non-interventionism

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.

ZunZuneo and the New Covert Action

ZunZuneo

It’s an odd little story, but the AP report on ZunZuneo, a social media platform released in Cuba and reportedly designed by a US organization (USAID) with ties to the State Department to mimic the functionality of Twitter and — possibly? — stir popular unrest, is fascinating for its implications. Notably: social media may be the modern theater of the neoconservative.

Whatever one’s particular lean on the issue, it’s generally accepted that neoconservatives seek to influence — some call it ideological imperialism — non-democratic systems toward the principals of democracy. Sometimes through diplomacy, sometimes through regime change.

It looks like social media is possibly being tested as a communication tool to effectively stir up revolutionary thought in countries perceived as hostile to X ideology. Something like a Radio Free Europe but through smart phones and text messages.

Reasonable people can disagree on the moral and/or strategic good of such a program, again, depending on your lean toward or away from libertarianism and/or interventionism, but as Ed Morrissey at HotAir points out, this particular program leaves a troubling taste in the mouth:

Yes, Rand Paul is the future of the GOP

Over at the American Spectator, Reid Smith and Jamie Weinstein (so much for that “I before E” rule, right?), debate whether Rand Paul is the future of the Republican Party.

Smith takes the pro-Paul position in his part, “A New Age of Liberty,” in which he touts the libertarian scion’s innovative tactics and positions and success in just three years in the Senate. Weinstein takes the anti-Paul side, under the head “GOP Less Libertarian Thank You Think,” using more concrete examples, but making less sense doing it.

Weinstein’s main point against Rand Paul is ideological, and no surprise, focuses on the area where he differs most sharply with  party leadership: foreign policy. He argues that while Paul turned heads with his drone filibuster and then helped defeat the authorization of force in Syria resolution, the Syria result was an exception, and the continued support for military action against Iranian nuclear capability is the rule. Paul didn’t tilt the party more isolationist, Weinstein claims, people just didn’t like the options in Syria. While a convincing argument, we have another data point now with which we can test this theory: Ukraine.

Followingly less than a year after the Syria debate, 56% of Americans say we should “not get too involved” in Russia’s annexation of Ukraine either. And while 67% of Republicans disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the situation so far, 50% say it’s important we don’t get involved.

Floundering Old Guard Republicans re-launch attacks on Rand Paul

Back in March, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) propelled himself to the forefront of Republican politics when he led an inspiring 13-hour filibuster against the confirmation of CIA nominee John Brennan.

For the entirety of his procedural protest, Paul and several of his colleagues, most notably Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), highlighted the constitutional problems with President Barack Obama’s drones policy, which is largely consistent with the views of his hawkish predecessor and many of today’s conservatives. Paul would go onto win the CPAC straw poll the following week and has been a frequent voice of opposition to the Washington political establishment on foreign policy.

The reaction from the Old Guard Republicans was expected. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) both sided with President Obama on drones and foreign policy and admonished Paul from the Senate floor with the latter referring to his colleague from Kentucky a “wacko bird.” Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, called Paul’s foreign policy views “dangerous” and tried to label him as an “neo-isolationist.” Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post’s token Republican, has also taken shots at Paul on foreign policy, though with little effect.

Rand Paul outlines constitutional, conservative foreign policy

Rand Paul

There is a battle raging for the heart and soul of the conservative movement. While there is a near constant discussion over fiscal issues, also emerging is a debate over the foreign policy direction the United States should take.

Despite his anti-war rhetoric on the campaign trail in 2008, Barack Obama has largely continued the expansive foreign policy views of his predecessor. In 2011, Obama authorized a bombing campaign in Libya, which was aimed at deposing the regime of the country’s dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.

This campaign, which was waged without the consent of Congress, setoff a debate between the neo-conservatives and those who advocate a more restrained, constitutional foreign policy. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) criticized the non-interventionist views of Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jim DeMint (R-SC) and others, smearing them as “isolationists.”

It’s Sen. Paul who has largely become the voice of reason in the foreign policy debate. During the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, suggested that he could, as president, authorize military action against Iran without congressional approval. Sen. Paul responded forcefully, explaining that the “Constitution clearly states that it is Congress that has the power to declare war, not the president.”

A Libertarian, if Controversial, Response to Consulate Attacks

Libya protests

I’m going to say something that is highly controversial amongst libertarians. It may even lead me to be cast out (particularly among one “part” of the movement). If that is the case, then so be it. It is my suggestion to the United States government to deal with the rash of attacks on our diplomatic missions throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East: send in our forces. Find the people who have done these terrible deeds.

Bring them to justice. And then leave.

This flies in the face of generally accepted libertarian foreign policy, at least as construed by many “rank and file” libertarians. We’re not supposed to be in other countries. We’re not supposed to be out there getting ourselves involved. And if American personnel are hurt, we shouldn’t get ourselves involved more.

This, however, is dangerously short-sighted and naive. Yes, we shouldn’t be in foreign countries. On that I completely agree. But we should not, when we are attacked, simply throw our hands up in defeat and pull out. Or do what President Obama did, and “apologize” for one man using his right to free speech. That does not keep us safe, and that does not fix anything.

Giving in to bullies and madmen does not stop them, it emboldens them, as Britain learned so painfully after Munich. There is also no room for it in libertarian philosophy. If someone aggresses against you, if they attack you and destroy or take your property, and worse if they actually kill you and your comrades, they have violated your liberty. That is not something that libertarianism condones.

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.

Remember This on Memorial Day…

Memorial Day is a holiday that most Americans take for granted. They enjoy the unofficial start of summer by making their first pilgrimage to the beach or by celebrating in the backyard with a barbecue. It is a joyous occasion where people relax, eat, drink, soak up the sun and hang out with friends. But the majority of Americans don’t even realize why they have the day off from work.

A few Americans actually follow the spirit of the federal holiday and remember those who have died “defending” their freedom in wars waged by the U.S. Government. Unfortunately, the list who have died fighting and dying at the behest of politicians is still growing longer everyday. Those names of the dead and maimed are continually added to the over 1.3 million who’ve already died and to the other 1.5 million who have been wounded fighting under the banner of Old Glory.

But does any citizen really understand why the 2.8 million fellow Americans were killed or wounded fighting in wars waged by the U.S. Government?  Most people believe that all the wars the U.S. has fought have been to make the “world (including the U.S. homeland) safe for Democracy? But when you delve deeper beyond the patriotic propaganda of why the wars were truly waged in the past and continue to be waged in the present you begin to find a disturbing pattern of why the United States Government goes to war. We should all remember on this Memorial Day that the wars that the United States of America has waged, have been waged not to protect our freedom but to enrich a very few at the expense of the very many.

How the United States recruits terrorists

From the New York Times:

KABUL, Afghanistan – The American military claimed responsibility and expressed regret for an airstrike that mistakenly killed six members of a family in southwestern Afghanistan, Afghan and American military officials confirmed Monday.

The attack, which took place Friday night, was first revealed by the governor of Helmand Province, Muhammad Gulab Mangal, on Monday. His spokesman, Dawoud Ahmadi, said that after an investigation they had determined that a family home in Sangin district had been attacked by mistake in the American airstrike, which was called in to respond to a Taliban attack.

Whatever you think about the war in Afghanistan, there is no disputing that this is recruitment fodder for terrorist organizations. In a region where objective information is scarce, the narrative that America is an evil empire is easily spread unchallenged, and when your family is killed by Americans, you seek vengeance. Events like this only serve to aid those we are truly at war with.

“Act of Valor”: A Libertarian’s Review

Jorge Gonzalez is a motion designer and political activist living and working in Midtown Atlanta. In his free time, he enjoys filming, photography, and reading. **Please note, this post contains spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to hear all about it, then stop here and read it after you’ve seen it. If you don’t care about spoilers, then by all means, read on.**

I’ve seen Act of Valor twice now. It’s a visually stunning movie, it is —unlike what the critics seem to suggest— a moving story, and has raised some important questions for me about valor, honor, war and how I should understand it given my worldview.

First, I was amazed at the realness of the movie. From the actor’s cadence to the weapons, the tactics to the sound engineering, the movie is frighteningly real. The action scenes were relentless. The sound of the M4’s (the assault rifle used by the SEALS) was spot on. I’ve never watched a movie where the M4 sounded as it actually does when fired. Not to mention, the Soviet weapons used in the movie were also very real sounding. That may seem like a minor detail but to me, I’ll never forget the sound of an AK or the sound an RPG makes when it’s passing by. Nor will I ever forget the sound an M4 makes, especially when fired repeatedly. That sound does stick with you and this movie brought back some memories.


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