I went into Saturday night’s debate on foreign policy fully expecting to be depressed. Despite the party’s claims that it has learned its lessons from Bush’s mistakes, one area where the GOP is entirely unreformed is in foreign policy. A decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan has not deterred the hawks of the party who still see aggressive military action as both viable and even desirable. And yes, the party still wholeheartedly endorses torture.
The torture support is truly baffling from a party that claims to be about morality and traditional values. On issues like abortion and gay marriage, we are told that the federal government needs to have an activist role that extends far beyond strict Constitutional mandates because the issues are so important. On these matters, the moral case is simply so compelling that small-government ideas go out the door. (As an aside, I am not necessarily against state-level action here, but the federal government has NO role.)
Yet when it comes to fighting terrorists, despite the moral weight clearly being on the side of humane treatment and the rule of law, Republicans line up and endorse treatment of prisoners that justified execution when the Japanese did it during World War II. The only explanation I can come up with is that the average Republican voter is so terrified of terrorists that they take a pass on the moral dilemma here. It’s sad to say the least that they have ceded the high ground on this issue, all for the illusion that brutal interrogations make us safer.
I’m often told by conservatives that in 2012, they would support literally anyone but Obama. The basic suggestion is that Obama is so terrible, that a sack of oats would do a better job (Oats/Barley 2012!). By not pledging my undying support for whomever the GOP nominates, then, I am in effect endorsing Obama. Of course, many of these conservatives would change their tune if it were Ron Paul against Obama, but that’s not the important fact here. What matters is the idea that any of the primary candidates would be better than the incumbent.
One of these wannabes is Tim Pawlenty, former Governor of Minnesota. While governor, Pawlenty established a fairly decent record. There are a number of things that make him preferable in my eyes to his principle opponent, Mitt Romney. Leaving aside his often infuriating pandering to social conservatives, Pawlenty, at least up to this point, has been one of the few mainstream candidates that I could find myself able to support.
But some comments he made on Tuesday have caused me to seriously question this position. In speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations, Pawlenty continued what has become a very alarming tendency to embrace the same reckless hawkishness that many conservatives have found themselves criticizing in Obama. Perhaps the most troubling quote from the speech is the suggestion that he would only consult Congress as a “courtesy” when engaging in war overseas. This is a position that makes him even more dangerous than Bush or Obama.
For the last two weeks the media has gorged on a non-stop litany of stories concerning the single most important issue facing our nation. Would that be the “unexpected” reports of almost non-existent private sector job growth and an economy that, despite Obama’s reassurances, may be on the brink of a double-dip recession? No. Is it Obama’s violation of the War Powers Act with our continued “kinetic military action” in Libya? Nuh-uh. Maybe it’s Sixth Circuit’s review of the ObamaCare case (nope) or the Federal Reserve’s warning that the political body must act responsibly in order to stave off an economic collapse? Wrong again.
Based on the 24-hour saturation in the news cycle and the sheer number of stories written and aired, clearly the most important issue facing our nation is that a skinny New Yorker with an incredibly overinflated sense of his own worth had to finally admit, after days of vehement protests to the contrary, that it was indeed he who sent the lewd photographs of his genitalia, as well as sexually charged and explicit texts, to college-aged women. These women, who include a porn star, are young enough to be his daughters.
And so unravels the scandal of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), possibly the most obnoxious and arrogant member of Congress now that former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) was defeated in the last election. Weiner, considered a rising star in the Democrat Party and a likely candidate to be the next mayor of New York, instead is tearfully admitting to the nation his indiscretions which have been going on for several years, and with at least a half dozen women. Watching his fall from glory, a Brooklyn-born Icarus plummeting towards earth, the proverbial wax of his wings melted by his own flaming ego, it is hard not to feel just a little sorry for him…at least until you remember that these indiscretions occurred both before and after his marriage to his wife Huma, who is now pregnant.
Like 2008, the field is littered with so-called conservatives who have been indelibly influenced by the rise of the neoconservatives, which peaked in 2004 and has, unbeknownst to its members, been in free-fall decline ever since.
At around the same point in the race four years ago, Ron Paul was relatively unknown except for a few hard-core followers. He made an impression back then in one of the early debates by repeating something he has said for years, that he would abolish the income tax given the chance.
His famous exchange with Rudy Giuliani at another debate propelled him even further. But because Paul didn’t have nearly the financial backing his opponents had in the early part of the campaign, his showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, two key states, seemed to doom his attempt to electoral failure. In all other ways, however, he has secured a victory that no other person with whom he’s shared a stage before or since has even remotely approached.
He’s made it possible for people to associate themselves with the Republican party and be proud to do so. As long as they can do so by defining themselves as “Ron Paul Republicans” that is. So, in this respect, the 2012 cycle is vastly different .
Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a speech last Friday at the UN which caused US “diplomats” to pack up their toys and run home.
In his speech to the annual General Assembly, Ahmadinejad said it was mostly U.S. government officials who believed a terrorist group was behind the suicide hijacking attacks that brought down New York’s World Trade Center and hit the Pentagon.
Another theory, he said, was “that some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy, and its grips on the Middle East, in order to save the Zionist regime” — his way of characterizing Israel.
“The majority of the American people as well as most nations and politicians around the world agree with this view,” Ahmadinejad told the 192-nation assembly.
Shortly after walking out of the speech like spoiled little children, the US envoy responded by written statement claiming Iran’s president had offered up “vile conspiracies” and “anti-Semitism”. Even if you accept that the translation of his statements are perfectly correct, it isn’t clear at all that he claimed to believe the conspiracy himself, merely that a large number of people outside US government circles believed them.
Over the past few weeks I have had quite a few conversations with Conservatives which have led to a debate about interventionist versus non-interventionist foreign policy. It usually starts with them attacking Ron Paul for one reason or another (check out this article on Midwest Spin for an example). After I respond and question their criticism, it usually ends up being their disagreement with his foreign policy.
Foreign policy can be a very complex topic. I think that non-interventionists, for the most part, know why they support that policy much better than your typical interventionist. Many interventionists do not even understand the difference between non-intervention and isolationist.
If you support non-intervention you either have found yourself in a debate and had to defend non-intervention, or you will find yourself in one sometime in the near future. I have found there are a few things to keep in mind when you are in these debates:
1) Be ready to explain the difference between non-interventionism and isolationism. Isolationism is the foreign policy of North Korea. Non-intervention involves open dialogue, free trade, and minding your own business overseas. Two vastly different approaches. Just because you don’t support having a global military empire does not mean you are an isolationist.
2) Know some facts and figures. The United States has over 700 permanent military bases spread out across over 100 nations. Roughly 20% of the federal budget is military expenditures. There are facts and figures that give proof that 1) our military expenditures are financially unsustainable and 2) we most certainly have a foreign policy of intervention and global imperialism.
Dr. Paul continues his call to the GOP to return to their roots of fiscal conservatism and a sensible foreign policy. What I find disheartening is that it’s obvious that the GOP leadership still does not get it. As long as they continue to allow the likes of Newt Gingrich, John McCain, Mitt Romney, etc. to remain the face of the Republican party- past leaders whose ideas have been tried and failed- we will remain ineffective and stagnant as a party. It’s time to allow fresh faces and fresh ideas to come to the forefront if the party is to grow and become a viable force in 2010.
Dr. Paul, once again, outlines the real culprits of the current economic crisis, and points to the real solutions- less government, lower taxes, decreased spending, the end of devaluing the dollar.
H/T: Matt Chancey
Naturally a recurrent theme of this lecture was monetary policy, specifically having to do with the dollar’s spiral toward hyper-inflation in the midst of the current economic collapse. Schiff stressed that sooner than later the rest of the world, more importantly those still buying our debt would wise up to our inability to repay those fiscal obligations. He told a short story about a wily old man in a certain neighborhood who had hoodwinked the neighborhood kids into vying for the job of painting his fence. He related the metaphor by surmising, “We’ve got the world painting our fences, as if they don’t have their own fences to paint.” Essentially, he said the way it is now, we get all the stuff and they only get the jobs. He then fittingly asked, “What good are jobs without stuff?” In short, we are barreling straight toward a currency crisis.