supporter of Israel today?

  • UCrawford

    I mean, if someone came into my house and said that the city council of the neighboring town had a vote without my participation to partition my property, but I could still live in the basement if I want, I suppose I might be a little hesitant to make peace too. You know, considering that I own the place.

  • http://www.lunchworks.net Jeff Molby

    I mean, if someone came into my house and said that the city council of the neighboring town had a vote without my participation to partition my property, but I could still live in the basement if I want, I suppose I might be a little hesitant to make peace too. You know, considering that I own the place.

    I just want everyone to read that one more time for good measure. :)

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org Doug Mataconis

    Crawford,

    Except for the fact that there was no “nation” of Palestine to begin with, and Jews had been living in the area for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

    Truth be told, whether the UN had authorized it or not, the Jewish partisans were fighting for a homeland anyway and, given the way history turned out, they probably would’ve won without anyones help.

  • Akston

    “And, yes, I do think that there are some nations who should be prevented from obtaining nuclear weapons. Those would be the nations most likely to actually use them”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the United States the only country to have actually used nuclear weapons against an enemy?

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the United States the only country to have actually used nuclear weapons against an enemy?

    So we should let the Iranians have them, right? Brilliant idea.

  • Jeff Molby

    Truth be told, whether the UN had authorized it or not, the Jewish partisans were fighting for a homeland anyway and, given the way history turned out, they probably would’ve won without anyones help.

    Umm, that would seem to support UC’s position that interventionism is unnecessary at best.

  • UCrawford

    Doug,

    Actually, the Palestinians’ claims to the land weren’t recognized by the U.N. because they weren’t easily translated from the old Ottoman system. Not that it was the job of the U.N. to be dealing with it anyway.

    Native Americans were here for hundreds if not thousands of years. Maybe the U.N. should give them back their land too. After all, we wouldn’t want to be party to a double standard.

    As for the Jewish partisans, if they’d fought their war on their own and gained the land on their own we wouldn’t be having this argument because the locals would have determined that for themselves. But they didn’t, it was gifted to them under a British mandate from the League of Nations (an organization we created) and the mandate was enforced by the U.N. (also an organization we created). So it was stolen, not because the locals sorted out the problem for themselves, but thanks to an interventionist U.S. foreign policy.

    Again, these problems we have in the Middle East always seem to go back to a bunch of asshole politicians (Wilson, FDR, LBJ, Nixon) who decided it was okay to divvy up land that didn’t belong to them and give it away to somebody else. Or that it’s okay to force our will on other countries when they make choices for themselves that we don’t like, even if they’re not attacking us. Funny how interventionist idealism often ends up being an awful lot like imperialism. And not so surprising why a lot of people in the world don’t like us.

  • UCrawford

    Actually, LBJ’s big faux pas was Vietnam and Nixon’s was Chile…but the same principle applies, considering that we intervened because we didn’t like the outcome of their elections.

  • UCrawford

    Kevin,

    “So we should let the Iranians have them, right? Brilliant idea.”

    I’ll consider the Iranians a threat when they’re capable of building a nuclear arsenal capable of removing our ability to counter-strike with our arsenal. Which will be never.

    Sorry, but they lack the economic wealth, population size and the industrial base to ever pose a military threat to us. And the leaders of Iran have given no indication that they’re suicidal or stupid enough to lob a nuke or two at our country so they can provoke their utter annihilation. So they can go ahead and build a nuke for all I care, it’ll just speed up the bankruptcy of their socialist economy the same as it did with the Soviet Union.

  • Akston

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the United States the only country to have actually used nuclear weapons against an enemy?

    So we should let the Iranians have them, right? Brilliant idea.

    Kevin,

    I appreciate your concern, but I made that point for a few reasons:

    1. It’s an historic fact.

    2. The moral high ground in the nuclear weapon use has been a glass parking lot for 62 years.

    3. Schrodinger’s cat is already out of the bag. Any nation with sufficient technology and resources can eventually develop nuclear weapons. Even those that can’t create their own can conceivably buy them from current or prior nuclear powers. World-wide proliferation is inevitable, only the timeframe is debatable.

    4. Americans are safer in a world full of nuclear-armed trading partners, than a world full of nuclear-armed fanatics with perceived grievances fostered from intervention in their regions.

    5. Arguably, the primary reason current nation-states seek nuclear weapon technology is to appear on the U.S. radar long enough to garner a big payoff check, written by the U.S., on a Chinese joint account. Witness North Korea.

    Since we cannot stop the inevitability of nations (and therefore fanatic criminal organizations) from eventually obtaining nuclear weapons, I find it all the more reason not to rely on military answers to trade questions.

  • UCrawford

    Akston,

    Excellent points all.

  • Li

    I would like to point out that Dr. Paul very much addresses Social Security and the welfare state. When I went to go see him speak here in Ann Arbor, he spent a lot of time talking about how he would allow young people opt out of Social Security, and slowly bring new generations back to personal responsibility, thus weaning the people away from government dependancy. The cuts in overseas spending, especially defense spending, would fund the payments to senior citizens who have been promised benefits; the long term solution is the slow weaning of America off expensive (and currently very troubled) programs like Social Security, thus making huge long-term savings. I, for one, would immediately opt out of Social Security, and so would many others.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Akston,

    For better or worse, the United States was in the middle of a war in 1945 that the Japanese military refused to end despite the fact that defeat was inevitable.

    Had the atomic bomb not been utilized, then an invasion of the Japanese home islands would have been the only alternative, and even the most conservative estimates had casualty numbers for both military and civilians far higher than the casualties that resulted from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  • UCrawford

    Doug,

    Akston didn’t make a case that the U.S. shouldn’t have used the bomb in WWII. All he said was that we’re the only ones who’ve done it despite the large number of countries possessing nuclear arms.

  • dph

    Just FYI

    “… two days prior to Roosevelt’s departure for Yalta, the president received a crucial, forty page memorandum from General Douglas MacArthur outlining five separate surrender overtures from highly placed Jap officials offering surrender terms which were virtually identical to the ones eventually dictated by the Allies to the Japanese in August.”

    Read more at:
    http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v06/v06p508_Hoffman.html

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    Just FYI

    “… two days prior to Roosevelt’s departure for Yalta, the president received a crucial, forty page memorandum from General Douglas MacArthur outlining five separate surrender overtures from highly placed Jap officials offering surrender terms which were virtually identical to the ones eventually dictated by the Allies to the Japanese in August.”

    Read more at:
    http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v06/v06p508_Hoffman.html

    You mean the Holocaust deniers at the Institute for “Historical” Review. You’re putting a link from them as a legitimate discussion item, you’re joking right??!!

  • Akston

    I have heard a few different versions of the history leading up to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My point was not to rehash that. My point was also not to condemn America.

    The point I’m forwarding is: The days of only a few “nuclear powers” controlling nuclear weapons are drawing, inevitably, to a close. The U.S. can slow this progress, but cannot stop it. If in the process of slowing it, we create a world full of mortal enemies, is that truly in our best long-term interests?

    After decades of a policy of “containment” with the Soviet Union, the neoconservatives in the Bush administration shifted to a policy of “pre-emption” (see articles like this).

    No matter how we approach these emerging nuclear powers, nothing in the pre-emptive doctrine can reasonably declare that nuclear proliferation will not eventually occur. So unless you believe we can get the nuclear cat back into the bag (and the chemical one, and the biological one), you are faced with an increasingly dangerous world – a world which also includes fanatics and criminals and tin-pot dictators. If you don’t choose to hide your head, what are your rational alternatives to meet this challenge?

    “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”
    — Einstein, telegram, May 24, 1946

    Being an advocate of the second amendment, I occasionally attend shooting events. Contrary to the sensationalized notions held by some of the uninitiated, I find these events invariably populated by the most respectful people I have ever met. In the events I’ve attended, NO ONE is casual with the firearms. NO ONE points the weapon anywhere or shoots at any time except when released to do so. NO ONE is a bully, raises his voice in anger, or threatens anyone. Ever. Why? Obviously because the tools we’re using will cause mortal injury or death if handled casually. Everyone at the event knows this.

    The more dangerous the environment, the more civil you must be…if you want to avoid everyone being hurt.

    Sure, we have to defend the country against actual and imminent attack, but as we saw in Iraq: bluster does not equal threat. Sure, we have to relentlessly pursue mass-murdering criminals, but invading unrelated nations does not forward this goal. Sure, we have to have good international intelligence and maintain good trade relationships, but toppling governments to facilitate what we hope will be more favorable trade environments is like being a bully at a firing line. It’s stupid, dangerous and immoral, no matter how many guns are in your stall.

  • UCrawford

    Akston,

    Very well put…I think you summed up the libertarian argument for non-interventionism perfectly.

  • Chepe Noyon

    Interesting point, Akston. Let’s run with the concept that we must abandon the non-proliferation regime because it’s falling apart. What can we replace it with? I would think it would be some sort of UN-level principle that the detonation of a nuclear bomb anywhere on the planet constitutes a crime against humanity, punishable by life in prison for all those found to have culpability in the crime.

    Of course, there are two huge problems with this approach: identifying the perpetrators, and bringing them to justice. The first problem would arise if, say, Iran uses a nuclear weapon on a target through proxies. All we know is that Washington blew up. How do we determine the source of the weapon? This problem is partially solvable by a new system requiring “branding” of fissile materials by mixing uranium and plutonium in defined ratios. Thus, Iran must make fissile materials with, say, 65% U235 and 35% Pu239, while Israel must use 60% U235 and 40% Pu239. This would make it easy to identify the source of the weapon. Of course, then we have to enforce the mixing ratios, which in turn would require inspector regimes, which aren’t that different from what we already have…

    The second problem is also a problem. Suppose we determine that Iran was the source of the weapon. We demand that the leadership of Iran report to the ICC for prosecution. They respond with “go fish”. What now? I suppose that we could then respond with economic sanctions — but that’s what we’re trying to do with the anti-proliferation regime, and that doesn’t work, either.

    Nevertheless, I think it possible to be more successful if we put something together BEFORE any weapons go off, establishing a procedure that everybody agrees to in advance.

    It’s not a terribly promising idea, but our non-proliferation regime is disintegrating, and we need something to replace it.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    They respond with “go fish”. What now? I suppose that we could then respond with economic sanctions

    No, then you’d go bust down their door and serve the warrant. It would be justified at that point.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Chepe,

    “This problem is partially solvable by a new system requiring “branding” of fissile materials by mixing uranium and plutonium in defined ratios.”

    Assuming of course that one country doesn’t change its mix to make it appear another country carried out an attack, or the U.N. is capable of competently policing your plan (which it isn’t and likely never will be).

    My solution is simply to let proliferation occur. Nuclear weapons are incredibly expensive to produce and maintain so any smaller nation that develops the technology will be unlikely to produce a nuclear arsenal of sufficient size to do anything except deter an invasion, which is every country’s right of self-defense. If Iran attempted to get in an arms race with us, their country’s economy would likely collapse. A terrorist organization is unlikely to be able to do much with a nuke, since they lack the capability to deliver one to us (not to mention the ability to carry out the containment protocols necessary to store a nuclear weapon safely and undetected using non-ICBM delivery methods). And Iran is unlikely to share their nuclear technology with al-Qaeda, or even to use it on Israel, since such an attack would only serve to provoke us and being discovered doing so would guarantee their complete annihilation at the hands of a U.S. or Israeli nuclear counter-strike, respectively (not to mention the fact that Iran and al-Qaeda are natural enemies).

  • Chepe Noyon

    It’s true that monitoring the mixing ratios would be difficult, but it’s certainly possible. Right now the NPT protocols differentiate between fuel-grade material (3% concentration of U235) and weapons-grade (90%). Monitoring the mixing ratios for weapons-making would be a bit more difficult, but the technology has certainly improved. So we can’t dismiss the idea out of hand as impractical, merely difficult.

    I also don’t think we can dismiss the terrorist bomb scenario. It’s not just the USA that’s at risk — any country could be the victim of such an attack. Russia could be hit by a Chechen terrorist, China by a Tibetan or Uigur terrorist, Spain by a Basque terrorist — the list is long. And while it’s true that we have some countermeasures, they’re obviously not good enough: look how poor a job we do at stopping the flow of tons of drugs into the country.

    But would a nuclear power give a weapon to a terrorist group? I can see Iran giving one to Hamas to use on Israel. I can see Pakistan, if there’s an Islamic revolution there, giving one to the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda. It’s not highly likely, but the odds are good enough to make me worry. I agree that the NPT regime is crumbling but we need to put something in its place.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    But would a nuclear power give a weapon to a terrorist group? I can see Iran giving one to Hamas to use on Israel. I can see Pakistan, if there’s an Islamic revolution there, giving one to the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda. It’s not highly likely, but the odds are good enough to make me worry.

    You’re forgetting the last factor. If it actually happened, what are the odds that the outcome would be apocalyptic?

    As cold as this may sound, the human race can survive a dozen nuclear explosions without much trouble. A nuclear apocalypse would only happen if the retaliations were cyclical and that is even less likely to happen with rogue states and groups than it would be with superpowers.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Chepe,

    I’d rank the odds of Hamas getting a nuke from Iran somewhere between infinitesimal and none. If they did it or even tried it, actually, it would be impossible to smuggle a nuclear warhead undetected (since that would mean skimping on containment protocols) without leaving evidence after the fact. People who think this is possible are buying into a movie myth. Just look at what happened with the ex-KGB guy who got assassinated in London…the British authorities and Interpol immediately tracked the polonium trail right back to Russia. The Israelis would know exactly where it came from and they’d hit Iran with their nukes in addition to attacks from their conventional forces. The move would certainly turn world opinion against Iran. Europe would likely get involved, since it’s their neighborhood, as would the Sunni states (who have no love for Iran). It would spell the end of the Iranian regime, and their leadership has given no indication that they’re either stupid or suicidal enough to ignore that reality.

    The NPT is crumbling because it was always destined to fail. It was designed to keep a nuclear monopoly only among the superpowers and to deprive smaller countries of the ability to resist. It’s failing because the rest of the world finally caught up to the U.S., as is their right. As Akston pointed out, the nuclear cat’s out of the bag and we can either continue to live in denial about it and create a whole list of enemies when we try to impose our will to futilely stop them from developing nuclear power, or we can accept it, deal with them as relative equals (as we should have done all along) and accept that the rest of the world is no longer incapable of defending itself whenever they do things that we dislike or that are inconvenient for us.

    As Heinlein said, “An armed society is a polite society”. That concept works for the rest of the world the same as it does for us.

  • Chepe Noyon

    Jeff, I’m not at all worried about nuclear Armageddon resulting from a terrorist attack. My concern is that such an attack could do up to a trillion dollars worth of damage. That’s a lot of money to go up in smoke. We’d really like to prevent that kind of thing from happening.

    UCrawford, I agree that it’s unlikely that Iran would give Hamas a nuke, but in an open nuclear world, there are just too many possible leaks. What if there’s a revolution in Iran? During the chaos, might not somebody be able to steal a nuke? What if there’s a small-group conspiracy within the government that permits a group to steal a weapon? As I say, there are just too many possible leaks to allow us to rest easy in an open nuclear world.

    On shipping a weapon undetected: this is not really very difficult. The case you invoke had polonium powder being used without containment protocols. That’s like spraying the stuff all over the place. A weapon is entirely different: it doesn’t spill anything. The giveaway is the radiation profile. Bombs emit lots of stuff, including neutrons and gamma rays, which penetrate most shielding and hence are detectable at a distance of up to 100 meters (depending heavily on the amount of fissile material, the shielding around it, and the sensitivity of the detectors.)Nevertheless, a good sized bomb could easily fit onto the back of a pickup truck, and if you shielded it carefully you could probably sneak it into the country. They’re busily installing radiation detectors at all the ports and customs installations, but I’m dubious that they can get a good seal.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    My concern is that such an attack could do up to a trillion dollars worth of damage. That’s a lot of money to go up in smoke. We’d really like to prevent that kind of thing from happening.

    Check the ledger. It looks to me like our prevention efforts are likely to cost even more.

  • Chepe Noyon

    Jeff, I agree that invading Iraq was definitely not a cost-effective use of taxpayer funds. But I’m not suggesting that we invade countries to enforce a new nuclear weapons regime. The NPT enforcement mechanism costs way less than a billion bucks a year.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    True, but NPT can only work if backed by force. If you remove the threat of force, the whole world will nod and smile while it continues to develop nukes.

    So, if you agree that interventionism is counter-productive, you might as well drop the pretense and put all your efforts into defense and containment.

  • Chepe Noyon

    Actually, NPT has always been voluntary. The deal was simple: sign the treaty and you get access to high-tech Western nuclear stuff. Don’t sign the treaty and you can’t get that stuff. It kinda-sorta worked for several decades, but it was only a stopgap. Everybody expected that it would be replaced with something stronger, but that never happened.

    This half-baked idea I came up with would have a stronger incentive: if you sign the deal and a weapon goes off in your territory, then it’s a crime against humanity. If you refuse to sign the deal and a weapon goes off in your territory, it’s a damn shame — nothing more. How’s that for incentive?

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Chepe,

    Didn’t happen in Russia after the Soviet Union collapsed and they had a lot more nukes to be accountable for than Iran could realistically develop. If Iran’s government experienced a total anarchic breakdown there’s nothing to prevent us, or the Russians, or Europe monitoring the situation or stepping in…in fact, the Iranian government would probably request it because they don’t want the weapons falling into the hands of people who are hostile to their interests (like al-Qaeda). And the fact of the matter is, despite all the scaremongering, nuclear weapons are the most inconvenient things in the world to move without being noticed and it’s impossible to do so without extensive expertise. It’s not like a terrorist can just run into a nuclear facility, grab some fuel rods or go into a missile silo and unscrew a warhead and run back out without anyone noticing or without following some containment protocols or having some expertise in what they’re doing. They’d get themselves killed in the process.

    Also governments that possess these weapons take the utmost precautions in securing them, mainly because they understand the damage nuclear weapons can cause and just how destructive they can be to their own interest if proper respect isn’t paid. Countries who have developed the capability to build nuclear arms aren’t frivolous about their usage…they realize exactly how much responsibility it entails. That’s also why countries run by irrational or incompetent leaders like the Taliban don’t develop nuclear weapons, because they don’t understand the realities of how difficult it is to possess nuclear arms, they rarely have the discipline and focus necessary to obtain them, and their countries rarely have the economic resources necessary to pull it off. Why do you think Qaddafi and Kim Jong-il gave up their nuclear programs, despite getting all the necessary technical information from Pakistan? It wasn’t because they were scared of the United States or they wanted us to like them, it was because they lacked the resources or the ability to go any further with their programs. Their nuclear programs were simply more of a burden than they were worth. Frankly, I think Iran’s going to end up discovering the same thing if we just back off and let them run with their program. They’re only pursuing it now because they see us a threat to them and because we’re perched on their borders…not because they want to commit suicide by having a nuclear war with the West.

    And Jeff’s right…prevention would likely be even more expensive than even the worst of worst case scenarios involving Iranian nukes.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Chepe,

    As for your “crime against humanity” plan, the international judicial system is too much of a sick, ineffectual joke for that to happen. Why do you think George W. Bush is still walking around free despite the fact that he provoked a war with and invaded a country that didn’t attack us? Because the countries who are powerful enough to do something like drop a nuclear bomb are way too powerful to spend a minute worrying about whether or not the U.N. is going to be invading their country and sticking their leaders in front of a kangaroo court like the ICC. A country’s ownership of nuclear weapons negates the ability of the rest of the world to dictate terms to that country.

    I understand what you’re trying to say, but your proposal is absolutely unenforceable under any realistic circumstance.

  • Chepe Noyon

    UCrawford, I agree that all countries with nuclear weapons keep them under tight security — after spending all that money on them, it would be really embarrassing to misplace a few, and if they docked your pay for losing one, it would take a few thousand years to earn it out. However, I don’t think that we can assume that the internal elements of governments like those of Pakistan and Iran are reliable. There is high enough factionalization, and low enough respect for the rule of law, that an internal conspiracy could pull off a heist.

    Moreover, I think you’re mistaken about the difficulty of handling nuclear weapons. Once the thing is built, it’s just like any other bomb. You use a forklift to move it around (although you have to be gentler because the triggers are fragile.) But the exposure you get standing next to one of these bombs isn’t so great as to constitute a serious threat.

    Lastly, why do you think that prevention would be expensive? Are you assuming really, really expensive ink for signing the treaty? ;-)

  • http://www.lunchworks.net Jeff Molby

    Lastly, why do you think that prevention would be expensive? Are you assuming really, really expensive ink for signing the treaty? ;-)

    Yes, I hear they’re leaning towards HP.

    Seriously though, your hypothetical treaty wouldn’t be expensive, but it probably wouldn’t be effective either. It lacks the necessary incentives or disincentives to persuade a country that would otherwise pursue a nuke.

    The fangs necessary to truly prevent proliferation are unavoidably expensive.

  • Chepe Noyon

    Enforcement of international relations in the 21st Century will have to be through economic sanctions, not warfare. War is just too messy, especially with the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The good news is that economic sanctions will have increasing bite with each passing year, as the economies of different countries are growing ever more interlinked. Even North Korea, the least connected country in the world, was seriously inconvenienced by sanctions.

    Of course, right now it’s almost impossible to put together a decent sanctions regime. I think that the threat of nuclear attack will concentrate minds and permit the establishment of a truly effective system for applying economic sanctions, with well-defined degrees of sanctions and standard legal systems for implementation. Right now, it’s a mess, but I think that we can develop such systems to work much more smoothly.

    BTW, Jeff, I’m not arguing in favor of retaining the NPT — at this point, I think we should acknowledge its failure under our breath and try to keep it useful long enough to slow down Iran, and give us some breathing space to put together a new regime.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    I’m not arguing in favor of retaining the NPT — at this point, I think we should acknowledge its failure under our breath and try to keep it useful long enough to slow down Iran

    Ok, but if we do it under our breath, what do we do about our leader who thinks we still want to enforce it militarily?

    and give us some breathing space to put together a new regime.

    Please tell me you’re referring to Iraq or USA.

  • UCrawford

    Chepe,

    My point is that the best way to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons is not to create more intrusive methods to stop them but to end our interventionist foreign policy. That’s what’s driving the paranoia of a lot of these countries to pursue nuclear weapons. Having a nuke is simply a way for them to limit foreign involvement in their internal affairs because it’s the ultimate in home defense. And frankly, it’s hypocritical to demand that other nations of the world adhere to a standard that we ourselves aren’t willing to adhere to and that they have no ability to hold us to (not that we’d want them to). Let them have their nukes…they’re not going to be a threat to attack us with them so long as we aren’t backing them into a corner by interfering with their internal affairs.

  • UCrawford

    And that method, unlike increased policing, won’t cost us anything.

  • Chepe Noyon

    I can certainly agree that keeping our noses out of other countries’ business is the best starting point for all this. But I remain convinced that we should take steps to retard the progress of proliferation and to make it more difficult to use them. I think we should just agree to disagree on the finer point while agreeing on the larger point.