Why I can’t get with Ron Paul on foreign policy

by J.A. Myerson

Everything Glenn Greenwald and Michael Tracey and others with their perspective say is true: Rep. Paul’s positions on drone attacks, the security state, American aid to Israel, &c. are all admirable and courageous and valuable, and Obama and the Democrats should feel ashamed for adopting such a revolting posture on these matters. But Ron Paul doesn’t have a good foreign policy as much as a wholesale aversion to foreign policy.

The whole nuttiness of right-wing libertarian provincialism (the same philosophical bent that leads Paul and the GOP field he has influenced to adopt such reactionary domestic policies) is centered around an aggrandizement of the self and a hatred and mistrust of scaled decision-making. I can figure it out, and if I can’t, my family can help. Local government should butt out of my family’s life and mine, but I’d take it over the dreadful state government, and the state government, a thousand curses on its ugly head, is nothing like as horrific as the federal government, which, though I will stop short of nothing but its abolition, is orders of magnitude better than super-national organizations. (Walter Russell Meadwrites well about this.) Humanitarian aid (as pathetic and awful as the situation in that field is and has been) is absolutely critical, and if Ron Paul thinks that government-funded food stamps in Houston abridge liberty, imagine what he thinks of government-funded medicine in Botswana.

This much is true: the most important thing in the world is the fact that, if we don’t radically restrict the business practices of heavy industrial polluters through some really hefty government intervention at the federal and global level, and that in the next ten years, the Earth stands every chance of being inhospitable to human life in the next hundred. (I’m being generous). For starters, Ron Paul doesn’t believe that, because he’s a religious fundamentalist crackpot — “The greatest hoax I think,” the good doctor proclaimed, “that has been around for many, many years if not hundreds of years has been this hoax on… global warming.” But even if he did, there is no way to solve the climate crisis without tremendously strong global governance. Period.

Yes, Ron Paul’s aversion to foreign policy leads him to adopt a host of positions that are very attractive, but they don’t come from a humane or sophisticated ideology. They come from the same nutty madness that infects his domestic policy, and that, in 2012, is not something that the world can abide.

We are allowed to want a good foreign policy.

UPDATE: In a comment thread on facebook, while discussing Ron Paul, I wrote an explanation that helps solidify some of the arguments above.  This is in response to, among other comments, one friend’s confession that, “When I read through Ron Paul’s positions it generally goes like this ‘Hey, that’s good. Oh god, that’s bad. Hey, that’s good. Oh god, that’s bad.’ Repeat until you get to the end of the list.” My response:

I mean, I can definitely see how the “Hey, that’s good” positions are really, really central ones, and that, if he weren’t saying them, nobody in politics or the media would be — no one with Ron Paul’s stature critiques the racism of the criminal justice system and police state, for instance, or questions the entire premise of the global war on terror or objects with his every vote to the method by which America funds its imperial wars, by releasing currency on debt. In fact, there are some times when I almost don’t object to a single thing he says in a debate. My point isn’t that the “Hey that’s good” positions are not important — they really, really are. My point is that the “Hey that’s good” positions all stem from exactly the same consistent ideology whence come the “Oh god, that’s bad” ones. And when looking at presidential candidates, it’s way more important to examine their ideologies than their positions. For one, it gives you clues to how they’ll face unforeseen challenges or issues that aren’t currently in the limelight but, due to a shift in political circumstances or a big news story, soon will be. And an ideology as batshit as Ron Paul’s is (however incisive and courageous and important and good many of the positions he takes as a result) games out to a really fucked up government. This should create huge problems for people who fall for him because of those positions.

For the heck of it, know that the comment thread sits under this Ron Paul ad, which I’d posted.

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