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Friday, 25 November 2011 14:00

Ron Paul Scores in Foreign Policy Debate

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Sam BlumenfeldOne of the great virtues of the 11 debates the Republican candidates have undergone is that by now we know much more about them as human beings and as individuals potentially capable of leading the nation in the post-Obama era. The candidates have had so much television and video exposure, that by now they have become the refrigerator magnets of the mind. Also, the public has been able to learn a great deal about the crucial issues we face — and that, perhaps not surprisingly, the only candidate who gets down to constitutional fundamentals is Ron Paul.

During Tuesday's foreign policy debate in Washington, the Texas libertarian Congressman forcefully articulated his pro-freedom views without any hesitation or equivocation, thus presenting a philosophical alternative to the other contenders, who have adopted a neo-conservative Establishment consensus. For example, on the subject of aiding Israel, all of the candidates except Paul agreed that the U.S. government should continue to financially aid Israel. Paul argued that the Israelis were quite capable of taking care of themselves and that our so-called help was undermining their sovereignty. Why should an American President put pressure on the Israelis in the matter of borders, settlements, or constructing houses? To Paul, that’s the high price that Israel pays for America’s help, which in reality diminishes Israel’s ability to make decisions which are in its own best interests. He is against foreign aid to all countries as a matter of principle. We gave all of that aid to Egypt, and the country is now in complete turmoil.

Also, on the subject of our war on terrorism, Paul remarked that you can’t wage war on anything as elusive as terrorism. Only Congress has the power to declare war, and whom do you declare war against in a war against "terrorism"? Whom are we fighting? But Rick Santorum argued that we are at war with radical Islam, and that unlike other wars this one has to be fought in a different way. And that’s why he approved of the PATRIOT Act, which Paul rejected as being unpatriotic. We must not surrender our freedoms in the interest of security, Paul argued, for in the end we shall have neither security nor freedom, as Benjamin Franklin noted so long ago.

There was also some arguing over the TSA and how better to secure our airports and airplanes. Santorum said that we ought to follow the Israeli model and use profiling. In that way the vast majority of travelers would not have to be searched and examined. Since terrorists who want to bomb planes are suicidal, it ought to be easy to identify among passengers about to board a plane the one person among them who is a potential suicide. Nobody except a terrorist would plan to commit suicide by bombing a plane. The average American suicide is not interested in taking 100 plane passengers with him or her. Cutting one’s wrists, jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, or taking an overdose of barbiturates, is a solitary act of despair. It’s not a political statement. Only radical Islamic terrorists want to commit suicide by killing several hundred other people.

The TSA inspector need simply look at a passenger and ask if he or she intends to commit suicide by blowing up a plane. A person with that intention would stand out like a red light. The idea that everyone, including grandmothers, children, and businessmen, boarding a plane must be examined as if they were potential suicides makes no sense. A bit of elementary psychology is all that is needed to do the job. Just one look at the shoe bomber or the underwear bomber would have been enough to single out those two individuals as  potential suicides.

In a recent interview in the editorial offices of the Des Moines Register, Paul was asked any number of questions on all of the issues, which he was able to answer at length. For example, on the subject of "gay marriage," he said that though he thinks "a lot of the importance of marriage and ... a lot of the dictionary too," he does not believe the government should be deciding what marriage is. "So I want the government out," he said. "If you’re going to have government under the constitution, the states have a lot more authority than the federal government has to define it. I’d rather see it be outside of government and then we would not be arguing about this."

On the matter of abortion, Paul, a gynecologist, made it clear that he considered the fetus to be a human being entitled to the protection of the law. The present situation is totally irrational. For example, if a pregnant woman is involved in a car crash in which the fetus is killed, the person who caused that crash is liable to be prosecuted under the law for manslaughter. But if that same pregnant woman had decided to kill her own unborn child by abortion, that would be perfectly legal. Life begins at conception, Paul asserted, and that life should have the protection of the law.

On matters of foreign policy he was quite adamant in his view that we should not try to remake other nations in our image. The invasion of Iraq was a big mistake. It was foolish to sacrifice thousands of American soldiers and billions of dollars on the supposition that we could impose democracy on that country, which is torn between the Shia and Sunni Islamic sects. We changed Iraq, but at what price and to what benefit to the United States? He was for our initial war of retaliation against Afghanistan for harboring the terrorists who destroyed the twin towers in Manhattan and killed 3,000 Americans. But he did not see why we then had to invade Iraq.

On the economy, he predicted that the Supercommittee would fail in achieving its stated goals. “You can’t borrow forever,” he said. Giving more money to the government through more taxes is like giving whiskey to an alcoholic. It simply encourages the government to spend more money that it doesn’t have. He also suggested that we could end the war on drugs by making drugs legal.

Because he was so critical of both the Democrats and Republicans, he was asked if he favored a third party, and if he did, why wouldn’t he want to start one. No, he said, he did not see the need for a third party which would not be able to win anything. He considers himself a Republican and believes that his call for less government, lower taxes, a free market economy, and greater protection of individual freedom are all traditional Republican positions. In other words, he was more Republican than the other candidates.

He summed up his own campaign in three words: Freedom, Prosperity, and Peace. And these words are already resonating throughout the land. The hour-long interview at the Des Moines Register can be seen on YouTube.

Ron Paul has done more to enliven the debates than any of the other candidates. He thinks philosophically, which is what these debates need, rather than unending restatements of neo-conservative positions. He represents the only true alternative to the big government, big spending, big entitlement mentality that governs American politics. All of the Republican candidates want smaller government, less spending, and lower taxes. But on the issue of foreign policy Paul offers an entirely different view, one that many Americans find makes good sense. Others may find his views impractical, or naïve.

The idea that America has a responsibility to police the world and make it safe for "democracy" is one that has led us into wars that have cost thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. And what have we benefitted from all of our good-intentioned actions?

In 1917, a liberal President got us into World War I to "make the world safe for democracy." But our victory was quite hollow. It led to the communist takeover of Russia and the rise of the National Socialists in Germany, which then led to World War II. The Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor, and Congress declared war on Japan. Hitler then declared war on us.

We won World War II, which did not make the world safe for peace. We then had the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and many smaller military actions. We waged a Cold War against the Soviet Union at great cost. And finally the Soviet Union ceased to exist and the Berlin Wall came down, much to our surprise and without any military action on our part. We all thought that now, finally, we were headed toward an era of peace.

But on September 11, 2001, radical Islam declared war on the United States by an attack on the World Trade Center in Manhattan and the Pentagon in Washington, killing 3,000 Americans in just a few hours.

So now we find ourselves involved in a new kind of war, one that requires a new strategy and new methods. Russia is becoming much more assertive, and China poses problems that must be faced. We have a new enemy in Venezuela, and Islamic terrorists are setting up bases closer to home. Much of it is being financed and directed by Iran, which is pursuing its own nuclear weapons program and has openly declared its intention to wipe Israel off the map and destroy America, the Great Satan.

These are issues that the present regime in Washington seems incapable of dealing with in a way that instills confidence in the American people. But one thing Ron Paul made very clear, is that with a national debt leading us to bankruptcy, and an economy on the verge of collapse, it will be very difficult for the United States to meet the foreign policy challenges we face in the uncertain days ahead. You can’t conduct a strong, assertive, and costly foreign policy with a weak economy. You must first heal the economy, and that means a return to the economic principles of the free-market, which will produce jobs, greater wealth and restore confidence in our country’s ability to achieve even greater heights of prosperity than in the past. A Ron Paul presidency would make all of that possible.

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