Libertarian Foreign Policy: A Dialogue on Imperialism

Why Dr Delacroix, I am flattered. Usually only Leftists change the subject when they are stumped. This argument must hold a special place in your heart.

As I said in a response you may have missed, our discussion is probably useful. At its heart lie the issues of credibility and criticality.

Fair enough.

Congressman Paul; volunteered in a debate that the armed forces spent “30″ billions on air conditioning in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

Um, I guess it’s up to me to let you know that you gave yourself an extra ten billion to work with here. Awwwkkward! You originally stated that Ron Paul used $20 billion, not $30 billion. It is of little concern to me that you fudged this number, though, because I know you are a dinosaur rather than a cheater. Your new criteria, once it is restored to the original $20 billion, states that air conditioning and all of the costs associated with it in both Iraq and Afghanistan account for around five percent of the 2010 budget.

That’s absurd? Really? Have you ever heard of the United States Postal Service? What about the Department of Housing and Urban Development? How about Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac? Five percent.

I note that if the US armed forces spend 6 or 7 % [or even 5%!!!] of the money I give them for military operations on air conditioning, they might have some explaining to do. That fact in itself sure wouldn’t be an argument for pulling out of either country.

You are absolutely right about that. Now, did Ron Paul use the air conditioning numbers to argue that our troops should come home, or did he use them to argue that Washington’s spending is totally out of control?

The reason I think you are desperate, Dr Delacroix, is that you are focused on such an irrelevant statement. I mean, for Christ’s sake, I Googled “Ron Paul air conditioning statement” and got a few right-wing webpages screaming that Ron Paul wanted to stop letting troops have air conditioning. Notice that they didn’t actually argue about the number Paul cited. You are quite possibly the only person on the planet who is fixated on this number.

Accusing libertarians of being dogmatic because they will vote for Ron Paul is disingenuous, too. All one has to do is go over to the ‘comments’ section of Reason magazine’s webpage to find out all sorts of opinions on Ron Paul’s policies. I suspect I know why you accuse libertarians of being dogmatic, and I will get back to this shortly.

But first, I want to make it crystal-clear that you are free to vote for whomever you like. You can vote for the guy who thinks that ObamaCare has been great for Massachusetts. You can vote for the guy who thinks the Taliban will be a part of Libya’s next government. You can vote for the guy who thinks that the earth was created six thousand years ago. Or you can vote for the guy who thinks that a national energy plan would reduce the world’s supply of oil coming from the Middle East.

Secondly, I want to make it crystal-clear that I don’t agree with everything Ron Paul says or does. I think criticism is a good thing. Instead of making an ass out of yourself by hooting and hollering about an air conditioning number he cited, though, I think it would be more constructive to talk about his opposition to NAFTA as being “managed trade.” Or his calls to eliminate birthright citizenship from the constitution. Or the racist newsletters that circulated through the South under his name in the 1990′s. Perhaps these things are enough for you not to vote for him. I hope you will be happy with one of the alternatives that the GOP offers.

But let us speak no more of intellectual dishonesty. Nor should we speak anymore of Ron Paul’s confidence in himself and his dogmatism. Allow me to illustrate this in a not-so-nice-but-illuminating-nevertheless kind of way. You said:

Your rebuttal of my answer to the constitutional issue about who can start a war makes no sense. If two joint resolutions of Congress embodied in two public laws are not constitutional measures, I don’t know what is and I am not equipped to pursue the topic.

*sniff* *sniff*

I smell something…

*sniff* *sniff* *sniff*

I. *sniff* Smell. *sniff* BULLSHIT!

I am not quite ready to make you bleed yet. I do not want to make you bleed, but your dogmatic insistence that we fight every fight around the world and your intellectual dishonesty (or cowardice) concerning the constitutionality of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are too dangerous to let pass. But first:

Congressman Paul’s carelessness in this matter he chose to discuss however is enough of a reason to mistrust his judgment. And, of course,there is always the option of saying quickly,” I misspoke in the heat of the discussion.” This kind of admission usually endears candidates to the general public doing them more good than harm. However, Paul has no doubt. I suspect he has no doubts about anything.

Yours is probably the most articulate criticism I have heard yet regarding Ron Paul’s political positions, so it merits a good, thoughtful response. Keep in mind your newfound ignorance regarding The Rule of Law and your incessant calls for an active – no matter what! – overseas presence when I present my case. Also, keep in mind that you and your readers are free to vote for the guy who wants to implement a national energy plan to reduce the world’s supply of oil from the Middle East.

The idea that Paul knows everything about anything is one that sure does look a lot like dogmatism at first glance. But Ron Paul will be the first to claim that he does not know everything. That’s why he insists that everything go through the Constitutional process – including overseas activities. That is to say, Ron Paul’s idea of dogmatism is to adhere to The Rule of Law. Imagine that!

If you can provide me some examples of him suggesting otherwise, or that he knows better than everybody else and is therefore qualified to flaunt The Rule of Law, then by all means provide it here. Otherwise, I think it would now be a good idea to focus back on the calls made by you to go to war in Rwanda, or the Balkans, or Iraq, or North Korea, or Venezuela at the first sign of trouble.

I want to take us back to issue of dogmatism and intellectual dishonesty really quickly. In a previous reply you stated the following:

On moral responsibility, I chose Rwanda of an extreme case where it would have been easy to intervene productively at little cost or risk. That’s what this country did we respect to the beginning genocide of Kosovars against a much more powerful and sophisticated oppressor.

Your words speak for themselves on the Rwanda genocide.

Your moral indignation towards those of us who would leave the problems of others to themselves may be understandable, but first I have to ask you a quick question (this will be the second time I have done so): which side of the Rwandan war should we have intervened on behalf of? I think it would be pertinent to remember that you are answering the question against the backdrop of a conversation that is centered around dogmatism and intellectual dishonesty. And please, remember that this is a conversation that is also trying to gauge the level humility that each of us has when it comes to recognizing the sheer ignorance that each of us has on any number of issues.

Or would you just simply send our troops to Rwanda with no clear-cut goals, except to stop the fighting between the Hutus and the Tutsis? I think that a demand from libertarians for our politicians to adhere to the Rule of Law hardly qualifies as dogmatic. I think that a demand from hawks for our politicians to do more overseas regardless of the Rule of Law does qualify as dogmatic. Thus to the hawk, the libertarian is dogmatic because he demands that the hawk adhere to the Rule of Law. I can see how you have become confused on the issue now.

Libertarian Foreign Policy: A Dialogue on Imperialism

As I said in a response you may have missed, our discussion is probably useful. At its heart lie the issues of credibility and criticality.

Congressman Paul volunteered in a debate that the armed forces spent “30″ billions on air conditioning in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Mr Paul as a congressman and as a presidential candidate is responsible for anything he choses to say. It matters not if the thinks he got this info from a reliable source. You and I equally do not care much about the substantive meaning of the figure. However, if it’s absurd on its face is absurd on its face, his repeating it speaks to his criticality or to his intellectual honesty. Both qualities are important in a presidential candidate, I think. And, of course, I am leery of the dogmatism of Libertarians. Sometimes or often, it makes them unable to spot absurdity. Thus, the discussion of this Paul affirmation is not absurd.

The $30 figure for air conditioning needs to be applied to operational costs of the DOD, not to the total budget. The latter includes research and development and big obligations to military personnel not connected to any campaign, veterans’ benefits, for example. Operational costs properly defined constitute about 60% of total budget. Applying these figures to 2010, a high budget year, I find that the alleged air conditioning expenses cited by Ron Paul amount to 6% to 7 % of military expenditures in Iraq and in Afghanistan, not the 3% you state. That is absurd.

I note that if the US armed forces spend 6 or 7 % of the money I give them for military operations on air conditioning, they might have some explaining to do. That fact in itself sure wouldn’t be an argument for pulling out of either country.

Congressman Paul’s carelessness in this matter he chose to discuss however is enough of a reason to mistrust his judgment. And, of course,there is always the option of saying quickly, “I misspoke in the heat of the discussion.” This kind of admission usually endears candidates to the general public doing them more good than harm. However, Paul has no doubt. I suspect he has no doubts about anything.

I suspect that Congressman Paul’s enthusiastic rigidity accounts for the fairly high poll figures he regularly enjoys. I am guessing that it is also responsible for the fact that his numbers have not moved in months of campaigning. There are zealots and there are others. Again, I regret this situation because we have so much in common in about every other area.

Your rebuttal of my answer to the constitutional issue about who can start a war makes no sense. If two joint resolutions of Congress embodied in two public laws are not constitutional measures, I don’t know what is and I am not equipped to pursue the topic.