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May 21, 2007

Non-Interventionism Ruins Ron Paul’s Run


Congressman Ron Paul’s candidacy was at first quite exciting for Republicans, particularly for small government conservatives. Paul’s role in the race for the Republican nomination is the same as that of a third party in the general election. Although neither Paul nor, say, the Libertarian Party ever hopes to win an election, they each play a crucial role in pushing the debate to the economic right and incentivizing the GOP to adopt more fiscally conservative positions.


And such a push in the debate is indeed much needed. Until it collapsed a few months ago, the Republican Congress had in the last several years spent money, as Governor Mike Huckabee aptly said, “like John Edwards at a beauty shop.” Worse still, not only did President Bush not veto Congress’s wasteful spending bills, but he oftentimes encouraged such spending and the enlargement of the federal government.


Ron Paul is one of the few House Republicans, along with taxpayer heroes such as Congressmen Jeff Flake, Mike Pence and John Shadegg, who have continued the fight for spending cuts and smaller government. Unlike many other libertarians, Paul maintains the traits of a true conservative by also being a social conservative, and perhaps crucially, pro-life. For the reasons mentioned thus far, Paul is a candidate that, even if unelectable, should be welcomed by every conservative into the discussion within the currently ideologically feeble Republican establishment.


But as he demonstrated in last week’s GOP debate, Paul risks negating his positive role in the run for the White House with his stance on foreign policy. On the spectrum of foreign policy perspectives in America, non-interventionism today is somewhat on the fringe. It is, of course, a different matter when politicians or parties oppose intervention in certain situations. An inflexible and set policy of non-interventionism, however, is reserved for those with little grasp of realism.


How would Paul, an avowed non-interventionist, have acted in reaction to the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941? World War II is a war that the overwhelming majority of Americans feel justified about being involved in, both today and several decades ago when public opinion was decidedly more non-interventionist than it is today. Would Paul have blamed those attacks on our annoyance of the Japanese in the same way that he blamed the 9/11 attacks on the foreign policy of recent U.S. administrations?


After implying that we invited the attacks on our civilians, Paul refused to withdraw his remarks, supplementing them instead with more ludicrous statements such as, “I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it.” Listen to Osama Bin Laden?


That’s the thing about non-interventionists and pacifists – they too often cling to the belief that everyone else would stick to these non-interventionist views if they themselves stick to them long enough. But that is not how it works. That is never how the world has worked. And it is certainly not how the ideology of extremist Muslims works. For the expansionist dogma that has brought us some of the worst terrorist attacks in world history, a non-interventionist enemy is a gift that is too good to be true.


The fact of the matter is that the radical Muslims running Al Qaeda and like terrorist organizations have as a goal the conversion of the entire world populace to their way of life. Non-interventionism would do nothing to alter this goal, which would exist regardless of America’s actions. Letting terrorists quietly establish bases in the Middle East so they can use them to convert the world would indeed represent the end of history as we know it. Yet non-interventionism is the policy that Paul advocates.


Following the debate that saw Paul expand on his foreign policy views, he gained much attention, and largely from Democrats who misunderstood his position to be a statement against the Iraq War in particular – when Paul’s ideology also means that he would just as strongly condemn any of the left’s international causes. But more importantly, Paul lost the respect of countless Republicans.


This is highly unfortunate. Paul has missed the chance to move the debate on taxes, spending and the size of government in a direction favorable to conservatives. With his irresponsible foreign policy statements, he has discredited himself and alienated many from lending an ear to his otherwise solid and useful beliefs. Whether he – and the libertarian strand of the GOP – can recuperate anytime soon is left to be seen.

© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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