Monday, October 08, 2007

Why I Will NEVER Vote for Ron Paul

Today's New Hampshire Union Leader has an op-ed piece from Representative Ron Paul (R-TX 14) in which he responds to a previously written editorial criticizing Paul's foreign policy proposal as isolationist. Paul responds:

If I understand the editors' concerns, I have not been accused of deviating from the Founders' logic; if anything I have been accused of adhering to it too strictly. The question, therefore, before readers -- and soon voters -- is the same question I have asked for almost 20 years in Congress: by what superior wisdom have we now declared Jefferson, Washington, and Madison to be "unrealistic and dangerous"? Why do we insist on throwing away their most considered warnings?

A non-interventionist foreign policy is not an isolationist foreign policy. It is quite the opposite. Under a Paul administration, the United States would trade freely with any nation that seeks to engage with us. American citizens would be encouraged to visit other countries and interact with other peoples rather than be told by their own government that certain countries are off limits to them.


It is not we non-interventionists who are isolationsists. The real isolationists are those who impose sanctions and embargoes on countries and peoples across the globe because they disagree with the internal and foreign policies of their leaders. The real isolationists are those who choose to use force overseas to promote democracy, rather than seek change through diplomacy, engagement, and by setting a positive example.


A Paul administration would see Americans engaged overseas like never before, in business and cultural activities. But a Paul administration would never attempt to export democracy or other values at the barrel of a gun, as we have seen over and over again that this is a counterproductive approach that actually leads the United States to be resented and more isolated in the world.
While I am often sympathetic to libertarian-type policies, Paul's understanding of US foreign policy -- both present-day and historial -- is woefully naive and dangerous.

First, his understanding of the Founders' approach to foreign policy is overly simplistic and inaccurate. It's true that George Washington, in his farewell address, warned the new nation against "the insidious wiles of foreign influence" and "excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another". Washington went on to make a Paul-like recommendation:
The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.
Yes, this warning was less a deep-seated belief in impartiality than a response to America's fledgling status and under-developed power. As Robert Kagan makes clear in his magisterial work Dangerous Nation, such fears of entangling alliances were situationally determined. Where the US was weak, so was its desire to take sides or develop an activist foreign policy, and as American power would grow, so would its foreign policy, even in the hands of the Founders Paul is so convinced were opposed to such expansion. Washington provided some explanation for his apparent preference for neutrality, saying its point was "to endeavor to gain time for our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its fortunes." Even one as opposed to growth of federal power sought to tie the US to revolutionary France against Great Britain and was instrumental in developing the peace-time navy.

Paul's understanding of present-day foreign policy is just as flawed as his grasp of history. Implicit in his argument is that claim that American foreign policy is dangerous to both the US and to the rest of the world. In this op-ed, he focuses on the exportation of democracy "at the barrel of a gun," but his presidential campaign website voices his opposition to American membership in the WTO, NAFTA and all other free trade deals (not to mention his paranoid fear of the mythical NAFTA Mexico-to-Canada superhighway), the UN, humanitarian intervention, and all uses of force not expressly authorized by Congress.

Not only would such policies undermine the entire liberal economic order established by the US that is so vital for ensuring American and international prosperity, but it would undermine what little international political order there is, as such order largely depends on American hegemony. As Niall Ferguson wrote in his Foreign Policy article "A World Without Power," "anyone who dislikes US hegemony should bear in mind that, rather than a multipolar world of competing great powers, a world with no hegemon at all may be the real alternative to US primacy." The world wars were both products of international political systems lacking hegemonic control. Absent US security guarantees, the EU would be hard pressed to sustain itself, restraints on Iranian, North Korean, and even Chinese aggression would disappear, and the relative levels of cooperation and comity that currently exist in international politics would collapse.

Paul may try to disguise his policies in the cloak of the political philosophies and foreign policies of the Founders. But don't be fooled. George Washington wouldn't vote for Paul. Nor would Thomas Jefferson.


Kevin said...

So what will you do if he wins the GOP nomination? (I admit it's a long short, but it's a shorter shot than it was four months ago.)

Will you:

Vote for Hillary?

Stay home?

Vote third party?

Write in - who?

hahajohnnyb said...

I think Washington, Madison and Jefferson would all look around at the current state of our Republic and weep.

Anonymous said...

"...his presidential campaign website voices his opposition to American membership in the WTO, NAFTA and all other free trade deals..."

Government-managed trade is not free trade. In conflating the two you impute to Paul a position which is in fact exactly the opposite of reality. Ending our involvement with the WTO, ending NAFTA is but a prelude to full, true free trade.

Anonymous said...

Would you care to state for what recent or current presidential candidates Washington or Jefferson would have voted?

Neither slaveholder would have voted for Obama even if he were more experienced and older.

Neither male would have voted for female.

Washington would have voted for the current president despite his callowness? A general of great duty would have voted for a playboy who abandoned his post? Educated, erudite Jefferson would have voted for a tongue-tangled, brain-addled man bereft of accomplishments?

Rudy Giuliani? Tom Tancredo? Bill Richardson? Any other person of Southern European ancestry?

A Catholic or a Jew?

Anonymous said...

Professor Weinberger:

I am curious about what you think Jefferson and Washington (among others of the Founders) would have thought about Newt Gingrich.

Could you share your thoughts on this?

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your honesty when you say "Not only would such policies undermine the entire liberal economic order established by the US that is so vital for ensuring American and international prosperity, but it would undermine what little international political order there is, as such order largely depends on American hegemony."

It is nice to hear someone admit that the point of our forign intervention is not to spread democracy, or defend america from islamofascist (whatever that means) but to secure economic benefit for the current status quo of globally managed trade.

I suggest that you make this an election issue, and see if americans support this use of their tax dollars and the lives of their sons and daughters. Given the current distribution of wealth, and the status of the common man's prosperity I'd wager it would not be succesful - Support Giuliani, He's for U.S. Hegemony.

Anonymous said...

I completely understand your opposition to Ron Paul's noninterventionist foreign policy. It's a grand thing, being able to project force around the world at will. We are in a privileged position, and thanks to our moral, cultural, and military superiority, we should all rest assured that our hegemony will last for the forseeable future.

It really doesn't matter what we do overseas, does it? It doesn't matter if our adventures cause "collateral damage" and incite hatred among those we are attempting to "help". It doesn't matter if our hired contractors kill indiscriminately, or mistakenly. It really doesn't matter if our new embassy in Iraq costs $600 million, or $750 million.

Bottom line is, we're the boss. Humility isn't required when you're in our position. Hubris? Never heard of him.

We're a nation of 300 million people, and we control the global reserve currency. Get used to it. That means you, China.

Oh, and don't pay any attention to that guy David Walker, Comptroller of the Currency, who heads our Government Accountability Office. He's trying to spread fear and doubt that we can't keep financing our military and social entitlement programs indefinitely without threatening our currency and economy. What a defeatist kook.

Anonymous said...

You seem like a bright guy. But anyone who wishes to perpetuate the plans of Rockefeller's CFR and other similar groups toward a UN-governed three-regional-government planet are not thinking things through all the way.

When's the last time you did some research on the human rights violations that have been committed by the UN? Or the rights violations they have ignored?

If you want a group of unelected human rights violators as your government, removing your freedoms, watching over your shoulder at all times -- be my guest, vote pro-UN. You get what you vote for.

Look at the bigger picture. You are a human being, remember? People need love, remember? Happiness for all humans is a worthwhile goal, remember? Or have you forgotten the basics of living?

Anonymous said...

Of course you would not vote for Ron are a neo conservative and, judging from comments on torture and the outstanding, humane Israeli jails, a zionist. At a look at those sources - Kagan the neo con and Ferguson the imperialist!

I will take the humble, paleo-conservative, pro-trade, anti-interventionist foreign policy of Paul any day over the ignorant, arrogant, hubris-filled, utopian dream that is the neo conservative (i.e. communist) foreign policy.

We have all seen how that show ends...

Anonymous said...

Next time you make a post criticising Ron Paul, it's helpful to replace his name with 'Rn Paul' or something of the sort to avoid the previous nine posters who trawl the web searching for any and all internet references to their supreme ruler.

Anonymous said...

Next time you make a post criticising Ron Paul, it's helpful to replace his name with 'Rn Paul'

Yeah, that's exactly what a blogger wants to do, create an article that noone will read.

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