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October 31, 2007

Zogby: 52% Of Americans Would Support A Strike On Iran

by Doug Mataconis

The latest Zogby poll has bad news for those of us who think that preemptive military action against Iran would portend worse consequences for the United States than the Iraq War has:

A majority of likely voters – 52% – would support a U.S. military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, and 53% believe it is likely that the U.S. will be involved in a military strike against Iran before the next presidential election, a new Zogby America telephone poll shows.

(…)

Democrats (63%) are most likely to believe a U.S. military strike against Iran could take place in the relatively near future, but independents (51%) and Republicans (44%) are less likely to agree. Republicans, however, are much more likely to be supportive of a strike (71%), than Democrats (41%) or independents (44%). Younger likely voters are more likely than those who are older to say a strike is likely to happen before the election and women (58%) are more likely than men (48%) to say the same – but there is little difference in support for a U.S. strike against Iran among these groups.

There are, I think, several reasons for these results.

First, most Americans, quite rightly, seem to believe that allowing a regime like the Islamic Republic of Iran to possess weapons of mass destruction would be contrary to the interests of the United States. I agree with this to the extent that, to me, it isn’t important whether Iran could threaten the mainland United States or not; the prospect of an Iranian regime in possession of nuclear weapons and thus possessing a significant strategic advantage over all of its neighbors with the exception of Israel and Pakistan (and Pakistan’s nuclear program exists primarily as a counter to India’s) would not be good for the Middle East or the world as a whole.

Second, we’re talking about Iran here, and the memory of the American public runs deep. November 4, 1979 isn’t that long ago; and Iran’s role in things such as the Marine Barracks bombing in Lebanon and other terror attacks in the 80′s and 90′s is fairly clear.

Finally, even though they have largely come to the conclusion that the Iraq War was a mistake and that we need to disengage, poll results like these are a fairly strong indication that the American people are not isolationist and would not necessarily endorse a foreign policy that could basically be summed up as “bring all the boys home from everywhere,” or support a candidate who advocated such a strategy.

The same poll also indicates that the War on Terror could play a role in the 2008 election:

As the possibility the U.S. may strike Iran captures headlines around the world, many have given thought to the possibility of an attack at home. Two in three (68%) believe it is likely that the U.S. will suffer another significant terrorist attack on U.S. soil comparable to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 – of those, 27% believe such an attack is very likely. Nearly one in three (31%) believe the next significant attack will occur between one and three years from now, 22% said they believe the next attack is between three and five years away, and 15% said they don’t think the U.S. will be attacked on U.S. soil for at least five years or longer. Just 9% believe a significant terrorist attack will take place in the U.S. before the next presidential election.

In 2004, it was public misgivings about John Kerry’s ability to lead the nation in the War on Terror that, largely, gave the election to Bush. What impact continued anxiety over future terrorist acts, whether those fears are justified are not, is unclear, but it would seem to suggest that a candidate who emphasized such issues would have an advantage.

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50 Comments

  1. poll results like these are a fairly strong indication that the American people are not isolationist and would not necessarily endorse a foreign policy that could basically be summed up as “bring all the boys home from everywhere,” or support a candidate who advocated such a strategy.

    Ok, Doug. That did it. There was absolutely no excuse for you to take an Iran poll and use it to toss the “isolationist” tag at a certain unnamed candidate. You know better and yet you did it anyways. You’re an ass.

    Come take a bow, Buckwheat. You smelled the rat three months ago.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — October 31, 2007 @ 1:25 pm
  2. Doug,

    I’ll buy into all this bullshit about how wrong it is for Iran to have nuclear weapons when our government starts seriously taking steps to get rid of ours (which is never going to happen, and which I’m okay with). Demanding that other nations disarm or abandon their right to self-defense while your own nation is free to build whatever weapons it wants is the height of hypocrisy.

    As for this gem:

    “I agree with this to the extent that, to me, it isn’t important whether Iran could threaten the mainland United States or not..”

    So much for any argument that your foreign policy is about self-defense. You’re not taking a stand against isolationism Doug, you’re advocating for imperialistic powers for the U.S. So you’re apparently not particularly pro-freedom when it comes to people outside our borders. Care to explain that reasoning?

    Comment by UCrawford — October 31, 2007 @ 1:27 pm
  3. Also Paul clearly drew the distinction between isolationism and interventionism last night with Leno and explained his position. You chose to ignore this with this post. Care to explain that as well?

    Comment by UCrawford — October 31, 2007 @ 1:36 pm
  4. “and Pakistan’s nuclear program exists primarily as a counter to India’s”

    Truly lame, Doug. Since when did nuclear missiles have names written on them? The only reason Pakistan didn’t make the equally lame “Axis of Evil” list is because they’re nuclear armed.

    Once we get a shred of evidence that Iran is working on a nuclear weapons program, I’m certian Liberty Papers will be the first to know. A laugh a day Doug, thanks.

    Comment by GeneG — October 31, 2007 @ 1:42 pm
  5. This poll does come to a surprise to me. I recall that the majority of Americans once supported attacking Iraq. Amazing how minds change soon after the first shots are fired and the body bags start coming home.

    Maybe its time to stop these hollow threats and return to a “walk softly and carry a big stick” approach.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — October 31, 2007 @ 2:46 pm
  6. GeneG,

    Do a little Googling and you’ll see the timeline clearly in terms of the development of India’s nuclear weapons, and the development of Pakistan’s. Not to mention the fact that they’ve fought more than one war, and come close to fighting a few more, since the subcontinent was divided more than 50 years ago.

    Who do you think Pakistan is worried about if it’s not India ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 3:17 pm
  7. Crawford,

    I didn’t express my opinions at all. Except to say, at the very beginning that I oppose military action against Iran.

    I think your argument is with the people polled.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 3:17 pm
  8. Crawford,

    As for the sentence you quoted — yes, I think its clear that a nuclear armed Iran could post threats to American interests. Just as a nuclear armed Soviet Union posed threats to the United States long before its weapons were actually capable of reaching the United States.

    Recognizing that America’s strategic interests extend beyond the shorelines, however, doesn’t mean that military action is the only pancea available.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 3:19 pm
  9. Jeff,

    If thats not what the poll numbers mean, then what do you think they mean (assuming for the sake of this argument that they’re a relatively accurate reflection of the state of public opinion) ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 3:20 pm
  10. Stephen,

    This poll does come to a surprise to me. I recall that the majority of Americans once supported attacking Iraq. Amazing how minds change soon after the first shots are fired and the body bags start coming home.

    That’s been the case with most military action in the Post-Vietnam area, I think.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 3:21 pm
  11. Doug,

    This…

    “The latest Zogby poll has bad news for those of us who think that preemptive military action against Iran would portend worse consequences for the United States than the Iraq War has”

    …is hardly a conclusive argument against attacking Iran, while this…

    “I agree with this to the extent that, to me, it isn’t important whether Iran could threaten the mainland United States or not; the prospect of an Iranian regime in possession of nuclear weapons and thus possessing a significant strategic advantage over all of its neighbors with the exception of Israel and Pakistan (and Pakistan’s nuclear program exists primarily as a counter to India’s) would not be good for the Middle East or the world as a whole.”

    …indicates that while you may not necessarily be in favor of the U.S. attacking Iran you’re not going to be all that bothered by it if it happens. Your following implicit (and inaccurate) link of an isolationist ideology to Ron Paul’s foreign policy position (“bring the boys back home” and advocating against aggressive wars being non-interventionist positions, not isolationist) comes off as little more than a smear against a candidate with whom you’ve had no shortage of nits, real or imagined, to pick.

    You claim that you weren’t injecting your opinion into your article. The tone and allusions you made suggest otherwise. If you want to be a closet neo-conservative on foreign policy, fine…but leave the isolationist insinuations against Paul out of it when bringing up your polls. He’s stated that he’s not an isolationist, he’s backed up his statement with explanations, and you’ve no basis for continuing to link his policy positions to isolationism.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 31, 2007 @ 3:43 pm
  12. Doug,

    “That’s been the case with most military action in the Post-Vietnam area, I think.”

    That’s been the case with most wars we’ve engaged in where we weren’t attacked. People don’t tolerate body bags when they’re the result of unnecessary, pointless or unjustified wars (i.e. Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq). The American people are more than willing to support a war as long as it’s in self-defense (WWII, Afghanistan), as long as there is a clear goal or strategy in sight, and as long as it’s not run by an incompetent group of hacks with a demonstrated fondness for blowing smoke up their ass.

    The American people aren’t afraid to support wars…they just don’t support losing wars where we’re the bad guy.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 31, 2007 @ 3:51 pm
  13. If thats not what the poll numbers mean, then what do you think they mean?

    Do I need to draw a picture?

    The opposite of interventionism is non-interventionism.
    The opposite of interventionism is non-interventionism.
    The opposite of interventionism is non-interventionism.

    This is basic English, Doug.

    Isolationism is a subset of non-interventionism and there are no candidates advocating it, so there’s no reason for you to even mention it.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — October 31, 2007 @ 3:56 pm
  14. Jeff,

    It depends on how you define isolationism. If you define it as a foreign policy that essentially says that unless a foreign power poses a direct threat to the American mainland, then its not something we need to concern ourselves with then I would say that there are distressing number of people who call themselves libertarianism who would agree with it.

    How do you define it ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 4:18 pm
  15. Crawford,

    Just because I think that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a danger for the United States and the world doesn’t mean that I would support unprovoked military action (and let’s be clear about that, if Iran starts acting in a provacative manner that threatens American interests, then I may have reassess my conclusions)

    There are methods short of war — such as economic sanctions, prohibition on technology transfers, etc — that would be perfect fine. For me at least.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 4:19 pm
  16. Crawford,

    The American people aren’t afraid to support wars…they just don’t support losing wars where we’re the bad guy.

    Which is why the First Gulf War (which I supported at the time) and American intervention in Yugoslavia (which I opposed) stand in stark contrast to the current War in Iraq.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 4:20 pm
  17. This poll demonstrates, once again, the truth of the garbage in, garbage out principle. Feed people a steady diet of one sided propaganda garbage then take their temperature with a poll to see if the garbage is becoming ingrained. Repeat until they spew back the garbage you desire them to spew back.

    Speaking of repeating garbage over and over hoping it will stick. Say what you will about the “Liberty Papers” resident “Fox in the Liberty Hen House” but you must grant that he is a prolific spewer of anti-Liberty garbage.

    Break-

    Yes Jeff, Buckwheat’s rat smelling ability is quite refined and worthy of praise.

    Break-

    At risk of being labeled and marginalized as an anti-semite by those that practice collectivist, divide and conquer politics because it serves their narrow-interest agendas and it, thus far, works nicely, here is the plain speaking truth re: Iran.

    Iran is Israel’s problem which she is well capable of dealing with on her own. While it would be nice for Israel to have us join in on her regional problem and better yet have the good ol’ USA take care of it, take the international PR heat and foot the bill, it is NOT in the interest of the citizens of the USA. Best wishes to you Israel, you will do fine but you will do fine on your lonesome if the American people have a lick of sense and stand up to those beating war drums for the USA to do your heavylifting. Those in the USA doing the cheerleading for the USA to do Israel’s dirty work, you know who you are, knowingly have Israel’s interests ahead of the interests of the USA. Fair enough for them, they are free to have their allegiance with whomever they wish. Those whose allegiance is with the USA, who put the interests of the USA and her citizens first, would be fools to be taken in (AGAIN) by the fearmongering flim-flam of the Israel’s interest uber alles crowd. We played this game and got burned just a short time ago folks. Let us not get fooled again when our most recent sucker move should still be very fresh in our minds.

    For some interesting background reading on how
    why a group with a problem that is solely that groups problem sucks outside groups into believing it is their problem as well and how this process is aided by their Big Megaphone media cohorts in crime see the chapter on AIDS in the book “Bias”.
    Bias was written by Bernard Goldberg, a correspondent at CBS for 27 years.

    Comment by gmason — October 31, 2007 @ 4:22 pm
  18. If at first your comment fails to post…

    This poll demonstrates, once again, the truth of the garbage in, garbage out principle. Feed people a steady diet of one sided propaganda garbage then take their temperature with a poll to see if the garbage is becoming ingrained. Repeat until they spew back the garbage you desire them to spew back.

    Speaking of repeating garbage over and over hoping it will stick. Say what you will about the “Liberty Papers” resident “Fox in the Liberty Hen House” but you must grant that he is a prolific spewer of anti-Liberty garbage.

    Break-

    Yes Jeff, Buckwheat’s rat smelling ability is quite refined and worthy of praise.

    Break-

    At risk of being labeled and marginalized as an anti-semite by those that practice collectivist, divide and conquer politics because it serves their narrow-interest agendas and it, thus far, works nicely, here is the plain speaking truth re: Iran.

    Iran is Israel’s problem which she is well capable of dealing with on her own. While it would be nice for Israel to have us join in on her regional problem and better yet have the good ol’ USA take care of it, take the international PR heat and foot the bill, it is NOT in the interest of the citizens of the USA. Best wishes to you Israel, you will do fine but you will do fine on your lonesome if the American people have a lick of sense and stand up to those beating war drums for the USA to do your heavylifting. Those in the USA doing the cheerleading for the USA to do Israel’s dirty work, you know who you are, knowingly have Israel’s interests ahead of the interests of the USA. Fair enough for them, they are free to have their allegiance with whomever they wish. Those whose allegiance is with the USA, who put the interests of the USA and her citizens first, would be fools to be taken in (AGAIN) by the fearmongering flim-flam of the Israel’s interest uber alles crowd. We played this game and got burned just a short time ago folks. Let us not get fooled again when our most recent sucker move should still be very fresh in our minds.

    Comment by gmason — October 31, 2007 @ 4:32 pm
  19. For some interesting background reading on how
    why a group with a problem that is solely that groups problem sucks outside groups into believing it is their problem as well and how this process is aided by their Big Megaphone media cohorts in crime see the chapter on AIDS in the book “Bias”.
    Bias was written by Bernard Goldberg, a correspondent at CBS for 27 years.

    Comment by gmason — October 31, 2007 @ 4:35 pm
  20. Doug says-

    “Who do you think Pakistan is worried about if it’s not India ?”

    A better question-Who do you think Doug is worried about since it is obviously NOT the USA?

    Comment by gmason — October 31, 2007 @ 4:43 pm
  21. gmason,

    Great way to dodge the point of my question.

    You and I obviously disagree on this point, so I’m not sure what the value of further discussion of something that we’re not going to change each others minds on actually is.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 4:46 pm
  22. If you define it as a foreign policy that essentially says that unless a foreign power poses a direct threat to the American mainland

    Yes, if you toss out the dictionary and invent your own definition, I can see your point.

    How do you define it?

    I don’t. I refer to the language experts. Help yourself to any of the following:

    Webster: a policy of national isolation by abstention from alliances and other international political and economic relations
    Cambridge: the political principle or practice of showing interest only in your own country and not being involved in international activities
    Encarta: avoidance of international relations: a government policy based on the belief that national interests are best served by avoiding economic and political alliances with other countries

    Isolationism is a subset of non-interventionism. There are no Presidential candidates advocating isolationism.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — October 31, 2007 @ 4:47 pm
  23. Doug,

    “How do you define it?”

    Doesn’t matter how Jeff defines it, it matters how Ron Paul defines it because that’s who you’re continually linking to isolationism. Paul has repeatedly defined isolationism as a philosophy that opposes free trade, commerce, diplomacy and defined non-interventionism as a philosophy by which we engage in all of these things but only adopt an “avoidance of entangling alliances” (a quote he lifted from George Washington). This does not mean that we do not defend our citizens against attack on the mainland. This does not mean that we do not defend our citizens abroad when they are targeted by hostile powers for engaging in lawful activities. What this means is that we don’t get involved in aggressive or unnecessary wars simply because of an alliance to a foreign party (which was the case in Korea, Vietnam, the first Gulf War, Yugoslavia, and Somalia) or because of our leader’s obvious personal bias (Iraq). Paul voted for the invasion of Afghanistan and has stood by his vote, because it was clearly a war of self-defense. He opposed it only after Bush abandoned the pursuit of al-Qaeda and bin Laden, exceeded his Congressional mandate, and changed the mission to nation-building. Paul has never been an isolationist and you’ve no cause to call him one.

    “There are methods short of war — such as economic sanctions, prohibition on technology transfers, etc — that would be perfect fine. For me at least.”

    So in other words you’re okay with interventionism and government suppression of free trade as long as it targets a group of people that our government doesn’t like…regardless of whether those people have attacked us. Yeah, that’s obviously a much more pro-liberty stance than invasion.

    “…if Iran starts acting in a provacative manner that threatens American interests, then I may have reassess my conclusions”

    So by “threatens American interests” do those interests extend to the “world’s” oil supply that you alluded to in an earlier post? If, say, Iran convinces the Iraqi and Syrian governments to impose an embargo against shipping oil to the West by cutting off the pipelines running across their nations (as is their right), would you say that’s sufficient grounds to attack them? At what point exactly would you suggest that “American” interests are subordinate to their national sovereignty?

    “Which is why the First Gulf War (which I supported at the time) and American intervention in Yugoslavia (which I opposed) stand in stark contrast to the current War in Iraq.”

    Well, looks like you were 33% right on your foreign policy judgments. I’m not opposed to stopping clear international aggression, but then again the Kuwaitis did provoke the Iraqis by cross-drilling into their oil fields and the status of Kuwait as an independent state was hardly undisputed.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 31, 2007 @ 4:52 pm
  24. What do you think is going to happen after the strikes on Iran?

    Comment by uhm — October 31, 2007 @ 5:02 pm
  25. Crawford,

    Can’t we just once have a debate about this issue — which libertarians have debated for decades — without it being about Ron Paul ? I certainly didn’t mention his name, and there are plenty of libertarian thinkers who say the same thing that he does, so this could just as easily be a debate about the foreign policy views of one of those guys.

    So in other words you’re okay with interventionism and government suppression of free trade as long as it targets a group of people that our government doesn’t like…regardless of whether those people have attacked us. Yeah, that’s obviously a much more pro-liberty stance than invasion.

    When it comes to certain nations, and certain forms of trade, and the circumstances are serious enough, yes. Or do you think it would be okay to let any company in Silicon Valley sell high technology to Iran, Syria and North Korea ?

    So by “threatens American interests” do those interests extend to the “world’s” oil supply that you alluded to in an earlier post? If, say, Iran convinces the Iraqi and Syrian governments to impose an embargo against shipping oil to the West by cutting off the pipelines running across their nations (as is their right), would you say that’s sufficient grounds to attack them? At what point exactly would you suggest that “American” interests are subordinate to their national sovereignty?

    Keep in mind that the oil supply was nationalized by these nations 50 years ago in an Marx-inspired act of stupidity. OPEC, by and large, is nothing more than a stalking horse for the socialist governments of the Arab states that run it. So let’s not pretend that there’s a free market in oil right now; its free-er than it has been, but certainly not free in the libertarian sense of the word.

    And it would depend on the circumstances. If those nations were blockading international shipping, or coercing otherwise friendly government to join in their embargo (which, possessing nuclear weapons, would be even easier to do, then the political pressure for action from somewhere would be enormous.

    The problem I have with the non-interventionist argument as it applies to the Middle East in general and terrorism specifically, is that its proponents seem to think that if we simply went away and left these people alone, they’d leave us alone. Its the same sort of silliness that we saw from the left during the Cold War when they said that those Soviet missiles in Eastern Europe really weren’t a threat and that we’d just be provoking them if we dared to put a defensive force in. History proved them wrong on that point.

    I agree with the blowback argument to some degree, but there are things motivating the Islamists outside of American interventionism, and simply abandoning the M.E. isn’t going to bring peace to a part of the world that hasn’t seen it in thousands of years.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 5:08 pm
  26. Uhm,

    Ummm, what part of I don’t support unprovoked military action against Iran don’t you understand ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 5:09 pm
  27. gmason,

    Great way to dodge the point of my question.

    You and I obviously disagree on this point, so I’m not sure what the value of further discussion of something that we’re not going to change each others minds on actually is.

    Doug,

    You are correct we are not going to change each others minds on this issue. The point of my comments as is the same as the point of your comments on this topic. You wish for others to judge your position on the matter as having the most merit, I wish for them to judge my position(same as Ron Paul’s) as having the most merit. Therefore, I am sure each of us will continue to comment.

    Comment by gmason — October 31, 2007 @ 5:13 pm
  28. I can see how you assume that and your wrong. My question wasn’t about your support or lack of support for an “unprovoked military action against Iran” but what you guys think will happen if we do attack.

    Comment by uhm — October 31, 2007 @ 5:17 pm
  29. Uhm,

    Okay, well, one thought — the question isn’t so much what the strikes will accomplish (as Afghanistan and, initally at least, Iraq proved, the American military can pretty much crush anyone — I doubt the Iranian military would be a significant challenge), as what happens afterward.

    The neocons would say, probably, that it would ignite a revolution in Iran and, while I would welcome the Iranian people overthrowing their oppressors, there’s no guarantee that would happen and no reason for the U.S. to get involved in what would be at that point an internal affair of the Republic of Iran.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 5:22 pm
  30. The problem I have with the non-interventionist argument as it applies to the Middle East in general and terrorism specifically, is that its proponents seem to think that if we simply went away and left these people alone, they’d leave us alone.

    Doug, are you doing this on purpose or are you really that stupid? Were you the one that started this site? If not, I can’t imagine why your cohorts tolerate this drivel. You are destroying what was once a good site.

    I have not heard one person, not one freakin person, say that a switch to non-interventionism would magically make our troubles disappear. Get it through your freakin skull, Doug. Everything, everything in Paul’s platform is about transitions. If we treat the rest of the world with respect, eventually the rest of the world will begin to respect us again and the threats will subside.

    Interventionism maximizes and perpetuates the threats. Non-interventionism, over time, minimizes the threats.

    And about those definitions? Get a damn dictionary instead of inventing definitions. If you can’t find one, fish my last comment out of your spam filter and you’ll see some links.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — October 31, 2007 @ 5:25 pm
  31. Can’t we just once have a debate about this issue — which libertarians have debated for decades — without it being about Ron Paul ?

    LOL. You made the connection when you said “support a candidate who advocated such a strategy.”

    There are no such candidates and your implication that there are is just another smear on a guy whose position doesn’t match yours.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — October 31, 2007 @ 5:28 pm
  32. Jeff,

    Again, I’m not talking about Ron Paul, I’m talking about real positions advocated by libertarians — including people who’ve commented on this site on more than one occasion.

    I agree that non-intervention is a wise strategy, and that the sole motivating factor of U.S. foreign policy should be the protection of American interests.

    The crucial question that I have not gotten a straight answer to yes is why anyone seriously thinks that, in the 21st Century, only nations that can directly attack the American mainland are a threat sufficient to justify either actual or threatened military or non-military action.

    And that, unless I’ve completely misunderstood him, is exactly what Ron Paul has said with respect to Iran.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 5:32 pm
  33. BTW, the Oil supply canard is that a canard, it does not hold water(Oil?). Oil is Oil, for all practical purposes it is a homogenous product. If one Oil producer wishes to play political blackmail with Oil they must gain the assistance of almost all producers to have an affect. The vast number of Oil producers on the list that some label naughty and a risk for “disrupting vital oil supplies” have No other viable export product besides oil. If they seek to sell to some countries and not others the total world supply of oil is unaffected, the embargoed countries merely satisfy their demand from another supplier. If they seek to cause disruption by refusing to sell oil to ANY country they are cutting off their nose to spite their face because oil trade is THE essential component to their national economies.

    Why were we unconcerned about Saddam using oil as a weapon to save himself in his fight for his life?

    Comment by gmason — October 31, 2007 @ 5:35 pm
  34. Doug,

    “Can’t we just once have a debate about this issue — which libertarians have debated for decades — without it being about Ron Paul?”

    Sure, I’ll leave Ron Paul out of it just as soon as you stop continually tying his campaign to these pieces with comments like this:

    “Finally, even though they have largely come to the conclusion that the Iraq War was a mistake and that we need to disengage, poll results like these are a fairly strong indication that the American people are not isolationist and would not necessarily endorse a foreign policy that could basically be summed up as “bring all the boys home from everywhere,” or support a candidate who advocated such a strategy.”

    You want people to quit bashing you for your Ron Paul comments? Then quit making them. You bring a lot of this on yourself with your ceaseless negativity, and even the people who generally agree with you on many issues get pretty sick of it after awhile.

    “Or do you think it would be okay to let any company in Silicon Valley sell high technology to Iran, Syria and North Korea?”

    Yup, pretty much…I’m a libertarian, therefore I believe in free trade and oppose protectionism. After all, it’s not like those countries are ever going to be able to develop an industrial or population base capable of destroying us unless they abandon socialism. Eventually free trade will force their governments to reform or the people will remove the government. That’s pretty much the way capitalism works.

    “Keep in mind that the oil supply was nationalized by these nations 50 years ago in an Marx-inspired act of stupidity. OPEC, by and large, is nothing more than a stalking horse for the socialist governments of the Arab states that run it. So let’s not pretend that there’s a free market in oil right now; its free-er than it has been, but certainly not free in the libertarian sense of the word.”

    And their oil supply is still subject to the law of supply and demand the same as any other product. They have a limit to the price they can put on their oil (otherwise alternative energy becomes more feasible) and their socialist welfare economies make prolonged embargoes untenable for their governments because they depend on oil revenues to remain solvent. They may not be libertarian states, but they’re still subject to the laws of economics.

    “If those nations were blockading international shipping, or coercing otherwise friendly government to join in their embargo (which, possessing nuclear weapons, would be even easier to do, then the political pressure for action from somewhere would be enormous.”

    Blockading or attacking international or U.S. shipping classifies as aggression and justifies self-defensive measures. Nuclear extortion is the ultimate bluff…unless you have enough capability to annihilate everyone whose toes you’re stepping on, eventually you overplay your hand. Nuclear weapons only have true power as a deterrent. That’s why nobody’s used them since WWII.

    “The problem I have with the non-interventionist argument as it applies to the Middle East in general and terrorism specifically, is that its proponents seem to think that if we simply went away and left these people alone, they’d leave us alone.”

    Jeff debunked this one perfectly. As did Ron Paul, who said the same thing almost word-for-word.

    “I agree with the blowback argument to some degree, but there are things motivating the Islamists outside of American interventionism”

    Not in the case of Iran. In fact every problem we’ve had with them has been as a direct result of our interventionism.

    “…simply abandoning the M.E. isn’t going to bring peace to a part of the world that hasn’t seen it in thousands of years.”

    You’re right, and who gives a shit? If they want to go lopping off each others’ heads because they can’t agree on the succession of Mohammed what the hell does our government care as long as they’re not attacking us? The only thing we need to care about with them is trade, what they do to themselves is their own problem.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 31, 2007 @ 5:55 pm
  35. Doug,

    “Again, I’m not talking about Ron Paul, I’m talking about real positions advocated by libertarians — including people who’ve commented on this site on more than one occasion.”

    Yes, you were

    “…poll results like these are a fairly strong indication that the American people are not isolationist and would not necessarily endorse a foreign policy that could basically be summed up as “bring all the boys home from everywhere,” or support a candidate who advocated such a strategy.”

    Comment by UCrawford — October 31, 2007 @ 6:01 pm
  36. If you weren’t talking about Ron Paul with that remark, by all means tell us which candidate you were referencing.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 31, 2007 @ 6:02 pm
  37. The crucial question that I have not gotten a straight answer to yes is why anyone seriously thinks that, in the 21st Century, only nations that can directly attack the American mainland are a threat sufficient to justify either actual or threatened military or non-military action.

    You haven’t gotten a “straight answer” because no one here has said such a thing. In fact, UC has already explicitly distanced himself from such a position.

    And since you did make this about Ron Paul with your comment about “candidates”, I’ll also point out that it won’t matter what President Paul thinks on the subject because he will defer to Congress in accordance with the Constitution.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — October 31, 2007 @ 6:02 pm
  38. …poll results like these are a fairly strong indication that the American people are not isolationist and would not necessarily endorse a foreign policy that could basically be summed up as “bring all the boys home from everywhere,” or support a candidate who advocated such a strategy.”

    IOW, interpreting the poll results to explain why Paul is continually below 5% in the polls (and yes, I know there have been a few outliers, but the average is well below 5%). Foreign policy may be one of the reasons, it may not.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 6:16 pm
  39. And since you did make this about Ron Paul with your comment about “candidates”, I’ll also point out that it won’t matter what President Paul thinks on the subject because he will defer to Congress in accordance with the Constitution.

    Doesn’t the Constitution give the President authority to act without Congressional approval its a matter that falls short of a declaration of war ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 6:17 pm
  40. “IOW, interpreting the poll results to explain why Paul is continually below 5% in the polls”

    So you’re now admitting that your remark was about Paul after telling us that it wasn’t. Are you starting to get why people blast you and why the Paulestinians so often call you a neo-con plant and a liar?

    “Doesn’t the Constitution give the President authority to act without Congressional approval its a matter that falls short of a declaration of war?”

    Not according to Ron Paul’s interpretation of it.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 31, 2007 @ 6:23 pm
  41. So you’re now admitting that your remark was about Paul after telling us that it wasn’t. Are you starting to get why people blast you and why the Paulestinians so often call you a neo-con plant and a liar?

    I was looking at poll results and drawing conclusions, its a thing we Poli Sci wonks do. I wasn’t talking about RP’s foreign policy ideas at all.

    “Doesn’t the Constitution give the President authority to act without Congressional approval its a matter that falls short of a declaration of war?”

    Not according to Ron Paul’s interpretation of it.

    Thomas Jefferson apparently disagreed given the actions against the Barbary Pirates.

    And it is at least conceivable that there are times where a threat is so imminent that there isn’t sufficient time to get to Congress.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 6:29 pm
  42. “I was looking at poll results and drawing conclusions, its a thing we Poli Sci wonks do. I wasn’t talking about RP’s foreign policy ideas at all.”

    Yes, you were…

    “…the American people are not isolationist and would not necessarily endorse a foreign policy that could basically be summed up as “bring all the boys home from everywhere,” or support a candidate who advocated such a strategy.”

    As for your example,

    “Thomas Jefferson apparently disagreed given the actions against the Barbary Pirates.”

    The United States Navy attacked the Barbary pirates because they were conducting direct attacks against U.S. shipping and citizens engaged in lawful commerce and activity in international waters. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbary_pirates ) This justified a self-defensive response, which Ron Paul would likely agree with. If you wish to know that with absolute certainty, I suppose you could always contact his campaign and ask.

    Incidentally, the Continental Congress authorized action in both the First and Second Barbary Wars, so your assertion of executive prerogative in those conflicts was incorrect:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Barbary_War

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Barbary_War

    Comment by UCrawford — October 31, 2007 @ 6:46 pm
  43. Congress never declared war against the Barbary Pirates. Was their approval of Jefferson’s actions any more Constitutional that Congress’s approval of President Bush’s attack on Iraq. Rep. Paul has made it clear that it believes the current war in Iraq is unconstitutional because Congress did not declare war.

    Comment by Bob — October 31, 2007 @ 7:26 pm
  44. Bob,

    You’re correct, Congress didn’t declare war against the Barbary pirates, but they authorized action against them and the actions authorized were unquestionably over matters of self-defense (a level that Iraq never under any circumstances rose to). Clearly there is a historical precedent of using military force without declaring war. Does this mean that it is Constitutional? I’d side with Paul’s interpretation that it is not in the case of military force deployed against nation-states (such as Iraq or Iran). In the case of smaller non-state actors such as the Barbary pirates, al-Qaeda, or the Taliban (who were arguably not a functional government), it’s a bit grayer. Paul clearly didn’t feel a formal declaration of war was necessary in the case of Afghanistan, since his opposition to Bush’s war there came only when Bush exceeded his mandate and ignored al-Qaeda to focus on nation-building (the broadly-worded declaration only gave him authority to go after the groups and nations involved with 9/11), so even though Paul was willing to forego a formal declaration of war he clearly believes that Congress should define the limits of any military engagement. That was certainly the case with the Barbary pirates as well.

    In any case, the Barbary pirate example is not an argument that the executive branch has the right to define a conflict or make military decisions unilaterally, as Doug (and Bush) have claimed.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 31, 2007 @ 7:48 pm
  45. I was looking at poll results and drawing conclusions, its a thing we Poli Sci wonks do.

    In addition to what UC said, I want to remind you that I know you’re familiar with the Forbes polls and you never mention them. It cannot be dismissed as an “outlier” because it asks completely different questions, something I would expect a “Poli Sci wonk” to understand.

    For those of you playing at home, Forbes asks likely voters if they’re aware of a certain candidate. If yes, they ask for the respondent’s impression of that candidate.

    Until just recently, Ron Paul had not made it past 10% awareness, so they didn’t rank his “appeal”. He is now at 11% awareness and his “appeal” is 31%. Most of the big names are scattered throughout the 30s, so he’s right in the hunt.

    He’s polling low because nobody knows him!
    But they’re learning, you prick. He has enough money to get the message out. It’s inevitable now. He may not win, but if you actually believe he’ll go from 11% awareness to 70% without gaining significant ground… All I can say is I hope no one is dumb enough to pay for your poli sci advice.

    You’re ruining a good site and I hope your peers recognize it before it’s too late. Libertarianism is going to get a ton of attention during this election cycle and you have the opportunity to welcome newcomers and show them that there is such a thing as intellectual, nonpartisan discussion.

    Instead, you spam your own site with this drivel and drown out the good work of your peers.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — October 31, 2007 @ 8:10 pm
  46. Crawford,

    Congress did authorize the Iraq War. They may now regret it, but what’s done…..is done.

    And as for the argument about Constitutionality, it’s sort of moot at this point.

    And here’s why.

    There’s a fairly good argument that the Supreme Court’s decision in Marbury v. Madison — wherein it asserted the power of judicial review — was, if not unconstitutional, at least an overly broad interpretation of Article III.

    That said, it’s been over 200 years since that decision was rendered. It is part of the Constitution now, and no sane legal scholar would suggest that it should be overturned.

    The point is this…..starting with the Barbary Pirates example, Congress has acquiesed historically in an interpretation of the President’s powers as Commander in Chief that give him (or, given the likely outcome of the November `08 election, her) the authority to take military action in defense of American interests without having to ask for a declaration of war.

    Legally and practically, returning to the status quo circa 1793 isn’t going to happen.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 31, 2007 @ 8:38 pm
  47. Doug,

    “Legally and practically, returning to the status quo circa 1793 isn’t going to happen.”

    Unless, of course, we elect leaders who decide to decisively restore previous limitations on the power of the federal government, which Ron Paul has given every indication that he plans to do to the best of his ability. That little bill he sponsored to reverse the greatest transgressions of the Bush administration was a nice demonstration of good faith.

    Of course it doesn’t work whenever those who purport to be supporters of limited government and the Constitution engage in fatalistic nay-saying and attempt to submarine Paul’s positions with poorly-argued or nonexistent problems.

    You’re a smart guy, Doug, I certainly won’t argue that you aren’t. I also believe that you’re an honest person and I respect a lot of what you have to say. But you’re a pessimist when it comes to Ron Paul when you should be a skeptic, and it undermines everything that you claim to support. Nobody will buy into what you’re saying you believe if in the next paragraph you constantly make arguments to undercut the politicians you claim represent those views.

    Straddle fences all you want, Doug…it’s a free society after all. But if you’re interested in pushing a pro-freedom agenda instead of just bitching about how it never happens, it’s time to pick a side in this race and back your candidate without the obligatory qualifying remarks about how he can’t possibly win. Because frankly, nobody who backs Paul’s campaign really wants or needs to hear it nor, at this point, should they have to.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 31, 2007 @ 9:02 pm
  48. If the world is indeed becoming an ever more dangerous place, how is pushing other countries around until we go broke supposed to make us safer?

    Comment by Akston — October 31, 2007 @ 9:35 pm
  49. On the matter of polls and pollsters, I offer this video as both entertainment and a call to skepticism.

    DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN!

    Comment by Akston — October 31, 2007 @ 9:40 pm
  50. The point is this…..starting with the Barbary Pirates example, Congress has acquiesed historically in an interpretation of the President’s powers as Commander in Chief that give him (or, given the likely outcome of the November `08 election, her) the authority to take military action in defense of American interests without having to ask for a declaration of war.

    Legally and practically, returning to the status quo circa 1793 isn’t going to happen.

    Because our Congress and President have acted unconstitutionally in the past, we should accept that as precedent and no longer demand a constitutionally limited republic? What would you suggest we replace it with?

    When it comes to Presidents acting like monarchs, we’ve already returned “to the status quo circa 1793”. Perhaps we should move towards a 21st century constitutional republic which requires mores than the whim of a king and his favored nobles to drag us into foreign adventures until we’re broke and vulnerable.

    Comment by Akston — October 31, 2007 @ 10:03 pm

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