Is Rand Paul's current position on Russia radically wrong?Submitted by ockhamsliberty on Tue, 03/18/2014 - 16:46
Vladimir Putin just made what perhaps will go down as a historic speech. It included some scathing critiques of US foreign policy. I openly admit, that I think he raises a number of interesting questions and makes some valid critiques.
Only place I could find a translation is here (not yet completed though):
Look at this excerpt for example:
"...what do we hear from our colleagues in Western Europe and North America? They say we are violating norms of international law. Firstly, it’s a good thing that they at least remember that there exists such a thing as international law – better late than never."
Or consider this one:
"Our western partners, led by the United States of America, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun. They have come to believe in their exclusivity and exceptionalism, that they can decide the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right. They act as they please: here and there, they use force against sovereign states, building coalitions based on the principle “If you are not with us, you are against us.” To make this aggression look legitimate, they force the necessary resolutions from international organisations, and if for some reason this does not work, they simply ignore the UN Security Council and the UN overall."
It actually is a very interesting question, I think, if the Ukraine referendum is in accordance to international law. There seem to be stronger argument, in terms of international law which both sides are referencing, that is was legal. I have not looked into enough... nevertheless, the US has some explaining how they justify other similar cases as "legal".
That brings me to Rand Paul.
First of all, I am certainly not a "Rand Paul hater." I feel, on the whole, that Rand has exceeded expectations in many areas. He has been impressive as a senator. A senator, however, can become very different person if they reach the White House. They can go back on their promises, or for example not have the backbone to stand up to the military industrial complex.
I have written in the past how I feel Rand as president has real risks for the liberty movement. We should not just ignore what appear to be character warning signs. Critiquing Rand's stated position does not mean one has "Rand Paul blinders on". If someone supports Rand without thinking for themselves, then it is they who are perhaps wearing blinders. Furthermore, it would be a shame if libertarians throw out reason just to support the motto "I stand with Rand."
The whole philosophy, as Mises makes clear, is intimately connected with the free exercise of our reason.
You can see a comment I made last year about it here with subject "Maybe Rand Paul in the White House"
Nevertheless, I remain reluctant to be persuaded that Rand in the White House would be wonderful for the liberty movement. My doubts became stronger after reading his Times piece, "Sen. Rand Paul: U.S. Must Take Strong Action Against Putin’s Aggression"
Thus the question, is Rand Paul radically wrong about his current position on Russia? How is Rand Paul's position not entirely contradictory to a fundamental tenet of libertarianism?
I am not giddy to to critique Rand... far from it... however, some of his statements are concerning to say the least.
Consider Rand's opening two quotes in his piece:
"Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a gross violation of that nation’s sovereignty and an affront to the international community. His continuing occupation of Ukraine is completely unacceptable, and Russia’s President should be isolated for his actions."
"It is America’s duty to condemn these actions in no uncertain terms. It is our role as a global leader to be the strongest nation in opposing Russia’s latest aggression."
He ends the piece with:
"The real problem is that Russia’s President is not currently fearful or threatened in any way by America’s President, despite his country’s blatant aggression.
But let me be clear: If I were President, I wouldn’t let Vladimir Putin get away with it."
So Rand, the real problem here is that Putin simply does not feel currently fearful or threatened by our president? What other leaders do we need to make sure feels the fear and threat of our president? What exactly would you do, Rand, so that Putin would not "get away with it"? And if your initial plan did not work, then what would you do to ENSURE Russia was punished?
Or, concerning markets:
"I would do everything in my power to aggressively market and export America’s vast natural gas resources to Europe."
What does the office of the president have to do with marketing a product? Certainly they can use their influence to push for free market principles, but that is not solely what Rand's wording suggests. Is it a president's role to do "everything in their power" to market a product? What does that entail?
I am not going to dispute that this piece just increased his chances of a shot at the white house. It certainly might have to a great degree. It perhaps the most political move I have seen Rand take. My concern, however, is just that, i.e., that we have another politician on our hands. His piece sounds very close to exactly the point that both democrats and republicans agree on in terms of foreign policy... the point that is contradictory to the whole Libertarian philosophy.
Some folks will want to mention that this is part of the reality of what it takes to achieve political victory. Well, his father, even with commitment to principle changed the face of politics in this country, and beyond. That was even with him presenting a philosophy which was very much at that time against the status quo... and those same ideas are still spreading. So it's hard for me, for a number of reasons, to take this "political reality" justification too seriously. Besides, talk of war is hardly something ever to take lightly.
If someone has a way of justifying Rand Paul's position regarding Russia, as written in his recent piece, then please comment.
Specifically, however, I am interested in hearing a libertarian justification for his position not merely a political justification, which is not hard to see. Some fundamental aspects of his presentation appear to fly in the face of Misean style libertarianism. For starters, the principle of "non-intervention".
Any thoughts from the community?
After writing this, I just read Ron Paul's piece in USA Today (it has it's own post):