Ron Paul’s Poor Choice of Words

Yesterday, Rep. Ron Paul gave a speech on the House floor in regards to situation in Syria. Syria has descended into bloody civil war with rebel groups trying to oust Syrian dictator Bashir Assad. There have been reports of massacres and atrocities being committed by forces to loyal to the Assad government. In response, there have been increasing calls for intervention by United States and NATO forces, in the mold of the recent Libyan adventure, to remove the Assad government from power.

Rep. Paul spoke out against the proposed intervention and will file legislation to stop President Obama from launching a war against the Assad regime without Congressional authorization. This is legislation I would strongly support because only Congress has the constitutional duty to declare and authorize war. Plus, I believe intervention in Syria would be a huge mistake because it would likely ignite a larger Middle Eastern war involving Israel and Iran. However, the Paul speech unfortunately I believe did harm to supporters of non-interventionism and confirmed many negative stereotypes about them.

The speech included a few troubling passages, such as:

We are already too much involved in supporting the forces within Syria anxious to overthrow the current government. Without outside interference, the strife—now characterized as a civil war—would likely be non-existent.

Let’s be blunt about what would happen to those opposition forces if they were just left alone, they would be massacred by Assad’s forces, along with many innocent civilians. Besides, the US aid Ron Paul is complaining about is far from decisive in the war, particularly given in light of the fact that the Syrian government enjoys the active assistance of the Iranian and Russian governments.

Finally, while the choice is for the Syrian people to make alone, sometimes war is necessary to defend and gain freedom. As Thomas Jefferson once said: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” This maybe true in Syria as well.

There’s no benefit for us to be picking sides, secretly providing assistance and encouraging civil strife in an effort to effect regime change in Syria.

Is Ron Paul seriously accusing the US government of encouraging the “Arab Spring” type demonstrations and the Assad government’s brutal crackdown which has ignited the civil war?

Falsely charging the Russians with supplying military helicopters to Assad is an unnecessary provocation.

The Russian government was attempting to ship Mi-25 “Hind” attack helicopters to the Assad regime. This is a demonstrable fact. Thankfully, the ship was forced to turn back after the British based insurance carrier canceled its coverage on the ship.

Falsely blaming the Assad government for a so-called massacre perpetrated by a violent warring rebel faction is nothing more than war propaganda.

I hope Ron Paul is only referring to the incidents in Houla reported in the German press, which appear to be have been committed by rebel forces. However, this does not negate the numerous eyewitness reports given by refugees, independent journalists, and others of massacres and other crimes committed by the Assad regime. I’m comfortable in saying, not all of them are lying or are propagandists for the US government. At best, we have a case of two sides using horrendous tactics against each other, which ultimately reinforces the case against intervention. I think this was Paul’s intent, but he said it poorly.

The problem with Paul’s speech was that he relied too much on pro-Assad regime talking points and demonstrable falsehoods. The case against intervention in Syria is easy to make. It likely will result in Hezbollah launching attacks against northern Israel in order to make it a wider war. In addition, it may increase the likelihood the Iranians may try to close the Straits of Hormuz in order to cut Western Europe and the US off from Middle Eastern oil. Not to mention, the large financial cost and the likelihood of the loss of American and European lives would be great. Many of these were mentioned by Paul himself, but unfortunately will be lost in the outrage this speech will cause.

You do not need the talking points of Bashir Assad and his sympathizers to argue against war in Syria, because it only equates opposition to interventionism into support for the Assad dictatorship. Indeed, we should be making the patriotic case against a Syrian war, which in this case is very easy to do.

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