7 votes

The Atlantic: The Greatness of Ron Paul

A dispute has broken out among fans of Ron Paul's non-interventionist foreign policy about whether he's a strategic liability. Paul, says Kevin Drum, is such a "toxic, far-right, crackpot messenger" that "the only thing he's accomplishing is to make non-interventionism even more of a fringe view in American politics than it already is."

It's certainly true that Paul's hawkish critics are using his weirder ideas and checkered past to try and make non-interventionism synonymous with creepiness. But, whatever their success, Paul is making one contribution to the foreign policy debate that could have enduring value.

It doesn't lie in the substance of his foreign policy views (which I'm largely but not wholly in sympathy with) but in the way he explains them. Paul routinely performs a simple thought experiment: He tries to imagine how the world looks to people other than Americans.

This is such a radical departure from the prevailing American mindset that some of Paul's critics see it as more evidence of his weirdness. A video montage meant to discredit him shows him taking the perspective of Iran. After observing that Israel and America and China have nukes, he asks about Iranians, "Why wouldn't it be natural that they'd want a weapon? Internationally they'd be given more respect."

Can somebody explain to me why this is such a crazy conjecture about Iranian motivation? Wouldn't it be reasonable for Iranian leaders, having seen what happened to nukeless Saddam Hussein and nukeless Muammar Qaddafi, to conclude that maybe having a nuclear weapon would get them more respectful treatment?


Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Non-intervention and tolerance are core to Ron Paul's movement.

Non-intervention and tolerance are core to Ron Paul's movement.

Many humans are so narcissistic that they can't imagine that other people, with their own unique circumstances and idiosyncratic preferences, might make different, reasonable-for-them choices, and they decide that their personal preferences should be The One Way for hundreds of millions of people.

What is most refreshing about Ron Paul is that he does not limit these moral principles to just one issue, but to every place where elites are tempted to use government coercion.

That is the only essence of his "toxic, crackpot message". I find nothing fringe in Dr. Paul's policy, but I want non-intervention of government violence in my body, my bedroom, my business, my family, my school, my charities, and foreign countries, and I'm willing to tolerate other people diverse personal preferences even if they don't make the same choices I do.

How about you?

Don't Vote For Ron Paul for anything less than
Re[love]ution & Renaissance

Without strong government, might business not serve blacks?

Yes, people might do things to which you object. In a Ron Paul world, you would not be able to initiate violence against them, even if you objected STRONGLY to their misbehavior. (Don't forget, you do have considerable non-violent recourse -- you may avoid them, speak against them, shun them, not hire them, not buy their products, not allow them in your business or on your property, picket them, advertise against them, condemn their patrons, etc. )

The wisdom of Ron Paul is that he knows that once you okay the initiation of violence against someone else because you object to their personal preference, you have opened the door for anyone to initiate violence against you, based on their personal preference, as long as they are politically powerful. A world of human freedom would be peaceful where people live in voluntary harmony, tolerating, perhaps not accepting, but at least not aggressively intervening against, diversity. A world of political slavery is characterized by everyone fighting constantly to see who will have the reins of violence to control everyone else.

Removing the widespread application of violent power over others is not to allow people to do objectionable things; it is to allow you to live your life as you see fit -- even if some moral majority objects to your choice.

Don't Vote For Ron Paul for anything less than
Re[love]ution & Renaissance