Friday, January 27, 2012

Ron Paul's Anti-Exceptionalism

I'm getting sick of Ron Paul asking us in his tinny, plaintive whine how we'd like it if Iran (or insert your favorite evil regime here) treated us the way we treat them.  It makes self-loathing lefties stand up and cheer, and a disturbing number of conservatives nod their heads as well.

We Helped Our Enemies

Sure, we meddled in Iran during the cold war with the Soviet Union.  My aim is not to discuss the merits of cold war policy, but to bring some clarity.  When we took out Mossadegh in 1953, we did the bidding not just of the Shah, but of the same Islamists who later toppled the shah and brought about the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Similarly, we put the Taliban in the power seat by helping them and their  Saudi-funded Arab confreres chase the Russians from Afghanistan.  We refused to intervene as Islamists toppled dictators in Libya and Egypt.  We spilled our own blood to save Balkan Muslims from slaughter.  These are all actions that helped Muslims, but Islamists refuse to give us credit; our actions have only stoked their anger against us.
 
Our worst sin, according to Usama bin Laden himself, was to trample Islam's holy lands of Saudi Arabia as we protected them from the secular Arab Stalin Saddam Hussein.  No good deed goes unpunished.

It's a chess game, not checkers, and the pieces are not black and white.

Ron Paul asked how we would like it if Iran (or any other belligerent) surrounded us and threatened us.  Of course we would take exception!  But he draws a naive equivalency.  Iran killed 241 servicemen, mostly marines, in Beirut in 1983.  We had no business there? Neither did Iran!  What made their incursion any nobler than ours?  Proximity is a naive answer. We were both trodding ground that was not ours.

Iran's proxies have blown up Jewish centers in South America, a continent blessedly free of such prejudice until the mullah's mad Muslims showed up.  They also sponsor terror groups all over the Levant, Middle East and South Asia.  They threaten to close the Straits of Hormuz, which they do not own and which other oil producers also use to the benefit of the global economy.  We vow to keep it open, for all to use.  There is no moral equivalency between us and them.

We anger them because we're standing in their way

The argument that we've angered the Usama Bin Laden's of the world by trampling their holy ground is also simpistic.  I will concede that I'm sure they are angry, and not just at us, but at the rotten regimes we do business with.  But what's the alternative?

By necessity we have to do business with people around the world, and all of those people, good or bad, will have enemies.  Do we retreat every time someone with a grievance wields a knife or bomb?  Of course they hate us!  We're standing in their way!

If we only did business with good people, we coulnd't even do business with ourselves and we'd have to shut down DC.  You think the Europeans are clean?  Ha!  Besides, bowing to threats is no way for any self-respecting nation to behave.  It will only bring trouble.

Between strict non-intervention and endless war, there is a broad field of legitimate, constitutional foreign policy options, to include patrolling sea lanes and allying with like-minded nations to peacefully put on notice those with malevolent intentions.

45 comments:

dmarks said...

Paul's statements like this are typically untrue, and too often could be used in a game of "Who said this? Bin Laden or Ron Paul?"

In certain areas, it is hard to tell the difference.

"The argument that we've angered the Usama Bin Laden's of the world by trampling their holy ground is also simpistic"

Paul is careless and sloppy and seems to give little thought to these matters.

I guess stating lies is easier for him than doing some research and making an informed statement about matters.

"Our worst sin, according to Usama bin Laden himself, was to trample Islam's holy lands of Saudi Arabia as we protected them from the secular Arab Stalin Saddam Hussein. No good deed goes unpunished."

Mecca is the holy spot of Saudi Arabia. If anyone knows of any reports of troop incursions into Mecca, please let us know.

Silverfiddle said...

I don't think Paul is lying, I just think he carelessly lapses into OWS-speak, either out of sloppy rhetoric or an urge to pander.

There is some truth to what he says, but he has a very skewed view of things.

Bunkerville said...

SF for President! At least I nominate you for the keeper of facts.

Jarheads Blog said...

It's people like Ron Paul that makes the Republican party look stupid.
Get rid of this idiot and stop the others from shooting down each other as well. I'm thinking that we need to draft someone entirely new altogether. This whole bunch have lost all of the credibility that they might have had.

Jack Camwell said...

And your view isn't skewed?

If we hadn't backed Saddam, would we have been in this Iraq War? Had we not supported the Shah, how would things be different in Iran?

I hate the "shoulda, coulda, wouldas" as much as anyone who has any sense of history, but don't trounce on the man for simply stating facts.

Paul isn't saying that isolationism, or just suddenly leaving the Middle East alone is going to magically solve everything. He's saying that if we're to stop creating more problems and making things worse for ourselves, we need to end the idea of American exceptionalism.

There is no self-loathing or whatever. When has Paul ever said that he hates America? When has he ever implied it?

When have I ever implied or directly stated that I hate America? Never. I love America just as much as you do. I love what this country is, and what it's supposed to represent. I think that America is the best of all possible situations in this current world of ours.

But that doesn't mean that I just shrug off our screw ups. In fact, it means the screw ups make me even angrier, because I have high standards for what I think this country should be and should represent. The frustration and anger doesn't come from loathing: it comes from grief.

I love this country, but the idiots that are running things tend to make really stupid decisions. Would you like it if every time you crapped allover Obama and the current administration someone accused you of hating America?

Jack Camwell said...

Jarhead,
The republican party looks stupid enough without Ron Paul. Just look at all the logical and ideological contradictions that many in the GOP are perfectly okay with, and it becomes clear that most of the party is not concerned at all about anything even remotely intellectual.

dmarks said...

Jack asked: "If we hadn't backed Saddam, would we have been in this Iraq War?"

We'd be facing an Iranian Empire that would include Iran and perhaps Jordan also.

"Had we not supported the Shah, how would things be different in Iran?"

Iran would have become a Soviet colony. With the super high massacre rate that happened in Soviet Afghanistan.

"but don't trounce on the man for simply stating facts."

I trounce him because he does not know what he is talking about.

what this country is, and what it's supposed to represent. I think that America is the best of all possible situations in this current world of ours.

But that doesn't mean that I just shrug off our screw ups. In fact, it means the screw ups make me even angrier, because I have high standards for what I think this country should be and should represent. The frustration and anger doesn't come from loathing: it comes from grief.

I love this country, but the idiots that are running things tend to make really stupid decisions. Would you like it if every time you crapped allover Obama and the current administration someone accused you of hating America?

1/27/12 7:03 AM

Always On Watch said...

If we only did business with good people, we coulnd't even do business with ourselves and we'd have to shut down DC.

Quote of the day!

Our foreign entanglements are just that: ENTANGLEMENTS. We've made so many alliances that it's a wonder that we aren't literally fighting ourselves.

It seems to me that we need to get our own house in order, but I don't see our leaders making any effort to do that.

Ron Paul's isolationism plays well because people are fed up in so many ways. That said, he does indeed promote naive equivalencies. In fact, politics is not based on the Golden Rule. Ron Paul doesn't see Iran as a threat. It is idiocy even to take that position. Closing the Strait of Hormuz is a form of economic jihad if not outright militant jihad.

dmarks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Finntann said...

Jack said:

"we need to end the idea of American exceptionalism."...

"America is the best of all possible situations in this current world of ours"...

Uhh... isn't the second statement an example of what was referenced in the first?

On the subject of Ron Paul, I would consider him more naive than anything else.

Cheers!

Ducky's here said...

It's people like Ron Paul that makes the Republican party look stupid.

-------

And Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain ... the list is pretty long.

The biggest fools of all are the ones who think they know all the ramifications of playing The Great Game.

Silverfiddle said...

Jack: I'll repeat...

It makes self-loathing lefties stand up and cheer, and a disturbing number of conservatives nod their heads as well.

I do not consider you a self-loathing lefty. Why would you assume otherwise?

As your own comments acknowledge, there are two sides to the coin--Ron Paul continually bleats on about only one side, and Ron Paul's shtick is all about "Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda..."

Inventing the fantasy that if we had only stood back and let events play out, "they" wouldn't hate us, and things would be better now.

Should we have stayed out of WW II? Should we have retreated afterwords? Was our participation in the Cold War a mistake?

Chateau Robert said...

Silverfiddle, did the inmates escape from the asylum again.

Silverfiddle said...

I must reluctantly agree with Ducky...

"The biggest fools of all are the ones who think they know all the ramifications of playing The Great Game."

Anyone who thinks they can set a chain of events in motion and predict all outcomes is incredibly naive.

See Russell Kirk's Conservative Principle #4.

dmarks said...

Silverfiddle said: "Anyone who thinks they can set a chain of events in motion and predict all outcomes is incredibly naive."

This puts all silly conspiracy theories in their place, including those about the "PNAC" and the neocon (tm) cabal who got together and decided to control the world.

Country Thinker said...

Between strict non-intervention and endless war, there is a broad field of legitimate, constitutional foreign policy options, to include patrolling sea lanes and allying with like-minded nations to peacefully put on notice those with malevolent intentions.

I think this is an excellent starting point for an adult conversation about foreign policy. (Note that Gary Jonson's foreign policy views are more cautious than Dr. Paul's - another reason I'm a supporter.)

My main concern is that there are those on the right (e.g., Santorum) who refuse to acknowledge that we have played any role in inflaming tensions in the Middle East. Their portrayal of us as innocents in a very complicated situation is naive and dangerous. I'm not calling the mullahs "good guys" by any stretch. I'm just saying we need to do an honest assessment of all of the factors when deciding what to do next.

Silverfiddle said...

Country: Thank you. It means a lot coming from a smart, reasoned man.

Dmarks: I don't understand your point???

Let me put in another way with a parable of Jesus, from Luke Ch 14:

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.


Anyone who thinks they can game it all out is incredibly naive, and this had nothing whatsoever to do with conspiracy theories.

dmarks said...

Silver: That wasn't for you, it was for Ducky, who fears nonexistent or harmless forces, while ignoring the forces that can be the most harmful. He has also supported the "PNAC" theories.

Ducky's here said...

No, dmarks, PNAC is an example of the oligarchs who think they can control The Great Game.

Ducky's here said...

Iran killed 241 servicemen, mostly marines, in Beirut in 1983.

-----------

Why were we there?

Why were we in a very vulnerable position at the airport?

Another example of the leadership of the great Saint Ronnie Raygun.

dmarks said...

Ducky said: "No, dmarks, PNAC is an example of the oligarchs who think they can control The Great Game."

Just like the Bildeburgers, the Great Gazoo, the East Moline Friendly Garden Club, and Steven Colbert.

Muahahaha!!!

"Why were we there?"

Nothing justifies their murder.

"Another example of the leadership of the great Saint Ronnie Raygun."

He was a great leader, true. But he did not kill them.

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: About all I can say is that Reagan knew when to cut losses and go home. He also knew how to learn from mistakes.

And it's a Friday and I gave you the opportunity to deploy the ol' time-worn "Ronnie Raygun," you should be going into the weekend happy.

Z said...

What are we to do? Just turn our heads from the build up of groups like Al Qaeda? Just hope they stop the rhetoric and should we have waited for Saddam to become a nice guy?
Does anybody think Ahmadinejad will stop threatening us if we turn around, come home in every way (diplomatic and war) and lock our doors behind us?
Who WANTS to go to war? I like Ron Paul's idea of putting more soldiers on our own borders, but leave everywhere else completely? He's so naive.
Read some Ken Timmerman, folks....on Iran and nuclear capacity. man.

Anonymous said...

Ducky, I agree with you about the influence of "The Oligarchs" -- a term I use frequently, myself -- but may disagree with as to who and what they are. Then gain maybe i wouldn't.

What precisely do YOU mean when you say "The Oligarchs?"

And what praytell do YOU mean when you refer to "The Great Game?"

I have a friend who has written a 1400 page book of that title, and it IS about the corrupt, surreptitious nature of the forces that truly govern us. He's spent 28 years doing research.

Unfortunately the book is unreadable -- much too long, of course, -- and my friend just doesn't realize that throwing myriad words on hundreds of pages does not constitute "writing," even if most of what he puts down is factual and worth studying in considerable depth.

Of course most traditionalists would dismiss my friend's work out of hand as "tendentious," but it is not. He was sincerely interested in trying to find out why things are the way they are, kept digging obsessively for decades, and came up with many findings that are profoundly unsettling. No one in his right mind would WANT to believe it, BUT ...

People who airily and arrogantly dismiss as "conspiracy theory" every idea that doesn't fit their world view -- or their pet agenda -- are candidates for induction into The Flat Earth Society.

As the discovery of microscopes and telescopes and the great pioneering men of science and mathematics proved conclusively there's a helluva lot more to life than meets the naked eye -- or the parochial views of any and all factions -- our own included.

~ FreeThinke

Jersey McJones said...

"Sure, we meddled in Iran during the cold war with the Soviet Union. ... When we took out Mossadegh in 1953, we did the bidding not just of the Shah, but of the same Islamists who later toppled the shah and brought about the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Similarly, we put the Taliban in the power seat by helping them and their Saudi-funded Arab confreres chase the Russians from Afghanistan. We refused to intervene as Islamists toppled dictators in Libya and Egypt."

What? What makes you think "Islamists toppled dictators in Libya and Egypt"? That simply is not what happened and you know it. You'd have to be fucking retarded not to know that. Yees, of course, there is always the threat of religious extremists working their way into a popular revolution, but they are not the impetus to make revolution in the first place. It is human need. And human need is rarely sated by religion.

Then you say, "We spilled our own blood to save Balkan Muslims from slaughter. These are all actions that helped Muslims, but Islamists refuse to give us credit; our actions have only stoked their anger against us." (bold mine)

Oh, and then this laughable line, "No good deed goes unpunished." The "good deed," of course, was our reestablishment of the Kuwaiti monarchy.

Helped Muslims? Are you kidding? Do you think most Muslims are happy with the Taliban and other extremists, the Monarchies, the Iranian Mullahs? Among your examples, The only place where we actually helped Muslims was in the Balkans, and most of you Righties were, and remain to this f'n day, against that! You guys are so fucked up sometimes.

The ultimate expression of Islam is not violently radical conservative orthodox theocracy any more than it would be violently radical conservative orthodox theocracy for Christianity. Most people everywhere do not want that, regardless of their personal religious beliefs.

Sure, some may say they want it, but most of them would simply be projecting a fear of those few who really do want it, and can get it, for personal gain, as usual.

Religion can be a lot of very good things, but it can also be a handy weapon for the psychotically selfish to force their way.

Then you say something smart, as usual...

"Between strict non-intervention and endless war, there is a broad field of legitimate, constitutional foreign policy options, to include patrolling sea lanes and allying with like-minded nations to peacefully put on notice those with malevolent intentions."

I agree. We need a powerful naval presence over there. And we have one. President Obama has shown he knows how exactly to do exactly what you say here - controlling the sea while working with allies to deal with specific incidents.

I think you conservatives have been shamefully remiss in neglecting to give Obama some credit for his quiet, big-stick handling of troublesome foreign entanglements. When his presidency is over, he will be remembered for keeping up a formidable and smart force projection, if - IF - he can answer the Afghanistan conundrum.

JMJ

republicanmother said...

Read the Grand Chessboard by Brzeznski people and it's a freaking playbook to events in the middle east over the past 20 years. Countries like Iran and Afghanistan are described as being geopoltical pivots, control of which is necessary to win the chessboard, Eurasia.

The people of Iran are not their government. Kind of like here, huh? The mullahs there only have 30% support and the sanctions are their best way to maintain control and demagogue power.

I'm working up a post that will shed light on this issue and the money swirling around it. I was shocked by what I found...
http://mapper.nndb.com/maps/696/000017645/

Silverfiddle said...

Jersey: Well, you're way out in left field today, moreso than usual.

I do give Obama credit for being smart enough to not trash decades of foreign policy wisdom. He didn't just think this stuff up on his own. He's not that smart and neither are his foreign policy advisors.

I give Hilary most of the credit. She's a smart woman and she knows how to get stuff done. If the democrats had done the right thing and elected her, we'd be in hell of a lot better shape and she'd be sailing to an easy reelection.

Anonymous said...

"I give Hilary most of the credit. She's a smart woman and she knows how to get stuff done. If the Democrats had done the right thing and elected her, we'd be in hell of a lot better shape and she'd be sailing to an easy reelection."

You CAN'T be serious! Please say i isn't so.

You're just trying to flame the board, right?

~ FreeThinke

Teresa said...

I just can't stand Ron Paul's blame America rhetoric when things aren't black and white as you mentioned. Looking in to the past we have 20/20 vision but when in the present and even taking into account what may happen in the future there is much uncertainty and our vision is quite cloudy. Ron Paul doesn't take into account the historical significance of the times times when we have aided our allies or had to stand up against this or that regime.

Excellent post, Silverfiddle!

BB-Idaho said...

Ron Paul's isolationism is 18th
century thinking. That and his
gold standard...

Silverfiddle said...

Thanks Teresa, and yes, FT, I am serious.

I don't like Hillary's politics, but she's a hard worker and she's pulled off a few diplomatic coups, most lately in the Asian Pacific.

I also believe we'd be in better shape if she were president.

Z said...

I think Hillary's too much an appeaser and self-aggrandizer, myself. Not that anybody could have been worse than Obama, of course.

beamish said...

As much as I'd love to be piling on with the Ron Paul bashing, I gotta raise a point of order.

We DIDN'T help the Taliban against the Soviets in Afghanistan. We quietly backed Ahmad Shah Massoud and his mujihadeen, who was fighting both the Soviets AND the factions of Afghans who became the Taliban, particularly those under Guibeddin Hekmatyar.

Now, our hands weren't spotless, as we funneled assistance to Hekmatyar through Pakistan's ISI as well, but the CIA's go-to guy in Afghanistan was always Ahmed Shah Massoud.

Had Clinton not pulled the plug on Massoud, there would not have been a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, much less an al-Qaeda stronghold there.

beamish said...

Ahmad Shah Massoud scene censored from the TV movie "Path to 9/11" by Clinton flunkies

Silverfiddle said...

Important distinction, Beamish. Thanks. Regardless, wittingly or unwittingly, we did provide material support to the Taliban, thanks to how the Pakistanis spread the goodies around.

Rational Nation USA said...

So silver, exactly who is your republican statist camdidate of choice?

Oh, Isn't there something knwn as the "sphere of influence?" Hmm... how we spin it.

beamish said...

Important distinction, Beamish. Thanks. Regardless, wittingly or unwittingly, we did provide material support to the Taliban, thanks to how the Pakistanis spread the goodies around.

I'd have to say unwittingly. Yes, our aid got to Hekmatyar's fighters / the proto-Taliban via Pakistan's ISI, BUT... they were too busy killing Afghans and securing poppy / heroin fiefdoms for themselves with it to fight the Soviets as Ahamd Shah Massoud's forces actually were.

The kicker is this. The Taliban didn't fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, as that group did not yet exist until well after the Soviet occupation ended, and there's no clear line from American foreign aid to Pakistan to Taliban, unless you cynically say our aid to Pakistan helped them pay for the rise of the Taliban. But there were other players involved as well. The Saudis and the Iranians were also backing Afghan factions against each other in Afghanistan. Basically a huge proxy war between five different countries using Afghan factions as pawns against each other.

One of those countries of course, was Ahmad Shah Massoud's dream of an Afghanistan without other nations using the Afghan people as proxies against each other.

[full disclosure, Massoud is a personal hero of mine]

The blame for the clusterfuck in Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal that draws us there now can be laid squarely upon Bill Clinton's shoulders. 9/11 happened, thousand of Americans dead, all of it because of one President's blithering ignorance of foreign policy.

When we lost Ahmad Shah Massoud on September 9, 2001, we lost our ONLY friend in that shithole.

And Clinton's bumbling State Department and CIA had already snubbed Massoud enough to leave him to the wolves... that ultimately killed him, leaving us with nobody on the ground in Afghanistan to liason with two days before the September 11th attacks and after a long pattern of betrayals under the Clinton administration.

People around the world don't see Presidents. They see countries. The idiocy of Clinton is STILL damaging our relations in Afghanistan. They can't trust that we won't betray and undermine those who want freedom again.

And looky there. The wife of the former American President that turned Afghanistan into the Taliban's murder zone is now trying to negotiate a peace with the Taliban, and spreading around millions of American dollars to them.

I wonder how that looks to the average Afghan.

I disagree with your assessment of Hillary Rotten Clinton. She's probably the WORST Secretary of State in American history, and that's no mean feat in a list that includes Madge Albright, Colin Powell, James Baker, and Warren Christopher.

Silverfiddle said...

I've known a few military officers and deputies of this or that who have worked with her, all of them conservatives, and they give her grudging respect for her ability to learn and assimilate information quickly and for her tenacity, if nothing else. They also all told me she is a warm, engaging person, unlike her public Ice Queen persona.

But anyway, thank you for adding clarity to the discussion.

Silverfiddle said...

Les: I hate them all.

But I will vote for any of them over Obama.

Z said...

Beamish, you know how I feel about Massoud...a hero of mine, as well. A BIG hero and a tragic story.
CLINTON'S CIA PULLED THE PLUG ON HIM?

beamish said...

Z,

Have you ever read Massoud's 1998 "Letter to the American people?"

You can read it here.

He was begging America, particularly the Clinton administration, for help against the Pakistan-backed Taliban, then currently surging into power.

The Clinton administration response was, of course, to give Pakistan even more money after lifting the ban on foreign aid to them imposed by the George H. W. Bush administration.

As I said, BILL CLINTON CREATED THIS PROBLEM.

dmarks said...

Beamish: I quite admired Madeline Albright for telling it like it was in the former Yugoslavia area, and taking leadership in doing something about the problem.

Ever hear of the Rape of Sarajevo, in which Serbian invaders systematically slaughtered 200,000 Bosnians?

No, you did not. That's because it did not happen. The US took the leadership in stopping the Serbian invasions of Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

dmarks said...

Also, Jersey said: "I think you conservatives have been shamefully remiss in neglecting to give Obama some credit for his quiet, big-stick handling of troublesome foreign entanglements. When his presidency is over, he will be remembered for keeping up a formidable and smart force projection, if - IF - he can answer the Afghanistan conundrum."

There are other storm clouds to cloud Obama's record. The so-called peaceful wing of the genocidal kook terrorists we oppose have taken a majority of the seats in the Egyptian election, and there are other pitfalls resulting from the Arab Spring that were not predicted by most.

If a large sector of the Arab and Middle Eastern world falls to the terrorists on Obama's watch, this will overshadow what you describe.

Anonymous said...

"It's people like Ron Paul that makes the Republican party look stupid."

No, Jarhead, it's nominating presidential candidates like Jerry Ford, Bob Dole, both the Bushes, John McCain and soon-to-be Mitt Romney that not only make the Republican Party LOOK stupid -- they prove it IS stupid.

~ FreeThinke

dmarks said...

The Republican electorate has rejected Ron Paul and his insane foreign policy views and his hypocritical contempt for the most basic Constitutional right of all.

Yes, he has made the Republicans look smart for doing so.