June 2, 2007

So Who Is Ron Paul, Part 1.5

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Due to the large number of comments in Part 1 of my previous entry about Ron Paul, I have decided to respond here in Part 1.5. Now many (but not all) of the comments stemmed from Ron Paul’s support on the Internet, which is measured in online polls. His actual support, which is measured in more conventional polls like Zogby, proves to be much smaller. So when my blog appeared in Google News under the search phrase “Ron Paul”, many of his supporters quickly flocked to this website thanks to Google News Alerts. But I’ll get into that with more detail and research in Part 2.

According to some of those commenters, I watch Fox News and Sean Hannity in particular, do not know what the term “blowback” means, do not know that the CIA invented that term, never did any research on Ron Paul (including reading that pro-Paul commentary from CNN I linked to in Part 1), got all my talking points and inspiration from the mainstream media and neocons, think the terrorists hate us because of our freedom, specialize in Bush’s tactics of fear and hate, etc. Well, guess what? None of that is true.

But let’s focus on some of the rational criticisms, in particular the accusation that I pulled a “straw man” when I talked about Ron Paul and negotiating with terrorists. I admit I made a mistake by not fully explaining my logic. While listening and acting do comprise two different things, listening does not make much sense if one does not act on what was heard. When the CIA listens to terrorists, they act by building up their intelligence to stop terrorists, a good idea. When Ron Paul listens to terrorists, he acts by considering their viewpoints in his foreign policy, especially to avoid blowback, a bad idea (by the way, in my previous entry, I wrote that Ron Paul called 9/11 “blowback,” not that he invented the term). It establishes the wrong mindset whether it involves negotiating with terrorists or instead listening to and considering their viewpoints when setting foreign policy. America must define its foreign policy on its own terms, not the terrorists’ terms.

So if I committed a logical fallacy here, it would be a hyperbole at worst. Negotiating with terrorists is different in some respects from listening to terrorists as Ron Paul would like us to do, but in terms of the mindset both establish, they are identical.

Granted, sometimes it’s good to consider opposing perspectives when making decisions. In Iraq, the United States currently is trying to do this with certain insurgent groups. The key to this idea, though, lies in drawing a line on where to stop. Some insurgents can be reasoned with. Others are too radical and extremist. Al Qaeda would definitely qualify as the latter. While I can understand why some war critics want us to listen to insurgent groups, I just can not understand why Ron Paul wants us to listen to Al Qaeda, particularly when they blame us for the actions of Russians and Indians as I noted in Part 1.

It also explains what I said about Afghanistan earlier. Regardless of what Ron Paul has said about Afghanistan, he has to withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan to prove that his non-interventionist policies work. Pulling out of part of the Middle East would pacify Al Qaeda, just like pulling out of part of Iraq would pacify the insurgents. Ron Paul was right when he said “they attack us because we’ve been over there.” Unfortunately, his views do not reflect the fact that “over there” applies whether we are “over there” for just or unjust reasons, and even applies if we had gone to Afghanistan only to target Al Qaeda and bin Laden and not the Taliban.

Let’s look at another poor foreign policy viewpoint by Ron Paul. While the Serbs committed ethnic cleansing against the Albanians in Kosovo, NATO, including the U.S., used military intervention to bring this atrocious massacre under control. However, maybe to avoid blowback and/or abide by non-interventionism, we should have instead let the ethnic cleansing continue. Well, Ron Paul did exactly that in 1999 when he introduced a bill to prohibit the United States from using the military in Kosovo: H.R. 647 in the 106th Congress. Luckily, the bill never made it out of committee. One should only worry about blowback in certain situations, such as the CIA-led coup in 1953 to install the Shah in Iran. For ethnic cleansing, the first Gulf War, and radical terrorist groups, letting the fear of blowback influence decisions makes no sense. And even with Iran in 1953, were our actions wrong because of the blowback from the Iranians, or because we overthrew a democratically elected government with our actions?

So while Ron Paul has quite a clout on the Internet, in reality his Presidency would turn out to be worse than Nixon or Carter or Bush II or whoever you think is the worst. And to whoever said I should debate Ron Paul, I say, bring it on.

  • Anonymous

    Too bad the Serbs didn’t do any ethic clensing. You need to stop reading the NYT.

    “The court ruled, first, that the atrocities in Bosnia did not amount to genocide. And, second, that the government of Yugoslavia not only did not commit genocide, but that it was not responsible for the killings in Bosnia because it didn’t exercise effective control over the armed forces of the Bosnian Serbs. To be sure, the court, following the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), did rule that genocide took place on one occasion—in July 1995 in Srebrenica. However, even in this case the government of Yugoslavia bore no responsibility. There was no evidence, the court said, that the attack on Srebrenica was ordered by, or was undertaken in collusion with, Belgrade.”


    “”To be sure, the ICJ ruling was problematic, to say the least. The court said no genocide took place in Bosnia, other than in Srebrenica. But this makes no sense. Genocide, if it means anything, is an attempt to destroy an entire nation or an entire ethnic group. If you kill many members of an ethnic group in one village, but leave them alone in the next village, and, indeed, in every other village, you may, if they are unarmed, be committing a war crime, but you are not committing genocide. Raphael Lemkin, drafter of the 1948 Genocide Convention, defined genocide as “a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves.” Thus, in ruling that the killings in Bosnia didn’t amount to genocide, but that the killings in one small town—Srebrenica—did amount to genocide, the court was hardly in accord with the convention.””


    YEAR 2007
    26 February
    General List
    No. 91
    26 February 2007


    Read the ruling yourself.
    I guess Ron Paul was right….

    I can also tell that you have a limited knowledge of the history of the west in the Middle East.

    Here’s your reading list

    you should start with the Sykes-Picot Agreement and work your way to present.



  • Anonymous

    I already responded, but I think this might help summarize. Estimated interventionist coefficient in percent:
    Rudy: 90%
    George: 80%
    Mike: 15%
    Ron: 5%
    So who are you closer to?

  • todd kobylarz

    i find it hard to believe that you DONT watch FOX religiously.

    “When Ron Paul listens to terrorists, he acts by considering their viewpoints in his foreign policy, especially to avoid blowback, a bad idea (by the way, in my previous entry, I wrote that Ron Paul called 9/11 “blowback,” not that he invented the term). It establishes the wrong mindset whether it involves negotiating with terrorists or instead listening to and considering their viewpoints when setting foreign policy. America must define its foreign policy on its own terms, not the terrorists’ terms.”

    gee, i follow everything Dr. Paul has said, and NEVER has he said anything about “listening” to the terrorists as the fulcrum for foreign polciy. your statement is 100% neocon spin and wholly dishonest. Exactly the same jam job Rudy attemtped to do to Paul (and failed miserably) at the last debate.

    your arguents come from war monger land, where the proper foreign policy consists of antagonizing and creating enemies, then denying that the policy created them, in order to have a perpetual whipping boy to waste vast sums of Americans wealth along with plenty of human life…all in the name of fighting an non entity….terror

    you and the neocons actually believe that cause and effect DOES NOT exist, that you can perpetually lie long enough for it to become the truth…..problem is, the average american (who does not even know of Ron Paul) knows this and is sick of it. now your only job and #1 goal is to destroy the only candidate from either party man enough to expose you and teh neocons for what you are,and in turn, keep the public brainwashed into thinking that you are the representatives of freedom.

    the truth is, that you are the opposite of the protectors of freedom and its greatest threat in the history of the United States….you are fascits

  • Anonymous

    Mr Wacker, you write like a journalism undergraduate, and your lack of historical and cultural depth bespeaks many hours of study in that field.

    You’d have done better reading authentic materials. You might start with the Bill of Rights, not fashionable in your circle, perhaps, but as you say “sometimes it’s good to consider opposing perspectives when making decisions.” Sometimes, Mr Wacker?

    Many people in this country and abroad, some of whom have a high regard for the genius of its historical particularities, feel that the superficiality of public discourse has reached a crisis stage.

    You come on the scene at a very significant moment in this country’s history, and if all you can produce is further blandishments, you will have passed up a real opportunity to contribute to the rebuilding of a crippled American polity.

    You obviously did not spend much time with literature, so let me offer you one of its principal insights, ‘life imitates art.’ If you have understood this, it is time for you to (re)read, not watch on video, _1984_. If you begin afterwards to have nightmares, that is a good sign.

    Best of luck to you and to us all, Mr Wacker. Thank you for considering Dr Paul, even if superficially. I trust that with some further historical inquiry, you will come to understand that there are issues at stake that warrant your time and effort. They are not to be found in your journalism courses.

  • Davy C Rockett

    It sounds as if you have made up your mind about Ron Paul on Foreign Policy or non-interventionism for America.

    First off, he voted not to go into Iraq, on the basis of not “Giving power over to the President” to go policing and nation building, but instead wanted Congress to declare war as is Constitutional. He did vote to go after bin Laden.
    He also has introduce a bill that the rest of Congress won’t take responsibility in, in taking away those powers unconstitutionally given to the President and given back to Congress. It’s Constitutionally Congress’s responsibility.

    Paul also has stated your not going to be leaving Iraq overnight. However he was saying take a good hard look at the way we spend in our oversea excursions and the unnecessary bad policies that we don’t need to be involved in, all over the world. Kinda like how Reagan won the Cold War even though we had 40,000 nukes pointed at us.

    We cannot be the world’s police with a 60 trillion dollar debt (w/ future entitlement obligations) and be involved all over the world.
    We will not survive internally, before we ever defeat world terrorism.

    When your wrong like we were in Iraq, or you support terrorist known backers like Saudi Arabia you cannot believe you won’t expect blowback from someone out there claiming to be Al-Qaida or a terrorist.

    The CIA believes it.

    Mr.Whacker how many third world nations do you think don’t like us from our own CIA’s “Secret Wars”? Google it.

    So long as the long arm of unconstitutional big government is outstretch around the world we will be at war. We do ourselves better to not entangle ourselves in others foreign affairs.

  • James Aragonj

    Before debating Ron Paul, work on writing clear and concise blogs that can illustrate your point of view. Adding a proof reader to the process would be helpful.

    How about doing some research on the disparity between Gallup and Zogby polls, and the current internet wave of support. Rudy, Mitt, and Sen McCain (a man I respect) have been talked about for almost a year now as the great contenders. Ron Paul was a relative unknown until the debates, not even declaring candidacy until March of this year. Name recognition counts in telephone polls. In addition, a sampling of 800 registered Republican voters in May 2007 is not indicative of who can be elected. Rudy was leading for some time, but now the GOP blog nation is starting to dismiss him as Fred Thompson enters the fray.

    We have a long way to go. If Ron Paul does not register in national polls by Fall/Winter of 2007, then he has no chance. Dismissing Ron Paul this early is shameful.

  • John P Slevin

    There is so much missing from your “reasoning”, I’ll stick only to your summation:

    you wrote: And even with Iran in 1953, were our actions wrong because of the blowback from the Iranians, or because we overthrew a democratically elected government with our actions?

    What is this supposed to mean? Are you implying that Ron Paul has not made it clear that he opposes the clandestine overthrow of that government representing a sovereign people?

    Actually, Ron Paul specifically cited that action in the last debate. For you to infer otherwise, suggest that you really do need to do more research.

    As for comparing you to others, like Hannity and Malkin, well, I’ll leave that to others…maybe you should consider why it is that people see a resemblence.

    There are actual, thoughtful people in America, and then there are the kind who chant the Fox News mantra “Democrats bad, Republicans good” and who never give a thought to the wild growth of the federal government during each and every Republican administration from Nixon on.

    I won’t say that the die hard Democrat is any better; certainly not. But saying one is no worse than a Democrat, well, hardly cuts it.

    Get your facts straight before you criticize..then, someone might elevate your comparisons to people other than shill/parrots like Hannity and Malkin.

  • Andy

    Any good football coach knows you need to understand the other team before finalizing your own game strategy. Listen to them, watch them, know what motivates them.

    Dispite what McCain and Guiliani think, our goal in life is not to kill everyone in the Middle East… just in case they might hate us.

  • Anonymous

    For someone who isn’t very knowledgable about Ron Paul you sure are confident in your ability to predict exactly how he’d implement policy. And you ability to see the future is astonishing as well (“in reality his Presidency would turn out to be worse than Nixon or Carter or Bush II or whoever you think is the worst”). Wow!

    Please take the following suggestion seriously.

    Take a reality check. Be open-minded and read some stuff you normally wouldn’t like crooksandliars.com, wikipedia.com, andrewsullivan.com, and reason.com. As you said “it’s good to consider opposing perspectives when making decisions.”

  • Anonymous

    I’m not going to attack you for your views as did so many others. I’m only going to say what my read is. Out of all the candidates running so far, Ron Paul is the only one that does not seem about to get on the Bush bandwagon, and sell America and it’s citizens out. Ron Paul is a populist and that is exactly what we need at this time to overcome the neo-cons that are trying their best to destroy this country.

  • J Werner

    The idea that OUR OWN TERMS should be just doing what ever the hell we want with no regaurd for unintended results or “blowback” is plane stupid. If they hate freedom I can think of alot of places more free than the U.S. that are much closer to the middle east and have much less guns to defend them self with. Say…. Amsterdam

    I want OUR OWN TERMS to mean WHEN OUR NATIONAL SECURITY IS REALLY IN DANGER and not because we want to control natural resources of another land.

  • Tim Fellon

    Mike Wacker — so Mike, let’s say you have a fight with your wife or girlfriend. How do you resolve it?

    A) Do you insist you are correct and continue to escalate the fight at all costs?

    Or B) do give in a little and back off, and suggest you might be wrong, for the purpose of making up?

    What’s more important? What is your life going to be about, Mike?

    Now apply this to the Iraq War. Or any war. People are people, even if they are Arab or Muslim or American or White. Your wife pr girlfriend has the same DNA as anyone else.

    So tell me, why in the world would you want to continue to use a diplomatic method from the stone age that’s already been proven not to work, in order to try to make life better here on planet Earth?

    What’s in it for you, personally, Mike? Or do you just enjoy being angry and alone?

  • Gary Wiley

    I do commend you on writing a more clear commentary on your beliefs. I was, as well as many others, put off by the smugness of your first article. Still, I’ve yet to see you contemplate American foreign policy in a way that causes any introspection. Do you assume that America’s policies are infallible? Why should America unnecessarily implement policies that cause moderates to lean toward extremism? Also, I believe your assumption that Ron Paul would base his policy decisions on “blowback” (you’ve used the word loosely, inferring “retaliation”) is false. He’s not a pacifist. From his voting record it seems he knows when and where to fight.

  • Ron Paul has been a non-interventionist since well before 9/11/01. His views aren’t formed out of fear. They’re formed out of an understanding of foreign policy, the US Constitution, the lessons of history, and advice from several of our nation’s founders (including George Washington).

    This whole idea of “blowback” shouldn’t dictate our actions. But it does show what can happen when our arrogance leads us to start wars, overthrow / install foreign leaders, and upset fragile political systems in dangerous parts of the world.

    We don’t have the right or obligation to rule over the entire world. When we attempt it, bad things will happen. But even if bad things didn’t happen, or happened anyway, we still don’t have the authority.

    Its not just about cause and effect. Its about doing what’s right for our nation, and respecting the sovereignty of other countries.

  • Anonymous

    What a complete waste of time. Thought you’d have learned a thing or two since the last article and the subsequent criticism. Sorry to see that you have not.

    Instead of approaching this subject more cautiously and thoughtfully, you have doubled-down your efforts to assert what you still seem to believe is relevant analysis.

    There is no substance or real insight here. Only ego.

    I won’t be back. Cornell has been shamed.

  • Will Ron Paul & Rudy Giuliani Debate Foreign Policy at Freedomfest?
    The annual FreedomFest conference, has issued a debate invitation to GOP Presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul to use FreedomFest ‘07 as a debate venue to further explore their fundamental differences in foreign policy and the war in Iraq that were highlighted in the Columbia, SC debate. To review the debate invitation – http://www.freedomfest.com/debate.htm
    For more information on the July 2007 FreedomFest Conference in Las Vegas, go to

  • The most humorous part of this to me is the fact that the writer obviously just took his first logic class and is so excited to throw the language of Hurley’s Logic into the post to make himself appear lettered. I’ve seen this same ham-handed effort at intellectualism from so many college sophomores that it just makes me giggle. When he gets the other 95% of the education that he needs to do effective analysis, he will look back at this with great embarrassment.

  • LPM

    I poster up above brought up a very good subject regarding who is ‘we’ when you say things like ‘we’ should stop ethnic cleansing, etc. Let me backtrack first:
    Foreign Policy – The US government should NOT interfere with foreign affairs on its own, at all, in almost every case. If and when the US government does stick its nose out and into another sovereign nation, it should only do so with joint and equal support of a myriad of other nations, something akin to the UN (but not so much as the UN forces always seem to be 90% US forces with a few others thrown in for show). Same goes for ‘foreign aid’, in fact, I would probably even suggest that all foreign aid be terminated outright.

    Now, the ‘we’ part. Saying that the USG stay out of foreign entanglements and away from sending taxpayer money and debt does NOT mean that citizens are to be restricted from doing so. Many American jewish citizens send ‘aid’ back to Israel, as well as send children to do their stint in the Israeli army and live in kibutzes for a year or two. This is fine as their actions, those folks who send aid or even military support, do not reflect on the nation as a whole, other citizens. This reduces ‘blowback’ to specific entities who are responsible for the initial actions, not innocents. When the USG does something, every single citizen is rolled up into a big amalgamous unit and held responsible. ‘I’ did not go to Saudia Arabia, ‘I’ did not piss off Bin Laden, yet ‘I’ am viewed by him to be an enemy because of the actions of ‘my’ government – my risks have been heightened. The government is supposed to act on ‘our’ behalf, well, in most cases, ‘we’ (meaning each and every citizen) can act on our own behalf just fine, thank you. If I care enough about the thousands dying of ethnic cleansing in country XYZ, then I am free to send money, form an organization, hire mercenaries, be a mercenary, whatever… but please, please, do not coerce my support for the benefit of others. Politicians in government gain, businesses and contractors, all stem to gain from various actions (interventions) around the globe. The problem is that the ‘costs’ (one of which is blowback) are spread out among folks who had nothing to do with the benefit.

    When you say ‘we’, please ask first if you can include ‘me’ in your interventionist actions.

  • Chris

    I promise not to denigrate your writing style or your school or your skills of logic. Hopefully I can represent Ron Paul with the level of civility he would show you if he were writing this himself.

    I also want to commend you on being able to break from the liberal dogma that no doubt pervades the campus. I remember what it was like at college, and it could be tough being the only one in the class who was not afraid to express love of country.

    Now, when considering American foreign policy, don’t assume it is always the corect path. If you are a conservative, I am sure you legitimately question domestic policy suggestions made by well-meaning liberals. This is often because they fail to admit that their policies have unintended consequences that often undermine their best intentions.

    Now, take this same skepticism and apply it to our foreign policy. Unlike many, I actually take Bush at his word that he wants to see a democratic oasis spring up in Mesopatamia as an example for other countries in the region. Problem is, he again failed to acknowledge the unintended consequences of these actions. He thinks his stubborn determination mixed with $600 billion and the blood of 3400 US soldiers must be sufficent for his goals to be acheived.

    This is where the counsel of the founders is so prescient. They argued we are to a beacon, an example, for other countries to emulate IF THEY SO CHOOSE TO! We cannot make them fight for their freedom, especially when many (in Iraq) perceive us as being an impediment to that freedom. That this is right or wrong is almost immaterial. It just ampifies the fact that we need to avoid these situations to begin with, no matter how much we belive in ‘the universal desire for freedom.’

    Many predicted this war would be a great recruiting tool for the Jihad against America. Those predictions were mostly disregarded, and explained away with the ‘better to kill them over there than over here’ mantra. However, we can already see it playing out in the attempted attacks on Ft. Dix and JFK airporta. Surprise: they can be over there AND over here at the same time!

    The children of the maimed or dead in Iraq will grow up to be the terrorists that my and my children wil be forced to deal with. An eight-year-old boy who sees his parent’s bloodied bodies from collateral damage will not make the distinction that the ‘Americans must have meant well.’ When he is 17 he may merely still be angry, or he may want to take out his rage on us. If he acts on his emotions, many will say he is just an ‘evil Islamofascist driven by irrational hatred of the West.’ He will hate me, my family, my country because of the ‘good intentions’ of Dubya. For that, I will never be able to forgive our current president.


  • Kevin

    Mike, Mike, Mike:

    You still are trying to put up strawmen. The straw man of the day is that just because Dr. Paul suggested we get out of Iraq, that means he is also suggesting we should also get out of Afghanistan.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. If you _listen_ to Dr. Paul (as opposed to listening what others say about Dr. Paul) you will discover that he is very keen on going after Osama. One of the main problems with waging war in Iraq (as Dr. Paul has mentioned) is that we aren’t going after Osama.

    Rather than debate Ron Paul, perhaps you should just interview him. You could look at it as an opportunity to give Dr. Paul enough rope to hang himself, and a platform from which to jump. Of course, I think he would tie you up in knots, but that’s just my opinion.

    But never mind what Dr. Paul *says*. Let’s look at the public record.

    Dr. Paul is the only Congressman to offer a bill of DECLARATION OF WAR in the House after 9-11.

    Dr. Paul is the only Congressman to offer a bill authorizing the President to issue letters of Marque and Reprisal.

    Both are constitutional. Both would go after Osama. Neither would require the military invasion of Iraq, or the continued military presence in Saudi Arabia (or any other country.)


  • Andres Guzman

    Interesting what you say about US intervention as if it was a heavenly gift. Before the US goes around fixing the problems of other countries, it should fix its own problems. You might want to read some more about how the US is screwing the world with the central bank and the IMF before you speak about blowback. US intervention in other countries is not only militaristic but also economic; I bet you would defend something like that, because as long as it’s not your ass being hurt, or your country being invaded, you don’t truly give a damn. The US could help countries with money and generous investment; military intervention should be the last choice. And before you decide to cite how the US saved us from Hitler, first find out who financed Hitler in the first place. War needs money, the US is the center of finance, all the US needs to do if it really wants to stop terrorism is freeze the right funds and stop buying oil. US banks financed Hitler and the US keeps on financing terrorism. Ron Paul signs against intervention because he knows, like you do, that when there is intervention there is always some corrupt guy benefiting from it, the US does nothing for free, not even close to that. Your two faced speech suck man, really. That attitude is what makes the world hate America, keep it up, I know you will. Of course if Ron wins they will make it hard for him to do anything, the whole bipartisan system is rotten. It’s amazing what ivy league guys say and do thinking they are better, you truly suck.

  • iamso910

    Substanceless arguments….specious at best.

    The Neocons have been wrong about almost everything they have claimed would happen. They’ve also shown a proclivity for spinning their own version of the truth.

    Neocons are discredited. Not point paying their ludicrous imaginings any attention now.

    When they show remorse for the deaths and destruction their rantings have led to, then they might be worth listening to.

  • ChairmanMao

    Heres a brief bit of history to put something in perspective, around the 1940’s the Chinese people really loved America, not sure why but they did. Something happened though, we supported the prick nationalist government over the communist rebels because of a bad policy that had no exceptions to it. Our none interventionists policy gave us a lot of admirers over the years but within the lost 50 years most of those people have changed their mind. Fighting to end the situation now in the middle east is short sighted. The problem is not the religion they have but what their clerics have turned it into. Gives us 100 years of none interventionist policy and I can say with a strong amount of confidence well have several hundred years more of peace. All we will have now is a cycle of decades long war.