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

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”     Benjamin Franklin,    Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

March 6, 2008

Ron Paul Refuses To Condemn Hamas

by Doug Mataconis

Foreign policy is one of the areas where Ron Paul and I part company, and this is an example of why:

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution strongly defending how Israel has repelled rocket attacks.

The non-binding resolution, passed 404-1 on Wednesday, was substantially rewritten since its introduction in January to include a strident defense of recent Israeli tactics in the Gaza Strip.

New passages include one saying that “those responsible for launching rocket attacks against Israel routinely embed their production facilities and launch sites amongst the Palestinian civilian population, utilizing them as human shields” and “the inadvertent inflicting of civilian casualties as a result of defensive military operations aimed at military targets, while deeply regrettable, is not at all morally equivalent to the deliberate targeting of civilian populations as practiced by Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist groups.”

More than 100 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed since last Wednesday, when Hamas and its allies intensified rocket attacks on Israel’s south and Israel retaliated. Palestinians say most of their casualties are civilians, while Israelis say most of them are combatants.

(…)

The sole vote against was U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) who preaches the reduction of U.S. involvement in overseas conflicts.

Which would make sense if we were talking about sending troops to Israel. But we’re not, we’re talking about condemning the actions of a terrorist organization.

One who is responsible for actions like this:

JERUSALEM (CNN) — A gunman opened fire on people inside a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem on Thursday, killing at least eight, police and rescue officials said.

Video from the scene showed a frantic crowd of rescue workers carrying bloodied victims into ambulances. Dozens of police officers were scouring the campus and surrounding streets.

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said the attacker “opened fire on innocent youngsters studying. A number of students have been killed.”

Israeli police and ambulance officials said eight people were killed by the attacker, who was shot dead. Eight people were injured, five of them seriously, according to police.

(…)

CNN’s Ben Wedeman in Gaza reported celebratory shooting shortly after the attack.

Refusing to condemn a terrorist organization is, in my mind at least, tantamount to condoning it’s actions.

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44 Comments

  1. Oh please Doug!

    Ron Paul advocates strict neutrality for the U.S. government in all cases, not just when it is emotionally satisfying.

    Someone who is neutral in a conflict is not condoning any side.

    Comment by tarran — March 6, 2008 @ 2:22 pm
  2. Exactly my problem.

    Neutrality in the face of terrorists is a prescription for suicide.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — March 6, 2008 @ 2:24 pm
  3. Funny, I thought neutrality in the face of terrorism simply meant you weren’t playing into their game of an expected response and subsequently not giving into the notion that terrorism works and/or is effective.

    Comment by Nitroadict — March 6, 2008 @ 2:27 pm
  4. What’s do darn bad about condemning something that deserve to be condemned by any civilized human being ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — March 6, 2008 @ 2:29 pm
  5. How is it suicide?

    Do you really think the U.S. government should pick sides in every violent conflict sweeping the globe and that if ti fails to do so, that somehow we all will be killed?

    Refusing to get involved in a fight is not tantamount to choosing to support a particular side, and I think you are engaging in a bit of emotional hyperbole.

    Comment by tarran — March 6, 2008 @ 2:33 pm
  6. Do you really think the U.S. government should pick sides in every violent conflict sweeping the globe and that if ti fails to do so, that somehow we all will be killed?

    When it’s in our interests to do so, yes.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — March 6, 2008 @ 2:35 pm
  7. How do you take sides with two terrorist organizations? Apparently in this case we’re supposed to side with the US-funded terrorist organization?

    Comment by dave31175 — March 6, 2008 @ 2:36 pm
  8. What’s do darn bad about condemning something that deserve to be condemned by any civilized human being ?

    Absolutely nothing, when a person does it speaking for themselves.

    On the other hand, when a government official chooses to officially side with one belligerent in a conflict then things get dicier.

    I should remind you of Davy Crockett’s speech “not Yours to Give” when he refused to fund relief for a bunch of people left homeless by a fire out of the U.S. treasury, even though he felt them to be deserving of some charity.

    Comment by tarran — March 6, 2008 @ 2:36 pm
  9. Dave,

    How do you take sides with two terrorist organizations?

    Since I don’t accept your premise that the State of Israel is a terrorist organization, I can’t answer your question.

    I don’t approve of everything the Israelis do, but given a choice between them and a group that inspires people to kill innocent people in random terrorist attacks, I’ll stick with Israel.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — March 6, 2008 @ 2:40 pm
  10. Tarran,

    But this doesn’t involve any appropriation of money. It was just a resolution expressing the sense of Congress.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — March 6, 2008 @ 2:40 pm
  11. I guess this makes everybody that has been watching this part of the world on fire since the early 70s an uniformed dummy. WAKE up Dude you do the same thing in foreign policy for 40 years and IT DOES NOT WORK and you part company with the only people that have a potentially better approach.

    It is time to walk away from everybody in the region for a ten year time out. Everybody not just one side.

    I want my money back and I do not want my son paying for stupid political hack spending in this region ANY MORE!

    Comment by Paul — March 6, 2008 @ 2:47 pm
  12. Paul,

    So you think Hamas is hunky-dorey ?

    Did you read about what happened today ?

    These people are killers just like Hezbollah and al Qaeda.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — March 6, 2008 @ 2:48 pm
  13. When it’s in our interests to do so, yes.

    Yes but whose interests? It’s certainly not in my interests to get involved in a conflict over a patch of land in Judea. Neither Hamas nor the state of Israel threaten me in any way. Why should I insert mmyself into this conflict?

    And spare me the collectivist whining that if I don’t act to supress Hamas that someday somebody will be firing rockets into my neighborhood. You can’t just wish an obligation on me to take part in this conflict. :)

    And how does a condemnation really change the facts on the ground? If it does not somehow bind the U.S. government and its agents into joining the fight, then isn’t it an empty gesture?

    Why should the taxpayers’ money be wasted on empty gestures? Granted that often we are better off when our taxes are wasted on empty gestures rather than directed to bad policies with teeth on them, but I think you get my point. :)

    And by the way the Israeli state is a terrorist organization. Many of their policies are designed to terrorize innocents, for example knocking down homes belonging to the relatives of suicide bombers. Not to mention the really devastating attacks on the Palestinian economy which did far more to empower radical groups like Hamas than any U.S. neutrality.

    If you want to condemn Hamas you are welcome to do so. I’ll even be happy to attach my name to a condemnation of them. But I don’t agree that somehow government officials should have the U.S. government choose sides in this conflict.

    Comment by tarran — March 6, 2008 @ 2:53 pm
  14. Given your point of view, I understand your argument. However, I find it impossible to not see your definition applying also to Israel. I think it’s totally unrealistic to see Isreal as the innocent victim defending itself. Sure, what happened today was awful, but I don’t think it should be too difficult to find numerous examples of Palestinean civilians being killed by Israelis.

    Comment by dave31175 — March 6, 2008 @ 2:55 pm
  15. Thanks Tarran, you said everything I’d like to say, only much more eloquently than I could ever hope!

    Comment by dave31175 — March 6, 2008 @ 2:58 pm
  16. Stop being an ass Doug. Why in the world should Congress even be having a vote on this? Its just Congress pandering and trying to look “tough” and make themselves feel important.

    The only bonus is that the time they waste on stupid votes like this means they aren’t taking away more freedoms or spending more money.

    Comment by Ben — March 6, 2008 @ 2:58 pm
  17. Imo, Doug’s stance sounds more reasonable from a either an Objectivist, Neo-Conservative or Neo-Libertarian viewpoint in terms of “…condemning something that deserve to be condemned by any civilized human being ?”.

    Otherwise, I honestly don’t see how it makes sense to violate non-interventionism as well as the just war doctrine; it would seem counter-intuitive to Libertarianism.

    Doing so, even with the best intentions, puts the US?government back into the same trap as the role of global police-man or as a “selective exporter of democracy”.

    Comment by Nitroadict — March 6, 2008 @ 3:00 pm
  18. One last point before I drop offline for the evening:

    If you shoot an innocent, even if they are being used as a human shield, you are not somehow innocent of a crime.

    Remember the bloody infant in this post? It does not matter whether it is Timothy McVeigh trying to kill FBI agents who have chosen to conduct their operations out of a building containing a day-care center, or an Israeli bomb targeting a Hamas leader. It is still murder.

    Comment by tarran — March 6, 2008 @ 3:01 pm
  19. tarran,

    Considering that the Palestinian Authority in general and Hamas in particular have been waging an unremitting war against innocent Israelis since they took over the formerly occupied territories, I think it’s clear who the guilty party is in this fight.

    Israel is an American ally for a reason, and remains so for a reason. Unless you believe in a foreign policy that allows for no allies, I would think it’s important to stand with those allies in some fashion, even if it doesn’t involve getting actively involved, which is not what I am suggesting here. Frankly, I think the Israelis can handle this on their own quite nicely.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — March 6, 2008 @ 3:12 pm
  20. Here’s my problem with the whole situation. When Hamas terrorists kill innocent civilians its a tragedy and they’re monsters for doing it. However when the Israelis kill innocent civilians when they fire back, well that just the way it happens. The terrorists are using them as human shields therefor its okay to kill them. I think the way both sides take human life is atrocious and why we shouldn’t be praising one side and just stay neutral.

    Comment by Devin — March 6, 2008 @ 3:51 pm
  21. Be careful Devin; to some, being neutral means you are supporting terrorism!

    Comment by Nitroadict — March 6, 2008 @ 3:54 pm
  22. Doug,

    Dude, who cares…seriously? The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has only been ongoing for so long because a) we helped start it by illegitimately gifting Palestine to the Israelis through the use of the League of Nations and the U.N. and b) we keep poking our noses in, usually taking Israel’s side and alienating the entire Middle East with absolutely no benefit to us. Frankly, refusing to give a blessing to either side is one of the smartest things Ron Paul has done because it’s not our problem to sort out…it’s the Israelis’ and the Palestinians’. If they can’t come to a peaceful resolution without us drafting one for them, then fuck it…let them come to their own compromise or fight it out so we don’t have to keep getting stuck in the middle every other year.

    Comment by UCrawford — March 6, 2008 @ 3:59 pm
  23. The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution strongly defending how Israel has repelled rocket attacks.

    And for the record, this resolution has got no more legitimacy than Pelosi’s ridiculous resolution last October condemning the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire. It’s an internal matter for Israel to sort it, it’s none of our politicians’ fucking business to be taking sides.

    Oh, and stuff like this…

    A gunman opened fire on people inside a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem on Thursday, killing at least eight, police and rescue officials said.

    …is why the Israelis have their own government, police and defense forces. It doesn’t require our involvement at all. Frankly, considering just how much Bush has bungled our foreign policy in the Middle East our condemnation of Hamas’ attack probably gives it even more legitimacy across that region.

    Comment by UCrawford — March 6, 2008 @ 4:04 pm
  24. I don’t know.. on the one hand, Hamas are the most vile, murderous, terrorist scum on the face of the earth.

    But if you’re playing the role of a strict constitutionalist with a 19th century mindset, then you clearly think Congress ought not to even have a foreign policy or to concern itself with matters outside of the union.

    Comment by Jono — March 6, 2008 @ 4:21 pm
  25. What business is it of the Congress of the United States to pass resolutions condoning or condemning anything internal affairs in foreign nations.

    Neutrality is a form of high statesmanship. It has always served to keep the wars short, small, and geographically isolated. It’s when we started taking great “moral” stands against evil all around the world that world wars ensued, leading to the deaths of MILLIONS.

    By what high minded enlightenment have we determined the wisdom of our Founders to be obsolete and ineffectual?

    Comment by Patrick — March 6, 2008 @ 4:22 pm
  26. hits, hits, hits… google, google, google …

    Comment by oilnwater — March 6, 2008 @ 4:32 pm
  27. oilnwater,

    If you’ve got nothing relevant to add to this thread why don’t you go find some conspiracy site where you can bitch about the flouridation of the water supply to your heart’s content? I’m sure that the filthy communists are even now plotting to contaminate the purity of our precious bodily fluids and that you’re the only one who can stop them.

    Comment by UCrawford — March 6, 2008 @ 4:42 pm
  28. ^^^ now that is creepy. what do you do when not stalking? anyway, dont get butthurt at me when i point out the obvious that’s going on here. :)

    Comment by oilnwater — March 6, 2008 @ 4:53 pm
  29. On man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. The Zionists and Islamic extremists are both committing crimes against humanity, so are both equally in the wrong.

    Ron Paul is correct to stay neutral.

    Comment by Damon — March 6, 2008 @ 5:11 pm
  30. anyway, dont get butthurt at me when i point out the obvious that’s going on here.

    Huh?

    Comment by UCrawford — March 6, 2008 @ 5:24 pm
  31. Interesting Doug, how you quote your source from the JTA (Jewish news service)

    If you want some credibility, why not actually quote what Paul said….

    http://pressmediawire.com/article.cfm?articleID=18214

    rather than how someone else spun the issue. I biased source no less.

    Now Doug. Please actually read Paul’s statement and you might understand the sense of what he is saying. Maybe then, you will actually JOIN company on his sensible foreign policy. You will never learn anything if you rely on biased news feeds….

    Comment by Damon — March 6, 2008 @ 5:26 pm
  32. Got to agree with Ron Paul’s remarks on that one. Good link, Damon.

    Comment by UCrawford — March 6, 2008 @ 5:55 pm
  33. I notice that you didn’t quote his speech on the issue. I found it quite to the point and balanced. He disapproved of the actions on both sides, and pointed out that parts of the resolution point fingers at other countries with which we are beating the war drums.

    Comment by Andy Lopez — March 6, 2008 @ 6:37 pm
  34. Reading his remarks might give some insight as to how it is possible to withhold condemnation without condoning a terrorist action.

    Madam Speaker: I rise in opposition to H. Res. 951. As one who is consistently against war and violence, I obviously do not support the firing of rockets indiscriminately into civilian populations. I believe it is appalling that Palestinians are firing rockets that harm innocent Israelis, just as I believe it is appalling that Israel fires missiles into Palestinian areas where children and other non-combatants are killed and injured.

    Unfortunately, legislation such as this is more likely to perpetuate violence in the Middle East than contribute to its abatement. It is our continued involvement and intervention – particularly when it appears to be one-sided – that reduces the incentive for opposing sides to reach a lasting peace agreement.

    Additionally, this bill will continue the march toward war with Iran and Syria , as it contains provocative language targeting these countries. The legislation oversimplifies the Israel/Palestine conflict and the larger unrest in the Middle East by simply pointing the finger at Iran and Syria . This is another piece in a steady series of legislation passed in the House that intensifies enmity between the United States and Iran and Syria . My colleagues will recall that we saw a similar steady stream of provocative legislation against Iraq in the years before the US attack on that country.

    I strongly believe that we must cease making proclamations involving conflicts that have nothing to do with the United States . We incur the wrath of those who feel slighted while doing very little to slow or stop the violence.

    Comment by Brian T. Traylor — March 6, 2008 @ 9:15 pm
  35. So Doug.. did you go to the link Damon provided and read the source yet? http://pressmediawire.com/article.cfm?articleID=18214 Ron Paul is right on this.. the US needs to quit meddling in the politics of the Middle East.

    Comment by hucker — March 6, 2008 @ 10:36 pm
  36. One might ask whether the Constitution authorizes Congress to praise or condemn actions of groups not involving the United States.

    Is Congress delegated the power to “condemn actions” when those actions are not upon or with respect to the United States? I don’t see it.

    Comment by Baus — March 7, 2008 @ 8:11 am
  37. Thanks for posting the entirety of what Congressman Paul said (you beat me to it). From the beginning it’s obvious that he’s not against “condemning the actions of a terrorist organization” as Doug wrote and others seem to think.

    The resolution in question is about more than just condemnation, however, and I recommend you all read it to develope your own impressions.

    Comment by Charles — March 7, 2008 @ 10:22 am
  38. Doug, the resolution was stupid because it’s an empty gesture. It is not the function of government to pass resolutions saying they don’t like something. What a waste of time! Is there nothing else for them to do?

    I know you like looking for reasons to bash on Ron Paul, but I think you may have jumped the gun on this one.

    Comment by Dogma_addict — March 7, 2008 @ 1:37 pm
  39. Baus,

    Going one step further, my copy of the Constitution seems to omit the clause of Art I, Sec. 8 that permits the Congress to write that they “condemn” or “condone” any actions at all, period. Passing non-binding resolutions that express the “will of the American people” (as if there were such a thing) is not among the powers delegated by We the People to the Congress.

    Comment by Brian T. Traylor — March 7, 2008 @ 4:45 pm
  40. Another example of people not actually bothering to read Congressman Paul’s response.

    He in fact condemns Hamas for their typical actions but also holds Israel to account as well for theirs. Ron Paul knows full well that terrorism is horrible and any attacks on innocents are deplorable. What he doesn’t believe is that empty rhetoric will do anything except pour fuel on the fire.

    I’m a hawk’s hawk, and I disagree with Ron Paul on some issues, and I do not believe in an isolationist foreign policy–but I certainly believe we need to be far more selective and responsible in our execution of foreign policy, and that we need to disengage from the Middle East as much as possible. Unlike other members of Congress who have the courage only to sign their names to a document that exhorts populist sentiment, Ron Paul has consistently taken stances on issues ranging from finance and economics to foreign policy and war that others are too cowardly to take for fear of jeopardizing their political careers. Unlike other members of Congress, he actually has the interests of the people at heart and not the military-industrial complex, not the wealthiest portion of society, not huge corporations, and not foreign governments.

    I know that just irks the hell out a lot of people in a society full of lazy consumers. But, speaking as a veteran who is all for taking the fight to terrorists and regimes that support them, Ron Paul’s refusal to sign his name to this meaningless condemnation of something he clearly does not condone (and has stated as much repeatedly) is not a reflection on his values, but rather it is a reflection on the values of the cowards in Congress who don’t have the courage to actually do what is in the best interests of the American people and instead need to put on a feel-good dog and pony show by signing their worthless signatures to a piece of paper that wasted tax-payer dollars to draw up and will change not one thing.

    Comment by Sean — March 7, 2008 @ 5:34 pm
  41. Actually, if we’re talking about what is in the best interests of _America_, it would be best if we didn’t unconditionally support a very small group of people (Israelis), at the expense of continuous condemnation from a very large group of people (conservative Muslims). The US government has no place to pass such meaningless resolutions, spending our tax money and their time, reaffirming things we already believe!

    Not explicitly condemning every “terrorist” group on Earth is _not_ de facto support of them. However, as we’ve seen in the past, when America aided dictator Saddam Hussein against Iran and the Afghan terrorists against the Russians or our staunch alliance with the Saudis, it can and will backfire in the future – to have such biased and unwise foreign policies. Read the history books. Ron Paul is right to step back, and think before acting. If only our other leaders would do the same and have the courage to tell us what is right, not what we want to hear. They are leading us to destruction.

    The military hegemony of Israel and America will not last forever, which is why the government is so worried about Iran. If a real military power arises in the Islamic world, not allied with us, we will be in serious trouble. So we need to be more diplomatic about who we support and when.

    Comment by Ben — March 8, 2008 @ 5:02 pm
  42. Why should the U.S. government condemn or even praise anything? That shouldn’t be a function of the government. Paul is right to reject a condemnation by government. Rejecting it doesn’t mean he doesn’t agree with the statements in the condemnation. It just means he doesn’t want the government to condemn it. You have to look at the consequences of an official government condemnation. It upsets terrorists and gives them more reason to attack us. Just stay out of foreign affairs, including judging who’s right and whose wrong. Let those judgements be made by private individuals.

    Comment by Drena — March 9, 2008 @ 8:41 pm
  43. “Neutrality in the face of terrorists is a prescription for suicide.”

    I can’t see how Ron Paul being neutral in D.C. is “in the face of terrorists” many thousands of miles away.

    “I don’t approve of everything the Israelis do, but given a choice between them and a group that inspires people to kill innocent people in random terrorist attacks,”

    Umm, what’s the difference? The Israelis kill innocent people in random terrorist attacks all the time. Why the double standard?

    Both Hamas and Israel should be condemned, but not by our federal government, which should have nothing to do with either group.

    Comment by Patriot Henry — March 11, 2008 @ 9:57 am
  44. “But, speaking as a veteran who is all for taking the fight to terrorists and regimes that support them,”

    Our regime supports the terrorists. Seems you would like to become the terrorists. As a former Marine, I say to hell with this racket of war!

    Comment by Patriot Henry — March 11, 2008 @ 9:58 am

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