Intervention

Here’s how interventionists are demagoguing Rand Paul’s foreign policy views

Late last month, a Pentagon official under the name Joseph Miller criticized Rand Paul for stating that he was opposed to more ground troops in Iraq. Miller was late to the party, unfortunately. Just a week prior to this op-ed being published, Rick Perry published his own op-ed addressing similar concerns. Given that they are so similar, I’m actually unsure if Mr. Miller actually read Perry’s foreign policy indictments, or Rand’s rebuttal to those arguments.

It would seem that Miller not only missed Perry and Paul’s exchange, but fundamentally misunderstands Rand Paul’s foreign policy, the results of all our efforts in the Middle East, and the actual cost that the United States has paid so far for the Iraq war.

Miller calls Paul an isolationist in the very first paragraph. I could discuss at length how this demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of Paul’s foreign policy views, but Rare’s Jack Hunter has actually already covered that. The last thirteen years should serve as indictment enough that our foreign policy has failed. We cannot reliably identify who our enemies are. When we can, we usually end up funding them or are found of providing them with armaments in the first place.

Military intervention in Libya failed: United Nations pulls out of Tripoli due to violence caused by Islamic radicals

Muammar Gaddafi addresses the United Nations

In 2011, NATO decided it was a good idea to intercede in Libya, and try something that western powers had done many times before in the Middle East and North Africa — remove a dictator. This is something that plays well with westerners, because they are generally of the opinion that dictatorships are bad, even when they happen to be in nations with governments that are slowly taking control of every aspect of their lives.

The problem is a cultural divide, and a failure of understanding. What cannot be comprehended is that while dictators are viewed as bad in western culture, they’re usually a necessary evil or even a good thing in regions where Islam has a strong foothold.

While it might be tempting to doubt that, consider how wonderfully things have gone in Iraq and Egypt, just to name two nations, since their respective “authoritarian albeit generally secular” leaders have been removed. Libya is facing similar issues.

Muammar Gaddafi was at best eccentric, at worst insane. Yes, he did involve himself in at least a few conspiracies to attack western powers, but when it came to dealing with Libya, he tended to keep the people from doing what they are now.

When he was in power, sectarian violence was kept under control, and if someone disagreed with Gaddafi, they were silenced. That doesn’t look anything like democracy, but democracy doesn’t look anything like what the people of that region have ever had, even in times when they have lived in relative peace.

Should we get involved in Ukraine?

Ukraine is a complicated question worldwide. It is a relatively large Eastern European economy – certainly the biggest, after Russia, among the former Soviet Republics. It is also a major natural gas conduit for sales of Russian natural gas from Russia to the European Union.

As such, it’s important to Russia, not just as a transit point for natural gas to its biggest customers in Europe, but also as a large economy that exports a lot of its agricultural products, its workers and its steel to Russia. Having an economy such as this in the Russian-led customs union would lend legitimacy to an organization the Russians have been trying to transform into a European Union-type economic alliance.

In this post I’m going to attempt to lay out some issues, as well as some possible outcomes and solutions.

First, let’s get something straight. There have been rumblings that the U.S. government has somehow been funding the protesters in Ukraine, hoping to topple the corrupt, pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. This is a silly idea. Why would the United States work to create a power vacuum? Why would the United States want to facilitate the rise to power of Julia Timoshenko, who by many accounts is just as corrupt as Yanukovych AND has ties to organized crime? It doesn’t make sense.

What Exactly Do Libertarians Think About Foreign Policy?

Robert Gates

Most people who care about such things have heard by now that former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who served under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, has written an insider’s account of working with both administrations. Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War will be released to the general public next Tuesday and, if the excerpts are any indication, it looks to be quite the compelling read.

While the comprehensive work will surely have much to offer, a small conceit included in what’s been released stands out, especially since the opinions — or lack thereof — regarding national security interests on the part of self-described libertarians are sure to be a major part of candidates’ platforms in the coming election. If conservatives seeking office are smart, that is. Here’s the gem:

Anti-gun columnist calls for intervention…in the US

Somehow, I get the feeling that columnist Henry Porter isn’t a fan of the Second Amendment.  As he’s a British subject, it doesn’t really matter a whole lot.  After all, he doesn’t get to vote on American issues.  Porter seems to understand this.  That’s why he’s calling for the international community to intervene here in the United States:

That’s America, we say, as news of the latest massacre breaks – last week it was the slaughter of 12 people by Aaron Alexis at Washington DC’s navy yard – and move on. But what if we no longer thought of this as just a problem for America and, instead, viewed it as an international humanitarian crisis – a quasi civil war, if you like, that calls for outside intervention? As citizens of the world, perhaps we should demand an end to the unimaginable suffering of victims and their families – the maiming and killing of children – just as America does in every new civil conflict around the globe.

Maybe because these deaths aren’t even remotely related to one another except that the implement used is the same?:

The annual toll from firearms in the US is running at 32,000 deaths and climbing, even though the general crime rate is on a downward path (it is 40% lower than in 1980). If this perennial slaughter doesn’t qualify for intercession by the UN and all relevant NGOs, it is hard to know what does.

Chatting with Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY)

Thomas Massie

“[T]he House and the Senate control the purse strings. It’s the only check that we have besides some oversight on the Executive Branch. And so I’m going to be part of that group that goes into this August recess and goes back home and says, ‘I will not vote for a continuing resolution that funds ObamaCare.’” - Rep. Thomas Massie

The last couple of election cycles have led to several interesting, liberty-minded Republicans being sent to Congress. On Tuesday, United Liberty had a chance to chat with one of those Republicans, Rep. Thomas Massie, who represents Kentucky’s Fourth Congressional District.

Elected last year with strong supports from grassroots groups, Massie quickly established his libertarian tendencies by taking strong stands for civil liberties and economic freedom. He’s an approachable guy and very down to Earth.

Along with Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), Massie fought hard to get a vote last week on an amendment to the defense appropriations bill to defund the National Security Agency’s broad surveillance of American citizens.

Massie offered an inside baseball account of how a vote on the amendment, which was offered by Amash, came to pass in the face of fierce opposition from President Barack Obama, congressional leaders from both parties and the nation’s security apparatus.

House bringing up the rear on Libya

Well after the 90 time limit for President Obama to bring US troops home since he didn’t have Congressional approval under the War Powers Act, the House is looking at either approving or ending the Libya mission.  Welcome to the party folks, but the truth is that President Obama should have already brought the troops home from this one.

From The Hill:

Whether either resolution will have the support to pass the House is unclear. While the House has come close to blocking funds for the mission in recent weeks, a measure authorizing the operation could draw support from Republicans whose concerns have focused on the lack of congressional input.

The House is also likely to consider separate proposals to restrict funding for the Libya campaign as part of a Defense appropriations bill this week.

[Emphasis mine]

The truth is that Congress really only has one option, and that’s to order the cessation of all military activities connected with Libyan operations, even in a support capacity.  I’m fine with stipulations that permit US personnel to intervene in search and rescue activities in international waters, things like that, but nothing more.  Failure to do so will set a dangerous precedent that future presidents may seize and use in violation of the law.

President Obama engaged in military operations without Congressional approval for over 60 days.  By law, he had an additional 30 days to bring troops home.  He didn’t.  House Republicans, if the choose to allow authorization at this point in time, will effectively say “Oh, it’s not a problem.  Laws don’t apply to the President, even when the explicitly say they do” and permit him to continue his activities.

Ron Paul: “I am the Commander in Chief”

Watching the CNN-hosted New Hampshire debate on Monday evening, it became clear just how much different the 2012 Replican primary race is from 2008 and yet, how it is the same.

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 .

Ever Wonder Why Healthcare Is So Expensive?

Note: I intended to merely comment on this chart when sharing it via my Posterous. During the 5 or so minutes I was commenting, it grew to be something more substantial, and at the urging of others, it has been cross-posted here.

graph

Since the 1960s, the percentage of total healthcare cost paid directly by the end consumer, aka patient, has dropped drastically, but out of pocket costs have risen and the cost of healthcare has risen drastically over that same period.

What has happened between then and now? The intervention of government into the marketplace. Insurance regulations, government mandates about what MUST be covered, Medicare/caid, and inflation make costs skyrocket, but the opacity of the prices keeps patients from seeing what each visit, prescription, and procedure actually costs. With that opacity, there is no competitive pricing, because the prices paid by patients are merely co-pays and the withholding from their paycheck for employer-sponsored health plans, insurance companies, and government programs that pay negotiated rates. Without competition and price transparency, prices will continue to rise.

In addition, patients largest out of pocket expense is their insurance coverage, which does not fluctuate to accommodate the amount of healthcare services consumed. The patient knows they only pay $10-$50 for each office visit, but the overall costs of those visits can be thousands of dollars. The patient rarely, if ever, sees the actual cost… Usually only if their insurance claim is denied.

Bonus Bubble! Thanks to our Government’s Intervention

You have no doubt seen the news. Goldman Sachs and AIG are paying out bonuses bigger than even at the height of the boom. There is too much competition out there to pay any less, they say. This may be true or it may not, but what is certain is that just about every big Wall Street investment house should be busted right now, which would have thrown thousands of well-paid financial wizards out into the street. If things had gone the way things should have gone without government intervention, there would be so much competition for Wall Street jobs that the remaining employers could get away with one-tenth, maybe, of what they’re earning today thanks to us taxpayers. Heck, maybe they’d even have to pay to get a job.

So I can’t resist expressing my frustration.


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.