Ron Paul’s Revisionist History

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Presidential candidate Ron Paul is an ardent defender of liberty and thoroughly consistent when it comes to individual freedom. That wins him lots of support among libertarians, but it doesn’t make him right on all the issues. In fact, the positions he has taken in recent debates on a range of issues related to defense and national security sound jarringly similar to the blame-America nonsense of the left-wing fringe. Here are just a few examples.

Asked in an August debate about Iran going nuclear, the congressman challenged us to put ourselves in Iran’s shoes: “Think of how many nuclear weapons surround Iran. The Chinese are there. The Indians are there.  The Pakistanis are there. The Israelis are there. The United States is there…Why wouldn’t it be natural that they might want a weapon? Internationally, they’d be given more respect.”

When former senator Rick Santorum pushed back, citing Iran’s 1979 assault on the U.S. embassy, Paul went even further, seemingly channeling some left-wing poli-sci professor: “We’ve been at war in Iran for a lot longer than ‘79. We started it in 1953 when we sent in a coup, installed the shah, and the reaction, the blowback came in 1979.  It’s been going on and on because we just plain don’t mind our own business. That’s our problem.”

There it is. It all comes back to us. We’re to blame for Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Iran’s radicalism.

Asked in a June debate about the Afghanistan mission, Paul said he would bring the troops “home as quickly as possible. And I would get them out of Iraq as well. And I wouldn’t start a war in Libya. I’d quit bombing Yemen. And I’d quit bombing Pakistan…Our national security is not enhanced by our presence over there. We have no purpose there. We should learn the lessons of history.”

History is full of lessons, of course. One lesson, as Paul suggests, is that foreign intervention is fraught with risks and can have unintended consequences for the intervening country. But another lesson of history is that there are unintended consequences and risks to isolation.

American presidents and the American people have rejected the siren song of isolation since World War II because of, well, World War II. A consensus emerged after the war that the world could do more harm to America if America remained uninvolved and uninterested, that America could do more good in the world as a leader than as a passive observer, and that engagement in the world benefited America.

To be sure, there have been mistakes and missteps, costs and consequences, to American engagement in the world. But by and large, engagement has served American interests.

The “bring the troops home” trope always sounds appealing. But we’ve put it into practice before, and the results are often disastrous: We brought the troops home in 1919, focused on ourselves, took care of America and assiduously tried to stay out of the world’s way.  Then Chamberlain gave us Munich; Hitler gave us another European war; and Japan gave us Pearl Harbor. We began bringing the troops home in 1945. Then Stalin gobbled up half of Europe, destabilized Turkey and Greece, and armed Kim Il-Sung in preparation for his invasion of South Korea.

By the way, the United States didn’t start the war in Libya. And whether or not the critics like it, America does have a purpose in the Middle East: fighting people, organizations and states that want to kill Americans. The targets of U.S. strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia are people plotting to kill Americans in Detroit and Dallas and D.C.

It’s worth noting here that the notion that we lived in blissful, peaceful isolation before the 20th century—implicit in Paul’s foreign-policy vision—does not jibe with American history. Jefferson, after all, raised a fleet and sent it halfway around the world to wage war on America’s enemies—in the first decade of the 1800s. The Congressional Research Service lists more than 100 instances of U.S. military intervention overseas before the 20th century. “Between 1800 and 1934,” as Max Boot observes, “U.S. Marines staged 180 landings abroad.”

But back to Rep. Paul: When asked in the September 7 debate about privatization, Paul started back down the blame-America path. “Just remember, 9/11 came about because there was too much government. Government was more or less in charge. They told the pilots they couldn’t have guns, and they were told never to resist. They set up the stage for all this.”

It gets better—or worse.

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  • John

    RON PAUL 2012!!!!!

  • Sam

    After reading these articles from writers/analysts of defence and security, its no surprise they in their own world of paranoia and blissful ignorance. Its delusional to think you can go about bombing other countries on a whim and have no consequences. And to think that American troops are welcome in every country……..thats a load of balony. If you think that the average Saudi likes troops on the Arabian peninsula,……you certainly live in your own world.

    Damn, I don't know whether to laugh or cry at your colored judgements. Finally, Good luck to finding the money to fund all of these wars…………you just haven't the faintest idea of what the ever increasing deficit will do to you!

    • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

      I agree, and it’s no surprise, because this article is one step removed from Herman Kahn, who was the basis for Dr. Strangelove. I wish I could see Dowd trying to operate his hand while typing this article.

  • doncooper

    Wow! Way to go Ron Paul supporters! I was going to comment on what a misguided, uneducated hack this guy is but you guys did it all for me! Ron Paul 2012.

  • Guest

    LOL!! You really brought out the Ron Paul crowd. I think he has some things right. And I do believe it is now time to leave the middle east and drill our own oil. Yes, I have spent time in the Middle East fighting and my son-in-law is currently there, but there is no way I would support Paul. There is no way his candidacy will go anywhere but spiraling down.

  • Daniel Tanure

    "American interests". So if a bunch of brown people suffer unspeakable pain in a war on top of the unspeakable pain they already suffered from their dictators is not a problem as long as American interests are okay.

    You are harvesting oil with the blood of innocents, and that is a crime.

    "U.S. forces are welcomed by host governments" – OF COURSE THEY ARE!!! They are helping those governments oppress the people and rob them of their wealth!

    Are US forces as welcomed by the people? NO! And THAT'S what matters! The populace, not the greedy, corrupt, genocidal dictatorial government that make their lives hell!

    It's so absurd and sickening that people condone all this injustice, all this pointless violence, just to keep big corporations cozy.

    AT LEAST STOP PRETENDING THIS IS ABOUT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!!!

  • UCSPanther

    Wow. All you Ron Paul cultists are just like the Obama cultists in the last election.

    I hope your idol does get elected, because it will be fun to watch you paulnuts get dashed against the wall of reality when it all comes out in the wash that he is a failiure.

    The world is run by those who show up, and if we don't somebody else will, and they will not run the world in OUR interests…

    • UCSPantherHater

      He's been a congressman for more than 12 terms. A medical doctor, and was involved in warfare as a war doctor(i.e. the man pushing your intestines back into your body when you took a frag grenade to the chest), as well as delivered thousands of infants. Please, his resume is so much longer than your half witted attempt at a few paragraphs that it makes me laugh. To compare Obama to him, or even GW, is much like comparing a BB gun to a 50 caliber barret m82a1. One is really tiny and really annoying, the other is as accurate as anything technological today, and always has the final say. Semper Fi, and Ron Paul 2012!

      • UCSPanther

        Nice try, ron paul cultist/pseudo marine, and you threats towards me have been noted.

        I'll watch you ride the rails into the concrete wall of reality along with your idol…

  • Ben

    The majority of Ron Paule`s arguments you can read in comments and hear in the street.
    Life become too complicated,America is tired of its imperial role,big government and so on…We even can understand rightness of our enemies… All these are pure emotions and Ron Paul irresponsibly allows himselve to express them.

  • NIGHTMAREuki

    how can anyone take you seriously if you can tell the difference between isolationism and non-interventionalism?

  • gunthar_d

    This attack strategy will not work on Ron Paul.

    By summoning all the way back to WWII, Dowd draws upon "mom, Apple Pie and the American Way" in order to separate Paul's ideas from both his actions and his environment.

    His 30-year congressional record; his chairmanship of Domestic Monetary Policy; his seat on the Committee of Foreign Affairs; his two previous attempts at the White House; his commission in the USAF; and his service to this country as a medical doctor have permanently sealed his ideas to his actions: honorable, unshakable, consistent, and truly, truly authentic.

    Being a driving force in our economy and our foreign affairs, he and his environment are equally inseparable. Since he is, as admitted by even the staunchest mainstream media pundits, setting the political agenda for this campaign, then 'driving force' is quite an adequate and fitting standard he bears – regardless of how Romney and Perry magically surge in polls that I'll be damned if I can locate.

    Ron Paul is too consistent to exhaust himself trying to work a way around the status quo attack on his foreign policies. He'll just keep saying the same thing over and over again because he strongly believes in his righteousness, love and authentic approach to peace.

    This is another failed attempt to paint Ron Paul as too incompetent and naive to be President of the United States of America.

    Although tempted, I avoided commenting on too many specifics of this article because they're just recycled talking points that, even though Dowd is reportedly an excellent researcher (sic), they will easily succumb to scrutiny.

    Ron Paul 2012

    For more information on Alan Dowd, and his oddly juxtaposed and divergent beliefs, please visit http://www.alanwdowd.com

  • Burning_Tyger

    Why is it, every time I read an article where someone criticizes Ron Paul, it is so obvious that they have no clue on the basis for which he makes his arguments. You only have to read about 20 pages into The Revolution to see that he does not put the blame on terrorist acts on the U.S. directly. He says very plainly that the responsible parties are the terrorists themselves. However, his point is that the motivations that terrorists use are indeed a result of our interference in foreign affairs. He doesn’t just pull these claims out of the air, but backs them up with reports and commentary from the experts in the intelligence service. In fact, he is only stating outright what the CIA has known for years. So if you have a problem with the basis of his stance on non-interventialism, then you have a problem with the facts. You may disagree with his conclusion, but the facts that he basis his conclusion on are there and are difficult to ignore.

    • Don-in-Ytown

      I can't wait for Ron Paul to be President. When the Chinese attack Hawaii Ron will say it's because the US supported Taiwan. He'll say as Burning_Tyger says, that they are motivated because of our interference in their affairs. If this isn't blame the US, I don't now what is. After China attacks, Paul will stick his non-interventionist head in the sand while all the interventionist countries around the world wreak havoc, then he'll tell us all that it's a state's rights issue whether or not we should all come to the defense of Hawaii. He's clueless on world affairs.
      P.S. Where is there a reference for all this so called military support for Paul? I'm a vet who served in Iraq twice. I know of no military groundswell of support for Ron.

  • Jose Mora

    I see talking points and opinions but not a single valid argument or fact that supports this article. Just empty rhetoric.

    Nothing here folks, just another weak statist news media hit piece.

    Each one of these just strengthens Dr. Paul’s credibility.

  • Bart

    "We began bringing the troops home in 1945. Then Stalin gobbled up half of Europe, destabilized Turkey and Greece"
    It's time for the author to go back to college and take some history classes. Division of Europe had been agreed to by Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt, at the Yalta conference in 1945.

  • Free Man

    "American presidents and the American people have rejected the siren song of isolation since World War II​ because of, well, World War II. A consensus emerged after the war that the world could do more harm to America if America remained uninvolved and uninterested, that America could do more good in the world as a leader than as a passive observer, and that engagement in the world benefited America."

    REALLY?!? When was this referendum voted on? I can't seem to locate the referendum or the Article V change to the constitution that changed "…provide for the common defence" to "control the political will of all other sovereign nations."

    You are also correct that the US did not start a war in Libya – but then Libya did not start a war with us which would authorize the use of force in providing for the common defense…

  • tripzero

    “>There it is. It all comes back to us. We’re to blame for Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Iran’s radicalism.”

    That’s not even close to what Paul said. Are we responsible for the Iranian attacks in the 70′s. No. Individuals and governments are responsible for choices they make. Does that mean that we didn’t give them ample justification because of our meddling in their affairs? Nope. It’s rather simple. When you do things that people or groups become angry about, those people make appropriate or inappropriate responses to that anger. The CIA calls it “Blowback”. We know our actions often cause blowback. Yet politicians seem to use it politically when it happens to push for one thing or another. 9/11′s blowback was used to fight two wars with no end in sight. We were trying to get justice for the 3,000 souls that died on that dreadful day. Now we have many multiples of lost American lives and that number will keep going up as long as we are there.

    Paul never said we are to blame for Iran wanting a Nuke. Everyone wants a Nuke for reasons of self defense if anything. Pakistan got them. India and China got them. Nobody is saying we are to blame for that.

    Is Iran more dangerous with a Nuke? Maybe. If Israel is really nervous, they can go in and stop it. They are more than capable We need not get involved. If nobody does anything and Iran gets a nuke. Maybe they use it, maybe they don’t. If they do, they’re likely to be wiped off the map and they know it. And if they are that suicidal, I’m sure we’d be seeing a lot more suicide attacks from Iranians than we do. (iirc, most are Iraqis and Saudi’s).

  • sector7

    We need to make a distinction between the US govt and the people. The author does not. The govt plays on our emotions regarding 911 to justify murder and corporate gains. 250,000 have died in the war on terror. How many do you think were suicide terrorists that could not be bargained with? How many 18-24 yeAr old Iraqis see us as liberators? We can’t afford this. We need to realize a better way. Ron Paul as pres is the only way this can happen.

  • Ghostwriter

    Ron Paul is both an isolationist and a fool. He thinks Iran should have nuclear weapons. I can think of a country less worthy to have those weapons then Iran. The Iranians have repeatedly said they want to wipe Israel of the face of the earth. The world should take such threats seriously. Ron Paul doesn't. He's willing to let Israel be destroyed just because he thinks this country is wrong. Senator Paul is living in a fairy tale,just like Obama is. Unfortunately,the rest of us live in the real world,not Paul's never-never-land of isolationism.

  • Rifleman

    Lol, look at all the ronpaul loonies, it looks like a carp pond at feeding time in here today. This story says all you need to know about ronpaul:
    http://gop12.thehill.com/2011/09/ron-paul-says-he

    Kookynich on his cabinet? ROTFLMAO!

  • howdeydoodey

    Ron Paul is way more lucid and constructive than any Republican candidate, that's what pisses off the warmongers and profiteers so much. The fact the he can really attract voters from all political spectrums because he cares more about freedom for all americans and about rebuilding the nation instead of wasting money and lives on senseless wars that only benefit big business and the military industrial complex.

  • http://www.resonoelusono.com/NaturalBornCitizen.htm Alexander Gofen

    Mr. Paul's supporters think that America has fought mostly wrong wars, in a wrong way, and tended to unnecessarily sacrifice our soldiers. Let us get the soldiers back home: the sooner the better.

    In this one particular issue THEY ARE CORRECT (see below)! I am completely for it. I too would not send even one American soldier in the fields. If we are attacked, we have bombers and missiles. The attacking nations must be annihilated remotely. On 9/12/2001 Mecca and Medina ought to be nuked, islamic symbols evaporated, so we would have peace for the next thousand years – something that Paulbots do not understand.

    Yes, for 80 years the external policy of the US has been erratic (to put it mildly), heavily influenced by the "progressive" anti-American elements, as Skousen wrote already in the 1950s (The Naked Communist). What did conservative do then? They were yawning…

    For 80 years the "progressive" policy makers (the State Department in the first place) deliberately diminished the global aspirations of the big enemies of freedom such as Soviets, Nazis, and now of islam. Since recognition of USSR in the 1930s and on, the entire US policy was essentially against American interests. It was mostly appeasement of the enemies and denial of the real jeopardy we were in http://www.resonoelusono.com/Imminent.htm

    Nowadays this denial originates both from the leftist fellow travellers, and from Mr. Paul.

  • Classical liberal

    Didn’t Ike run and win on bringing our troops home? It sounds like author if this post lives in an interventionalist fantasy land where as long as we are policing the world, nothing bad will ever happen.

  • The Truth

    I failed to see the part where the author proves that RP is revising history.

    Does the author even know what revision means?

  • UCSPanther

    Ron Paul cultists demonstrate typical cult-of-personality behavior, where they aggressively seek to stifle any discussion about any potential faults of their idol.

    Their antics in the comment sections of articles with their obnoxious slogan yelling and other belligerent behavior only serve to prove that beyond a doubt.

  • LibertyLooms

    Mr. Dowd, foreign policy is not a choice between zero contact or trade and bombing. "Isolationism" is not what Paul proposes. He's a "noninterventionist." He also argues that military intervention causes the US to be isolated. He's right. You're wrong.

    You're wrong also by denying that Iranian hostage taking in '79 was blowback for CIA and US corporate interests userping their democratically elected president Mosadeck.

    Bone up on the facts, dumb ass.

  • vlparker

    Paul is right on many issues including a lot of our overseas adventures. There is no reason why the American people need to be the defenders of the world. We cannot afford it. We are broke.

    The one thing that Ron Paul is clueless on is Islam. They don't hate us because we are "over there" they hate us because we are not muslims. They have been trying to convert or subjugate infidels (including each other) for 1400 years. We are infiltrated by Islam at all levels of government and also in the military. It is time to start fighting Islam here instead of in the Middle East. No foot baths in airports, no special prayer breaks for muslims (that would never be allowed for any other religion), no whitewashing of honor killings like is going on in Tampa, no forcing police officers to attend mosques against their will like is going on in Oklahoma, etc. Islam is not just a religion. It is a supremacist political idealogy that is totally incompatible with the US Costitution.

  • boxman7124

    Step away from the crack pipe man. We need to mind our own business. Seven Hundred bases outside CONUS and we can't afford to keep domestic military bases open. Seems to me this was the same problem Rome had before it fell.

  • Morphy101

    The only reason why the US is in the Middle East is…OILOILOIL. Everybody knows the bottom line off this dirty game. Time to end it!

  • Jeffrey

    Problems with your logic:
    A. You dismiss 50 years of intervention in the middle east saying “that is all … We’re to blame.” I don’t know if you realize this. But dismissing an argument by implying it’s ridiculous doesn’t make it wrong.
    B. You compare non-interventionism with isolationism when they’re not the same.
    C. You compare WWII Germany and Iran today. It’s a bad analogy because Iran does not pose a worldwide threat and Ahmadinejad is not te supreme leader of Itan, he has superiors.
    D. You imply that bringing the troops home from WWI CAUSED WWII, which shows your ignorance of history.

    Here are more inaccuracies, but that should do for now.

  • gracentruth

    I was for Ron Paul early on. Then I was definitely for Herman Cain because of his 999 and stand for Israel. Mr. Cain was driven out by lies that people swallowed.
    then Doctor Paul explained his stand for Israel and I was swayed back to his position. When I watched the Army/Navy football game today, the announcer told the number of West Point graduates that have been killed in (I believe) Afgh. I think it was 70. My heart broke. Doctor Paul is the only candidate who will bring our military home.
    I now support him again 100%.

  • http://wredlich.com/ny Warren Redlich

    The people of Okinawa are not happy about US bases there, even though the Japanese government in faraway Tokyo is okay with it.

    In many of these countries there is one group of people, who happen to control that country's government, who invite us in. But there are others who don't like it, and they view it as their country.

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