Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ron Paul: "We Can't Afford the Empire"

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Ron Paul was on Fox News Sunday this AM. On the whole, he said a lot of good things about Obama's Libyan Misadventure and how we cannot know at this time whether or not Quaddafi's successor will be better or worse than he was. Paul goes on and equates all of our foreign policy as if it were the same as in Libya, and this is sadly not the case. And even parts of that he gets wrong.

"The current situation in Libya may be a short term victory for Empire, but it is a loss for our American Republic."
Note the unfortunate and incorrect usage of the word "Empire" (I'm assuming he's talking about the U.S.)

empire: a group of nations or peoples ruled over by an emperor, empress, or other powerful sovereign or government: usually a territory of greater extent than a kingdom, as the former British Empire, French Empire, Russian Empire, Byzantine Empire, or Roman Empire.

Could I get a list of nations from you, Mr. Paul, of those nations absorbed by the U.S. Empire? Japan, Germany and Italy were conquered by the allies in WWII. We have troops stationed in each of those countries to this day (The wisdom of that can be debated another time.) Are those countries part of our "Empire"? Do they pay tribute to us? Do we rule over them?

Historically, empires seize the resources of conquered nations. That is why to this day, we are pumping American oil out of Kuwait and Iraq. No, wait! We aren't??

Because we are not an "Empire". We have influence around the world and with other countries and I see no problem with that. We support the cause of freedom around the world. We support our democratic allies. But, we have no "colonies", nor are we seeking any. Our military actions, at least in the past, have all come with an "exit strategy". You should look that up, Mr. Paul. Empires don't have "exit strategies" when they invade other countries. They plan for continual occupation. Our strategies of "occupation" have to do with the stability and integrity of the countries before we exit. So when he says things like "We can't afford the Empire", is he serious and mistaken, or merely careless with his words?

Speaking of that, did you note the use of his word "silly"? Speaking of the US dealing with Qaddafi (after he "admitted that his country had been trying to develop a broad arsenal of unconventional weapons, and he promised to dismantle them up and submit to international inspections"-NYT):

"But, why is it that we started doing business with him five years ago? Was that a good thing? I think that was silly, too."

"Silly", Mr. Paul? The lesson Qaddafi learned after the Iraq war, was that dictators with WMDs did not "live long and prosper". After renouncing his WMDs and allowing international inspections, why shouldn't we at least move tentatively to encourage those types of reforms? The fact that he had renounced weapons of mass destruction spoke well for leaving him in place, rather than roll the dice that the next government might be worse and we may have helped to put them there. On this, we agree. But, I shudder to think of our next president standing toe to toe with some foreign leader and telling him "That's just silly". Presidents (and candidates for president) ought not to be careless in their language.

And while we're on the subject, I have mentioned before Paul's use of the word "squabble" to describe Israel's fight for its very survival. I think if I were the Israeli Prime Minister, faced with a Paulian presidency, I would begin to explore options to wage the war more aggressively with my neighbors, knowing I could not count on the U.S. to "watch my back". (Kind of like it is now with Obama, only worse.)

Paul claims that a "telltale" of his support is measured by the volume of contributions from active military duty personnel.

"Because of my foreign policy, I get more donations from active military duty people."
Maybe. Or maybe they, like many others, value your position on the Constitution. Active military personnel have volunteered to put their lives on hold and their lives on the line to uphold the Constitution. They, like you, hold it in high regard. But, unless he has received correspondence from a majority of those contributors saying that it is his foreign policy views that prompted them to give, then perhaps his assumption is unfounded.

I noted another, minor, unfounded assumption in his anecdote about Mises. When asked about a country in economic crisis, Ludwig von Mises was asked if he were the leader of that country, what would he do. He said, "I'd quit". Paul took this to mean "in other words, take your hands off it". Only that wasn't what he said. He didn't say he'd reduce government activity, he said he'd "quit". The most likely reasons are, if he was the leader who was responsible for the disaster that befell his nation, he broke it and should not have the authority to break any more, or that he assumed the office with the country in disastrous financial shape and he wouldn't want to be blamed for it. The most likely explanation was, it was a joke, as in, "Why would I want to take on those kinds of headaches?"

If Mises saw that the solution was less government intervention, and he was in a position to make it happen, why would he "quit"? To borrow a phrase from a prominent candidate for president, that's just silly!

Finally, the scariest part of his remarks go to the heart of the Global War on Terror.

"They (American service personnel) don't want perpetual war, when they are undeclared and you don't see the end and you don't know who the enemy is..."

Mr. Paul: No one wants a perpetual war, declared or not, where you don't see the end and you don't know who the enemy is. But, that is the war that has been forced upon us, it was not of our choosing. Al-Qaeda is not a country with a defined border. We cannot defeat them and give their government our terms of peace. And if al-qaeda were wiped off the map tomorrow, that doesn't mean we would be forever free from fanatical terrorists. It has been said that "Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom". There's something mighty perpetual in the word "eternal". Just as it applies to our Constitution, it applies to our national security. If we can utilize the military to root out camps and enclaves of extra-national terrorists, then we should do so, and let the host nations know that if they willingly shelter terrorists within their borders, that those actions have dire consequences.

To the extent that Obama's KMA in Libya was an undeclared war, I agree with Paul 100%. But the alternative isn't a wholesale withdrawal to our nation's borders, but rather a judicious examination of our military's mission around the world and eliminate that which does not serve the purpose. But, as long as terrorists fight without uniform or flag, we will not always know our enemy, and we will not see the end in the foreseeable future. That doesn't mean we give up the fight or make a temporary, and ultimately futile, retreat to our borders. Whenever possible, we must carry the fight to the terrorists, and support our allies in their struggles for freedom and self determination.

Paul has said we will treat all countries alike. I cannot see treating Britain and Israel like Libya or Iran. The battle to defeat Western civilization is a global conflict. No nation on the planet is better equipped than this one to provide leadership in that conflict. It is not the path of Empire, but of preservation. The survival of our democratic allies can aid us in our battle top preserve our values and our way of life. Like the word "empire", I don't think Mr. Paul understands that.

Mr. Paul: I salute your attempts to uphold the Constitution, but your foreign policy? If it weren't so deadly serious, I'd call it "silly", too. But, it remains the main reason you will never be president.

Update : "And we do have an empire" 4:34 in. (from 2010)
900 bases in 135 countries = empire. (Or maybe just too many bases?)


  1. He's holding the wrong helmet. You need to swap it out for the one Rick Moranis wore in "Spaceballs" for accuracy.

  2. Yeah. I thought his head looked a little big for that one!