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Paul comes to LA, disappoints on terror issue

The very first time I voted I did so for U.S. Rep. Ron Paul for that office. Tomorrow he comes to a large city near you in Louisiana hunting for votes for the Feb. 9 Republican presidential preference primary – one of the very rare stops by a GOP candidate in the state this cycle. But I will not be voting for him on that date.

Dr. Paul is an excellent candidate for the presidency on many issues. Best among the candidates he understands the necessity of limited government, of smaller government, and of how all in society are better off by cutting taxes and spending. If you wanted one guy in the White House that you could be sure would promote domestic policies to maximize individual liberty and to reduce the chances of government tyranny while making sure those disadvantaged not by their own fault are supported, in this year’s field Paul would be your man.

However, he squanders and utterly defaults on all of this in his mistaken beliefs about the War on Terror. He generally has favored U.S. involvement in Afghanistan but not in Iraq, arguing the latter was impermissible adventurism that does not directly deal with the terrorist threat. Unfortunately, he cannot see that the two are inextricably linked in a larger picture, and the isolationism that he prizes is a luxury the free world no longer can afford.

Many do not understand the source of terrorism as it exists in today’s world. It’s not about who has what land, it’s not about this religion or that, nor about class and economic conflicts. It’s about a small group of people regrettably with power much beyond their numbers who have concluded that certain civilizations and the ideas behind them are incompatible with their own, and for their own survival these rivals must be destroyed.

The fanatics come from pre-modern societies that devalue individual autonomy, that are so rigid and unforgiving in provision of opportunity for individual advancement and self-governance that radical Islam appears to be the only alternative. Paul (and all the Democrat candidates) cannot (or will not) looks past the symptom to understand the disease: it’s not that, as he argues the U.S. “destroyed a regime hated by our direct enemies, the jihadists, and created thousands of new recruits for them,” it’s that they already were there and would have come about anyway and still would hate the U.S. and all free societies precisely because we are free societies.

Thus, for our own protection, the environment from which these opponents of Western civilization must be altered, and this is done in two ways. First, the penalty for this behavior must be increased, and that is part of the reason to intervene in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Second, and far more importantly, the nature of the environment must become one where individual autonomy, leading to increased ability of the individual to achieve, is prized to dramatically decrease the allure of radical Islam. This is the larger purpose of the war in Iraq – to create conditions where an open society may emerge without its being overthrown by forces that oppose it. Ironically, Paul, who has championed government of this form, seems disinterested in pursuing it elsewhere other than America even if America becomes safer as a result.

Radical Islam has the most to lose to see an Arab state of this nature emerge, for it will lose its exclusive status as alternative to the present, stultifying regimes in the area. A democratic Iraq will act as a benign virus, its success not only greatly reducing the appeal of radical ideology that leads to terrorism in Iraq, but will serve notice to other closed societies that they need to open up as well as their peoples observe such success. This is why it is putting so much effort into preventing the consolidation of this state – which will fail if the U.S. and allies remain resolute.

This will not be easy on America and it will not be cheap. But it is the best, most reliable way to secure freedom for Americans and all others who share in these values – and that probably includes majorities in the Middle East as well. Yet Paul and the Democrat candidates for office do not, or refuse to, see this, and thus this disqualifies them from leading the country at this crucial time in history.


Anonymous said...

I agree that I prefer for the fighting to be conducted in Iraq. It has drawn many of the hardcore jihadists to Iraq where they face our well trained troops. We may indeed have to stay there, but Paul's plan to begin removing troops from all of the various countries our military is in currently does solve many of our problems. This includes restoring sovereignty to many of these countries. This also will give us the troop numbers necessary to assure success in the Iraqi war as well as the ability to secure our borders with an increased military presence.

What I find interesting is your comments that we must continue to pursue the policies that Bush put in place. I find it arrogant to assume that we can solve the problems of the middle east. Bush is now trying to do what almost every president in our recent history has done, brokering a peace deal between Israel and Palestine. If we have expended hundreds of billions of dollars and decades on that unsuccessful effort, what makes us think that we will have any impact on the other Muslim states in the middle east?

As we are fighting for freedom in other countries, we are beginning to lose more and more freedoms here. Ron Paul's foreign policy may not be the ideal thing, but if we can get our house in order, then maybe we could develop a reasonable policy which will help others get their houses in order.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous comment regarding skepticism about peace between Israel and Palestine. But I would disagree with the point about putting our own house in order before intervening. Not only is this a little too idealistic regarding some utopian final state in which everyone agrees our house is in order, but it also ignores the interplay of nations, political factions and their agents. That is, the case could easily be made that 9/11 put our house in disarray. But it was agents of political factions outside our nation that brought about 9/11. So wouldn't intervening in Iraq be a way of putting our own house in order, noting that Duelfer's report suggests Saddam would have a nuke by now had Bush not intervened.

This hesitancy to evaluate another nation's or political faction's actions is becoming so commonplace in our culture. It is said that prosperity breeds license and pride, and these vices can only be maintained by fostering a blindness to the consequences of actions. We keep secrets about others and they keep our secrets, and we call that tolerance. But the underlying meaning of tolerance is a willingness to live with others of other ways. This is not a value shared by repressive Islamic political factions.

Americans disagree about whether gays should be allowed to marry; Iranians disagree about whether gays should be allowed to live. All that religious repression leads them to sublimate their visceral instincts into their spiritually acceptable instinct, their jihad. This is not unlike Christianity of several centuries ago sublimating their instincts into the Inquisition. And I guess if you're in a good place with bringing the Inquisition to America, a vote for Ron Paul might seem like a good idea. But something tells me that it's a whole lot easier to acquire small arms, explosives, biological, and chemical weapons, than it is to find a rack with which to punish us for our sins. Rest assured, if we don't judge them, they will judge us.

Jeff Sadow said...

>I find it arrogant to assume that we can solve the problems of the middle east.

I think Bush is more interested in doing what it takes to reduce the threat to the U.S. If it's meaningful peace in the Middle East to accomplish that, so be it.

>As we are fighting for freedom in other countries, we are beginning to lose more and more freedoms here.

Name one way in which the U.S. government can now take away a citizen's liberty without due process in reference to terrorism that it couldn't before 9/11/2001.

Anonymous said...

We will soon need to have either a national ID card or a passport to fly.

baton rouge du nord said...

I believe that you are correct, Professor. FISA created the FISC in 1978. Even if you say that the FISC, which operates in secret, is a 4th amendment violation, it occurred prior to 2001. And I'm guessing that the SCt says that the FISC passes constitutional muster.

If this SCt eventually says we have no constitutional right to privacy, which it well may, then "due process" will be a much smaller kettle of fish anyhow.

What we HAVE seen since 2001 is some criticism of the DOJ's use of warrantless wiretapping and whether it has been used contrary to the FISA.

Is the criticism warranted? I haven't educated myself enough to know.

baton rouge du nord said...

Actually, the Protect America Act passed in 2007 might just violate the 4th Amendment. Remains to be seen. Seems to allow warrantless searches of communications even with US citizens if the communication originates or terminates offshore. The language isn't all that clear to me, and I haven't read any commentaries.

I'm no historian on this issue. We may have had similar legislation in WWII, etc. Might pass constitutional muster. That expertise is out of my bailiwick.

If you do believe that a right to privacy and protections against warrantless searches are rights "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty," then your liberty perhaps can be taken away without due process.

A lot depends upon what "process" the SCt says is due, I suppose.