John Stossel & Ron Paul On Foreign Policyby Doug Mataconis
More than any other issue, it is foreign policy and, more specifically the War in Iraq that has propelled Ron Paul’s Presidential campaign. He is, after all, the only Republican candidate who has spoken against the war and against virtually the entire foreign policy that the Bush Administration has engaged in since taking office in January 2001.
It also happens to be the one issue where, to some degree, I part company with Ron Paul.
I agree with him that the War In Iraq was a fought for the wrong reasons, based on bad intelligence, and without a plan for victory. I also agree that we need to make bringing American forces there home as soon as possible our primary goal, and that we should not be establishing permanent basis in a country that is not known either for it’s stability, or it’s loyalty to American interests. I also agree that neoconservatism, with it’s focus on remaking the face of the world for democracy, is fundamentally mistaken; the sole focus of American foreign and military policy should be the protection of American interests, not the promotion of democracy or, to use a Cater-era phrase, “human rights.”
That said, I think Paul’s idea that we should withdraw American forces to the Continental United States and only concern ourselves with direct threats to the American homeland to be, well, naive. American interests extend further than just the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, and something that happens in another part of the world can still have an impact on the United States even if it doesn’t directly threaten us. We can’t just pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist except to respond to what we do — which, in effect, is what Paul says when he focuses on the idea that Islamic terrorism is nothing more than a response to American actions.
With that in mind, I don’t entirely agree with what Paul has to say in his interview with John Stossel on the issue on foreign policy:
Again, Paul is mostly right in his criticisms of America’s Post-Cold War foreign policy. Kosovo and the other interventions in the former Yugoslavia were completely unjustified interventions in internal civil wars. The same is true of Somalia. And Iraq, well, like I said, Iraq was a disaster from the beginning and it’s no surprise to me that it’s turned out the way that it has. The United States does not have an obligation to make the world safe for democracy; and the idea that we do has been responsible for more needless deaths of American soldiers than anything else in the past 100 years.