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Deconstructing Dr. Paul

Even though Ron Paul will not be the next president of the United States, some pundits are now beginning to wake up to the fact that his campaign gave birth to an awareness among many voters, young and old, that there is something very wrong with America’s two party political system.  Paul’s ideas about constitutionalism, non-intervention, and the rights and responsibilities of both government and the citizen will not go away and the presence of many Paulistas at state and local levels suggests that the principles that he promoted will be with us for years to come if the institutional GOP is unable to stamp them out.

Inevitably, the attempt to destroy an idea whose time has come has produced a lot of silly commentary attempting to demonstrate that what Dr. Paul stood for is unrealistic and possibly even eccentric.  A recent piece by Matt Johnson, “The Rest of the World: Ron Paul Revelations,” seeks to dismantle the Ron Paul legacy.  Johnson opines “…it’s a dismal reminder of how frivolous American politics can be. Though some of his supporters fancy themselves ‘revolutionaries,’ Ron Paul is one of the most reactionary candidates in recent history, and he should be consigned to obscurity as soon as possible.”

How does one come to that conclusion?  Well, Johnson, who has a bachelor’s degree in political science, appears to be something of a self-designated foreign-policy expert. He zeros in on what Dr. Paul would do internationally, noting that

Osama Bin Laden would still be alive and the CIA would be dead. The United States would no longer be a member of NATO or the United Nations. Federal foreign aid for the victims of disasters such as the Asian, Haitian and Japanese earthquakes would be rescinded… The Iranian nuclear weapons program would be given an idiotic American blessing. Iraq would still be privately held by a band of murders and sadists known as the Ba’ath Party, and they’d have Kuwait under their bloody thumbs. Yugoslavia would have been ethnically “cleansed” and absorbed by Greater Serbia. American aircraft would not have protected innocent civilians in Libya. And our present conversation about Syria would be reduced to a series of sighs and shoulder shrugs… Ron Paul’s vision for the United States is dank, self-serving rot masquerading as ‘freedom.’ The freedom that Ron Paul advocates is the freedom to deny the very existence of international obligations. It’s the freedom to abandon our allies and help our enemies. It’s the freedom to permit genocide, sectarian madness, and mass suffering without even a hint of self-criticism.

Wow. Dr. Paul’s denunciation of secret government and unconstitutional death squads somehow translates for Johnson, who is a self-described Obama supporter, into being soft on terrorists.  NATO, which has no raison d’etre whatsoever, presumably should hang around to fight future wars of choice and the US should happily surrender its national sovereignty to something called the UN. Iran, which has no weapons program, should be attacked anyway and more wars in the Balkans, Middle East, and Africa should be initiated by the president even though he has no constitutional authority to do so and even when there is no conceivable U.S. interest in what is taking place. Per Johnson, America’s “international obligations” include becoming both the world policeman and the first source for alleviation of suffering.

Johnson might usefully recall that Dr. Paul’s objection to “foreign entanglements” is sound advice coming originally from George Washington’s Farewell Address. He might also want to do a little more reading on what is happening in Syria as it is precisely outside interference that has created a crisis that is very close to civil war.  Johnson appears to think that a policy of non-intervention means non-engagement with the rest of the world.  Quite the contrary, a United States that is not involved in fighting one quarter of the human race might actually find that its interactions with foreigners go a lot better.  A restrained and proper international role for the U.S. would mean no budget deficits, no unnecessary wars, and quite likely no terrorists targeting Americans.

about the author

Phil Giraldi is a former CIA Case Officer and Army Intelligence Officer who spent twenty years overseas in Europe and the Middle East working terrorism cases. He holds a BA with honors from the University of Chicago and an MA and PhD in Modern History from the University of London. In addition to TAC, where he has been a contributing editor for nine years, he writes regularly for Antiwar.com. He is currently Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest and resides with his wife of 32 years in Virginia horse country close to his daughters and grandchildren. He has begun talking far too much to his English bulldog Dudley of late, thinks of himself as a gourmet cook, and will not drink Chardonnay under any circumstances. He does not tweet, and avoids all social media.

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