Iraq, War, and the Litmus Test of Rationality: Ron Paul Edition

The Republican Presidential debates have been on TV for the past, what?, five or six months now, and I am proud to admit that I haven’t watched a single one of them.  By definition I am a left-leaning libertarian who thinks that free markets, limited government, and a humble foreign policy are the best tools to achieve social harmony, prosperity, and world peace.

So I had basically made up my mind on who I was going to vote for prior to the whole campaign season: Gary Johnson.  Now, co-editor Fred Foldvary has some very pertinent critiques of Governor Johnson’s tax policy proposals, but on the whole, I still think he is by far the best man to get my vote.

Because Gary Johnson does not have any baggage, a solid record while in office, and a personality that does not attract the worst of the worst to his message, he was essentially dead on arrival when he announced his Presidential campaign.  The media and its horse race would have none of it.  So he bolted the Republican Party and is now fighting for the Libertarian Party’s nomination.

I think this is a big mistake.  I think he should have stayed in the Republican Party and planned ahead for 2016.  Now, he is going to be the next Ron Paul, who also bolted the Republican Party to run as a Libertarian in 1988.  That move has cost him politically, and it is a shame that Johnson was too hot-headed with the national Party apparatus’ dismissal of his campaign.

The other libertarian-leaning candidate in the Presidential race is, of course, Ron Paul, who first introduced me to libertarian ideas in his 2008 primary run for President.  If he does not get the nomination for Republican candidate, I will have to mull my options.  Here is how I will most likely vote if Ron Paul does not get the nomination: If Romney wins, I vote for Johnson. If either Gingrich or Santorum wins, I vote for Obama.

This is telling for a few different reasons.  First, the Republican Party is largely out of touch with young people.  This has not always been the case.  Goldwater and Reagan both got lots of the youth vote.  Ron Paul has also been overwhelmingly supported by young people (I am an undergraduate at UCLA).

Second, the Republican Party is out of touch with the vast majority of independent voters, too.  Their toxic arguments – on whether they actually believe them or not – immigration, foreign policy, and social issues are not endearing them to the public at large.  I think a lot of this has to with the media’s massive amount of Presidential debates though.  What could be better than forcing the Republican candidates to appeal to the Party’s hard Right base for five or six months prior to a general campaign against the media’s favored son?

Ron Paul overwhelmingly got the independent vote as well.

Now, co-blogger Jacques Delacroix – an ardent hawk – has lent his opinions to Ron Paul’s debate performances a number of times now, with the seemingly sole purpose of discrediting the man’s ability to think rationally.

Delacroix (and other hawks) don’t actually confront Paul’s (and other libertarians) arguments in favor of a sane and rational foreign policy.  What they do is try to discredit Paul’s arguments by taking cheap shots and nitpicking at some of the things Paul (a septuagenarian) says on stage during the televised debates.  I am going to go over some of these again in the hopes that independent-minded people will be able to sort fact from fiction and sophistry from truth.

First, in an ironic twist of political fate, I would like to bring readers to the attention of Delacroix’s most recent statement on the Iraq War, which I elicited from him during one of his petty rants against the Congressman from Texas.  He stated:

Knowing what I know now, knowing the cost in American lives, knowing the possible cost in Iraqi lives ( a murky topic), knowing the cost in treasure, knowing the bad outcome for this country, knowing of the Arab Spring. knowing what I know on 2/22/12, if it it were my decision and mine alone, would I give the order to start major hostilities? YES

Got that?  Delacroix would do the Iraq War all over again if he had the chance.  Delacroix’s most recent nitpicking of Paul’s live televised statements comes from Paul’s claim that there are 45 bases surrounding the Iranian regime.  I provided an amateur map from an unknown source that can be easily Googled to show Delacroix that Iran is indeed surrounded by the U.S. military apparatus.

It wasn’t enough for him, of course.  Delacroix is a prestigious scholar who is well-cited, well-known, and well-respected in his field (Organizational Theory and International Trade), and he is well within his rights to demand a more serious response from his sparring partners.

I can’t provide a map that is as cogent as the one provided in a previous post.  Perhaps there really aren’t 45 military bases surrounding the Iranian regime.  However, I think it is safe to say that the Iranian regime is still surrounded by the American military apparatus.

Are there not military installations in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE, Oman, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Turkey?  Are these not all neighbors of Iran?  Are there not airports in Saudi Arabia and Iraq that the U.S. military has been granted access to use for military and “operational” purposes?  Maybe there are not 45 bases.  Maybe Delacroix is right to call Dr. Paul out on his use of numbers.

Speaking of Saudi Arabia, Delacroix once asserted that – at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks – there were no U.S. military bases protecting this authoritarian regime.

There is a point in time where one just may have to give up speaking past another person in order to try to get his point across.  Delacroix is so enamored with the U.S. military’s inability to bring democracy to other peoples that he deliberately fails to see just how harmful state-building for democracy really is.

8 thoughts on “Iraq, War, and the Litmus Test of Rationality: Ron Paul Edition

    • keimh3regpeh2umeg,

      Firstly, do you have a better name I can address you with? Or better yet: how did you come up with such a bad ass name?

      Secondly, thanks for the map. I generally think that detailed maps about military bases and other government operations in foreign affairs are useless. How are we to know where each and every base that the U.S. military uses in the Persian Gulf is? Aren’t aircraft carriers essentially bases? We would never be able to pinpoint those, either.

      However, the first map I provided gave a very useful, if amateur, visual as to how the Iranian regime is calculating its foreign maneuvers.

      Some of the stars representing a U.S. military presence on the first map may or may not even be in use by the U.S. military, but they certainly can be. Also, Delacroix failed to recognize that even if the specific bases are not what they seem, all of the states surrounding the Iranian regime that are not too close to Russia’s border are hosting some aspects of the U.S. military apparatus.

      Ron Paul may have gotten his numbers wrong (and I have no reason to doubt that he did), but conceptually he’s right on the money: Iran is surrounded.

    • Yes,

      Keimh3reg is the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction for my first name, Henry, and Peh2u Meg is the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction for my last name, Moore. I generally go by Hank, though. I am also KeimgMeg on twitter, so whatever you prefer.

      And you are right, maps are nice to look at, and maybe give one a general idea, but they are really besides the point. I contend that if there was just ONE base in the general area, Iran would have every right to feel threatened. Especially given our track record of interventionism, notably the 1950s CIA ouster against Mossadegh.

      And whether the US has a presence in those states or not, they are mostly Sunni Muslims or run by Sunni Muslims, which gives Iran, once again, every right to feel threatened. Even Shi’ia dominated Iraq is still largely under our thumb, psychologically.

      Ron Paul usually says 900 installments in 130 countries, which is entirely correct. So his numbers, to my knowledge are correct. the problems arises when he labels them bases and the media jumps and assumes he means big bases with full regalia and several regiments, or whatnot, when what he means is that the US military, whether actual troops are present or not, still has employees on site, and an invasion inroad.

      Even if I felt the threat from ‘Radical Islam’ was as big as they say it is, I would still believe that the main motivator behind it is our interventionism, I would still prefer a mind-our-own business foreign policy, and I would still rather take my chances against the alleged threat, using my inalienable Second Amendment rights, than have the police state (even if it were run by honorable, intelligent, decent, and trustworthy men, which it isn’t), protect me and mine.

      Hank

  1. This is an interesting article, especially your comment about Gary Johnson, as I also clicked his name and read the article about him. While it is a compelling read, for now, he is history, and there is the reality of the four Republican forerunners. Perhaps he should have borrowed some SuperPAC money from Romney, as “Big Cash” seems to make a difference in Romney’s ability to continue to survive in the race.

    First, I am for the most part an independent because I always vote for the man, and I cannot see myself voting for any of the present GOP forerunners, which is a sentiment that I suspect many Americans share.

    You talk of Gary Johnson, while I perceived the withdrawal of Huntsman as the last and lost opportunity of the GOP, because he, at least from my perspective, was electable and did not exhibit the divisiveness and extremeness of the present GOP-forerunners.

    Second, as for libertarianism, I do not have a problem with it per se, so long as it is in the liberal tradition of Hayekian political philosophy, as I have always been an admirer of F.A. Hayek. With that being said, my personal problem with Paul is not libertarianism per se, it is his personal past or history and what I deem a potential proclivity toward decisiveness (i.e., the infamous earlier publications in Texas), and generally a problem of his electability. Granted, Paul admittedly does have some good ideas about foreign policy, but when one looks at the complete package, one wonders why present it, like the others, in a form sounding of divisiveness and extremism.

    In the classical sense of libertarianism, there is nothing extreme about libertarianism in the Hayekian sense of the word (or ideal), because when you come right down to it, it simply addresses our common senses. For now, however, libertarianism will have to await the arrival of its true advocate, who will realize the benefits of laying its tenets down “softly” and with the “sensitivities” that will ultimate allow Americans to grasp its fundamental tenets.

    • mulrickillion,

      Yes, Paul’s past associations are disgusting and he deserves to be castigated for working with them.

      I think you really hit the nail on the head with your observation about how to go about bringing libertarianism more “softly” to the public, and, again, I would agree that Paul doesn’t fit the mold. He spent too many years in the wilderness warning about what we are now facing, which makes him sort of a battle-hardened veteran rather than a packaged politician who is able to turn coal into diamonds.

      Hunstman, like Johnson, didn’t stand a chance. His record was very, very good, but he lacks both the charisma and the ability to punch below the belt, so he will never be destined to finish first in the horse race that is Presidential politics.

  2. I am curious to hear why you favor Gary Johnson over Ron Paul. To be honest I very much liked them both at the beginning, and I still like Johnson, but I don’t think he is as principled as Ron. He was more willing to cave on issues like War, from what I remember.

    Regardless, the fact that he was cut out of the debates was disheartening. Worse still, most people seem to believe the Main Stream Media is independent. So things like Gary getting enough poll numbers but being excluded are fair outcomes…

    I really enjoyed how Ron and Gary played off each other in the early debates, and I suspect that is part of the reason they axed him. It is much harder to portray Ron as the one loony antiwar guy in the party when there are two saying it publicly.

    Might I suggest writing in Ron or Gary, writing in a friend, or not voting? If you write in or actually show up and vote “abstain” you will get all the pleasure of participating in your democracy at an easily controlled and state approved level, without all of the guilt of voting for someone who is pure evil and a person that you hate.

    • Monsieur Madeleine,

      Abortion and immigration reform put Johnson ahead of the pack.

      I, too, enjoyed the back-and-forth between Johnson and Paul in those first few debates which Johnson was let into. It’s a damn shame he didn’t get more traction. A damn shame.

      As I said, I will probably vote for Johnson if Romney gets the nod. However, if Santorum gets the nod I don’t think I’ll have to worry about him being elected, so I may consider voting for Johnson again, or writing in Paul, or not voting at all. Come to think of it, if Santorum gets the nod, I’ll probably find myself much too lazy to go the polls at all!

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