Ron Paul’s foreign policy should be embraced

Ron Paul
Ron Paul

The Ron Paul controversy has opened a fissure in this community. Many long-time contributors to this site who were in general agreement on most Israel/Palestine issues have found themselves on opposite sides of the Paul debate. The question has mostly been whether Paul’s laudable foreign policy positions are more or less significant than his apparent right-wing domestic agenda. Some have taken a third view, arguing that Paul’s economic theories aren’t as potentially disastrous as progressives fear.

Professor Jerome Slater has entered the fray with yet another perspective. He argues that Ron Paul’s foreign policy, which even harsh critics here have lauded, is actually a “simpleminded” rejection of almost all US military action. But is it really fair to characterize anyone who opposed US military action in Afghanistan, the first Gulf War, Bosnia and Kosovo, Libya etc. as “simpleminded”? Does Professor Slater believe that a true pacifist, which Paul is not, is even more simpleminded? Slater’s perspective clearly assumes the awful premise of American exceptionalism, that the US is entitled to take actions that would be forbidden to other nations, because of our superior military capability, our superior morality, or both. Surely he would not approve of another country’s right to invade and bomb the US when its leader declares that the US is posing a threat to them, or that the US people are oppressed by a government controlled by the rich and powerful 1%. In his view, the US and similar advanced, industrial “Western” nations both have a right to military aggression when deemed necessary and a right to protection against such aggression from other countries. He makes no moral case for the US to enjoy special rules.

Slater acknowledges that all wars cause civilian casualties. True, but isn’t that a reason to oppose almost all wars, with very very few exceptions for cases like WWII? A war is a sentence of death for anonymous thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or maybe more. The Iraq War itself has also been a sentence of misery, displacement and homelessness for millions. That is a war that Slater opposed, but once he joins the chorus of approval for some US military adventurism, the powers that be may not be as discriminating as he is. Moreover, his calculation that the dead, wounded and displaced in wars that meet his standards is “worth it,” to use Madeline Albright’s infamous phrase, is made much easier by the fact that those civilians at risk of dying are people he does not know. Surely he would not feel the same way if US military action endangered the lives of his children and grandchildren. But don’t the parents and grandparents of the actual victims in Afghanistan and Serbia, etc. feel the same?

In a comment, Slater goes so far as to say that Bush’s wars were fought with bad-intentioned imperialism, while Obama has more benign motives. But he cannot support a Democratic President’s right to military action without sanctioning a Republican’s right as well. And according to Slater, Bush wasn’t all bad; his decision to invade Afghanistan was praiseworthy, even if he made the mistake of overstaying our welcome.

Finally, it appears that if Paul’s and Obama’s domestic agendas were identical, and their only difference were on military intervention in foreign countries, Slater would prefer Obama’s well-intentioned military actions to Paul’s “simpleminded” non-interventionist positions. That’s a rather shocking position, and that does not even consider their differences on civil liberties issues, the Drug War, whistleblowers like Bradley Manning – just the use of the US military.

Slater, Lizzy Ratner and others have argued that Paul’s negatives outweigh his positives. Although I lean in the other direction, I think that their opinion is perfectly reasonable. But Slater goes much further, belittling the upside of Paul’s platform, including his contempt for the loathsome doctrine of American exceptionalism and strong preference for diplomacy over brute force. As a teenager forty years ago, I saw John Lennon on Dick Cavett, and he condemned US leaders prosecuting the Vietnam War as “insane.” Although I generally agreed with his anti-war position, I recall thinking that his analysis was “simpleminded.” I now think that Lennon summed it all up quite succinctly. For many decades, US foreign policy has been sheer madness. Ironically, it is the most prominent opponent of that madness, Ron Paul, who is portrayed by mainstream media and fellow politicians as a crackpot, for his foreign policy positions. His opposition to military aggression, like his opposition to intrusive domestic surveillance, indefinite detention, the Drug War, prosecution of whistleblowers, etc., should be embraced, even by progressives who find his domestic agenda unacceptable. Paul is unique among Presidential candidates, and in a tiny minority of US politicians, who are willing to challenge the prevailing poisonous atmosphere of military glorification disguised as super-patriotism.

About David Samel

David Samel is am attorney in New York City.
Posted in Iraq, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics

{ 57 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. yourstruly says:

    I agree with David Samel. One more war and, poof, there goes what’s left of not only our civil liberties but the remains of an already tattered safety net. What chances, then, for a progressive domestic agenda?

  2. Les says:

    A question for Presidential contenders of any party. Is anyone who is afraid to say no to our Israel Lobby, qualified to represent the US to the world?


    • Is anyone who is afraid to say no to our Israel Lobby, qualified to represent the US to the world?

      And which mouse will place the bell on the cat?

      • “Is anyone who is afraid to say no to our Israel Lobby, qualified to represent the US to the world?”

        Good point. This issue of integrity should be added to David Samel’s excellent moral arguments against militarism. Part of the significance of Paul’s anti-war position is his willingness to confront a powerful establishment. (Even those who don’t agree with him never argue that he’s chosen his position opportunistically.) And the real significance of Obama’s pro-war position is the man’s craven capitulation to power. Are we supposed to trust a man who shows no integrity in his foreign policy, when it comes to domestic policy? The problems the country faces — socially, economically, domestically, abroad — can all be seen as symptoms of a corrupted system. Sooner or later those forces are going to have to be confronted, so why not start the battle now?

        “Simpleminded” or corrupt, that’s our choice.

        (But of course this assumes that you interpret Obama’s foreign policy as a capitulation to the Israel Lobby and not an expression of his true convictions, and I’m not sure Prof. Slater acknowledges the existence of an Israel Lobby.)

  3. Bandolero says:

    “His opposition to military aggression, like his opposition to intrusive domestic surveillance, indefinite detention, the Drug War, prosecution of whistleblowers, etc., should be embraced, even by progressives who find his domestic agenda unacceptable.”

    There is one more point – may be one of the most impotant points in my view – which I think could be embraced by progressives.

    If you think that Washington politics is kind of a corrupt both-party consensus hog house, which urgently needs a deep cleaning, Ron Paul is obviously the best choice of the candidates proposed by the big two parties for that job this year.

    Given his record Ron Paul is arguably the guy who will most likely act independent from most special interests groups and powerful lobbys – from the military-industrial complex over Wall Street up to the Israel Lobby – following principles and attempting to serve the majority of the people. I think that could be embraced by progressives as well.

  4. unVet says:

    Speaking of John Lennon this little video, which animates the conversation between John Lennon and 14 year old Jerry Levitan in 1969 is splendid: link to youtube.com

    Minorities for Ron Paul, Phil? Take a look at this video by Alex Merced: link to youtube.com

  5. >> Some have taken a third view, arguing that Paul’s economic theories aren’t as potentially disastrous as progressives fear.

    The US could not afford to pay the bills for Vietnam with the dollar convertible at 1/35th oz Au. It simply did not have enough gold to do this. So instead of leaving Vietnam, it left the gold standard instead.

    Since then, look at how military expenditures have grown.

    Don’t progressives see this lesson? The most effective way to end foriegn adventurism / imperial behaviour is to cut off the money. By scrapping the Fed, you will remove the bottomless cheque book the warmongers now employ to further their goals. It is the shortest path to where you guys want to go. -N49.

  6. Clif Brown says:

    My concern is not so much with large-scale wars such as Afghanistan and Iraq, because they have proven to be disasters. I can easily believe the claim that enlisted personnel overwhelmingly approve of Ron Paul. What has me worried is the new love for targeted assassinations, drone strikes, etc. a la Israel. If the US becomes a known user, even a proud user of this method (judging by Obama’s elation), the danger of a hit being attributed to the US, correctly or not, will invite exactly the kind of response that we all want to prevent, acts of terror within the US.

    I think this is the recipe for endless anxiety. Something awful happens. Who did it!? There must be some immediate response!!! Formal armies can be withdrawn fairly easily and obviously, but where is the end to infiltration by difficult to identify individuals and small groups? Who can say conclusively “it’s over”? It was the hysterical fear of infiltration that drove the US into the anti-Communist hysteria that was a low point in our history.

    If acts of terror within the US occur, there would be even more calls for the kind of Patriot Act legislation that is causing the United States to self-destruct, eroding the very things that make this country the standard for human rights and liberty for all. Fear can drive people into a cage of their own making.

    This is why I love to hear Ron Paul talk about limitations on what the President can do. Recent occupants of that office apparently believe there are no limitations. It was one of the highlights of the 20th century, a glorious moment for the United States when Richard Nixon was on the point of being brought to book.

    I also love to hear him ask us how we would feel if we were in the position of Iran at the moment, being dictated to and threatened from all sides. The foundation of sanity is being able to see oneself in the other.

    Finally – for proof that we have gone insane and need the kind of antidote that Paul could provide – I give you Leon Panetta, moaning and groaning before Congress, warning of the dire consequences of any cuts to the military, a military that is bigger than the next five (maybe ten) runners-up combined, with no contenders and no enemies on our borders. The United States policy makers have lost all perspective and Paul stands alone among any candidate for the Presidency including the President that shows he draws a connection between our Constitution and what we do.

    P.S. there was a warning long ago – when the Department of War was renamed the Department of Defense

    • David Samel says:

      The United States policy makers have lost all perspective and Paul stands alone among any candidate for the Presidency including the President that shows he draws a connection between our Constitution and what we do.

      That sums it up

  7. ToivoS says:

    I am not worried about the fissures here at MW. There are a number of big ones — support for Nato rebels in Libya, thinking Atzmon should be part of our discussion, hell even a few 911 truthers here.

    Good essay Samel, and I too was more distrubed by Slater’s view than say Lizzy’s. Samel mentions But Slater goes much further, belittling the upside of Paul’s platform, including his contempt for the loathsome doctrine of American exceptionalism and strong preference for diplomacy over brute force.. Well Slater is also belittling the views of us who oppose our global military empire and our need to intervene in the affairs of any country whose political and economic organization we find hostile to our ideas of free market capitalism.

    There was something else Slater said that left me in despair. Stopping the spread of nuclear and possible biological weapons to fanatics who are very hard to deter is, by far, the most serious challenge to US and international security–in our history. This nutty exaggeration is the lubricant that has kept a majority of Americans supporting those insane wars in the ME and is motivating a sizeable plurality to expand the war to Iran. This statement by Slater is wrong at so many levels it would take a long essay cover just a fraction of them.

    In sum Slater has in his recent words not only belittled the political views of much of the antiwar forces in this country but has promoted one of the war party’s main propaganda points that has led Americans into supporting a decade of war.

    At this point I find it difficult to take seriously his professed opposition to the Iraq war.

    • David Samel says:

      Toivo, I agree with a lot of what you say but see my response to Avi G below

    • American says:

      I think you can best sum up Slater by saying he is for the ‘Status Quo’.

      Which means those aspects of “liberalness”, diversity and nanny state-ness that have been so good for Jews and Israel ‘within’ the US and the bipartisanship in both parties in US foreign policy toward Israel. Add in his belief in (neo) liberal interventionism and the status quo is near perfect for all his interest.

      But will Slater say that he would approve of US military neo liberal (humane cause)intervention in I/P as he approved of it in Bosnia? I doubt it.

      It is Slater I think who is simple minded in believing the status quo in US government and policies can go on indefinitely when they are so obviously out of whack diplomatically, militarily, morally, financially, strategically and every other way one can think of.

  8. Ron Paul is your savior? Another Racist Republican killer, who praised the Israeli bombing of Iraq thirty years ago? Who sent out tons of openly anti-Black newsletters? Who supported that genocidal war on Afghanistan? Who’s even homophobic on top of everything else?

    What next? Dig Eisenhower out of his grave and run him for President, too?

    Your savior is yourself. You can’t avoid going to the campuses and raising hell until the students are marching to boycott Israel.

    You can’t avoid openly campaigning to boycott and cut off Israel from every dime it gets, and every iota of legitimacy it sucks out of your silence.

    Yell. Dispel that silence and insist on boycott of Israel.

    It beats the hell out of sucking your thumb and imagining that some racist dog like Ron Paul is going to save you.

    • Kris says:

      Maybe you are wrong about Ron Paul. Given that once a person of color has a criminal record, his opportunities shrink from limited to nil in the U.S., you would think that the “non-racist” position would be to end the War on Drugs. Oddly, supposedly “racist” Ron Paul is the only candidate who is speaking out on this subject. Here is what Paul said Saturday night at the New Hampshire Republican debate:

      “And one of my heroes is Martin Luther King because he practiced the libertarian principle of peaceful resistance and peaceful civil disobedience, as did Rosa Parks. But, also, I’m the only one up here and the only one in the Democratic Party that understands true racism in this country is in the judicial system. And it has to do with enforcing the drug laws. Look at the percentages.

      “The percentage of people who use drugs are about the same with blacks and whites. And yet the blacks are arrested way disproportionately. They’re — they’re prosecuted and imprisoned way disproportionately. They get — they get the death penalty way disproportionately. How many times have you seen a white rich person get the electric chair or get, you know, execution? But poor minorities have an injustice.

      “And they have an injustice in war, as well, because minorities suffer more. Even with a draft — with a draft, they suffered definitely more. And without a draft, they’re suffering disproportionately. If we truly want to be concerned about racism, you ought to look at a few of those issues and look at the drug laws, which are being so unfairly enforced.”

      Coincidentally, the new issue of “Rethinking Schools,” all of which is available for free, online, is all about the school-to-prison pipeline that we now have in the U.S.A.: link to rethinkingschools.org

      In “Schools and the New Jim Crow,” for example, which is an interview with Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” Alexander points out that the War on Drugs is an even more effective tool of racial discrimination than the Jim Crow laws, which the War on Drugs replaced, ever were. The U.S. imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid. Since 1970, the number of people in jail in the U.S. has increased 600 percent. That’s SIX HUNDRED PERCENT.

      You might be interested also in Glenn Greenwald’s latest, “The Evils of Indefinite Detention and Those Wanting to De-Prioritize Them”–
      link to salon.com

      Here’s an interesting excerpt, describing a tactic that is being used by those who want progressives to get back into the veal pen. (I’m not saying that you are using a variant of this tactic, I just am puzzled that you seem to think that people can’t support BDS and also, at the very same time, support the only anti-war/anti-police state candidate.):

      “(4) As we head into Election Year, there is an increasingly common, bizarre and self-evidently repellent tactic being employed by some Democratic partisans against those of us who insist that issues like indefinite detention (along with ongoing killing of civilians in the Muslim world) merit high priority. The argument is that to place emphasis on such issues is to harm President Obama (because he’s responsible for indefinite detention, substantial civilian deaths, andwar-risking aggression) while helping competing candidates (such as Gary Johnson or Ron Paul) who vehemently oppose such policies. Thus, so goes this reasoning, to demand that issues like indefinite detention and civilian deaths be prioritized in assessing the presidential race is to subordinate the importance of other issues such as abortion, gay equality, and domestic civil rights enforcement on which Obama and the Democrats are better. Many of these commentators strongly imply, or now even outright state, that only white males are willing to argue for such a prioritization scheme because the de-prioritized issues do not affect them. Seehere (Megan Carpentier), here (Katha Pollitt) and here (Dylan Matthews) as three of many examples of this grotesque accusatory innuendo.

      “There are numerous glaring flaws with this divisive tactic. For one, it relies on a full-scale, deliberate distortion of the argument being made; demanding that issues like indefinite detention, civilian deaths and aggressive war be given high priority in the presidential race does not remotely advocate the de-prioritization of any other issues. For another, many women and ethnic and racial minorities – as well as gay Americans — are making similar arguments about the need for these issues to receive substantial attention in the election….”

    • Bandolero says:

      @Boycott Israel on Campus
      “Another Racist Republican killer”
      “… some racist dog like Ron Paul …”

      I believe you do the cause of justice for Palestine no favor using such language.

      • The “cause of Palestine” requires one thing only. It requires that you push for Palestine, for the total boycott and isolation of Israel.

        Ron Paul stands for none of that. Plus, have you read the racist poison in Paul’s newsletters?

        Please do not believe that Palestine wants to win its freedom by putting the Klan on the throne in Washington, or that a racist could ever want to help Palestine anyway.

        I am not a pimp for Paul, and that is why.

    • kalithea says:

      @Boycott Israel writes: “It beats the hell out of sucking your thumb and imagining that some racist dog like Ron Paul is going to save you.”

      My reply: When are people going to learn to stop trusting the biased, complicit, lame-assed media; the same media that helped push the fabrications used to manufacture the rabid patriotism, same self-righteous claptrap and hysteria leading up to the Iraq war???

      Here’s a journalist who took his skeptism on these “newsletters” and ran with it.:

      Part 1.

      Part 2.

      Your words: “racist dog like Ron Paul”

      First, this is hideous and hateful, second, you and your ilk owe Ron Paul an apology because you have absolutely NO VALID PROOF OR CLIP OF HIM UTTERING RACISM, and the man repeatedly repudiated the writing of the individual whose identity has NOW BEEN REVEALED! Third: Who’s sucking their thumb? Any and every effort on behalf of Palestinians is good but the fact is that the Zionist Neocon cabal is very powerful, and when an oppturnity to make giants strides and change the mainstream narrative presents itself, you don’t THUMB YOUR NOSE and give this GIFT the finger with unfounded accusations and rabid self-righteousness!

      As I wrote in a previous post earlier: Ron Paul represents a threat to Neocons, Zionism, the Washington two-parties-equal-one establishment, tribal protectionism, victimization, big government [corruption] and personal/individual irresponsibility. Oh my! God bless him!”

      Watch the videos please and quit slandering the man.

      p.s. You sure sound a lot like stopaipac…lol!

    • john h says:

      Boycott, your focus is much narrower than those who debate about Ron Paul.

      Look at your posts, your entire focus is on Israel. That is not what this and similar threads is about.

      We are not looking for a savior, we are looking for sanity and freedom in US foreign policy.

  9. Redruin says:

    As Santorum says Ron Paul probably will not be able to implement his domestic agenda over an uncooperative Congress. But what he can do is stop our insane foreign policy, stop the extravagant waste of money, extrajudicial killings, and bring home the troops. To me this is more important than any problems I have with Paul’s domestic platform

  10. OK! So we won’t campaign for the boycott of Israel? We campaign instead for a guy who would never ever condemn Israel, never demand any punitive action against Israel at all? And a guy who is indistinguishable from the Klan in his newsletter writings on Black people?

    Unthinkable. I have no doubt that by the summer, you will be campaigning for Obama, with similar magical thinking.

    Better to push for boycott of Israel– and stand for it openly.

    • kalithea says:

      “And a guy who is indistinguishable from the Klan in his newsletter writings on Black people?”

      “Klan” my ass!

      Can you pleeeeeease look and the links I posted above and SHUT UP already.

      “We campaign instead for a guy who would never ever condemn Israel, never demand any punitive action against Israel at all? And a guy who is indistinguishable from the Klan in his newsletter writings on Black people?”

      Helloooo? He equated Israel with Apartheid, did he not? He stated he would cut FUNDING TO FOREIGN ALLIANCES, did he not? He stated he would end foreign entanglements that lead to misguided foreign policy, did he not? He stated he would open channels of dialogue and friendship with Iran, etc., etc. etc.!

      That’s more than all previous Presidents have done PUT TOGETHER.

      “Better to push for boycott of Israel– and stand for it openly.”

      Welllll, at least a broken clock is right once in a while!

    • unVet says:

      Boycott Israel on Campus,

      The people in the following videos have a much different and much more accurate view of Ron Paul than you do:

      link to youtube.com
      link to youtube.com
      link to youtube.com
      link to youtube.com
      link to youtube.com
      link to youtube.com
      link to youtube.com

    • john h says:

      OK! So we won’t campaign for the boycott of Israel?

      Stop listening to the voices inside your head; who said anything about not campaigning for a boycott of Israel, Boycott?

      Magical thinking is not a good idea.

      A better idea for you is to post only on threads about Israel, seeing you are so one-track minded.

    • Oscar says:

      BIoC, you seem to have a monomaniacal obsession with your pet project and you constantly interject non-sequiturs, such as bad-mouthing Ron Paul while demanding everyone floods college campuses with a boycott of Israel.

      You seem to be hijacking this thread with illogical comments. Ron Paul is not a racist, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich certainly are (Michele Bachmann was likewise a racist, but she can now do that from Minnesota rather than New Hampshire, SC and Florida).

      The greatest fear of the military industrial complex is that progressives en masse embrace Ron Paul as the only anti-war candidate in 2012. Which he is. The hand-wringing of progressives that, “um, yeah, but wouldn’t I be voting for a racist?” is lame, pathetic, passive and dangerous.

      We live in times that demand we don’t permit ourselves to be labeled as red state vs. blue state, conservatives vs. liberals. The label we should care to wear is “anti-war American.” Don’t worry, the rest will be hashed out by a divided Congress.

    • David Samel says:

      BIOC, take a chill pill and courses on reading comprehension and logic. Ron Paul my savior? A mutually exclusive choice between embracing Paul’s foreign policy and supporting BDS? Your admirable passion is clouding your common sense.

      • You can vote for whoever you like.

        However, absorbing your brain (and mine) with a candidate who has never fought for Palestine, with the wish that he will… is a waste of the next 4 years.

        We saw that with Obama. The big wish that he was secretly pro-Palestine. I’ll bet he is. Yet he has spent 3 years murdering Palestinians with massive support to Israel. He has spent 3 years murdering Muslims directly, in numerous countries.

        So with Paul. Get absorbed with Paul today (and then with Obama a few months later), and there are no voices demanding action against Israel. Not yours, and not Paul’s, and not Obama’s.

      • “BIOC, take a chill pill and courses on reading comprehension and logic.”

        Hmm. Could that be read as patronizing? Insulting? A comment on the intellectual weaknesses of BIOC? David’s sign of annoyance at the inability or unwillingness of BIOC to understand or fairly state David’s argument?

        Of course, on the merits David is absolutely right. On the other hand, in some cases I could name, being right on the merits, annoyed at inanities, and allowing yourself to express this annoyance is irrelevant, but in David’s case there’s no problem: He’s One of Us.

        • Mooser says:

          “but in David’s case there’s no problem: He’s One of Us.”

          Awww, I hear the echoes of a long-ago exclusion from an anti-semitic Fraternity. It was probably Eata Bita Thi.

    • Emma says:

      Statement of Congressman Ron Paul
      United States House of Representatives

      Statement on H Res 34, “Recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza, Reaffirming the United States strong support for Israel, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process”

      January 9, 2008

      Madame Speaker, I strongly oppose H. Res. 34, which was rushed to the floor with almost no prior notice and without consideration by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The resolution clearly takes one side in a conflict that has nothing to do with the United States or US interests. I am concerned that the weapons currently being used by Israel against the Palestinians in Gaza are made in America and paid for by American taxpayers. What will adopting this resolution do to the perception of the United States in the Muslim and Arab world? What kind of blowback might we see from this? What moral responsibility do we have for the violence in Israel and Gaza after having provided so much military support to one side?

      As an opponent of all violence, I am appalled by the practice of lobbing homemade rockets into Israel from Gaza. I am only grateful that, because of the primitive nature of these weapons, there have been so few casualties among innocent Israelis. But I am also appalled by the longstanding Israeli blockade of Gaza — a cruel act of war — and the tremendous loss of life that has resulted from the latest Israeli attack that started last month.

      There are now an estimated 700 dead Palestinians, most of whom are civilians. Many innocent children are among the dead. While the shooting of rockets into Israel is inexcusable, the violent actions of some people in Gaza does not justify killing Palestinians on this scale. Such collective punishment is immoral. At the very least, the US Congress should not be loudly proclaiming its support for the Israeli government’s actions in Gaza.

      Madame Speaker, this resolution will do nothing to reduce the fighting and bloodshed in the Middle East. The resolution in fact will lead the US to become further involved in this conflict, promising “vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.” Is it really in the interest of the United States to guarantee the survival of any foreign country? I believe it would be better to focus on the security and survival of the United States, the Constitution of which my colleagues and I swore to defend just this week at the beginning of the 111th Congress. I urge my colleagues to reject this resolution.

      link to antiwar.com

  11. kalithea says:

    The only thing Obama has accomplished in these last four years is making us EVEN MORE desperate for change, if that’s at all possible. Except that some of us want to hold his feet to the fire by introducing an opponent who will do it for us, while others have become complacent on issues of personal freedom, the atrocity of war and human rights in order to give Obama a second chance because they either fear the alternative, Ron Paul, or they still think Obama walks on water; as in, Obama just needs a little more time to prove he was the REAL thing. Weakness and political ambition doesn’t cross their mind and when it does they try to banish the thought. These people even fear the notion of Ron Paul pulling off the Republican nomination — and their fear is laughable to the point of irrational.

    “Many long-time contributors to this site who were in general agreement on most Israel/Palestine issues have found themselves on opposite sides of the Paul debate.”

    Yesss, curious isn’t it? And I’m not buying the economic/domestic policy excuses these long-time contributors use; I think it has more to do with a brewing, irrational hysteria that Ron Paul has a hidden supremacist agenda or that he might indirectly unleash such forces on America. Personally, this suspicion or paranoia being used as a club against Ron Paul angers me to no end! It stems from unmitigated IGNORANCE to the point of being borderline slanderous if not exactly that.

    Slater’s article on the “simple-mindedness” of Ron Paul was a total CANARD. You have to read between the lines to get it; to get what drives his anti-Ron Paul diatribe: it’s fear, it’s suspicion/paranoia, it’s herd/tribal mentality and it’s fear of CHANGE, because the status quo does have its PERKS – for some.

    “Ron Paul, who is portrayed by mainstream media and fellow politicians as a crackpot…”

    Let me add, a “revolutionary” crackpot. Jesus was a revolutionary crackpot too; look what happened to him! Of course, I’m not comparing the two not by a long shot, but there is a common thread here that needs to be RESTORED: we are all equal in the eyes of God or the Universe (if you like) and we should all be ONE. In Ron Paul’s mind: group or tribal mentality is the antithesis of equality and personal responsibility and I agree!

    John Lennon believed in Power to the People and IMAGINE a world as ONE. If John Lennon were alive today, he would be with the side NO LONGER SUPPORTING OBAMA with blood on his hands and caving to the Establishment that has usurped power from the People. Furthermore he would be with the concept of “universal equality” that Ron Paul shares in his opposition to “group-think mentality”.

    IMAGINE is all about “universal love” and rising above group think, and tribal protectionism. Actually, I believe that the concept of universal love that John Lennon believed in has already been described as anti-Semitic concept in a book entitled: John Lennon & the Jews: A Philosophical Rampage By Ze’ev Maghen.

    Fear, suspicion and paranoia are the antithesis of oneness and universal love, IMHO. And forgive me for injecting this: but that other crackpot, Jesus, also believed in oneness and universal love, although later Jesus was hijacked for other purposes, but then that’s not HIS FAULT, is it? His intention was to revolutionize the concept of love, but that’s not to say that he didn’t predict that this concept would turn brother against sister against father. He was a realist and evolution comes at a price.

    If John Lennon were alive today he’d also have gotten himself into hot water as many of us have over the issue of Zionism, a group-think injustice that led to Apartheid, and would probably be considered a raging anti-Semite.

    But what’s important to highlight here is that we need to start thinking about rising above tribal limitations and seeing ourselves as equal and ONE. We also need to adopt the “personal/individual responsibility” that it will take to rescue America and the world for that matter from certain ruin, and all these are concepts that Ron Paul promotes and far transcend his foreign policy positives. But of course, they’re MISINTERPRETED and MISUNDERSTOOD. Unless people are willing to remove FEAR, suspicion and paranoia from the equation the excuses to silence this Ron Paul and stop him in his tracks will succeed.

    There are forces who want to induce mass hysteria against Ron Paul to stop these notions from gaining momentum and a wider platform for many reasons. Ron Paul intentionally or unsuspectingly is challenging group-think, challenging the status quo on many levels, and it’s all good.

    But he will continue to be tarred and feathered and labeled a crackpot, and the singular advice that challenges us to assume personal responsibility, reject the constraints of group-think and aspire to embrace our common humanity that in essence represents our only hope for survival-BE DAMNED.

    He represents a threat to Neocons, Zionism, the Washington two-parties-equal-one establishment, tribal protectionism, victimization, big government and personal/individual irresponsibility. Oh my! God bless him!

    • David Samel says:

      kalithea, you say some beautiful things in your comment, but I do question your canonization of Paul. Simply because he is smeared as a crackpot does not mean that his record or history is pristine. He has taken many positions that are rightly viewed with horror in the progressive community. In the very unlikely event that he occupies the Oval Office, I am fairly certain that he will piss me off as much as Bush on certain issues. I do think that his positions I discuss here are so revolutionary and unique that his campaign is not just a breath of fresh air, but of great value. But St. Ron? Not just yet.

      • Mooser says:

        “in the progressive community”

        I miss eveerything. First, I was completely unaware of the new Progressive Party and its influence in American politics. And now there’s a “progressive community” and nobody sent me a prospectus, or offered to sell me a house there.

  12. sasha says:

    Thank you, David Samel. I completely agree.

  13. gazacalling says:

    Great post, Samel, thanks!

    As my brother says, “When people call Ron Paul’s foreign policy ‘dangerous,’ it’s like down is up and up is down.”

    Paul is threatening to the Establishment because he blows the lid off all the excuses for the shameful irresponsibility and recklessness.

    All they have left in their bag of tricks is to smear him. It’s simpleminded to participate in that along with them.

  14. ‘Money in politics is constitutionally protected free speech.’

    Guess who that is from?

  15. Duscany says:

    Sooner or later the Zionist community calls anyone who is against the bombing of Iran a racist, anti-Semitic homophobe. It’s so predictable it’s like watching the sun rise in the morning.

  16. jackrackus says:

    Right-on David Samel. I too completely agree!

  17. homingpigeon says:

    “True, but isn’t that a reason to oppose almost all wars, with very very few exceptions for cases like WWII?”

    An excellent article but we should examine this insistence on proving the worth of our argument by reassuring readers and listeners that we believe World War II was a good war.

    The alleged goodness of this war is always used as the first argument in favor of any war, and anyone opposing a given war seems to feel called upon to nervously reassure the reader or listener that indeed World War II was a just war. Even the death of civilians will be justified because civilians died in this supposedly most worthy of all wars.

    This phenomenon will be thoroughly examined in the first chapter of the book which refutes the World War II mythology.

  18. Avi_G. says:

    Does Professor Slater believe that a true pacifist, which Paul is not, is even more simpleminded? Slater’s perspective clearly assumes the awful premise of American exceptionalism, that the US is entitled to take actions that would be forbidden to other nations, because of our superior military capability, our superior morality, or both.

    I have a couple of observations to make:

    1. That exceptionalism also characterizes Slater’s views on Zionism and Israel. Time and again he has argued that Israel, both morally and legally, deserves to be a Jewish state, while offering little of substance in explaining how Israel can call itself a democracy when 20% of the population is not Jewish. In short, Slater advocates for Jewish, But Equal while he offers no valid arguments to support his position.

    2. Slater seems to willfully ignore sources of information that do not agree with his world view. I mention that because information that is available in the public record indicates that the United States invaded Afghanistan for ulterior motives, reasons that had nothing to do with 9/11. If one had to characterize Slater’s knowledge about the world around him, it is safe to say that his views are shaped and molded by the establishment mainstream media. Why?

    a. When bin Laden was holed up in the Sudan, before he ended up in Afghanistan, the government of Sudan offered to hand him over to the Clinton Administration in exchange for de-listing Sudan as State Sponsor of Terrorism. So if the excuse for invading Afghanistan was the capture of bin Laden, the US had the opportunity but refused.

    b. In the months prior to the invasion of Afghanistan, Taliban leaders were in Washington meeting with Bush administration officials. Therefore, if one wishes to argue that the US invaded Afghanistan in an attempt to ‘dismantle’ al-Qaeda, then that explanation has little merit. After all, post-9/11, the US claimed that it did not negotiate with Terrorists, so why was it on good terms with the Taliban one month, and a month later considered them the enemy? Was the US unaware of bin Laden’s relationship with the Taliban? Doubtful.

    All this — ironically — boils down to the fact that, in fact, it is Slater whose views are simpleminded for he sees the world through a binary prism that which the mainstream media tends to manufacture.

    • David Samel says:

      Avi, I agree with much of what you say. I would add only that I recall the Bush Administration giving the Taliban something like 43 million dollars “to fight drugs” just a few months before 9/11, without raising the slightest fuss over the Taliban’s mistreatment of women and its destruction of Buddhist monuments.

      Also, I agree with your assessment that Slater’s views on this subject are simpleminded, but he himself most certainly is not. He really is a very bright and accomplished man who has made very valuable contributions to the I/P debate. He does seem to be a bit intolerant, especially of views to the “left” of his, and occasionally misfires badly, as is the case here. Also, his continued faith in the value of a Jewish State, and its potential to be both Jewish and democratic (at least almost) is shared by many other commentators worthy of respect who make genuine and sincere efforts to end the monstrous occupation and Israeli brutality. While I share your view that Israel itself is another example of exceptionalism, I have great respect for those who have been more active and energetic than I in the cause of Palestinian human rights, even if they have a different end in sight.

  19. “All this — ironically — boils down to the fact that, in fact, it is Slater whose views are simpleminded for he sees the world through a binary prism that which the mainstream media tends to manufacture.”

    You must be joking.

  20. Chespirito says:

    Thank you David Samel for your well-calibrated post, I couldn’t agree with you more. Boy do I grow weary of professional intellectuals who are so eagerly tarring and smearing any left-lib-rad-prog who acknowledges that Ron Paul and his followers are making a positive contribution to the national discourse on foreign policy, criminal justice and civil liberties.

    Those of us who are left-lib-rad-pwog would really do well to learn how to work with Ron Paul people towards common goals rather than posture and preen and point fingers at Glenn Greenwald screeching like pod people at the end of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers (70s remake).

    Coalition politics means working with people who are DIFFERENT from you, hold some DIFFERENT political views, and it entails getting out of one’s comfort zone a bit, keeping silent at times, getting outside one’s insular subculture. Dems like Frank, Kucinich & Grayson have had the maturity to team up with Paul to cosponsor legislation; we need to work together like this outside of Congress too, we’ll find we can get a lot accomplished and we’re not going to wake up with rightwing cooties or Ayn Rand tattoos. Let’s find a way to work together towards important common goals.

  21. merlot says:

    First, I should state that I agree that Slater’s analysis was not convincing. There are things that Paul has gotten right. His willingness to speak out against a militarized US foreign policy and US military adventurism is admirable. His willingness to speak truthfully about the cost (both monetary and human) of a war on Iran should be lauded. His consistency in opposing foreign military interventions is great and I agree with each of these positions.

    That said, I can’t support him, and not just because I don’t agree with his right wing positions on social policy nor because I believe that his economic positions would be a disaster. I can’t support him because as far as I can tell his foreign policy is supporting having no foreign policy. His positions against US military intervention are not grounded in a set of principles that would result in a radically changed and enlightened foreign policy. Rather, his position would result in US isolationism and our not playing any role in the world.

    Coming from the international development world, I am one of the first to admit that in many areas US foreign assistance is politically driven and that it can be as damaging to countries as military intervention. That said, in many areas US development aid does provide vital assistance, improves peoples lives and helps to stave of conflict. The US definitely needs to reform its assistance programs, but we can’t drop them. To drop them would be immoral and would be an abdication of responsibilities that we have to people around the world. Responsibilities that we have as a result of our wealth and because in many cases that wealth has been gained at the expense of people in other countries.

    Ron Paul’s positions would stop the US from doing immoral things in the world, but they would also stop the US from providing needed assistance.

    • lysias says:

      Since our wars do far more harm than our international assistance programs do good, ending them all would on balance be a very good thing. (Not that I personally would end those aid programs, but, if the only choice is either to end both wars and aid or to continue them both, I choose ending them both.)

      • merlot says:

        If that were the only choice, I would agree that realizing an end to militarism and military intervention at the cost of foreign aid would be worth the trade off. However, my point is that Ron Paul’s positions on this as in other areas calls for getting rid of government. Domestically that would mean no education department, no social welfare, no bank or business regulation, no civil rights act, no labor right protection, no environmental protection, and of course no foreign assistance. Add to this the damage economic damage, unemployment growth, etc. that would result from his hands off economic policy (after completely revising our economic system). These trade offs are not worth his foreign policy. He may bring up some interesting ideas that I hope that others will take a bit more seriously, but they come out of motivations that are toxic and that in the end this doesn’t help those of us who stand against militarism. When you choose bedfellow morals and motivations matter.

    • homingpigeon says:

      “Ron Paul’s positions would stop the US from doing immoral things in the world, but they would also stop the US from providing needed assistance.”

      Stopping Jack the Ripper would deprive London of the services of a trained surgeon.

      • Keith says:

        HOMINGPIGEON- “Stopping Jack the Ripper would deprive London of the services of a trained surgeon.”

        Your comment is quite apropos. Sending Uncle Sam in to perform a “humanitarian intervention” is equivalent to sending in a serial mass murderer to quell an alleged domestic disturbance. The US didn’t get to be an empire by “providing needed assistance.”

        • merlot says:

          Humanitarian assistance and humanitarian intervention are not the same thing. Humanitarian intervention involves the use of force, is coercive, and ususally both responds to the needs of and is led by actors from outside the place in crisis. Humanitarian assistance is explicitly demilitarized and responds to needs that exist around the world, providing people with vital food, shelter, medical care and protection. Despite a small budget, the humanitarian aid given by the US benefits millions of people and should be continued. Humanitarian assistance is at times politicized and this does need to be changed, but reform and change should not result in the end of programs and work that save and improve lives.

          Paul might be able to stop some of the evil the US does (assuming a president actually has that power) but his positions would also result in the US pulling back and isolating itself from the rest of the world in a way that could harm as many people as are helped through halted military interventions. Additionally, while he might restrain military intervention, his positions on the deregulation of business would only serve to strengthen the very corporations that have benefited from and driven US wars and that profit off of human and environmental exploitation.

          There is a need to stop evil (i.e. Jack the Ripper), but stopping evil if done in a way that overreaches, that doesn’t get at root causes, and that ignores consequesnces can result in its own evil. We saw this in the US response to Al-Qaeda and I think Ron Paul would be equally disasterous for progressive causes.

          This is not to say that Ron Paul doesn’t raise important points nor that he should be completely marginalized. But in acknoweldging his good points we shouldn’t drink his kool aid.

        • Keith says:

          M ERLOT- Several points. First, I was probably overly hasty in keying in on homing pigeon’s response without even bothering to read your comment. Sorry. Second, I agree with much of what you say about Ron Paul. I have made similar comments in the past causing me to be criticized by the Ron Paul cadre. Finally, I think that you are overly optimistic about the benefits of US foreign assistance, which is primarily a vehicle for exercising soft power. US “aid” is mostly loans, and come with strings attached in any event. In fact, the use of debt to force Third World countries to undergo structural adjustment is a primary mechanism behind neoliberal globalization. If Uncle Sam was really interested in helping Third World countries, the first step would be to cancel Third World debt, the second would be to reverse Globalization and intellectual property rights which inhibit technological diffusion. We could go on and on, however, the rather obvious fact is that the “West” has used all means at its disposal to lock in the Third World into perpetual subservience to First World needs. As such, even “humanitarian assistance” has been used primarily to achieve dominance and control. This won’t change as long as Wall Street is calling the shots.

  22. MRW says:

    The interesting thing, to me, about Ron Paul’s race/campaign is how it exposes the power bars and the cat’s cradle of controlled manipulation in the media and DC. It’s fascinating to watch the levers being hauled and pulled to make any stated support of Ron Paul something that ‘an educated person would not do’. It exposes the edges of the intellectual prison we live in. Imagine the conceit of marginalizing someone for an anti-war position–thou shalt not kill–because theories abound to justify the opposite.

  23. Kathleen says:

    Ralph Nader was on Washington Journal on Saturday morning. He expressed the support for Ron Paul’s foreign policy stances after he pounded Ron Paul’s domestic stances. As is often the case Ralph Nader said it in a no nonsense way. Phil think you and the Mondoweiss team would be interested in what Nader had to say

  24. American says:

    “For many decades, US foreign policy has been sheer madness.”…….Samel

    This statement by Samel is the crux of the support for Paul I think.
    It is madness, all of us here know it and you don’t have to be a pacifist to agree with it. Many high in our military command also agree it has been madness. Maybe some have forgotten the Generals that (were retired) under Bush Jr. for being openly critical of first the Iraq and Afghan invasions themselves, and then the plans for a long occupation of those countries. General Powell was the one who got the most publicity for his objections, but there were many other experienced military commanders who were against invading countries to destroy a small band of ALQ. One reason being as they said, ALQ is a fluid organization, it could reform tomorrow in Africa or half a dozen other countries and what are we going to do…bomb them all? So now we have spent trillions and hundred of thousands of lives in Iraq and accomplished nothing. And moved from droning Afghan to droning Pakistan under the theory of killing off all ALQ supporters, including civilian women and children. OBL was gotten by intelligence and a small special forces elite. This was the recommended strategy by the military in going after ALQ at the outset and was rejected by Bush and Cheney’s band of zio-neos in favor of all out invasions, regime changes and democracy spreading.

    And let’s remember one other thing–the CIA and all intelligence from other countries estimated after 911 that ALQ had somewhere around 200 active members only and in addition did not find widespread support for ALQ in the ME.

    So look at what we have done now in the name of the wur on terriers…..pure waste —pure madness–pure insanity.
    It is no wonder people are embracing Paul in spite of any reservations about his domestic policy or what they might consider too isolationist about his FP.

    I don’t agree with all of Paul’s positions but I am supporting his staying in this race and even getting the repub nomination for the sake of exposing voters to the Orwellian insanity of our government.

    When you have a boat about to capsize because all the weight is on one side, smart people are going to move their weight to the other side to try and balance the boat….that’s what happening in support of Paul.

    I don’t see anyone or a chance of anyone that I think has it just right on domestic or foreign policy. When you look at what Obama has actually done, he has followed the Bush-Cheney and neo positions. I don’t know if I would vote for Paul, I might if it came to it. It would be a vote for one extreme against the other extreme and that’s we’ve been doing in this country anyway, lurching from one extreme to the other domestically while the FP of both parties has actually moved closer together. So throwing a monkey wrench like Paul into both of them might be a chance worth taking.

    • lysias says:

      And you don’t have to intend to vote for Paul in November to want him to have maximum participation in the campaign (ideally getting the Republican nomination,) so that his issues can get a full airing.