Monday, 19 March 2012

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR'S: Ron Paul just doesn't get it

_McGrath001Doc McGrath has been reconsidering Ron Paul…

For a long time past, opinion among supporters of free-market capitalism has been divided  over the suitability for office of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. I have been a long-time supporter of Dr Paul, if only because of the uncommon sense he speaks on matters related to economics and central banking.

The septuagenarian obstetrician-gynaecologist-cum-congressman has long been an advocate of the gold standard, and of disestablishing the Federal Reserve. He opposes government intrusion into the lives of private citizens by his opposition to the knee-jerk laws that make passing through an airport in the U.S. a harrowing and degrading experience for most travellers.

All good so far.

_RonPaulBut I am now convinced his foreign policy would be detrimental to the interests of the U.S. in the long term. For a long time, I used to believe a policy of strict “isolationism”—pulling U.S. troops out of the hundred-and-thirty-something countries where they are stationed in their tens of thousands at present—would be a good idea, especially seeing as how the U.S. is basically bankrupt (and will probably be owned by China a few years from now).

I thought pulling troops back to the continental U.S. would save billions if not trillions of dollars, and might pacify those who resent the presence of United States troops on their soil.  But, as many in the libertarian and Objectivist movements have long been suggesting, such a policy would not lead to peace and prosperity for U.S. citizens. Instead, it would be a gutless capitulation to the enemies of freedom and in invitation to them to treat the sleeping giant as a a docile dinosaur willing to accept any indignity. It would not douse the flames of resentment in many of those countries, it would fan them. Such a policy would show their enemies (and on numerous occasions since at least the Suez capitulation has shown them) that the U.S. is a soft touch who will tolerate substantial strikes against its own citizens without any adequate retaliation.

Notwithstanding the fact that the current U.S. government and its chief executive have been to a greater or lesser degree traitors to the U.S. Constitution, like virtually all their predecessors for the last hundred years, the United States still best represents the idea of a secular nation built on the principles of individual rights and liberty. 

Despite the betrayal by U.S. politicians of the principles for which many of the Founding Fathers risked their lives, Ron Paul, sadly, does not represent a coherent force for good. He is a deeply flawed politician, with a blind spot in foreign policy the size of Texas.

I read  the transcript of a recent interview with ARI executive director Yaron Brook and listened to a short audio clip from 2011, and then knew without a doubt that I had been wrong in my unquestioning support for a man whose foreign policy position amounts to this:

The underlying problem with Ron Paul is his basic motivation: rather than pro-freedom he is primarily anti-government.

Instead of advocating government that protects individual rights, he has given libertarianism a bad name by advocating anarchism, the view that all government is bad; instead of advocating small government and the rule of law, he and his supporters argue for no state and no rule of law. In reality, there can be no freedom when there is no government: look, for example, at the chaos in Somalia, where the rule of law has broken down completely. That is no libertarian society; it is anarchic dog-eat-dog civil war without any protection of individual rights at all.

Yaron Brook says in the audio clip above that he could consider voting for a presidential candidate that wasn't an Objectivist, just as long as they were advocates for individual rights. Whether or not you consider Objectivism to be the best grounding philosophy for theories of individual rights and capitalism—and I happen to think it is—here we have an Objectivist saying that he could support a non-Objectivist as a candidate. I'm not sure Ayn Rand would have been that generous.  [Yes, she was; see below. – Ed.]

Free-market capitalism needs a new political torch-bearer.  Whether Ron Paul's high-ish profile has set back the cause of free-market capitalism decades, as Brook asserts, is debatable. He is occasionally inarticulate and does, unfortunately, come across as a crazy uncle type. It is surely telling that much of his current support appears to come from pacifists on the left wing of American politics who can relate to Ron Paul's short-sighted and frankly dangerous foreign policy.

While I agree with most if not all of what Ron Paul has to say on Austrian economics, I think American capitalism needs a new political voice and a fresh presidential candidate for 2016. Peter Schiff springs to mind. Andrew Breitbart would have been great. Penn Jillette would be a scream.

Dr Paul's star reached its zenith some time back and is now falling. He should step down once the primary/caucus season finishes, enjoy what years he has left with his family, and allow a more consistently individualistic figurehead to take up the cudgels against both the overt socialists in the Democratic Party, and the utterly revolting conservatives such as Romney and Santorum who give the party of Lincoln a bad name.

imageA wiser head than mine labelled as "Saddamites" those reluctant to endorse military action against Iran, Saudi Arabia and other nations whose governments nurture anti-American terrorists. How right he was. Ron Paul is a "Saddamite", and I guess I was too. But not any more.

The U.S. government should unleash the dogs of war onto the murderous regimes of Iran, Syria, the treacherous Saudis, and any other failing states giving succour to promoters of Islamic jihad. Turn the political rulers of those hostile states into pariahs, or even radioactive glass, if need be. But let's not wait for another Islam-inspired atrocity to occur before striking at the sponsors of that hideous death cult.

Now that plans to shut Iranian banks out of the world financial markets appear to be proceeding, it could be an opportune time to begin.

Ron Paul was right on one thing: the U.S. Government is not the world's policeman. But what Dr Paul failed to tell us is that it nevertheless has a duty to defend American citizens everywhere from people wanting to murder and maim them. To defend them with deadly and overwhelming force, with energy sufficient to transform wanna-be Islamist martyrs into gas molecules.

Just as it is time for Ron Paul to move on, it is time for the United States government to move on from a policy of appeasement toward vicious crazed murderers, to a policy of dishing out swift and palpable justice to those who threaten American interests with violence. While I have serious reservations over the funding of such a war, I don't think Obama really has a choice now.

Only this time, count me as a supporter of such a just war not as a Ronulan appeaser of Islam. I'm only sorry it took so long for the scales to drop from my eyes.

See you until next week,
Doc McGrath

* * * *

NB: In her 1964 article “How to Judge a Political Candidate” Rand said:

One cannot expect, nor is it necessary, to agree with a candidate's total philosophy -- only with his political philosophy (and only in terms of essentials). It is not a Philosopher-King that we are electing, but an executive for a specific, delimited job.... we have to judge him as we judge any work, theory or product of mixed premises: by his dominant trend....
If a candidate evades, equivocates and hides his stand under a junk-heap of random concretes, we must add up those concretes and judge him accordingly. If his stand is mixed, we must evaluate it by asking: Will he protect freedom or destroy the last of it? Will he accelerate, delay or stop the march toward statism?

It was on this basis that she first supported and then became disappointed in the candidacy of (who would have guessed it!) Barry Goldwater.


  1. Suppose that first best is effective intervention that brings liberty to the benighted.

    The first best is unattainable by current American military methods, which seem rather better at ensuring the civilian population hates the American military.

    Second best seems rather more likely to be the avoidance of foreign adventures than imagining away that any real-world occupation of foreign countries intending to bring liberty and democracy to folks who don't much seem to want it is more likely to bring resentment and hatred than mini-Americas.

    Read Kipling. Heck, read Flashman.

  2. Peter Pumkinhead19 Mar 2012, 15:04:00

    One of Dr Paul's arguments for bringing the troops out of those hell-holes is the premise that American intervention was the catalyst for resentment in the first place.

    "leave us alone to kill our own"

  3. The point of pulling US troops out of places where they're neither needed nor wanted would not actually be to ease the alleged resentment, but to save billions and possibly trillions of dollars and thus avoid it's slide into bankruptcy. That you and your fellow travellers can't or won't see this is a major reason why I just can't take you seriously.

    So what if a few jihadists try to spin it as a victory? The US is a freakin' superpower, it can deal with any genuine threat that does arise.

    And stop spinning your war fantasies as being against the "regimes". The cost always falls heaviest on the civilian population. The same Iranian people that you pretended to give a shit about in 2009 would be the ones to suffer, not the mullahs.

  4. @Eric: The U.S. is certainly unappreciated when it send troops to countries that spend years there and outstay their welcome. I prefer the idea of short sharp interventions and then getting out. It's the prolonged empire building after the blitzkreig that costs billions and engenders resentment.

    No-one likes foreign armies on their soil for too long.

    @Peter: As per the comment above, I believe the U.S. should intervene to neutralise threats to their citizens and then get out. Leave the conquered armies to lick their wounds and reconsider their plans. No-one will thank them for sticking around for another 10 years.

    @Frankie: I can certainly see your point, and in fact it was the main reason I sided with Ron Paul's foreign policy for so long. If the U.S. is bankrupted by its foreign adventures, it won't be able to defend its own borders, and that is a major concern I still have. I believe the U.S. should pulverise the countries that support Islamic jihad, and return home immediately afterward, thus lowering the operational costs.

  5. Agree totally. You don't wait until the wolf is at your door. You go out, hunt the wolf down, and shoot it dead so it never comes near your door in the first place.

    I'd also argue, as Martin Luther King did, that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, including the United States. Nations left to their own devices will always tend towards statism and dictatorship. Freedom must constantly be fought for anew by every generation.

  6. Sorry that Anonymous was me - Richard McGrath. For some reason the option to provide a name to correspondence doesn't seem to appear on my screen.


  7. By the way, if Perigoebbels is "a wiser head than mine", then I've overestimated your wisdom considerably. not a mistake I'll make again.

  8. Hal Incandenza19 Mar 2012, 19:40:00

    You libbos really are an aggressively murderous bunch at bottom aren't you? Thankfully in libboland you wouldn't have the means to fund a bucket of rubber-bands let alone the nukes you crave. You will therefore not be able to fry civilians in order to free them from their tyrannical leaders who make them wear seatbelts or whatever.

  9. Your piece better be a joke. I'm a recent paid up Libzer and will not be endoring your continued leadership of the party if this is the crap you come out with.

  10. Yep...can't take seriously any so called "Libs" who monger for wars that simply aren't justified by facts.

    "War is the health of the state"...ring any bells?

  11. Ayn Rand said that free nations had a right to support the citizens of nations that weren't free but not an obligation to do so.

    The problem with American foreign policy is its hypocrisy. You give Saudi Arabia as an example of a country America should "unleash the dogs of war onto" and I agree that it has one of the most objectionable theocratic regimes in the world. Saudi Arabia supplied most of the 9/11 hijackers and most of the Al Qaeda leadership, yet it continues to be one of America's closest allies in the region, with the US supplying Saudi with most of its weaponry and military training. The USA also supported Saddam Hussein until he became such an international pariah they were forced to turn against him. And they supported the Mujahideen in Afghanistan that became the Taliban (who incidentally modelled their theocracy on the Saudi model).

    America has learned that you reap what you sow in foreign policy. I think a more moral, more consistent and more isolationist foreign policy would be good for America economically and politically. However, the biggest challenge yet of the 21st Century has to be faced - that of Iran - and I believe if America stands for freedom at all, it must with Israel against the existential threat from Iran.

  12. Wit: if America stands for freedom at all, it must with Israel against the existential threat from Iran

    Obama will side with Israel and allow an attack on Iran, or even do it himself, at just the right time to boost his chances of getting re-elected. He's 3 or 4 times more evil than Clinton.

    He'll waste another few $bill just to give himself more time to kill what's left of the free world.

    Ron Paul is to the left of Obama.

  13. The USA has ended up as the world's de facto policeman & has been it for some time.
    The problem with isolationism is that it didn't seem to have a proactive stance to defence.
    With both world wars, the USA was pulled into the conflict after either been attacked or about to be. (The germans were negiotating with Mexico to invade texas in WW1)
    Also, one only has to look back to the 1990's where they had to step into Yugoslavia to stop the genocides happening because the europeans couldn't decide what to do.

  14. Why did you use Somalia as a counterexample to AnCap?

    Good societies require good traditions such as traditions of openness and tolerance of criticism. Somalia lacks such traditions and it is a failure for this reason and not because of some failure of AnCap.

    Ancap societies require *more* knowledge and *better* traditions than we currently have. So you aren't going to get AnCap society in a vacuum and you can't get AnCap society by just suddenly dropping government, The only way an AnCap society can come about is by gradual improvement and not by revolutionary change to existing institutions.

    Why should we want to transition to an AnCap society? The reason is that, in order to sustain itself, humanity must always progress by continually solving problems. But where there is force progress cannot continue indefinitely because force prevents the correction of errors. Infinite progress requires, therefore, that government by force -- statism -- must eventually end (but gradually).

    (note: agree that Ron Paul is bad)

  15. Even if you support US proactive defense activities in foreign lands, it seems to me that there is much room for criticism of the extent, strategy and cost effectiveness. I do see scope for disagreement with Paul on foreign policy being naive and failing to express understanding of the dangers represented by Islamic fundamentalism.
    However it not quite fair to say the Ron Paul does not primarily value individual freedom or that he is basically an anarchist. He is most definitely a constitutionalist - which is about limiting federal government, not abolishing it. He has stated the he sees the role of government is to protect individual liberties.
    I'll let him speak for himself in this one of many clips o YouTube:
    Ron Paul on the Role of Government

  16. If Ron Paul is wrong then so was the CIA when they warned US policy in the middle east would cause blowback and the 9/11 commission that cited US presence on holy land and its policies in the middle east, which led to the death of half a million Iraqi children. Maybe Don McGrath just doesn't get it: I note he is using the same argument that kept the US in Vietnam for so long. But guess what? China did not take the place of US and the Vietnamese did not seek revenge on the US: they were just pleased the US was no longer there propping up a tyrant.

  17. calling Ron Paul an anarchist? That's an association fallacy

  18. About Ron Paul, I am with Sally O'Brian on that one.

    Sorry but this article is extremely reductive on the US Foreign Policy (o_O) as far as I think military interventions are sometimes a crucial necessity!

    To be honest the first reading direction almost gives me nausea. It sounds like we have to choose a camp: it is black or white and we just have to sit on a magnificent palette of grey. This type of 'binary' (no offense) article conveys dangerous ideas, in my opinion.

    Also: 'But I am now convinced his foreign policy would be detrimental to the interests of the U.S. in the long term.'

    I personally do not think so. My knowledge on that question tends to offer to me the opposite idea, but it might be an incomplete knowledge, who knows. Plus, what about the interests of THE REST of the world?
    The rest of the world has great resources and great human beings, as we all know. The rest of the world needs indeed way more of non public and non religious schools. This should be the Foreign Policy priorities of the so called democratic countries. The rest of the world needs a bit more of time (and of course help) to fight its own sticky traditional and cultural ideologies to embrace individual freedom (but still a huge work to do at home btw). So the rest of the world certainly does not need a Foreign Policy like the US actual one: it only feeds the vicious cycle of hatred and obscurantism.

    FYI the US population represents about 4.55% of the global population (and I won't tell here what is the percentage of American citizen I would call educated, or even freedom ally, not to offend anyone).

    Wouldn't it more interesting to look for state leaders to seek for GLOBAL answers and may be GLOBAL policies in the idea of a GLOBAL HUMAN EVOLUTION? And this should be initiate more than ever within the more powerful nations. Let's be the light, uh.

    And about the enemies of Freedom, it is not such a difficult job (as many pretend) to cut the grass under their feet, and it should have been done a long time ago, but it has never been properly attempted and we all know why.


  19. All this talk about Western security and democracy seems to ignore the fact that Islam has already seeded and is quite obviously consuming firstly Europe, and now the wider Western world,city by city.Our prime enemy is the "institution" that allows and promotes this invasion.

  20. @Frankie:

    1) I have always (and still am) concerned that endless wars on multiple fronts could bankrupt the U.S. and make it incapable of defending its borders. So I'm right with you on that point.

    2) There are always civilian casualties in wartime - can you recall a war where civilians were unaffected? I understand what you're saying. In a sense, if those citizens want to avoid becoming collateral damage, they'd be wise to run the Islamists out of their country, and kick out their government if it allows Islamists to settle there.

  21. @Frankie Lee:

    If you honestly believe Lindsay Perigo can be compared to Goebbels in any way, then I've overestimated you.

  22. @Hal:

    You forgot to mention the cycle helmets in addition to seatbelts.

    And I believe the Islamists who brought down the twin towers used weapons slightly more potent than rubber bands... or were the jet engines of those planes powered by rubber bands?

  23. @J Cuttance:

    Can you elaborate on the reasons you take such strong exception to the opinions expressed? I have basically said that pacifism and appeasement to murderers doesn't work.

    As a libertarian I believe nations have the right to act in self defence when an attack occurs (and to prevent an attack if possible). The degree of force used would have to be appropriate to the level of the threat. Nuclear weapons would be an extreme measure, but if nothing else was going to stop a country like Saudi Arabia from sheltering terrorists, what would you suggest?

    I would love to see negotiations result in the Saudis, Syrians, Iranians and Pakistanis arresting the remnants of al Quaeda and prosecuting them. But realistically, can you see this happening?

    If there is to be further war, I would want it short, sharp and non-nuclear if possible, with minimal civilian casualties and at minimal financial cost to the U.S. taxpayer.

  24. @Kiwiwit:

    I agree with you that the U.S. has been hypocritical and has sided with regimes that are totally averse to individual rights and freedoms for their own people.

    Such policy is absurd and doesn't win the U.S. any friends. The Saudis and others use the U.S. for their own gain and then shit on the U.S. when it is no longer useful to them.

    The U.S. should immediately withdraw all foreign aid and support for countries who do not protect the rights and freedoms of their people, or who shield enemies of the U.S. The Saudis would be near the top of the list.

  25. Thank Galt that the US does keep the crazies at bay. Imagine the world with these guys roaming free.

    Would we we in NZ do?
    We have no means of defence.


  26. @Mara, indeed I have no idea about what you are talking about. As far as I am concerned I have spent 25 years of my life in Europe, I know Berlin, Roma, Madrid and London very well. I lived for almost 10 years in one of the worst (according to the medias) suburb in France. And clearly, I have still no idea about those seeds you are talking about. All I know is that some issues those countries are facing have nothing to do with what you are suggesting here.
    I also traveled to Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia and I have an insight of what is really happening there. My own brother has traveled to Israel and Gaza, and I trust what he saw there more than anyone else. One of my closest friend lives in Israel and I trust what he tells he lives.
    I have also spent 4 years researching and working on those subjects with many brilliant specialists, in urbanism, architecture, economy, sociology, ethnology and discussed them with several political specialists, but I still have no idea about what you are talking about.
    However, I have read many times in newspapers what you are insinuating, and I have heard those famous theories in many politician talks. But it ends here.

    I agree one one point, some people around the world are extremely dangerous, and they should have less power today than what our western governments offered them yesterday. But this is the only issue I can observe here.


  27. Christian LIbz21 Mar 2012, 14:42:00

    Ron Paul is a good christian and he values freedom & constitution above all else. Louis Farrakhan had something nice to say about Ron Paul.

    Minister Farrakhan on Ron Paul Exposing the Federal Reserve and International Bankers

  28. Hi Richard - Re the Muslim world - I belive the best policy is isolationism, not intervention.

    Nothing can be achieved unitl Islam is reformed somehow, and I don't see that happening.

    The west should only intervene in Muslim affairs if they threaten with WOMDs. (energy independence is essential). Stuart L.


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