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December 14, 2007

John Stossel & Ron Paul On Foreign Policy

by 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.

Previous Posts:

John Stossel Interviews Ron Paul On Legalizing Drugs And Prostitution
John Stossel Talks To Ron Paul On The Proper Role Of Government

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83 Comments

  1. Ok, so describe a hypothetical situation where you think we need to intervene. Then cite specific quotes that demonstrate he would act differently.

    Without doing the above, your argument has barely more substance than McCain’s Godwin at the debate.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — December 14, 2007 @ 8:32 am
  2. World War II before December 7, 1941.

    We “intervened” with Lend-Lease, the embargo against Japan, and providing military aid to the Soviets.

    Under a strict non-interventionist foreign policy, each one of these would be impermissible.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 8:39 am
  3. What are interests? Why do we have troops staioned all around the globe? These are the questions you need to ask yourself.

    I tend to believe that the interests are related to business. Does the American taxpayer pay for “protection” for America’s multinational corporations? Does our pre-emptive strike in Iraq and Afghanistan have anything to do with oil? What would happen to Exxon’s interests if we didn’t send troops to die for them? Should Exxon pay for the protection of their interests or should the American people pay with their money and lives to protect the interests of Exxon shareholders? Is it in our interests to protect Germany or Japan? Why can’t they pay to defend themselves?

    It is a complex issue but I tend to believe that the the multinational corporations should pay for their own protection and other countries should have their own armys and be prepared to defend themselves.

    Comment by Bob Moore — December 14, 2007 @ 8:45 am
  4. For over 109 years this country has pursued a policy of intervention around the globe and if you honestly research the outcome of such intervention you will quickly see that it did very little to actually provide security for this nation. Most of the intervention was prompted by special interests, such as Sugar Magnates and Mercantilists during the Spanish-American War. This War opened the door to a massive drive toward global intervention by the United States government.

    Along with the resources and markets of the Far East, Southeast Asia and Central America were also prime targets of the new expansive policies of the United States during this period of the later part of the 19th Century. The intent was to exploit our growing military might around the world while securing potential markets and natural resources. The United States came to the rescue as the “savior” of the oppressed colonial peoples under the rule of Spain; from the Philippines to Cuba a particular brand of liberty was brandished. That liberty came at a price and usually at the end of a bayonet. Unfortunately, the liberator became the oppressor and the people of these hapless nations came under the thumb of a new colonialist power.

    In Cuba, The Platt Amendment was implemented to provide a permanent restriction on the people of Cuba to determine their own destiny. As much as we would like to believe that we were liberators of the Cuban people, the crafting of the Cuban Constitution was far from a free enterprise, it was totally subject to the acceptance of the United States and provided for the future intervention of the U.S. Military at any time our government deemed necessary. Under the agreement, the “sovereignty” of Cuba was only considered legitimate through the acceptance of all acts imposed upon it by the military government of the United States. It also permitted the U.S. to purchase or lease any lands, give the U.S. special privileges and thus we have Guantanamo. The consequences of that war, the occupation and the Platt Amendment are still with us today and are embodied in the name Fidel Castro who used the state of Cuban colonial despair to his revolutionary advantage. As with other unintentional consequences of such interventions, Fidel Castro took advantage of the remnants of colonialism and the disparity between those who benefited greatly from the U.S. colonialism and those who remained in abject poverty to successfully promote his revolution.

    From 1898 through 2007, this country has “intervened” in the affairs of over 200 countries and out of that number; the only intervention that could remotely be considered justified was when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The primary beneficiaries of an interventionist policy have not changed throughout the years the beneficiaries are the weapons makers and dealers! The American People and this Nation, on the other hand pay the price with increased taxation and the deaths of our sons and daughters, but our actual security interest has never been a real reason for such interventions.

    Now the question is why, why would we intervene in all of these countries if the actual security interests of the United States are not threatened? It is the same old story, nations feeding upon the wealth and resources of other nations. Our interventions throughout the last century have this primary factor in common, the ones who benefit from them are usually not the American People as much as those who seek huge war profits.

    Threats are now fabricated, exploited and amplified beyond reality to enjoin the sentiments of the population to support intervention and war, but the costs are much higher than we realize or wish to admit to ourselves. Many of the consequences are not immediate and therein are the real danger, for the fabric of history is changed by our actions and unbeknown to us at the time, our own future is changed in ways we cannot conceive.

    World War I is a perfect example of the fabric of history being altered by our intervention into the war. At the time of the entry of the United States, both sides of the conflict we rapidly depleting their resources, drained of their ability to wage war and ready to sue for peace. The war to end all wars could have had a totally different outcome had the United States refrained from listening to our domestic war drummers and those who would eventually benefit from our entry into the conflict. Besides the actual monetary costs of the war, the social cost is hard to comprehend in our present time; whole societal influences were altered beyond recognition. Empires were broken apart, new nations were born from the despair and national influences were morphed into artificial boundaries. The war set the stage for not only the eventual break-up of the British Empire, but the generation of ethnic and religious sectarianism that had been more or less subdued under the old order. Most of the nations within the region were devastated for over a generation and such devastation helped set the stage for the massive struggle called WWII.

    We rarely think of the differences in the world had we not been pushed into war by the war propagandist, profiteers and political influence peddlers. If we had not entered the war, both sides would have settled back into a world, while scared, would have been far safer than the one our victory created. Upon our victory, the fabric of history was severely distorted, everything changed and the balance of power shifted enormously. With victory came the end of the German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman Empires; this led to the formation of entirely new countries throughout Europe and the Middle East. It also marked a great transference of colonies into the hands of other colonialist powers, just as oppressive as the former masters.

    With that victory came some of the harshest war reparations visited upon a defeated nation. Germany and its allies became subjugated to the wrath of the victors and under that wrath were sown the seeds of a future dictator who exploited the humiliation of Germany into a cause of extreme nationalistic pride and a taste for revenge.

    The stage that Hitler exploited would have never been set had the United States remained neutral, as it should have, during the latter part of the war. The powers involved would have been forced into a peace agreement due to each side’s inability to provide resources to maintain their respective war efforts. The world that was would have slumbered back into its decaying imperialism, eventually giving way to a natural evolution of nationalities and newly formed nations. The artificial borders created in the Middle East by the breakup of the Ottoman Empire would have been less likely to have been the future cause of continual conflict and strife as it is today.

    Imagine for instance, for a moment, if you will, the world without Hitler. Certainly, this is pure supposition, but when you consider the possibilities what that the one act of U.S. intervention nearing the end of WWI did and how it drastically altered the weave of history, the conclusion that the world would be a very different place is more than a flight of fancy. As stated earlier, a lonely, dejected artist named Adolf Hitler would have had no fuel for his nationalistic incitements, Germany would have gradually reentered the community of nations and WWI, as we know it, would have never happened. Think of it, the European Jews and all their culture would have continued to flourish; there would have been no concentration camps, no gas chambers and 6 million Jews would have lived to propagate their lineage. The creation of the State of Israel would have never been forcefully imposed upon the Muslim nations of the Middle East and thus the current conflict would not exist in its present form.

    The British would have never gained control over vast regions of the Middle East, and the imposition of artificial borders throughout the area would not be the cause of numerous ethnic disturbances over territories. Although the nationalistic fever began to sweep throughout the region during the late 19th Century, that fever was only amplified by the early 20th Century events of WWI.

    The Soviet Union would have never had the opportunity to impose the Iron Curtain over Eastern Europe without the events of WWII. The massive arms race, the nuclear threat and cold war would have had no stage on which to form and the incredible waste in manpower and funds would have been averted into more productive avenues. There are enough examples of the unintended consequences of our actions to fill volumes on the subject.

    Interventions always have consequences and we rarely have the foresight to determine if those consequences produce far more danger than if the interventions never occur in the first place. The leaders of this country must once again regain the wisdom of the Founders and refrain from the use of intervention an ideological tool. We must come to understand that such interventions have the potential of drastically changing not only the fabric of our history, but also the fabric of our future. It has been proven that we have lacked that wisdom over the decades; it is time to stop the course that leads to dangerous unintentional consequences.

    RON PAUL appears to one of the few in Congress or our government that understands the danger inherent in such interventions. RON PAUL 2008!!!

    Comment by Republicae — December 14, 2007 @ 9:09 am
  5. We “intervened” with Lend-Lease, the embargo against Japan, and providing military aid to the Soviets.

    Under a strict non-interventionist foreign policy, each one of these would be impermissible.

    Do you believe those actions were pivotal?

    Comment by Jeff Molby — December 14, 2007 @ 9:14 am
  6. Jeff,

    Winston Churchill certainly thought they were. Whether Britain would have been able to survive without Lend-Lease is an alternate history debate that only Harry Turtledove could participate in.

    The point is this —- it was not in the interests of the United States in 1939 to see Britain and France fall under Nazi rule, and it was entirely appropriate for us to do what we could, short of war, to prevent that from happening.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 9:19 am
  7. I was just asking your opinion, Doug. I’m certainly not qualified to engage in that debate.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — December 14, 2007 @ 9:26 am
  8. Jeff,

    And I think anyone would be guessing if they tried to answer your question.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 9:28 am
  9. That’s why I asked for an opinion, rather than proof.

    I just want to know where you stand. There are those that have suggested we could be speaking German today if Paul had been President at that time. Are you one of them?

    P.S. 11% in South Carolina. That’s probably on the generous side of the margin, but still indicative of his sustained growth. What does he have to reach before we’ll get an apology for all of your early pessimism?

    Comment by Jeff Molby — December 14, 2007 @ 9:39 am
  10. Doug writes:

    “Jeff,

    Winston Churchill certainly thought they were. Whether Britain would have been able to survive without Lend-Lease is an alternate history debate that only Harry Turtledove could participate in.

    The point is this —- it was not in the interests of the United States in 1939 to see Britain and France fall under Nazi rule, and it was entirely appropriate for us to do what we could, short of war, to prevent that from happening.
    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 9:19 a”

    The problem is such intervention “short of war” was not a sustainable policy as the “isolationists” pointed out at the time. Roosevelt’s policy was leading us into war. For better or worse, war was the outcome even though FDR denied that that was his intention. And he may even have been telling the truth about his intentions, but an interventionist foreign policy usually has war at the end of it, and that’s a lesson from WW II that our politicians have not been able to learn.

    Comment by Rob — December 14, 2007 @ 10:14 am
  11. Bob,

    Afghanistan was not a pre-emptive strike. That was retaliatory for 9/11, which is why Ron Paul voted for it.

    Doug,

    You’re confusing non-interventionism with isolationism again, which undermines your entire argument against Paul. I’d go into the whole spiel about the differences again but since you never bothered to defend your position the last time I pointed out the deficiencies in your position to you, I’m not going to waste anyone’s time (mainly mine) doing so again. As for Paul’s position, he made clear in the Wolf Blitzer interview you posted earlier that he believes in free trade with other countries and he’s said before that he believes an active intelligence capability is important for national defense. He just doesn’t want to intervene until there’s a reason to (self-defense)…nor does he think that it’s the U.S. government’s business to go picking fights over “national interests”, since that’s usually just a euphemism for a militaristic form of protectionism for U.S. corporate interests, which is one of the reasons that an interventionist foreign policy is incompatible with libertarianism. That’s something else you seem to miss in your foreign policy arguments.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 10:16 am
  12. Ron Paul voted in support of the Afghan operation so I don’t think it can be said that he is unalterably opposed to any kind of intervention. When we were attacked, he supported a response. He does not take a pacifist position by any means.

    Meanwhile, what role, exactly does NATO have to play in the world today? It was founded to defend Europe during the Cold War. The Cold War is over. It seems far more sensible to disband NATO than to agonize over what new “mission” that organization should assume in order to justify its existence.

    Comment by Rob — December 14, 2007 @ 10:21 am
  13. No, amount of better news is going to turn pessimism into optimism. Doug’s pessimism is rooted in his distrust of the American electorate rather than in what Dr. Paul is doing.

    And Doug, I would say that helping England is and was a decent idea. Helping the Soviet Union was a terrible idea, and foreshadowed when we’d help a bunch of Islamic Fundamentalists fight against the Soviet Union. Oil Embargo on Japan fell on the people of Japan rather than its war machine and triggered American entry into World War II. But still the Oil Embargo was the correct step to prevent blatant imperialism.

    But the US is virtually impregnable in terms of defensive warfare. The Atlantic is too wide for a power in Europe to wage war upon an equal power in the US. There is no we’d be speaking German.

    Comment by TanGeng — December 14, 2007 @ 10:23 am
  14. TanGeng,

    I agree that invasion by Germany was unlikely, but I believe they still posed a military threat to us, so there are legitimate arguments both for and against Lend-Lease within the libertarian worldview. Besides, since Germany was the one who declared war on us after Japan attacked they rendered the argument against going to war with Germany something of a moot point.

    Rob,

    Well put.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 10:31 am
  15. Crawford & Jeff,

    There are those who say that I am confusing Ron Paul’s non-interventionism with isoloationism but, if that’s the case it’s only because I’m listening to what the candidate has said.

    He talks about bringing every single American solider stationed overseas home. He’s said more than once that a nation that can’t directly threaten the American homeland isn’t a threat to the United States.

    By its own logic, his position would require withdrawal from every mutual defense treaty the United States has entered into (admittedly, not necessarily a bad thing). And it would also seem to require us to say that the fact that a hypothetical future Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia that was killing its own citizens and invading other nations, and on the verge of destabilizing the world balance of power was not our concern if it didn’t directly threaten us.

    If I’m wrong in drawing these implications from what he’s said, please explain how.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 11:27 am
  16. The problem with comparing any hypothetical future conflict to WW2 is that WW2 was such a unique set of circumstances that the odds of something like that happening in the next 100 years are nearly impossible.

    In 1939 Germany had one of the largest standing armies in the world, and they were certainly the best-trained, best-equipped force on the planet. Their leadership were unequalled creative strategic planners. They had cutting-edge technology.

    Compare that to Saddam Hussein (whom the Bush Administration compared to Hitler). Or rather, don’t — there is no comparison. The American armed forces overran his weak, ill-equipped, ill-trained, rag-tag forces in a few days. Even the vaunted Revolutionary Guard was a paper tiger.

    In short: Don’t bring up WW2 comparisons, because in today’s world they’re specious.

    Returning American forces to the U.S. and returning to less jingoistic foreign policy doesn’t solve all of America’s problems or make us immune from attack, but it’s infinitely smarter than what we’re doing now.

    Doug — don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. From your post, above, it sounds like you’re 95% a Ron Paul supporter. Go with it, and enjoy the 95%.

    Comment by Mike Parker — December 14, 2007 @ 11:29 am
  17. Rob,

    The problem is such intervention “short of war” was not a sustainable policy as the “isolationists” pointed out at the time. Roosevelt’s policy was leading us into war. For better or worse, war was the outcome even though FDR denied that that was his intention. And he may even have been telling the truth about his intentions, but an interventionist foreign policy usually has war at the end of it, and that’s a lesson from WW II that our politicians have not been able to learn.

    You are largely correct. But the American public was not prepared for war in 1939 and it would have been politically impossible for FDR to go to war at that time. Notwithstanding that fact, he was largely correct in his determination that it was in America’s strategic national interests to do what we could to ensure that England survived and he acted accordingly.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 11:29 am
  18. Mike,

    I bring these issues up because I’ve brought them up before and I think they’re worth discussing.

    Foreign policy is one area where libertarians tend to disagree with one another. Not everyone belongs to the anti-war Lew Rockwell crowd.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 11:31 am
  19. Of the 700+ military bases across the world which ones should we keep and why?

    Comment by uhm — December 14, 2007 @ 12:09 pm
  20. uhm,

    Unless you believe that the U.S. Navy should restrict itself to patrolling the Great Lakes and the Carribean Sea, I think it would be wise to maintain basing rights in place like Diego Garcia, Japan, and the Mediterranean.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 12:13 pm
  21. Doug,

    “By its own logic, his position would require withdrawal from every mutual defense treaty the United States has entered into (admittedly, not necessarily a bad thing).”

    I haven’t heard Ron Paul say any such thing…that’s merely what you assume he’ll say, without proof from what I’ve seen. Nor is your position correct on the “logical” progression of non-interventionist thought. Actual non-interventionism does not require that that we break all treaties with other countries, self-defense or otherwise. It only requires that we not intervene in the internal affairs of those nations in an attempt to act in “national interests” other than self-defense.

    “He talks about bringing every single American solider stationed overseas home. He’s said more than once that a nation that can’t directly threaten the American homeland isn’t a threat to the United States.”

    Yup, that’s pretty much what self-defense means…Germany met or came close to meeting that standard in WWII (hostile expansionist country with an industrial base capable of threatening us), which is why Lend-Lease could be considered justified under non-interventionism since it was a form of mutual defense treaty that did not attempt to intervene in the internal affairs of Germany, only against their international aggression. Iraq and Iran have never and likely will never meet that standard.

    “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.”

    “And it would also seem to require us to say that the fact that a hypothetical future Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia that was killing its own citizens and invading other nations, and on the verge of destabilizing the world balance of power was not our concern if it didn’t directly threaten us.”

    First you argue that it’s not our job to spread democracy and freedom to the world, but then you argue that non-interventionism is bad because it will prevent us from saving people from their own governments…and you’ve taken this self-contradictory position before. You don’t get to have it both ways, Doug, so which is it?

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 12:20 pm
  22. Crawford,

    I don’t see the contradiction. There’s a difference between saying that we should intervene to “make the world safe for democracy”, or however it is the neocons define the mission these days, and saying that there are times when Americas strategic interests require the United States to act even when the territory of the nation is not directly threatened.

    Do I know, sitting here in Virginia today, what exactly those circumstances might be ? Of course not, because foreign policy is not an exact science and nobody can predict what might happen in the world 5, 10, or 15 years from now.

    For example, given what we know today it is fairly clear that the United States should have moved against al Qaeda and the Taliban in an aggressive fashion long before September 11th.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 12:41 pm
  23. UC:

    (re: mutual defense treaties) I haven’t heard Ron Paul say any such thing…that’s merely what you assume he’ll say, without proof from what I’ve seen.

    Ron Paul constantly brings up the Washingtonian quote about friendship and trade with all nations, entangling alliances with none.

    I haven’t heard him say we should withdraw from NATO, or anything quite like that, but isn’t that the logical inference from his statements?

    RE: bringing every soldier home

    I think what Doug is saying is that to accurately defend ourselves in a global conflict, we would do well to keep some of our forward bases, where strategically necessary.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — December 14, 2007 @ 1:02 pm
  24. Doug,

    There’s an explicit contradiction in saying that it’s not our job to make the world safe for freedom and democracy then arguing that we should whenever it suits us under the vague classification of “national interest”. That’s an argument for a completely arbitrary and collective foreign policy, which is what leads to debacles like what Bush has done in Iraq. It lacks any sort of compass to judge the morality of military action. And since a major tenet of libertarianism is non-aggression and limiting government’s authority to make arbitrary decisions, your foreign policy position such as it is isn’t compatible with a philosophy of individual freedom.

    You can believe that it’s okay to intervene in other countries’ sovereign internal affairs for reasons other than self-defense or you can believe that it’s our right to intervene whenever we choose. What you can’t do is take both positions and claim that you’re presenting a cohesive or intellectually honest argument, or take the latter position and claim that you’re representing a libertarian stance on foreign policy.

    “For example, given what we know today it is fairly clear that the United States should have moved against al Qaeda and the Taliban in an aggressive fashion long before September 11th.”

    Nice use of hindsight. Where was this expert analysis before 9/11? Oh, that’s right, humans can’t actually predict the future, otherwise I probably would have known not to eat that slightly old apple last night so I could have avoided the runs this morning. But to indulge your Monday morning quarterbacking, 99.9999% of the U.S. would have been hostile to increased efforts to capture/kill bin Laden and it would have failed just as miserably as Clinton’s attempts to do so and probably ended up turning the world against us for being a bunch of thugs. Nobody was seriously proposing that we invade Afghanistan prior to 9/11 because without 9/11 we had no sufficient justification to invade. That’s what self-defense is, Doug, response to an attack. You have to be attacked first to be justified in responding, otherwise you’re the asshole who picked the fight. And until precognition becomes a standard human ability, that’s the way it will and should remain.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 1:28 pm
  25. Doug Mataconis said: “1. There are those who say that I am confusing Ron Paul’s non-interventionism with isoloationism but, if that’s the case it’s only because I’m listening to what the candidate has said.
    He talks about bringing every single American solider stationed overseas home. He’s said more than once that a nation that can’t directly threaten the American homeland isn’t a threat to the United States.
    By its own logic, his position would require withdrawal from every mutual defense treaty the United States has entered into (admittedly, not necessarily a bad thing). And it would also seem to require us to say that the fact that a hypothetical future Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia that was killing its own citizens and invading other nations, and on the verge of destabilizing the world balance of power was not our concern if it didn’t directly threaten us.
    If I’m wrong in drawing these implications from what he’s said, please explain how.”

    Let’s consider something about all those mutual defense treaties that our government has entered. One of the primary problems with many of those treaties is in many cases they come into conflict with one another. Remember the Falklands, we had mutual defense treaties with both Argentina and Britain, or another case was Turkey and Greece. Similarly, in many cases this government supplies financial aid, arms and covert support to both sides of numerous conflicts which does little to solve any geo-political issues or, in particular, our own national defense or national interest.

    Ron Paul has stated that we must regain a sense of our own national boundaries while learning to respect the boundaries of other nations; it is, after all, not our “god-given” right to disregard the sovereignty of other nations any more than it is the right of other nations to disregard ours. Ron Paul has stated that we must also regain the focus and purpose of our military. It purpose is solely the defense of this and only this nation, we are not equipped nor do we have the ability to be the “social worker or policeman” of the world.

    What is the reason to intervene if there is no direct threat to this country? Why would you consider it our business or responsibility to intervene into another country that is suffering from internal upheaval or external invasion? It is not our business, our responsibility or right to impose or subject our might or will on any other country or people; nor is it our right to seek to impose so-called democracy on any other people through military might or economic blackmail. If you carefully look at the history of WWI, you will quickly see that the consequences of intervention are potentially far more dangerous then that of a non-interventionist stance. That is the problem with any intervention that is not directly associated with either an immediate threat or direct attack on this country, is that we don’t have the foresight to see what the consequences of such actions are and how they will affect this country, perhaps for decades to come. I dare say that we simply don’t have the wisdom to use intervention as recklessly has we have for the last 109 years.

    Comment by Republicae — December 14, 2007 @ 1:30 pm
  26. Brad,

    “…friendship and trade with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”

    Entangling alliances being intervention in those countries internal affairs for non-self-defensive measures. Washington and Jefferson were happy to enter into alliances with other countries when it achieved our goal of self-defense. What they didn’t want was for us to get bogged down in trying to influence the outcome of other countries’ internal affairs. Involvement with NATO isn’t an entangling alliance, it’s an alliance formed for mutual defense. It doesn’t require us to try and influence the outcome of French elections or to try and force the Germans to rework their economy. I suspect the reason Paul doesn’t talk about removing us from NATO is that he doesn’t think it’s necessary. He just doesn’t see a need for us to maintain a lot of bases over there (all run at a substantial cost to us) when there’s not really a need for us to be stationed there and we need to cut spending.

    As I’ve said before, the logical progression of a non-interventionist mindset does not necessarily lead to isolationism…non-interventionism and engagement/military alliances with other countries are not mutually exclusive. That’s the point that Doug keeps missing.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 1:41 pm
  27. Crawford,

    The 9/11 Commissions reports documented plenty of instances of analysts inside the government who were telling (mostly) the Clinton Administration that it needed to take stronger action against Al Qaeda. Heck, there was a point when we had visual identification of bin Laden himself and Sandy Berger vetoed an attack, on the President’s orders.

    And, yes, national interests are not easy to define. That’s because foreign policy is generally something that has to be conducted on a case-by-case basis. There is no hard and fast rule, but that doesn’t mean that we should withdraw our military into the borders of Fortress America and pretend that what’s going on in the rest of the world doesn’t matter to us.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 1:42 pm
  28. Republicae,

    Very well put.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 1:43 pm
  29. the logical progression of a non-interventionist mindset does not necessarily lead to isolationism…non-interventionism and engagement/military alliances with other countries are not mutually exclusive. That’s the point that Doug keeps missing.

    Well, all I can say is that your definition is far different from what one hears from the Lew Rockwell crowd, who seem to have a significant influence on Paul’s thoughts in this area.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 1:44 pm
  30. Doug,

    NATO was a necessity for containment of the Soviet Union and was a direct counter to the Warsaw Pact. One network of alliances requires another counterbalancing one.

    Yet, NATO is one of the entangling alliances that the founders warned us, but the strong control that the Soviets exercised over members of the Warsaw Pact made NATO both a necessity and a relatively safe entangling alliance to engage in.

    If instead the Soviets exercised loose control and several states on either side of the Iron Curtain had ongoing feuds with each other, NATO would be both unnecessary and dangerous. It would be unnecessary since there isn’t a monolithic enemy to counter. It would be dangerous since any little feud could spark a struggle that drew all of NATO and Warsaw Pact into a World War III.

    Comment by TanGeng — December 14, 2007 @ 1:59 pm
  31. UCrawford said: “You can believe that it’s okay to intervene in other countries’ sovereign internal affairs for reasons other than self-defense or you can believe that it’s our right to intervene whenever we choose. What you can’t do is take both positions and claim that you’re presenting a cohesive or intellectually honest argument, or take the latter position and claim that you’re representing a libertarian stance on foreign policy.”

    I agree, because if we consent to such logic then it was permissible for the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor, or it was permissible for the Nazis to invade their neighbors because they considered the Sudetenland part of Germany. I mean if you distill our Jingoism, our self-righteousness away, is there any difference between what we did by invading Iraq and what Saddam did when he invaded Kuwait? That sounds like a horrible statement on the surface, but take away all the hype, all the excuses and the facade of our actions and the truth is difficult to ignore.

    While we have been conditioned that it is patriotic to accept a history that portrays our country in the best light possible, the real patriotism however, is looking at our history honestly and even critically, by doing so we will learn from those lessons, both from the successes and the failures it provides. It is shameful, and perhaps even dangerous, when we allow our history to be colored, misrepresented or manipulated to support ideologies, agendas, or causes. It is an absolute mistake to use patriotism as a factor in convincing the American People to choose a spirit of aggression and intolerance in policy making over than the traditional values found within our Constitution and the Founding Documents. If we are to profit from the errors of the last century in particular, then we would come away from our history lesson with a very clear understanding that the United States has strayed extremely far from its foundation and it has costs us dearly.

    In viewing the history of the United States during the Twentieth Century, we can quickly see that it was a century characterized by numerous provocations and interventions; rarely did we contribute to widespread stabilization, but a generalized destabilization within nations and regions of the world. We rarely consider that our popular history seems to be written for our consumption, portraying a very righteous and amicable nation that has sought only justice for the nations of the world, a view that is totally contrary to the facts of history. It is impossible for us to justify our national aggression by stating it is a consistent philosophy while claiming to maintain a peaceful influence in the world. Such aggression is an anomaly of our traditional American character. Indeed, such aggressive intervention has proven to be a defect in our modern national character, one that is in a vital need of correction by returning to our foundational Constitutional philosophy.

    In general, the American psyche, both politically and socially, has been distorted to such a degree that it now reveals a lack of tolerance and respect for the rights of other nations, all the while promoting our own version of self-righteousness wrapped up in a façade of Red, White and Blue. Such distortions are far from the reality of Patriotism upon which this nation was founded. We cannot expunge our own national history through palpable evasions or distortions of the truth while maintaining that by doing so we are defending our nation. Nor can we claim to uphold our patriotism by such contortions in our history; such mental gymnastics are little more than a contradiction to all reason and indeed to the meaning of patriotism itself. Until we openly confess our political sins of the past it is doubtful that we can prevent their repetition in the future.

    Our national militarism has naturally lends itself to national expansionism and, in ways we rarely consider, to that of the glorification of executive monarchism. We have seen the Machiavellian philosophy take root in this country over the past 40 years, a philosophy that teaches that the State and its ability to render its power unabated is the real source of all happiness and security. It feeds upon the doctrinal plea that by strengthening the reach of the State it can, through the medium of militarism, provide for the necessary security of the People by spreading its particular ideological agenda and making the world safe for democracy. That philosophy however, ignores the primary source of our national security by subjecting our nation to the consequential dangers that such militaristic interventions entail.

    The most important factor, one that is often overlooked in this Machiavellian ideology, is that the greatest source of national defense can be found by remaining entanglement free. This Machiavellian indoctrination over the last 109 years has effectively been engrained, not only in the mind of the political apparatus, but also in the minds of the People to the point that the government has been granted an unlimited license to proceed without the restraint of the People’s consent. I feel that eventually reality will force a rejection of the Machiavellian ideology and the maxims that have blinded our national conscience to the point that we can no longer rationally see the options provided to us by the wisdom of the Founders. The Machiavellian Shibboleth should be considered an obsolete doctrine, dangerous in its application and perverse in the tenets of Jingoism that now dominates this current Administration and grips large portions of the American attitude. We must disavow such national war fetishes and the demands of imperialistic traits that not only fail to deliver real security but actually decreases our national safety.

    In our seemingly persistent denial of our own imperialism, we are simply being untrue to ourselves and through such denials we turn our backs upon those tenets that our Founding Statesmen ascribed, for our benefit, to this Great Nation of Liberty and Justice. When our politicians lay claim to a peaceful disposition while promoting the cry for intervention, they not only betray our national conscience, but deceive the People with such contradictions of traditional national principles.

    Our history has been filled with threats, threats to our way of life, threats to our very existence and while we must be diligent in meeting all direct and immediate threats with a strong rational response, we should avoid the tendency to face such issues with a charge of reactionary emotionalism. Reactionary decision-making leads to little in the way of constructive measures and usually only opens us up to an increase of potentially dangerous threats. In our nature we are afforded the ability to either look at our actions based upon reason or based upon fear. Upon reason, we shall always find a sense of rational decisions combined with responsible actions that ultimately benefit us as individuals and as a nation however, if we are given over to irrational fears then our actions risk betraying our overall security through reckless actions both domestically and on the foreign stage. We would do well to consider that our actions are connected to events from times past and will always tie future consequences to the present.

    A policy of interventionism is usually accompanied by a swell of national pride, promoted, as it were, by the State and its corporate sponsors, who are always the beneficiaries of such polices. It is rarely considered that a poor and potentially dangerous doctrine or policy, when consistently applied, will eventually embed itself deeply into the national character and influence that character in ways that will ultimately decrease all periphery vision, giving rise to unreasonable fears and trepidations that tend to blind us to other possible considerations. There has never, in all our history, been such a poorly defined doctrine as that we currently are witnessing with regards to our foreign policy. Its broad application has no real focal point, no perceivable goals and few effectual results that can be declared as successful in providing this country actual defense. The proverbial “can of worms” has been opened regarding our foreign policy and with that open “can” the “night crawlers” are finding their way into our domestic policies, creeping into areas that have always been held as sacrosanct to our traditional Constitutional values.

    The common thread to all threats, throughout our history, has been the utilization of the fear, and the use of that fear is exploited by the government to increase its own grasp of domestic powers or to expand its global reach. Militarism is developed and defined specifically by tyrannical aspects within governments to support their own arbitrary authority and by designing such predatory ambitions the scope of government power is extended, usually pressed upon weak and relatively defenseless nations that have no real defense against facing such overwhelming force. The primary driving ambition is, besides power, the control over vastly rich resources within certain regions. These resources are touted as essential to our national security interests and the rights of another nations’ sovereignty appear to be rarely enough deter our government push toward intervention to pursue such national interests.

    Interventionist militarism has always promoted and utilized the development of pseudo-patriotism in the hearts and minds of the people to the point that they believe the push of military might is not only necessary, but, more times than not, it is portrayed as a noble cause. Rarely is there the consideration that such actions are not only used to maintain and grow the institutions of militarism, but that they are usually inimical to our own security. Of course, it is always in the interests of the Militarists to win the conflict, but even when a conflict is won the consequences of even victory are rarely considered.

    The entry of America into World War I is a perfect example of the effects of militarism on a country. Prior to our entry, both sides of the conflict had almost exhausted themselves to the point of suing for peace, but with the entry of America the war was extended and the results of the war changed the power-structure around the world. Additionally, our entry and the victory that followed set the stage for several events that not only promoted a domestic extension of our government’s authority, but also created events that would ultimately lead to the rise of Hitler and therefore WWII. Had America not entered WWI, both sides of the conflict would have settled for peace, Germany would have never faced the severe and shameful terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The economic drain of ruining reparations on Germany and the decades of national impotency would later give rise to the extremism of National Socialism and the disaster of WWII. This government rarely appears to take into consideration the consequences of its actions, its policies, and its interventions, if it would then not only would the world be a very different place, but our country would be a vastly different one then we see today. It would be far more secure, far more prosperous and far more respected.

    Perhaps one of the most damaging results of our entry into the WWI was on the domestic front. The government created a truly massive propaganda machine called the CPI [Committee on Public Information] for the sole purpose of beating the drums of war, whipping the American public into an almost total acceptance of militaristic interventionism and repression of all dissent contrary to the war effort.

    Those propaganda methods were extremely effective and they are still employed today by the government when seeking support for its militaristic agenda. The primary method utilized was fear and hate; fear of the enemy combined with hate, all epitomized by an inordinate demonization. The methods of the CPI portrayed Germans as the most dangerous enemy this country had ever faced, a threat to our way of life, depraved, brutal barbarians, intent of the destruction of our democracy and all freedom loving people around the world. Stories of atrocities and potential atrocities were common-place; the intent was to stimulate a national self-righteousness and complete indignation toward the enemy, it was very effective and produced the desired results within the minds of the people thereby making them pliable to the militaristic cause of the government. The CPI propaganda arm of the government had no qualms about the distortion of the truth or outright subversion of the truth and blatant lies utilized for the greater good of the cause and the expansion of American military might.

    “So great are the psychological resistances to war in modern nations that every war must appear to be a war of defense against a menacing, murderous aggressor. There must be no ambiguity about which the public is to hate. A handy rule for arousing hate, is, if at first they do not enrage, use an atrocity. It has been employed with unvarying success in every conflict known to man.” Lasswell-CPI

    Obviously, it worked so well that it has continued to be used to this day. It is not hard to find the exact wording today as was utilized during WWI and WWII in describing the enemy and the potential extreme threat that enemy represents to our way of life. It also appears that the American people remain equally as sensitive to such methods today as they were nearly 100 years ago during the Wilson Administration. In such efforts, the government needs hatred to fuel its war machine and it is extremely skilled in presentations crafted to elicit those darker emotions among the People, all for the cause, the government’s cause, whether justified or not.

    After WWI, the CPI remained a very useful tool of the government, but instead of war, it used the same methods against potential political opposition, to enhance factions and special interest that government sought partnerships with in order to gain a far more powerful position on the domestic front. It became government policy to use such tools to mold American public opinion to fit the views and requirements of the State.

    The use of Militarism, and the propaganda tools used to support it, is contrary to the goals once espoused by this country and the traditions upon which it was founded. It is impossible for the traditional institutions of this country to continue if such tactics continue to influence and direct public opinion based upon certain agendas which may not always be exposed to the general public but are sold to them as an absolute necessity for our survival as a nation when in fact that may not be the case. Unless we are willing to not only maintain our Rights and defend our Liberties, we will lose them to a systematic distortion of truth created to generate a particular agenda contrary to our real national interests and the traditional Constitutional form of government.

    “The abuse of official powers and thirst for dishonest gain are now so common that they cease to shock.”—Edward Bates-Lincoln’s Attorney General.

    Of course, along with Militarism abroad comes an increase of political repression at home. Any government that gravitates toward Militarism tends to also move toward a Police State, especially when there is the advantage of an external threat or a potential internal threat. The two go hand-in-hand and rarely can Militarism be found without the backing of a degree of domestic oppression. It is also not unusual within such a mentality of such extreme views that those who promote it are ultimately gripped with the same fear it seeks to propagate. We have seen the shift in this country since the events of 9/11; it has been a drastic move toward dangerously irrational reactionary thought.

    We have lost much to those who seek an agenda other than those upon which this country was founded and yet there remains a strong tie, and even a yearning that now compels the People to return to the traditions instituted by our Founders. The message of revolutionary Freedom will not be silenced in this country, it may be battered, oppressed and dissent may even be criminalized, but the Cry of Liberty will continue to grow louder and the Cause of Freedom will prevail AT ANY COST!

    Comment by Republicae — December 14, 2007 @ 2:02 pm
  32. Doug,

    “The 9/11 Commissions reports documented plenty of instances of analysts inside the government who were telling (mostly) the Clinton Administration that it needed to take stronger action against Al Qaeda. Heck, there was a point when we had visual identification of bin Laden himself and Sandy Berger vetoed an attack, on the President’s orders.”

    Yeah…boy it’s a damn shame that humanity didn’t have the ability to see the future, otherwise we would have known for sure which analysis was right which was wrong and which was completely irrelevant, Clinton would have known what the exact consequences of killing bin Laden were going to be and the rest of the world would have agreed to let us run rough-shod over their national sovereignty to shut down al-Qaeda. Obviously the only way to overcome our lack of predictive ability is to attack everyone who might someday pose a threat to us in the hopes that we’ll prevent bad things from ever happening.

    Spare me.

    “And, yes, national interests are not easy to define.”

    Yes they are, our “national interests” as determined by the government are limited to matters of self-defense. Beyond that the government’s got no legitimate authority to be acting in our “national interests” at all. It’s not our government’s legitimate role to try and get us a better price on oil or natural gas by propping up some shitty third-world dictator so he’ll sell us his products below market value. It’s not our government’s legitimate role to engage in trade wars and create tariffs to squeeze foreign competitors out of our market so they won’t threaten American businesses that donate money to our politicians’ campaign funds. It’s not our government’s legitimate role to be borrowing money from Chinese central banks to pay for a war in a country that was no threat to attack us because the president doesn’t want to admit he’s wrong (or because he’s too stupid to realize it). The only time government has any right to intervene in our “national interest” is when we’re being attacked or are in imminent danger of being attacked…period. Any other time, it’s just government attempting to exert control over voluntary human interactions, usually to give preferential treatment to interests that are politically advantageous to the people in charge.

    “There is no hard and fast rule, but that doesn’t mean that we should withdraw our military into the borders of Fortress America and pretend that what’s going on in the rest of the world doesn’t matter to us.”

    Again, Ron Paul stated that he wants free trade and he’s never stated (as far as I’ve seen) that we shouldn’t engage in non-entangling military alliances for purposes of our own self-defense. Paul drew the distinction between non-interventionism and isolationism on the Blitzer interview you posted…unless you’ve got something to discredit what he said quit attributing positions to the man that you have no proof he holds

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 2:04 pm
  33. Doug,

    “Well, all I can say is that your definition is far different from what one hears from the Lew Rockwell crowd, who seem to have a significant influence on Paul’s thoughts in this area.”

    My opinion on it is different from the isolationists. And from what I’ve seen Ron Paul say on the issue, so is his. Otherwise I wouldn’t be supporting the man.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 2:08 pm
  34. Doug said: “Well, all I can say is that your definition is far different from what one hears from the Lew Rockwell crowd, who seem to have a significant influence on Paul’s thoughts in this area.”

    My suggestion is that you go to the source:

    The Ron Paul Library…

    Comment by Republicae — December 14, 2007 @ 2:09 pm
  35. And having a “significant influence” on somebody’s position is not the same has having the same opinion. If you’ve got problems with the Rockwellites’ position, take it up with them. If you want to dissect Ron Paul’s position, stick to what he says his position is, not what you think it might be because of who he’s affiliated with. Otherwise you’re just using straw man arguments.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 2:12 pm
  36. Doug,

    “The 9/11 Commissions reports documented plenty of instances of analysts inside the government who were telling (mostly) the Clinton Administration that it needed to take stronger action against Al Qaeda. Heck, there was a point when we had visual identification of bin Laden himself and Sandy Berger vetoed an attack, on the President’s orders.”

    Yeah…boy it’s a damn shame that humanity didn’t have the ability to see the future, otherwise we would have known for sure which analysis was right which was wrong and which was completely irrelevant, Clinton would have known what the exact consequences of killing bin Laden were going to be and the rest of the world would have agreed to let us run rough-shod over their national sovereignty to shut down al-Qaeda. Obviously the only way to overcome our lack of predictive ability is to attack everyone who might someday pose a threat to us in the hopes that we’ll prevent bad things from ever happening (sarcasm off).

    “And, yes, national interests are not easy to define.”

    Yes they are, our “national interests” as determined by the government are limited to matters of self-defense. Beyond that the government’s got no legitimate authority to be acting in our “national interests” at all. It’s not our government’s legitimate role to try and get us a better price on oil or natural gas by propping up some shitty third-world dictator so he’ll sell us his products below market value. It’s not our government’s legitimate role to engage in trade wars and create tariffs to squeeze foreign competitors out of our market so they won’t threaten American businesses that donate money to our politicians’ campaign funds. It’s not our government’s legitimate role to be borrowing money from Chinese central banks to pay for a war in a country that was no threat to attack us because the president doesn’t want to admit he’s wrong (or because he’s too stupid to realize it). The only time government has any right to intervene in our “national interest” is when we’re being attacked or are in imminent danger of being attacked…period. Any other time, it’s just government attempting to exert control over voluntary human interactions, usually to give preferential treatment to interests that are politically advantageous to the people in charge.

    “There is no hard and fast rule, but that doesn’t mean that we should withdraw our military into the borders of Fortress America and pretend that what’s going on in the rest of the world doesn’t matter to us.”

    Again, Ron Paul stated that he wants free trade and he’s never stated (as far as I’ve seen) that we shouldn’t engage in non-entangling military alliances for purposes of our own self-defense. Paul drew the distinction between non-interventionism and isolationism on the Blitzer interview you posted…unless you’ve got something to discredit what he said quit attributing positions to the man that you have no proof he holds.

    (I posted this earlier but I think it got caught in the spam filter).

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 2:15 pm
  37. Sorry, I double-posted…apparently Brad was able to shake it loose. Stupid spam filter. :)

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 2:17 pm
  38. Crawford,

    By the time of the Sandy Berger incident I mentioned, Al Qaeda had already attacked two U.S. Embassies in Africa, the USS Cole, and the Khobar Towers. Before that, men linked to al Qaeda had been arrested in The Phillipines in connection with a plot to kill the Pope and blow up a dozen airliners over the Pacific.

    And bin Laden had already issued his fatwah against the United States.

    The dots were there, but the Administration in power didn’t have the political will to do anything about it.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 2:44 pm
  39. Doug,

    “By the time of the Sandy Berger incident I mentioned, Al Qaeda had already attacked two U.S. Embassies in Africa, the USS Cole, and the Khobar Towers. Before that, men linked to al Qaeda had been arrested in The Phillipines in connection with a plot to kill the Pope and blow up a dozen airliners over the Pacific.”

    And almost nobody outside of the military and intelligence communities gave a damn. Certainly they didn’t give enough of a damn to let Clinton wage a preemptive war, run roughshod over the international community in an attempt to catch bin Laden, or engage in open attempts at assassination. Hell, there wasn’t even enough concern to change the Church Committee-era procedural hurdles that prevented the law enforcement community from catching the 9/11 hijackers because they couldn’t share information with the intelligence community (which would have been the only step that could have been realistically undertaken that might have changed the probability of 9/11).

    Hindsight’s always 20/20 Doug…and while I certainly had my disagreements with Clinton’s foreign policy, there wasn’t a lot that more that he or any other president could realistically do to stop 9/11 because it was only after 9/11 that the people were willing to abandon logic, reason and liberty in exchange for the facade of security. And even if they’d been willing to submit to a police state before 9/11 there’s no guarantee it would have changed anything. Terrorism by its nature will always have the initiative and the probability is that eventually one or more groups will succeed with what they’re doing. For all Clinton’s faults, there’s no way he could reasonably have been expected to predict exactly what was going to happen and stop it…nobody could. The idea that we should adopt an interventionist foreign policy in the attempt to stop the bad things in the world from happening is the worst kind of pipe dream, and all we’d really end up doing is sacrificing our liberties down the road for the illusion of safety. Especially since it’s our adherence to an interventionist foreign policy throughout the 20th century that set the stage for events like 9/11.

    “The dots were there, but the Administration in power didn’t have the political will to do anything about it.”

    There’s that wishful thinking again…are you honestly suggesting that if we give government the authority to act as they choose they’ll actually fix our problems for us. Because that sounds an awful lot like the bullshit this site is supposed to oppose.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 3:04 pm
  40. So are you saying that any attack on al Qaeda would have been unjustified prior to 9/11 ?

    The truth of the matter is that they were a threat long before then, the evidence was there, a lot of people ignored it, and we had a President distracted by interns in office.

    The fact that 3,000 people had to die before something was done is, quite honestly, almost criminally negligent.

    By the way, if this is the response my post on Ron Paul & foreign policy got, it will be interesting to see how the immigration post goes over tomorrow.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 3:13 pm
  41. Doug,

    “So are you saying that any attack on al Qaeda would have been unjustified prior to 9/11?”

    No, I’m saying that Clinton was limited by the practical realities of the world from doing much more than he did. The American public would never have tolerated an invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq if 9/11 hadn’t happened.

    “The fact that 3,000 people had to die before something was done is, quite honestly, almost criminally negligent.”

    No, the fact that we didn’t go picking fights until somebody attacked us directly is indicative of the fact that Americans aren’t willing to support prolonged wars that aren’t clearly in self-defense. That’s a good thing…at least for anyone who supports individual freedom.

    “The truth of the matter is that they were a threat long before then, the evidence was there, a lot of people ignored it, and we had a President distracted by interns in office.”

    So you’re saying that Clinton was an evil bastard who had precognitive abilities, foresaw 9/11 and yet chose to sit by and do nothing so he could get a blowjob? Is that what you’re saying? Because that seems like a rather speculative argument to me unsubstantiated by anything more than your personal distaste for the man. I wasn’t a fan myself, but frankly I wouldn’t accuse him of anything more in regards to 9/11 than being a short-sighted politician who couldn’t predict the future. Of course, I doubt Bob Dole would have done much more if he’d got elected…or any other politician (or average citizen, for that matter) you’d care to name.

    Or are you perhaps saying that the reason 9/11 happened was because we didn’t give the government enough power to act unilaterally?

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 3:51 pm
  42. Clinton could have killed Osama. It has been said that he had 8-10 chances. The media wasn’t interested in turning the story about our embassies being attacked into a drama which would captivate an audience. I’m tired of the news media filtering what people believe and pay attention too.

    Should we continue to meddle in the affairs of the Middle East? How much of a military presence can we possess across the world while not going bankrupt? Do the politicians have the collective intelligence needed to be the global policemen? Also how about our military presence next to the border of Russia.

    Comment by uhm — December 14, 2007 @ 5:15 pm
  43. Crawford,

    Clinton wasn’t evil, he was just an idiot.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 5:22 pm
  44. Crawford,

    More seriously,I think a good case can be made that 9/11 happened because our leaders failed to follow through on their duties to protect the nation

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 5:26 pm
  45. This has probably already been said, and has been said by Dr. Paul on numerous occasions. The Constitution gives specific steps on how to deal with threats from non-state entities.

    Power to grant Letters of Marquee and Reprisal. Simple. No invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq would have been necessary. Simply put a $1 billion bounty on Bin Laden and lesser amounts on all of his top men. Sit back and let the mercenaries get him, someone would be willing to go after him and capture him if the price was right.

    $1 billion?? Too much? Maybe. But, it would have been cheaper than the wars in Iraq and Afganistan…

    Comment by paul — December 14, 2007 @ 5:41 pm
  46. Doug,

    9/11 happened because one of an enormous number of terrorist groups eventually got lucky and succeeded in carrying out an attack on U.S. soil. Throw enough darts at a bullseye, eventually you’re going to hit something. This happened partly because our interventionist policies in the Middle East for the last century have been creating a toxic environment where these groups can thrive, partly because al-Qaeda had extensive time to plan in a sympathetic safe haven, partly because a series of bureaucratic barriers and cracks existed that made it possible for the terrorists to evade capture by our law enforcement organizations after they were detected, but mainly because our government has made it illegal for the airlines to protect their own property or provide security for their own passengers on their own planes which forces the airlines to depend on the government to provide their security for them and, unsurprisingly, the government did a shitty job because that’s just what government does.

    Nothing about 9/11 makes a compelling case that government should be entrusted with more discretion or authority when it comes to foreign policy or national security. They can barely be trusted with the responsibilities they had pre-9/11. Why on earth would you think it’s a good idea to let them pick and choose which countries we should be fighting with based on a bunch of egocentric politicians’ interpretation of “national interest” without holding them to the at least somewhat concrete standard of self-defense?

    I swear, every time I have one of these foreign policy discussions with you I sympathize with Murray Rothbard’s leap to anarcho-capitalism a little more.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 5:52 pm
  47. Paul,

    It has been said before.

    As has the fact that Letters of Marquee and Repraisal would be violations of international law under treaties to which the United States is a signatory.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 5:52 pm
  48. Crawford,

    I disagree. 9/11 happened because the American leaders failed to connect the dots and failed to act appropriately in response to clear signals of a real threat.

    Al Qaeda had killed American long before September 11, 2001. There was no reason to wait until October 2001 to go after them.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 14, 2007 @ 5:54 pm
  49. Doug,

    “9/11 happened because the American leaders failed to connect the dots and failed to act appropriately in response to clear signals of a real threat.”

    Again, an assessment you made with the benefit of hindsight. It’s nice to have the benefit of hindsight to cherrypick vague pieces of intelligence and assign importance to them that wasn’t readily apparent at the time that intelligence was relevant. It’s a much more accurate practice than trying to anticipate what will happen in the future based on the extremely infrequent nugget of semi-useful information buried under an almost infinite landslide of incomplete, inaccurate, irrelevant or misleading data, which is what intelligence analysts and the politicians they brief have to do (well, except for Bush who usually doesn’t bother to read the intelligence reports). The 9/11 Commission conveniently forgot to consider that when they drafted their bullshit report in a politically motivated attempt to assign blame…not to mention they ignored legislative changes (such as the repeal of the Church Committee restrictions for one) that made a lot of their “findings” outdated and irrelevant.

    People who complain about the government’s “failure to connect the dots” are usually betraying their ignorance over just how complex and ultimately impossible to solve their metaphorical puzzle actually is…as well as displaying a rather naive belief in government’s ability to solve complex problems effectively. Again, not sufficient rationales to entrust government with more authority or discretion in foreign policy or national security.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 6:31 pm
  50. “There was no reason to wait until October 2001 to go after them.”

    You mean aside from the fact that the American public would never have supported a full-scale invasion of Afghanistan before 9/11 (which was the only way we were going to get a shot at the guy)?

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 6:37 pm
  51. Paul,

    We’ve had a multi-million dollar bounty ($50M I believe) on bin Laden’s head for six years and nobody’s seriously attempted to collect on it…mainly because anyone who knows where he is also knows they wouldn’t survive to collect it. You could make it a billion dollars, won’t change the fact that it’s unlikely anyone in a position to do so is ever going to give bin Laden up.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 14, 2007 @ 6:51 pm
  52. Doug,

    This statement:

    “As has the fact that Letters of Marquee and Repraisal would be violations of international law under treaties to which the United States is a signatory.”

    is false. Letters of Marquee and Reprisal were outlawed by signatories of the Declaration of Paris in 1856. The United States was not a signatory of the declaration. It would appear that the United States phased out the letters of Marquee and Reprisal on its own accord. Rather they became unnecessary and unfashionable.

    Comment by TanGeng — December 14, 2007 @ 6:51 pm
  53. UCrawford,

    A billion dollars could convince some people to make an organized effort. It doesn’t have to be individuals doing such things. If anything it would get people to look out for credible information on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.

    Comment by TanGeng — December 14, 2007 @ 6:55 pm
  54. Considering the limitations of interventionism, I think that Ron Paul clearly states that we need to seriously consider the possible repercussions of such interventions. In fact, it is easy to see, if we are look beyond the propaganda of the state, that our interventions have caused us a great deal of trouble over the years. The problem with covert activities is that you never know what auxiliary problems and issues they create due to the fact that, by the very nature, they are covert and for decades we have blindly placed our faith in the Intel community to do everything in our own best interest when that might not be the case.

    If anyone considers the actions we have taken over the past 50 years have promoted peace then they should take a second look at the results of those actions. I don’t think Ron Paul has stated that we should limit our foreign relations because extremists hate us, just the opposite; they hate us because of our foreign relations and policies. Between the various factions we support on all sides of a conflict and the types of various interventions, there must be some accountability and yet there has been none. Ron Paul has stated that we have created many of our own problems, by the way so has many of the various intelligence agencies and military strategist. Just look at the world we have created for ourselves, it didn’t just happen this way there are very definite causes and effects.

    For instance, a particular type of intervention, which still haunts us today, used by the CIA, was pushing an extremely radicalized Islamic ideology among the population of Afghanistan in the 80s and 90s. This was not only used with the adult population, but the CIA also insured that generations to come would be radicalized through providing Islamic schools with textbooks which brought extremist ideology to children in the region, it worked. Between 1984 and 1994, the University of Nebraska, funded by United States Agency for International Development [USAID], produced some of the most disturbing textbooks for radicalizing Afghan children. Of course, millions of these textbooks not only found their way into the hands of Afghan children, but also were exported into Pakistan and other areas in the region; they are still being used today to indoctrinate students with extremists’ ideology that consist of hatred of non-Muslims, and Islamic liberation through terrorism.

    Between 1985 and 1989, Osama bin Laden’s MAK opened branches in over 30 U.S. Cities with the assistance of his mentor Sheikh Abdullah Azzam. Azzam made several trips to the U.S. and other countries to organize the MAK branches. With the knowledge of the U.S. Government and support from the CIA, the MAK branches raised millions of dollars from Muslim-Americans. Bin Laden assumes power over the MAK after Azzam is assassinated in car bombing. MAK, through bin Laden’s guidance is transformed into al-Qaeda and the branch offices continue to funnel money into the network right under the nose of the U.S. Government. ?? At the same time, the CIA, MI6 and the ISI launch guerrilla attack into the Soviet territories of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Targets include civilian factories, storage warehouses, and military installations. The CIA supplies the ISI with extremist Islamic literature and Korans to import into the Soviet territories to foment Islamic uprisings and destabilize the region. ?? Between 1986 and 1992, William Casey backed a plan to recruit Islamic extremists from around the world to fight in the Mujahideen Jihad and over 100,000 Islamic militant terrorists are trained in camps under the direct oversight of the CIA and MI6. The MAK [al-Qaeda] terrorists and future Taliban fighters are trained by British Special Forces units and become experts in bomb making, weapons, and guerrilla tactics. The leaders of the groups receive special training at a CIA camp in Virginia.

    Between 1986 and 1992, William Casey backed a plan to recruit Islamic extremists from around the world to fight in the Mujahideen Jihad and over 100,000 Islamic militant terrorists are trained in camps under the direct oversight of the CIA and MI6. The MAK [al-Qaeda] terrorists and future Taliban fighters are trained by British Special Forces units and become experts in bomb making, weapons, and guerrilla tactics. The leaders of the groups receive special training at a CIA camp in Virginia. While the operation was originally intended to defeat the Soviet invaders in Afghanistan, it was continued for several years after the Soviet withdrawal. Jane’s Defense Weekly stated that not only did ISI operatives work directly with al-Qaeda, but also got direct assistance from “American Green Beret commandos and Navy SEALS in various U.S. training establishments.” Jane’s also reports that “with U.S. knowledge, bin Laden created al-Qaeda: (the Base): a conglomerate of quasi-independent Islamic terrorist cells spread across at least 26 countries, but meantime Washington turned a blind eye to al-Qaeda.”

    Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State under the Reagan Administration, later said with regret: “We did spawn a monster in Afghanistan. Once the Soviets were gone, [the U.S. funded and trained terrorists] were looking around for other targets, and Osama bin Laden has settled on the United States as a source of all evil. Irony? Irony is all over the place.” President George H.W. Bush was told by the future deposed President of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto: “ You are creating a Frankenstein!” Indeed, we did just that and as one diplomat notes, “The consequences for all of us are astronomical.”

    Now tell me that any of that makes sense when we are trying to protect ourselves from a potential enemy? I am sure that “Statist apologists” will say that we were fighting the Soviet Union and anything was permissible, but in the CIA’s on estimation the Soviet Union was little more than a paper tiger and the threat was more political expediency then actual. The “state” will always manufacture a threat if one doesn’t actually exist; if we don’t realize that then we are only fooling ourselves.

    From what I have read of Ron Paul he calls for a rational foreign policy while maintaining a strong, but practical defense. Currently, we have military bases in over 150 countries and the fact is that we simply can no longer afford to be the world’s police. That fact is becoming self-evident as this fading empire approaches the end of its ability to press the world into compliance with its wishes.

    We are looking at the result of decades of haphazard policies, rashly ill conceived and poorly executed military adventures which have done more harm than good and in the process they have endangered this nation and its people. As I have stated before on this forum: Peace is the Enemy of the State. Without war the State cannot procure its desired control and social maintenance of the population. The Warfare State is a wasteful ideology that stifles Liberty, restricts the Rights of the Citizen and drains the nation of it potential. Such ideologies have always failed in the past and usually at the expense of the general welfare of the Citizens of a nation. We are only hastening the day when disaster strikes again.

    During the entire period of this so-called “War on Terror” we have remained basically undefended with open borders, porous ports and policies and procedures that border on the ridiculous. Had this been a serious issue of national security there would be rational policies that were directed more toward actually securing this nation against attack instead of merely complicating the process of defense into an untenable monstrosity of bureaucratic incompetence.

    When we consider that the measures of the Patriot Act were written long before the attacks of 9/11, should it not make anyone wonder about the pretext of the attack? Indeed, the Taliban’s fate was sealed long before 9/11 when they reneged on the UNOCAL pipeline deal with the U.S. Oil Barons. Is it any wonders why we have not captured Osama in the remotest parts of Pakistan… imagine a six foot-seven inch Arab who must have kidney dialysis on a regular basis just to remain alive…and we can’t find him, perhaps the government really doesn’t want to find him.

    As a footnote to the events of 9/11, it is important to understand what the government desires were prior to 9/11. This desire can be easily seen in the writings of Brezinski: He states Eurasia is vital to the strategic interest of the U.S. and Central Asia is the key to dominating that region, particularly with its large oil reserves. He also gives a picture of the motive behind everything that points to 9/11: that in order for the U.S. to maintain its global supremacy, it must prevent, at any cost, a possible adversary from controlling that region. He gives an almost chilling prophecy of the future when he states: “The attitude of the American public toward the external projection of American power has been much more ambivalent. The public supported America’s engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.” He goes on to predict that such an ambitious strategy in Central Asia cannot be implemented “except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.” Of course, that has happened!

    Perhaps, since our policies have been a dismal failure for decades that it is time to change not only the way we think, but also the way we act. From what I have read, Ron Paul has extensive knowledge of the foreign policy issues we face and the potential danger posed by such policies. He is far from being an Isolationist and would provide, finally, a logical and rational approach to not only our foreign policy, but social and economic policies as well.
    _________________________

    Comment by Republicae — December 14, 2007 @ 7:35 pm
  55. In terms of the “war on terror”, there seems to be a failure of understanding this enemy, understanding his reasonings, his motivations. There are several informative books, difficult to get, but well worth the hunt if you are lucky to find them. One was written by Abdallah Azzam, founder of Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK-which would come to be known as al Qaeda), the book is indispensable in understanding this enemy: “The Main Obligation of Muslims is to Defend the Land of Islam”. Osama bin Laden was extremely influenced by Azzam and his book, however, it appears that it has rarely been read by many Westerners, especially those who are attempting to wage this “war on terror”. If they had read it then they would know several things about this enemy, the first is that “he” is driven by a devout, one could say fanatical connection with Islamic territory and Islamic “holy places”. The second is that they view many of the current regimes in the region as de facto supporters of U.S. policies in the region because they have allowed the U.S. to establish bases on what they consider holy ground.
    Of course, it did not help the entire situation that the U.S. government allowed over 30 MAK branches to operate under their noses for years, collecting millions of dollars in donations from the American Muslim community during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

    Now, if we actually look at a time-line of when the ultra-radicalization and indeed the beginning of attacks against U.S. targets, we will find that there is a very direct correlation between our introduction of troops stationed in and around the Arabian peninsula and those attacks. Yes, there were sporadic attacks prior to this period, but primarily by those who had Palestinian connections. If you recall, the majority of the Arab world was pleased that we intervened in the case of Kuwait however, it was that intervention that opened the door for the U.S. to pursue a very different policy in the region. That policy, perhaps all along, was to establish a strong presence in the region and in Central Asia. Whatever the reasons behind the implementation of that policy it consolidated several factions of Islamic fundamentalists who had felt completely powerless against everyone from the Soviets in Afghanistan, to Israel, to the U.S., into a force with a common goal, a common focus and a common enemy. That enemy was none other then the most conspicuous threat to Islam that they saw: The United States of America.

    The U.S. policy that engaged the establishment of those bases in the region not only provided a focal point for decades of rage, but it became the collective focus of Islamic hatred. While there was a definite push toward radicalization due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, it was the establishment of U.S. military bases that actually provided the radicals with the impetus to form and execute their radical ideals in the region and then around the world. At one time, the Mujahidin movement was relatively restricted to Afghanistan, but soon, with the new focus of perceived U.S. aggression in the region, that movement spread to Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and now, thanks to our poorly executed invasion: Iraq. It continues to spread because the perceived threat remains.

    Many seem to fail to understand that the core message of the Islamic extremists is that Islam is threatened by the presence and actions of the United States. It probably would surprise many, but according to several Intel reports, and reports from former al Qaeda members, new green recruits are not indoctrinated in the Koran, but their indoctrination involves what they call the Sixth Pillar of Islam, which states that when Islam is threatened and attacked that it is the moral obligation of all Muslims to rise to its defense. The destruction of al’Qaeda’s base of operation in Afghanistan and the fall of the Taliban only served to fan the flames of the extremist and expand their recruitment methods and reach. We would have done much better to have quietly and surgically taken bin Laden and his cohorts out then to have actually invaded. That would have cut off the head of the snake and then it would have been much easier to contain the radicalization of Islamist in the region.

    Our current Islamophobia blinds us to a very important reality about why they despise the U.S. and why they will continue to attack us. One of the truly amazing things about our current “war on terror” and U.S. intervention is the fact that it is so unfocused and poorly executed. In particular our early actions in Afghanistan proved far less effective then our government publicized and propagandized to the American public.
    Americans do not have the taste or the stomach for extended warfare, we never have. Nor do we tend to have the philosophical or political fortitude to engage an enemy, particularly this enemy, over an extremely prolonged period. On the other hand, the enemy we are now engaging is well aware of the requirements of patience and the advantages of playing their agenda over the long haul. Theirs is a philosophy that requires endurance in the face of their enemies and in their patience they strategize accordingly. We falsely assume, thanks to the Bush Administration’s insistence, that since this country has not been attacked since 9/11 that our government’s defense methods are working however, that assumption is based upon highly irrational assessments and miscalculations. Remember, this enemy is very, very patient and chooses his actions based upon a very determined course of action, not, as some portray, emotionalism.

    While the Bush Administration made a point to publicize the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the routing of al Qaeda as a victory, the truth points to a far less decisive outcome. Long before the attacks of 9/11, al Qaeda proceeded to remove all but skeleton encampments from the region, by the time we attacked the country most of the Taliban and al Qaeda had disappeared into the Pashtun tribal areas of Pakistan and other Central Asian countries. We were told that bin Laden was surely in a tunnel in Tora Bora, unfortunately for the Administration, bin Ladin had, in my opinion, left Afghanistan long before the invasion, probably through Karachi and probably on a private jet belonging to one of the Royal Saudi princes.

    The battles of Tora Bora and Shahi Kowt did nothing but allow the remaining skeleton encampments to slip over the border into Pakistan…our ally in this extremely poorly planned and executed “war on terror”. Such intervention obviously serves a political purpose because it is definitely not serving a military purpose. It is not producing the results that this government claims even though they are outspoken in those claims. In the end, we will see that the results in both Iraq and Afghanistan will not only fail to produce the stated results this government has espoused, but will fail to add any security to this nation and its people.

    Our leadership in this country has one of the most myopic mentalities that I haven’t witnessed since the Johnson Administrations. It appears to be oblivious to the potential results of its actions, both here at home and abroad. Bush lead this country to war, both in Afghanistan and Iraq, based upon very dubious assumptions and it shows.

    Our actions, based upon those dubious assumptions will eventually cause the complete failure of the Bush goals in both countries. That failure is already becoming very evident in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will, in the end, lose both efforts to the Bush/Cheney myopia. The Bush Administration either dismissed or failed to listen to experienced counsel on the possible effects of not only the invasions, but also occupations of those countries and there was plenty of experienced voices warning that there was a distinct probability of eventual failure. Our intelligence community had almost a decade of direct experience in Afghanistan from running one of the largest covert actions in our country’s history while combating the Soviets, yet the Bush Administration blatantly ignored those with that extensive experience. We are, in essence, making the same mistakes that the Soviets made in Afghanistan, and the same mistakes that the British made in Iraq. We have “installed” Westernized and backed governments in both countries and in a very real way we have attempted to install a Westernized culture on both countries in hopes that it would eventually pacify the Muslim populations. It is however, counterintuitive to attempt such actions without understanding the culture itself and this Administration simply continues on the same path that it ignorantly assumes will work.
    Our leaders, who have both misjudged and miscalculated, not only our enemy, but also the effects of our policies around the world and especially in the Middle East and Central Asian countries.

    Many see this “war” as a chess game, with strategic moves and counter-moves. The issue and the problem, for 109 years, has been that this country has played its foreign policy just like a chess game. Unfortunately, in a chess game there is a definite “known”, given moves and strategies designed specifically for those moves; that is not true in international relations or successful foreign policies intent on providing this country with adequate and appropriate security. This country has made what its “wise” leaders consider strategic moves, just like in chess, but those moves have been, for the most part, based upon isolated actions and reactions while not taking into account that such moves always have consequences that can potentially nullify the move or make the move lose its potential value or in a worse case scenario: cost far more than if the move had never been made in the first place.

    This government has been involved in a type of piece-meal strategy based upon an almost purely military arrogance that has prevailed in this country for decades and that strategy is not only severely outdated, but stagnant, extremely conventional and based on assumptions that can no longer be relied upon. At one time our military might was enough to keep, at least in the strange mental world of our government leaders, the rest of the world “in line” with what they considered U.S. interests, but that is no longer the case. First, there is no real definition of our national interests, only a very indistinct and broad definition that inherently creates a large degree of obscuration. On top of all of that, there is a conglomeration of mismatched analysis combined with the pressure of political and special interests that has, particularly in the last 7 years, produced far less reliable information than is required. In many cases, the information has been either willfully ignored or dismissed without proper consideration by those who are the “decision makers” in this government.

    This may sound odd, but in numerous cases this governments preconceptions have, because of certain internal ideologies, colored the policies and actions taken by this government without consideration of the consequences of those actions. In many ways, judged by the decisions of this government, it has deliberately shelved proper policy and action for that which they consider much more suitable for their ideological point of view. This has proved, time and again, disastrous and it is still going on in this government.

    Ron Paul is not advocating a policy that ignores potential threats, but he has stated that it is time that this government put away the shortsighted policies that make this nation a target for any enemy or potential enemy. He has also advocated that this government take a far wiser approach to both foreign policy and our interventions, both covert and overt. He has advocated the necessity of understanding our enemies, their motives and therefore their potential actions based upon those motives. From my reading of Ron Paul, he takes a very sober viewpoint and advocates that this country do the same because if it ignores the provocation of its policies then it will continue to suffer the consequences of those provocations.
    History is filled with polices that we now mimic and unfortunately, the outcome of those historic polices either proved to be militarily disastrous or financially disastrous or both. Most countries that pursued almost identical polices as we now pursue eventually collapsed from external conquest or internal economic and political collapse that lead to external conquest. If we are so arrogant to believe that we are different then the great empires, the great civilization of the past then we are in for a very rude and very hard reality.

    Our leaders have poorly defined its foreign policy and haphazardly pursued a foreign policy that is not based upon actual defense of this country, but upon a view of broadly and extended interests. Until we limit our foreign policy and its actions to a purely defensive base then we can expect even more attacks, more threats and more terrorism.

    It is interesting that we rarely hear that the Jihad proposed by bin Laden is considered defensive in nature, by the tenants of Islam. We have been induced into believing that they are just attacking us because of a non-descript reason relating to our way of life or our freedom, etc. That suggestion is not only based upon a politically induced and propagated fantasy by this Administration, but on the assumption that the American public will wholly accept and swallow such a ridiculous, and I might add, baseless proposition. Until we can face the reality behind the attacks and threats of this “war on terrorism”, then we will continue down the path that has brought more failures over the last 45 or 50 years than successes. It is time to defend, really defend this country for a change.

    Ron Paul has not only been absolutely correct in his assessments about the foreign policy foibles of this government, but has predicted most of the resulting blowback of such policies over the years.

    In Liberty,
    Republicae

    Comment by Republicae — December 14, 2007 @ 7:45 pm
  56. Drink LiberTEA at the Teaparty, Dec 16, 2007. Drink it for the first time.

    All other candidates DENY LIBERTY.

    Ron Paul is the greatest candidate I’ve ever seen. Consistent for 30 years. No flip flops. We are done with WAR, we want a real currency, we want peace, we want the welfare-state for the military industrial complex to END, we want to fix America and stop policing the world and to stop the authoritarian oppression here NOW.

    Here is what the US Government without Ron Paul in charge has done to us:

    - 9 trillion in debt
    - 850 billion trade deficit
    - War in Iraq
    - War in Afghanistan
    - Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda alive
    - Fomenting War with Iran
    - 12.25 trillion M3 money supply, and expanding (massive inflation)

    Ron Paul’s record is crystal clean perfect and consistent. He takes no money from anyone but people and constituents. He is as pure as they come.

    One of my favorite quotes about Dr. Paul, “You’re working for the most honest man in Congress.” That was John McCain speaking to Kent Snyder in 1988.

    Comment by Mick Russom — December 15, 2007 @ 2:31 am
  57. TanGeng,

    “A billion dollars could convince some people to make an organized effort. It doesn’t have to be individuals doing such things. If anything it would get people to look out for credible information on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.”

    It’s not going to happen. Bin Laden’s most likely in the tribal areas of Pakistan, where outsiders are not able to operate freely enough to catch him and where the tribal codes forbid the locals from giving up a person who has requested sanctuary. If somebody there gives him up to the authorities the tribe’s honor requires that that person be killed, and likely his family. You could make the offer a trillion dollars, rewards are useless if you and your family aren’t alive to collect it. To say nothing of the fact that Pakistan would never let us go in to look for him in force (which is the only way we’d be able to apprehend him considering that he reportedly moves around and has a significant security detail), so even if somebody gives us a tip there’s no guarantee of a payoff for them risking their lives and betraying their code. Unless we go in force into Pakistan, it’s unlikely that bin Laden will ever be caught.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 15, 2007 @ 7:03 am
  58. Republicae,

    You know, after reading about Azzam a few years ago I always wondered if perhaps it was bin Laden who had him killed in ’89. They had a philosophical falling out about the direction of the revolution, Azzam got killed by a car bomb planted by unknown assassins shortly afterwards, and bin Laden then took al-Qaeda in a much more radical and violent direction. The common consensus seemed to be that it was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (who was on a little rampage of slaughtering high-profile politicians at that time), but he was mainly interested in targeting Afghanis so he could seize control there, Azzam wasn’t in his way, and didn’t seem to have any evidence of Hekmatyar’s involvement. Azzam was, however, blocking bin Laden’s ability to do what he wanted with al-Qaeda…which made me wonder if it was a straight power play by bin Laden against a guy he still likes to name-drop to add legitimacy to what he’s doing. I have absolutely no proof of this, of course, and it’s unlikely that we’ll ever find out for sure, but as conspiracy theories go it’s one that seems less of a stretch.

    If it were true, I wonder what bin Laden’s followers in al-Qaeda would think of a guy who murdered the revered founder of their group? I wonder if it would changed their opinion at all.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 15, 2007 @ 7:19 am
  59. Republicae,

    Incredibly long posts that you do, but you don’t bog them down with a lot of pointless rhetoric and slogans and you make excellent points.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 15, 2007 @ 7:22 am
  60. UCrawford…It makes sense that bin Laden had a hand in the assassination of Azzam, it did, after all, set the stage for bin Laden’s advancement into a major leadership role and the transformation of the MAK into al Qaeda.

    Comment by Republicae — December 15, 2007 @ 9:56 am
  61. Doug…

    “As has the fact that Letters of Marquee and Repraisal would be violations of international law under treaties to which the United States is a signatory.”

    Yes, those entangling treaties…I think Dr. Paul has made it pretty clear that such entanglements are not to the advantage of the United States and should not be allowed to govern our country or inhibit our sovereignty or right to defend ourselves.

    Comment by Republicae — December 15, 2007 @ 10:04 am
  62. Republicae,

    We have to honor our treaties and our obligations to international law. The thing is the US didn’t sign the Declaration of Paris in 1856. US can still issue Letters of Marquee and Reprisal. It’s just that it’s not been used for a long time.

    Comment by TanGeng — December 15, 2007 @ 2:43 pm
  63. I don’t quite understand why some libertarians like Paul are so much against the War in Iraq. We’re fighting Al Qaeda there. Is Paul not in favor of fighting Al Qaeda and other terrorists?

    Neal Boortz is in favor of the War. Boortz is a libertarian. How does his views jive with Ron Paul’s? Seems like they’re complete opposites on foreign policy.

    Makes more sense to me that libertarians would oppose Islamic radicals like Boortz.

    Comment by Xen-Man — December 15, 2007 @ 3:19 pm
  64. Xen-Man,

    He’s against it because al-Qaeda wasn’t in Iraq prior to our invasion and the only reason they’re there now is because we create an environment for them to thrive because of the crappy government we put in place for the Iraqis and because fighting against us gives them continued credibility. Once we leave, the upside of being in Iraq diminishes for al-Qaeda.

    And libertarians don’t agree with Boortz on Iraq because he’s wrong, at least from a limited government, pro-freedom perspective. He holds libertarian positions on a lot of other issues, though, so there’s still common ground, just not on Iraq.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 15, 2007 @ 4:23 pm
  65. Opposing Islamic radical is one thing. Giving the government authorization to fight a war against them is something entirely different. Libertarians are skeptics of government. On the question of war, libertarians should be extremely reluctant to allow government to take us to war.

    Notice how government always uses the war as the reason for forgoing a lot of standard procedures or as the reason for asking for extraordinary powers.

    Comment by TanGeng — December 15, 2007 @ 8:33 pm
  66. Hmmm,

    I hope people don’t believe that Iraq attacked us on 9/11 or that Al Qaeda was in Iraq before we went in. But I wouldn’t be surprised if people did. That’s what the media’s done to some people in this country.

    Comment by TanGeng — December 15, 2007 @ 8:34 pm
  67. TanGeng,

    “…libertarians should be extremely reluctant to allow government to take us to war”

    Absolutely. The only time government has any business taking us to war is if we’ve been attacked or if an attack is unquestionably imminent (which requires a much higher burden of proof than the president’s gut, which is all we had to justify Iraq).

    Convincing the people to go to war for less than concrete reasons is one of the hallmarks of tyranny, as no less an authority on the subject than Herman Goering noted:

    “Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship…Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

    Comment by UCrawford — December 15, 2007 @ 9:25 pm
  68. Xen-Man…

    Boortz is, by whatever label he wishes to call himself, seems to have bought the official line on Iraq, Afghanistan and the other “highly successful war on terror”. All three wars are complete failures, the touted success of the “surge” is nothing more than a smoke screen for the reality on the ground. What is taking place is a consolidation of fractionalism within the various regions of Iraq and the purging of potential combatants. The lull in violence is just that, a lull until the consolidation is complete and a stronger position can be secured for the various groups, militias and sects, not to mention the fact that many of our service men and women are simply parking their Humvees in empty fields and not engaging the “enemy”.

    The war in Iraq has produced millions of internal refugees and over a million external refugees that will eventually become another major issue that our government hasn’t come to grip with yet and really can provide no workable solution to the problem. At this point, it no longer matters whether the U.S. stays or leaves, the results will be the same: chaos.

    Bush and Cheney completely ignored massive amount of information, particularly in Afghanistan where we have sought to “installed” a Western style government that is headed by leftovers from the Northern Alliance which was made up of the most hated tribes in Afghanistan: the Pashtuns.

    The war on terror is a war being waged against a vapor that was once relatively small and contained, but our own actions have provided the fuel for their particular ideology to thrive. They are a very patient type of warrior and if we are blind to the fact that none of the actions of this government has made this country more secure from a potential attack, the all we have to do is wait and see that this enemy will attack according to its schedule.

    Until we take the fuel away from this enemy we will not be secure, until we remove the reasons for their attacks they will continue. As long as we remain an occupying force and as they see it, a potential threat to their lands, their way of life and their religion then they will continue to attack.

    Comment by Republicae — December 15, 2007 @ 9:48 pm
  69. So, does this mean that we wait to fight Al Qaeda on the border with Mexico?

    Sean Hannity had a report a couple weeks ago on Fox News on how Radical Muslim Terrorists are starting to link up with Mexican drug cartels.

    If that’s true, that means the Al Qaeda can infiltrate us through our Border States.

    I think it makes more sense to fight them over in the Middle East, than here at home.

    And does this mean we have to build a huge fence to protect our Southern Border. That sounds more like Tancredo, and the Minutemen, not something I’d expect to hear from Open Borders libertarians.

    I guess I’m with Boortz on this.

    Comment by Xen-Man — December 16, 2007 @ 6:26 am
  70. @Xen-Man

    Or, crazy as this may sound, we take some (or, heck, all) of our military might and place it along our southern border.

    Free trade does not require an unsecured border.

    Comment by CommiePuddin — December 16, 2007 @ 7:47 am
  71. *sigh* no preview. Let me try this again:

    Or, crazy as this may sound, we take some (or, heck, all) of our military might currently in Iraq and place it along our southern border.

    Free trade does not require an unsecured border.

    Comment by CommiePuddin — December 16, 2007 @ 7:48 am
  72. Xen-Man,

    In the interest of preserving liberty and general welfare, the libertarian demands a compelling argument for giving the government the power to go to war.

    For a compelling case for war, you need to identify the threat, estimate the size of the threat, and lay out a plan that targets the threat.

    The war in Iraq mis-identifies the threat. Iraq leaders vs. Al Qaeda.
    The war in Iraq mis-identifies the size of the treat. Saddaam poses a very small threat. He was a paper tiget.
    The war in Iraq doesn’t target the identified threat. It’s an offense against the entire Iraq government. It wasn’t limited to its leaders that Bush identified. The chaos that ensued was an offense against the entire Iraqi people. There was a lot of collateral damage and a lot of wasted effort.

    Fighting them over there is a valid idea. That’s why we started a fight in Afghanistan, which subsequently got sidetracked into trying to reform Afghanistan into a democracy. Actually targeting Al Qaeda especially its leadership would be a grand idea.

    Comment by TanGeng — December 16, 2007 @ 8:14 am
  73. Xen-Man,

    “So, does this mean that we wait to fight Al Qaeda on the border with Mexico?”

    Why not? It’s never going to happen…just like the communists invading the U.S. from Central America never happened like in “Red Dawn”. The idea that al-Qaeda could potentially spread their ideology to the entire world is pure fantasy. Because their ideology eschews free markets and voluntary human interactions their version of radical Islam is as incapable of conquering the world as communism was.

    “Sean Hannity had a report a couple weeks ago on Fox News on how Radical Muslim Terrorists are starting to link up with Mexican drug cartels. If that’s true, that means the Al Qaeda can infiltrate us through our Border States.”

    I’ll point out two flaws in this argument, then tell you exactly how it can be avoided without using the military or compromising our freedoms.

    A) Sean Hannity is an idiot. Hannity likes to justify his support of neoconservatism by spinning outrageous apocalyptic stories about all the evil that will happen if we don’t give our freedoms away to the government. Fear-mongering is usually a tactic employed by people who don’t have any rational arguments for the policies they’re proposing (like Bush) so any time you hear one of these rationalizations you should immediately assume that the speaker doesn’t have any clue what he’s talking about until he proves conclusively otherwise…basically let’s see his sources and a comprehensive assessment of why this will occur rather than accepting blurbs from his crap radio show at face value.

    B) There may be cooperation between these groups, but they don’t have common goals. Until Islam actually becomes the major religion of Central and South America the idea that al-Qaeda is going to set up terror training sites and form gigantic evil alliances is laughable. These groups may form working relationships out of conveniences, but their long-term goals have little in common.

    C) Legalize drugs and it won’t be an issue. Cartels and terrorist groups derive most of their power from the money to be made by shipping an illegal product, since the government’s restriction of supply drives the price up (narcotics is one of al-Qaeda’s primary sources of funds). If you want to end the threat from cartels and terror groups, end the War on Drugs.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 16, 2007 @ 9:12 am
  74. Whoops, accidentally chopped a sentence in my second point and created a non-sequitur.

    The reason that al-Qaeda and the drug cartels’ long-term goals are incompatible is that the cartels are interested in profit and power, which necessitates the continuation of the drug trade, while al-Qaeda sees the drug trade only as a necessary evil for their struggle which should be abolished once they achieve power which works against the cartels’ interests. Thus their long-term goals are not compatible.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 16, 2007 @ 9:57 am
  75. I think it is amazing that many people continue to place faith in a foreign policy that has not given us any protection, but has only served to enflame and radicalize the Islamic world against us. This policy follows the same feckless path it has for 109 years and has not produced security, but insecurity.

    This “war on terror”, as it is now executed, extends throughout the Middle East, into Central Asia, Africa and into the Pacific regions. It is without focus and is only serving to prove that it cannot enforce its stated purpose and will end with even less security for this country and its people.

    The claim that we are “fighting them over there so that we don’t have to fight them here” is not only extremely naive, but borders on utter foolishness and neglects the nature of the entire situation that we have, in a very real sense, created by our own actions within the regions of the Middle East and around the world. We cannot defeat the tactic of terror without understanding the reasons behind its use against this country. We have and, it appears, continue to occupy their lands, some of which is considered extremely holy by the adherents of Islam. We are viewed as a real and deadly threat, plain and simply, to their way of life, their resources and their holy places; until we recognize that is the reason for their attacks then we will blindly continue to pursue a policy that will only contribute to our insecurity.

    More and more Muslims are beginning to view our aggression as a war against Islam, not terror and this will only facilitate the extension of the use of terror against this country in the future. Probably 70% of the population of Saudi Arabia now holds the acts of bin Laden in high esteem because they now see him as the only force standing between them and what they see as the aggressive power of the United States. No matter what we seek to do militarily in the region the results will be the same: a continuation and acceleration of attacks against this country and its interests around the world. No good will come of this policy and the interventions it promotes.

    Our military is stretched thin as it is; our economy is on the brink of a major and potentially disastrous dislocation in the very near future. Our current tactics will prove fruitless in the face of this threat as long as we continue to pursue the same interventionist policies in the region. Until the people of that region feel safe and secure in their own land, we will not feel safe and secure in ours. Until they no longer view us as an aggressive threat to them then they will continue to wage an increasingly aggressive war of terror against this country and its people.

    The idea that we can “fight them over there so we won’t have to here” overlooks the most basic and rational foundation of the causes of this conflict and until we regain a sense of ourselves, a sense of what this country means then we will continue to pursue the same path that other failed empires have followed. If we continue with our current policy we can be assured of one thing: we will remain the biggest target in the world and we will see horrendous attacks in our cities and against our people despite all the efforts this government is currently employing.

    Comment by Republicae — December 16, 2007 @ 10:41 am
  76. Doug,

    I just read through most of this chain. Your assumption that it would be in our best interest to keep forward bases is a policy based in fear and self-righteousness. Let’s apply that principle fairly, then. China feels it would be in their best interest to have forward bases, many of them in, say, Canada and/or Mexico. Russia wants in on the military-reach idea, so they put one in Texas, maybe another in Alaska. A host of other countries catch on to this hip and trendy new fad and start placing themselves all over – in their best interests, of course. Now, what’s wrong with this picture???
    There’s nothing wrong with bringing all of your resources back to the homeland to save and build strength. Yes, we would have to be attacked – people would likely die – in order for us to take action. That’s what is right. It is just and there’s no way around that. To think that keeping expanded reach to display prowess and maintain some type of control is the ultimately naive idea. Rather than result in control, it incites anger and spawns enemies. That’s when things start to get “unsafe”. That’s what you should fear: your present policy.

    Comment by Eric — December 16, 2007 @ 11:11 pm
  77. I don’t think Sean Hannity is an “idiot.” I’ve heard him defend libertarians many times on his show. I’ve even heard him call himself a libertarian on some issues.

    I can’t understand why you guys here hate Boortz and Hannity so much. They both seem to be quite friendly and supportive of libertarians.

    If this is the kind of libertarians represented here, than perhaps I should leave.

    And Hannity is not the only one I’ve heard the story of Mexican drug cartels and Al Qaeda from. Others have reported this too.

    Comment by Xen-Man — December 17, 2007 @ 4:38 am
  78. Xen-Man,

    “I’ve even heard him call himself a libertarian on some issues.”

    Most political ideologies have some crossover issues with others. Just because somebody might have an issue or two in common with libertarians that in itself does not make that person a libertarian. The whole of their ideology must be taken into account…and Hannity is pretty clearly (at least to me) a neoconservative who’s prone to making up stories to advance whatever it is he believes in.

    Regarding Hannity’s comments, like I said, let’s see something besides a comment on a radio show to make the case. What are his sources? How reliable are they? What actual evidence do they possess of this al-Qaeda/drug cartel link? Is this position purely speculative or is it based on a substantial body of evidence? Because from what you’ve presented, this conspiracy theory isn’t much more than gossip and fear-mongering on the part of a less-than objective radio host with an agenda and I don’t really see a need to cushion my or anyone else’s criticism of it. If the harshness of that criticism bothers you (even though it wasn’t my intention to insult you personally) I’d suggest that you should either make a more substantiative defense of Hannity’s position or quit bitching when someone calls out a celebrity you happen to like for talking out of their ass. The free exchange of ideas does not require that everyone play nice and humor bad arguments.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 17, 2007 @ 8:55 am
  79. Eric,

    Excellent points.

    Comment by UCrawford — December 17, 2007 @ 8:56 am
  80. Xen-Man,

    I wouldn’t refer to Hannity as a libertarian in any sense. He’s a neo-conservative, but is a little bit more open to some social freedoms than a guy like O’Reilly, so I don’t find him to be an egregiously bad guy.

    Boortz would best be described as a “neolibertarian”, which refers to a libertarian/neoconservative mix. I think one of the early user of the term would be the guys over at the QandO blog. As such, Boortz is very similar to several of the contributors here, and is a “less-pure” libertarian than others.

    At the same time, these guys are entertainers, not the leading lights of thought in their respective ideologies. I don’t look to Boortz to be an idea man, he’s the guy that makes libertarian ideas entertaining for the public.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — December 17, 2007 @ 11:05 am
  81. Just watched a report on CNN. Over 1,000 attacks on Border Patrol Agents in the last few months from inside of Mexico, slingshots, rocks, and even gun fire.

    And now with reports of Muslim Terrorists linking up with Mexican Drug Cartels, it’s getting even scarier.

    I don’t understand why Ron Paul would favor fighting our enemies on our own Border, and not over in the Middle East? That seems crazy to me.

    Comment by Xen-Man — December 18, 2007 @ 5:30 pm
  82. Xen-Man…

    There is a direct correlation between the time when al Qaeda began to target this country and our establishment of bases on the Saudi peninsula. The first Gulf War gave our country, at least some within this government with a particular agenda, a toehold in the region that quickly expanded. That act was and is viewed by many in Islam, even moderates, as an outrage against Islam and its holy places. Since that time we have expanded over the entire region and with that expansion has come more and more anger and the call for revenge for what Muslims consider an invasion. This view is not being restrained by our present policies but it is being enflamed throughout the region and around the Muslim world. In other words, our interventions within the region are only making the bulls-eye on our back that much bigger.

    By planting numerous bases in the region and following policies that promotes and encourages the expansion of extremism within that region we will continue endanger this nation by providing them a reason to continue to target us. We are giving them fuel for their flames they will only continue to attack us. In other words, what you are proposing is a losing battle, such tactics by our government cannot succeed. It is an absolute impossibility that the current policy will stop the extremism that we have enflamed by our actions in that region and if we continue pursuing those policies it will only continue to blow up in our faces and the attacks will grow more horrible, more severe and more common in this country.

    If you are willing to have your grandchildren and your great grandchildren fighting this same war on terror then that is the only place our current policies in the region will cause. You want to see a mirrored image of what we will face if we continue down this feckless road with this feckless policy, then look at Israel. For over 40 years they have poured massive manpower, money and technology into their security and yet they are still lack real security and they suffer under the threat of attack.

    The problem is that such a policy will ultimately bankrupt the country, if we continue with this fight on this stage as it is being fought, then we will find ourselves without hearth and home. We will follow the same path as all others who have followed it and we will find ourselves far less secure then if we totally change the way we think about our role in this world. There is no rational reason to have 17 military bases in that region, bases that are only there because we have strong-armed those countries into allowing them there. Most of the people within those countries resent our presence and feel that we are invading trespassers that threaten their way of life and their religion; do you actually believe that our continued presence will sooth such feelings in those people? The only way for us to win this battle with the current mentality is to either advocate the genocide of all Muslims around the world, are you prepared for such extremist measures?

    The problem is that sooner or later, some nut in Washington will do something really, really stupid in the Middle East and that will enflame even those moderate Muslims in this country, then the real trouble begins and there is nothing we will be able to do about it.

    We will end up as every other “empire” in history that have tried to do the very same thing that we are now doing…collapse, and believe me the entire monetary system is now teetering on the edge and this latest intervention by our government has only hastened our day of reckoning.

    Comment by Republicae — December 18, 2007 @ 7:07 pm
  83. Xen-Man…

    Let me ask you this, can you point to any successes that can be attributed to our actions in the region or, for that matter, around the world?

    Comment by Republicae — December 18, 2007 @ 7:47 pm

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