The Totalitarians Among Us

Herschel Smith · 03 Mar 2014 · 15 Comments

Victor Davis Hanson observes: In short, Obama will always poll around 45 percent. That core support is his lasting legacy. In a mere five years, by the vast expansion of federal spending, by the demonizing rhetoric of his partisan bully pulpit, and by executive orders and bizarre appointments, Obama has so divided the nation that he has created a permanent constituency that will never care as much about what he does as it cares about what he says and represents. For elite rich liberals…… [read more]

Isolationist Fever: Ron Paul’s Delirious Statements on Bin Laden

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 11 months ago

I have previously commented on the absurd isolationism of Rep. Ron Paul and his fellow travelers, but this recent interview by WHODSM (Iowa) radio host, Simon Conway, is one of those watershed moments when anyone with a minimally-functioning brain has to reconsider whatever support they may have had for Paul.

Consider this 6+ minute clip from the interview (part 4 of a 5-part video series) in which host, Simon Conway, asks Rep. Paul a series of foreign policy questions:

To recap, the host takes Ron Paul through several topics.   The one that has gotten the most press has been the one that occurs at 3:58 in the clip.

SC:  …Are you asking us to believe that a President Ron Paul could have ordered the kill of Bin Laden by entering another sovereign nation?

RP: [No, things would be done differently, per the model of the arrest of the mastermind of the 9-11 attacks, Kalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was arrested by Pakistani agents and turned over to the U.S. for trial.  Also similar to the arrest and prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers].

They were all captured and brought and tried in a civilian court and they’ve all been punished, so, no, what’s wrong with that?  Why can’t we… work with the government [of Pakistan]?

SC: I just want to be clear.  A President Ron Paul would therefore not have ordered the kill of Bin Laden which… could only have taken place by entering a sovereign nation?

RP: I don’t think it was necessary, no… It was absolutely not necessary and I think respect for the rule of law and world law, international law. What if he’d been in a hotel in London?  I mean…you know, if we wanted to keep it secret?  So, would we have sent the airplane, the… helicopter into London?  Because they were afraid the information might get out?  No, you don’t want to do that.

(Emphasis Added)

First, the underlying premise behind Paul’s statements is that the capture, civilian trial and imprisonment of Osama Bin Laden would be preferable to: (a) death or, in the alternative; (b) indefinite detention as an illegal combatant or prosecution in a military tribunal with a conviction carrying the death penalty.  There have been plenty of others who have commented on the folly of according terrorists the full rights of American citizens to an Article III, civilian court trial.   The total debacle in the Ghalani trial was proof enough of that.  Ron Paul apparently still subscribes to the ridiculous notion that the war against Islamofascism can be fought as a criminal investigation.   Where has Ron Paul been living for the past 10 years?  Has he paid any attention to the War or is he simply playing the ostrich and ignoring world events altogether?

Notice, too, Ron Paul’s touching faith in the government of Pakistan?  “Why can’t we…work with the government” of Pakistan?  Gosh, that is an incisive question Dr. Paul.   You really cut to the heart of the matter.

Afterall, as he points out, the Pakistanis did such a bang-up job of scouring the country for Bin Laden in the first place, hiding right next to their premier military academy, a police station and a breezy drive from their own capital!  And let’s remember that the Pakistani government has done such a good job cooperating with our war efforts in Afghanistan that they only allow one, vast swath of their tribal border area to be a safe-haven, staging area and training ground for the enemy attacking our forces in Afghanistan, instead of two or three.   Now that’s progress!   And no doubt Dr. Paul would point out that he would have no problems working with the Pakistani government that just disclosed the identity of our CIA station chief in Pakistan, or the one that is contemplating turning over our ultra-advanced, stealth helicopter wreckage to China for inspection and reverse engineering (something at which the Chinese have found they do quite well based on the number and variety of pirated products flooding the U.S. market).  And, it is not like the Pakistani government has ever ratted to the Islamofascists about pending U.S. drone strikes, military raids or strategic moves.    Yes, Dr. Paul, I can see why you would want to work with that Pakistani government.

Second, Ron Paul— the Ron Paul who wants to disengage from all manner of international institutions— points to “respect for… international law” as a basis for not taking the kill shot on Bin Laden.  The interview does not bring out Paul’s precise meaning here, but he seems to be alluding to the international legal maxim that one nation should not violate the sovereignty of another nation in the absence of declared war.   As applied to the war against Islamofascism, however, this is nonsense.  The Islamists derive their primary strength, like a virus, by illegally inhabiting the territory of nation states too weak (or too irresolute) to remove them.  Thus it becomes difficult, if not impossible, for the U.S. to directly attack the Islamists without either declaring war on each and every infected country or violating infected country’s sovereignty.    Indeed, the very notion of “sovereignty” is called into question when a nation (such as Pakistan) fails or refuses to exercise the degree of control over its own territory to prevent it from becoming a haven for illegal wars by the likes of Al Qaeda.   In my view, Pakistan has no more right to claim a violation of sovereignty over the tribal areas infested with terrorists than Mexico had when it allowed Pancho Villa to operate freely in the border areas with Texas.  In this ever-shrinking world where death can be dealt out to thousands in New York and Washington, D.C. from relatively unsophisticated, third-world terrorists hosted halfway across the globe, the notion of sovereign territory is in flux, to say the least.

Third, and most damning of all, this interview reveals either a grave intellectual deficit or a type of lunacy to Ron Paul that must cause all, previous supporters to push him to the side.   When Ron Paul poses a hypothetical about Bin Laden living in a hotel in London as a proof against the raid to kill Bin Laden in Pakistan, it is breathtaking.   It is one of those moments when you must ask yourself, “Did he really just say that?”   It is as telling a remark as we are likely to get.  Just the multiple levels of absurdity of the comparison of Bin Laden in a hotel in London to a compound outside the capital of Pakistan is astounding:  (a) imagine a scenario where Bin Laden, lives in a London hotel– a London hotel for God’s sake!  (b) the British government is equally negligent in either not discovering Bin Laden in the hotel  (Sorry, I just cannot keep from laughing over this hotel bit…) or intentionally overlooking it vis a vis Pakistan;  (c) assuming all of the above, once discovered by the intrepid U.S. intelligence services who have been monitoring Bin Laden’s room service orders and porn film choices for months, the British government cannot be trusted to send Agent 007 over to take care of the matter which (d) forces the U.S. to send in the same SOF helicopter assault team (from one of their bases in England no less), to the London hotel, rather than simply send, say, Jason Bourne, and; (e) whisk Bin Laden’s body away to a waiting destroyer in the Atlantic for proper, Islamic burial at sea.

That a declared presidential candidate in the U.S. would attempt to illustrate the illegality of the Bin Laden raid by posing a hypothetical of a similar raid on a London hotel has got to be the greatest farce of the 21st century (thus far).   This is absolutely disqualifying stuff.   To reiterate, it shows either gross intellectual incompetence or a mental instability of some kind.   (Charles Krauthamer, call your office, please).   The fact that there are many people in conservative circles who ardently support Ron Paul is shocking.

I am not, by the way, making the point that Ron Paul’s mere opposition to the Bin Laden raid is, by itself, disqualifying.  I think it is at least possible that reasonable minds can differ on the manner of killing Bin Laden.   Afterall, I believe it would have been quite reasonable and proper to have used drones or precision-guided munitions to obliterate Bin Laden’s compound.   While civilian casualties should be minimized whenever possible, there is equal responsibility on the Pakistani government, for example, for allowing terrorists to infest civilian areas similar to that of the German and Japanese military facilities intentionally located in civilian areas during World War II.   The criticism here is the manner in which Ron Paul defends his positions.   Even someone inclined to support him for president would have to concede that, based on the crack-pot thinking in this interview, he would be torn to shreds in any debate with Obama.   And here lies the greatest danger:  if for whatever reason, Ron Paul supporters decide to sit out the 2012 election (or, God forbid, Paul runs a Ross Perot-like campaign), that may be all that Obama needs for re-election.

It is one thing to re-elect a Bill Clinton.   He was a lecherous fool re-elected at a unique period in history that afforded us the luxury of blind leadership.   We do not live in such a time now and, based on the first two and one-half years, we cannot survive the re-election of Obama.    Where Clinton was the prototypical finger-to-the-wind politician who cared more than anything for his legacy and female attentions, Obama has shown a frightening determination to radically alter the economic foundations of the U.S. in order to effect radical, political change  (all of which is masterfully outlined in detailed research by Stanley Kurtz in his book, Radical In Chief–Barack Obama And The Untold Story of American Socialism).

There is, however, something more going on here.   It is more than just an occasional nonsensical statement from a Congressman.   Paul’s remarks reflect the ravings of someone who has bought into a doctrine that makes no sense and, therefore, results in comments that can make no sense.    That doctrine is isolationism.   It is very much like a sickness that increasingly causes its adherents to say and do the most absurd things.   Besides the nuttiness of Ron Paul’s comments on killing Bin Laden– an avowed terror mastermind and lawless combatant fully deserving of death– Ron Paul is driven, by the isolationist madness I believe, to say all manner of things disconnected with reality.   Driven because isolationism simply does not comport with the world in which we live.  In order to make the connection, isolationists must routinely resort to conspiracy theories and wishful thinking and crackpot analogies.   As evidence of this, listen to the full interview (in all 5 parts) between Simon Conway and Ron Paul.    Rep. Paul actually makes good points about taxation and spending and the nature of government, but as soon as Conway veers onto foreign policy, the isolationist fever takes over.

When asked about Iraq, Ron Paul firmly takes hold of the “Bush Lied, Kids Died” meme of the Left, saying that “we got into [the Iraq war] not being told the truth.  We were told there were weapons of mass destruction aimed at us, that Al Qaeda was there, that wasn’t true.”  When asked by the host to clarify whether he thought that President Bush intentionally misled the nation or was given faulty intelligence, Paul essentially said that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if there had been a conspiracy from the “Vice President” on down to lower-level advisers to manipulate and falsify the intelligence.

This is looney tunes land.   And it would be funny if not for the potential to disaffect enough voters to throw the 2012 election to Obama.   So here is a call to all Ron Paul-bots out there:  get a real candidate.   Ron Paul has made himself ridiculous with his isolationist pretensions.   We cannot beat back Obama without you.   And for anyone else indulging in isolationist thinking, it is time to take a strong dose of reality and come back to full health.

Obama’s Thin Foreign Policy Gruel: The Taste of Ron Paul Isolationism?

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 1 month ago

A good opinion piece by Rick Richman in Commentary lays out the abysmal performance of the Obama Administration in foreign policy.

Richman criticizes Obama for, essentially, taking a passive approach to foreign policy, particularly events in the Middle East of late:

In one sense, Barack Obama is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Famous for his eloquence, he has nothing to say about world historical events, emerging after a week in the latest one to announce he instructed his administration to provide “options.”  Elected as a clarion for change, he issues a let-me-be-clear statement that the United States has had nothing to do with change sweeping the Middle East. A prior Democratic president wanted every nation to know we would bear any burden to assure the success of liberty in the world; the current president can hardly bear the burden of speaking up about it.

It is a portrait of a president who wants nothing to do with foreign affairs if he can help it. He will stay silent unless forced to say something and do only what the world agrees to do with “one voice.” He appeases adversaries (giving China a pass on human rights, Russia a reset, Iran an outstretched hand, and Syria an ambassador) in the hope the world will leave him alone while he concentrates on domestic affairs, where his real enthusiasms lie.

In this sense, Obama is not a mystery but the logical extension of George McGovern’s “Come home, America” theme in his 1972 presidential campaign and John Kerry’s “Let America Be America Again” one in 2004. They sought to throw off wars in Vietnam and Iraq to concentrate on domestic issues, asserting that using American power to advance freedom abroad was a mistake.

An opinion piece in The New York Post by Michael A. Walsh looks back, after more than two years, at the famous campaign ad by Hillary Clinton about taking the 3 a.m. phone call in the White House.   Walsh sums up the dangers of a foreign policy adrift in an ocean of neglect and incompetence:

Once again, President “Present” has signally failed to lead, preferring instead to hide behind a fog of “consultations with allies.” True, on Saturday he finally — in a phone call to German Chancellor Angela Merkel – called for Khadafy to step down, and also took diplomatic action against the beleaguered regime, issuing an executive order that blocks property and other transactions.

Insiders say that Obama hesitated to take a public stand against the doomed dictator for fear that US diplomats might be taken hostage. But a great power can’t conduct a robust foreign policy in fear; that way lies the path of Jimmy Carter, whom Obama is coming more and more to resemble. As Christopher Hitchens pointed out recently, America is starting to look like Switzerland in its international irrelevance. Is that what Obama meant by “fundamental change”?

There are only two explanations. Either the White House, Langley and Foggy Bottom really are staffed by blithering incompetents, hopelessly out of their depth and unable to deal with the rapid pace of developments, or Obama is doing exactly what he wants to do — which is basically nothing.

So now we know where Obama is at 3 a.m. A pretty speech here, a basketball game there, another round of golf, another costly vacation and the endless whirl of White House parties take a lot out of a guy.

The easy thing to do here would be to add a few lines about what a miserable and dangerous presidency we are enduring.  Even the usual media lapdogs for Obama are having a hard time spinning his latest antics.

Does this remind you of anyone?

The more troublesome aspect of all this is not what it says about Obama–  he is by now a known quantity.  The real concern is that these policies by Obama and his Administration seem to be eerily similar to the neo-isolationism brewing in the conservative movement.  To take but one example of this, here is Ron Paul, in his own words, in a piece he penned at Foreign Policy.Com on August 27, 2010:

As many frustrated Americans who have joined the Tea Party realize, we cannot stand against big government at home while supporting it abroad. We cannot talk about fiscal responsibility while spending trillions on occupying and bullying the rest of the world. We cannot talk about the budget deficit and spiraling domestic spending without looking at the costs of maintaining an American empire of more than 700 military bases in more than 120 foreign countries. We cannot pat ourselves on the back for cutting a few thousand dollars from a nature preserve or an inner-city swimming pool at home while turning a blind eye to a Pentagon budget that nearly equals those of the rest of the world combined.

Our foreign policy is based on an illusion: that we are actually paying for it. What we are doing is borrowing and printing money to maintain our presence overseas. Americans are seeing the cost of this irresponsible approach as their own communities crumble and our economic decline continues.

I see tremendous opportunities for movements like the Tea Party to prosper by capitalizing on the Democrats’ broken promises to overturn the George W. Bush administration’s civil liberties abuses and end the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A return to the traditional U.S. foreign policy of active private engagement but government noninterventionism is the only alternative that can restore our moral and fiscal health. I am optimistic, and our numbers are increasing!

Note that this is almost the entire piece.  Leave aside its disjointed and somewhat illogical style.  What is Paul essentially saying? The U.S. is “occupying and bullying the rest of the world” and “maintaining an American empire.”   He decries a military budget that “nearly equals those of the rest of the world combined.”   He makes the absurd claim that all of the money that goes toward the military is borrowed money that could be better spent to keep our communities from “crumb[ling].”  Iraq and Afghanistan have been “disastrous” (though he fails to state how or why) and, lastly, he advocates a “return to the traditional foreign policy of active private engagement but government nonintervention…”

This is not just the view of Ron Paul, but the view of other, so-called conservatives like Pat Buchanan and others.

These statements reek of the kind of anti-Americanism that sees our involvement overseas as unmitigated evil; ignore the very real dangers posed to these United States by China, Russia, Iran and a host of non-state terror groups, and; see disaster everywhere we step foot outside of our borders.

In short, this is the very type of thinking that Obama wholeheartedly embraces.

Conservatives need to give careful thought here.  However attractive it may be to espouse a philosophy that seeks to return to the 18th century and withdraw into our own, self-satisfied cocoon, it is no different than the temptation to just stay in bed all day and believe that the bills will nevertheless get paid, the house kept up, the kids fed and the job done.  It is a fantasy and one that American cannot afford to indulge.   As the pieces by Richman and Walsh point out, we have witnessed over two years of foreign policy gaffes, blunders, miscalculations, betrayals and wishful thinking.   We are reaping the bitter fruit of seeds sown in those two years and will continue to reap, I fear, for many years to come.

If any conservative finds the foreign policy of Obama to be repugnant and dangerous they should know with a certainty that it is no different than the kind prescribed by neo-isolationists like Ron Paul.  Lest anyone think that neo-isoloationism is a fringe of conservatism, consider that Ron Paul was given a prominent speaking role at the Tea Party rally in Washington, D.C.  on April 15, 2010.   I was there for that.   He also spoke at CPAC just a few weeks ago to the delight of ardent supporters.

This childish view of foreign policy must be dispensed with.  It will be no less disastrous in the hands of a Republican president (should we be so fortunate) than it has been with Obama.  Worse yet, if the neo-isolationists  persist in this thinking there is every chance that the conservative vote will be split badly in 2012, ensuring Obama’s re-election.

America cannot afford Obama in 2012 and she cannot afford neo-isolationist thinking under any, other banner.


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