Why Do I Have A Problem With Ron Paul?

There are lots of reasons.

But here’s one. Ron Paul isn’t serious about the most basic requisite of a national government, which is defense.

You can’t put this on any better display than you’ll see in this clip from tonight’s debate, in which Newt Gingrich takes him to the woodshed on the Patriot Act…

After this clip Paul responded by saying Gingrich’s answer was akin to putting a cop in every household so as to keep parents from beating up their kids, which is a straw-man argument worthy of Barack Obama.

Paul’s position just isn’t one reflective of serious leadership. The idea that the federal government doesn’t have an obligation to PREVENT a Timothy McVeigh or a Mohammed Atta or a Major Hasan from doing evil to innocent Americans is one which can’t be found in the head of anybody who understands what it means to be president.

Your fundamental job as the occupant of the White House is to insure domestic security. Without that, you can’t insure anything else in the constitution.

Does this mean we create a police state? Absolutely not. But this isn’t the either-or issue the Paul people attempt to make it. It never has been.

When we were in the midst of the Cold War and the Soviets had missiles pointed at every city in America, we did a whole hell of a lot of watching – and sometimes even more – of people who were openly sympathetic to their cause. Well, guess what? Islamists are just as implacable an enemy as communists were. And while the Soviet Union lasted only 75 years, the world has had Muslims – and jihadist Muslims – for almost 1,400 years. And in almost every year during that time, you’ll find in history vivid examples of jihadists assaulting non-Muslims in an attempt to spread that ideology to places it wouldn’t gain traction through the power of peaceful persuasion.

Which means jihadist Islam deserves every effort with which we fought communism.

While I was watching tonight’s debate I had a Facebook argument going with one of Paul’s people who called me a fascist for challenging him on the assertion made by Ron Paul that we have occupying forces in 159 countries, “not counting Marines at the embassies.” I asked why it was even remotely relevant to a discussion of America’s purported military empire that we should have Marines at embassies, did he expect that we wouldn’t have security at our embassies and did he have any idea how ridiculous he sounded even bringing that up.

And of course he had no answer for any of those questions.

Then I gave him a list of the countries in which America actually has military bases – some of which I am perfectly happy to bring troops home from…

  • Afghanistan
  • Bahrain
  • Bulgaria (which we really don’t; we have a joint presence at two of their air bases which essentially amounts to office space and use of runways when needed)
  • Brazil (a naval detachment in Sao Paolo, which amounts to a building serving our sailors when one of our ships makes port there)
  • Cuba (Gitmo)
  • Diego Garcia
  • Great Britain
  • Germany
  • Greenland (basically a science station)
  • Guam
  • Greece (a support facility, which is more or less a place where we maintain ships in the Med)
  • Iraq
  • Italy
  • Israel (which isn’t a base – the Israelis save us some space at the port of Haifa for whenever we might need it)
  • Japan
  • Kuwait
  • Kosovo
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Turkey

That’s a lot less than 159 countries.

His retort was that it didn’t include countries like Colombia, where we have troops “fomenting revolution” – which is news to me since the presence of military advisors in Colombia is in support of the government there and it’s Hugo Chavez in Venezuela next door who’s fomenting a revolution.

He was also opposed to America having a military presence in Panama. I mentioned that there’s a certain man-made body of water we built the control of which would be of great geopolitical value to people who don’t like us very much.

Again, silence.

In other words, the Ronulans simply don’t know what they’re talking about. They don’t have any understanding of, or appreciation for, American strategic considerations – which have nothing whatsoever to do with the domestic liberty interests Paul claims the mantle of protecting.

Paul’s economic message, most of which I agree with, is largely commensurate with a return to the laissez-faire, rugged individualism of America prior to the birth of the Progressive movement – essentially that of the period from the end of the Civil War to the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt – but while America was by no means the global force then that it is now we hardly failed to defend our interests when necessary. Even Grover Cleveland, who basically set the standard for American presidents where non-intervention was concerned, expanded the Monroe Doctrine to declare an American interest in any matter within the hemisphere.

And of course nobody seriously believes you could conduct the same kind of foreign policy today that you could have profited from in 1892. Not when countries have nuclear weapons, you can fly anywhere in the world in a day and we’re all intricately connected by trade and markets. It took weeks to travel from America to anywhere but our immediate neighbors back then and shipping costs made it almost impossible to move finished goods across oceans in mass quantities. And they certainly didn’t have cable television, satellite connections, the internet or even radio. That period saw a precarious birth of electronic communications through transatlantic telegraph cables, which shortened the time to send a message across the ocean from 10 days by ship to a few minutes by cable (when it was actually working). That effort began in 1858, and it was unsuccessful. In 1866 it was finally established on a continuous basis and it took 35 years or so before there was anything resembling a true network of transatlantic telecommunications. As for a transpacific telegraph line, that didn’t happen until after the dawn of the 20th century.

I think the principles of the Founders are timeless, and I believe the same basic order of American society the Jeffersons and Adamses of that time envisioned for us still informs the best iteration of our republic now. But the requirements of a president to keep this country safe and its interests secure are totally different now than they were when Cleveland, or Benjamin Harrison, or U.S. Grant was in the White House. Grant used to spend his afternoons while president reclining in a comfy chair with a cigar and a brandy at the Willard Hotel, and the American practice of lobbying originated with petitioners who sought him out in the lobby of that hotel to gain his favor as to policy. Paul acts as though our foreign and national security policy should be reduced to that level of vigor, and that’s not realistic.

We can pull back our military presence in a lot of these places, but we have to be able to defend our interests and project a strategic presence if we want to protect the economic freedom and personal liberty we enjoy as Americans.

Ron Paul doesn’t understand or appreciate that fact, and because of that he’s not a serious candidate for president. And because his followers refuse to acknowledge this weakness they’re not serious people, either.



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