Non-interventionism or anti-American parochialism?
“Imagine for a moment,” a man’s voice intones in an urgent whisper, “that somewhere in the middle of Texas there was a large foreign military base – say, Chinese or Russian.” So begins a video produced by Revolution PAC, comprised of supporters and some former campaign staff of Ron Paul. The text of the video derives entirely from a Paul speech given in early October, in which the presidential candidate condemns what he deems to be our jackbooted foreign policy and likens our military abroad to an oppressive occupation force, while whitewashing murderous insurgents as freedom fighters.
“Imagine,” the voice continues as the text zooms and veers about on the screen,
that thousands of armed foreign troops were constantly patrolling American streets in military vehicles. Imagine they were here under the auspices of “keeping us safe” or “promoting democracy” or “protecting their strategic interests.”
The analogy, of course, is to our own troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, which Paul and his supporters cite as the reason Islamic fundamentalists hate us, along with such other offenses as our military bases on Saudi soil. And the video’s suggestion is that the justifications noted above for our presence there are mere pretexts.
The video graphics come fast and furious now, and the music and narration escalate in intensity and menace. It’s moving at a pace and volume that steamroll right over any reasoned objections:
Imagine that they operated outside of US law, and that the Constitution did not apply to them. Imagine that every now and then they made mistakes or acted on bad information and accidentally killed or terrorized innocent Americans, including women and children, most of the time with little to no repercussions or consequences. Imagine that they set up checkpoints on our soil and routinely searched and ransacked entire neighborhoods of homes. Imagine if Americans were fearful of these foreign troops, and overwhelmingly thought America would be better off without their presence.
Of course, our troops are doing anything but running around ransacking entire neighborhoods; it is the insurgents in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan who are terrorizing innocents. We have gone to such ludicrous extremes to win hearts and minds that we’re more comfortable putting our own troops’ lives at risk than offending the locals. But the video’s denigration of our military and whitewashing of the enemy get worse as the analogy goes completely off the rails:
Imagine if some Americans were so angry about them being in Texas that they actually joined together to fight them off, in defense of our soil and sovereignty, because leadership in government refused or were unable to do so. Imagine that those Americans were labeled terrorists or insurgents for their defensive actions, and routinely killed, or captured and tortured by the foreign troops on our land.
Take a moment to wrap your mind around Paul’s meaning here. He’s saying that al Qaeda- and Iranian-backed mujahideen who are wreaking havoc in Iraq, who massacre Christians and pro-American Iraqis, who gleefully kill Americans, and who are destabilizing the country in hopes of establishing another Islamic fundamentalist state, are freedom fighters who have been falsely labeled terrorists and are no different from Texans banding together in defense of our freedoms and rights against Chinese or Russian soldiers. He’s saying that our troops kill and torture innocent Iraqis routinely.
Now the narrator’s voice hits a fever pitch as he takes this offensive analogy further:
Imagine that the occupiers’ attitude was that if they just killed enough Americans, the resistance would stop, but instead, for every American killed, ten more would take up arms against them, resulting in perpetual bloodshed.
Our troops have never been out to “kill enough” of the Iraqi or Afghan people. This is an outrageous slur, but typical of the Paul mindset which eliminates inconvenient facts in order to assert that America has enemies only because our foreign policy makes them so.
The reality is that our military presence on foreign soil is as offensive to the people that live there as armed Chinese troops would be if they were stationed in Texas.
Nonsense. The reality is that reality isn’t Ron Paul’s strong suit. The video ends with Paul’s own voice asserting that we must “[cease dealing] with other nations with threats and violence” and instead, “[open] ourselves up to friendship, honest trade and diplomacy.” Right. Because we all know it’s America, not Iran or Russia or China or al Qaeda or the Taliban, that is the entity trafficking in threats and violence, and eschewing friendship, honest trade and diplomacy.
It is certainly possible to make a principled argument against American nation-building in Muslim countries. It is certainly true that there are Muslims, especially in Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires, who want Americans out of these countries. But this video of Paul’s speech is not that principled argument. It is anti-American, military-bashing propaganda that ignores historical and political complexities and “meets the left coming ‘round from the other way,” as Mark Steyn puts it. Keep in mind also that this speech is from a presidential candidate whom a former staffer claims
engaged in conspiracy theories, including perhaps the [9/11] attacks were coordinated with the CIA, and that the Bush administration might have known about the attacks ahead of time. He expressed no sympathies whatsoever for those who died on 9/11.*
The video was actually first released back in October but has been steadily gaining traction over the internet since then. It has been reposted approvingly on such websites for Islamist apologists as IslamophobiaToday and Loonwatch as a compelling explanation for “why they hate us.” As full of obviously false and offensive analogies as it is, the ad is effective with those Blame America First (and Last) children of Chomsky who believe or are easily convinced that if only America would apologize for its imperialist militarism and sin no more, peace on earth and good will toward men would sweep the globe faster than Santa’s reindeer.
Imagine this instead: Imagine that we have a President of the United States whose foreign policy consists of apologizing for America, paving the way for the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, standing by while Iran acquires nuclear weapons, and relinquishing our role as the principal actor on the world stage. "But we already have a president like that," you say. Yes, but now imagine that he is replaced in 2012 by a President who not only perpetuates this self-destructive lunacy but whose “ostrichism” exacerbates it. Imagine that in the wake of Obama’s disastrous reign, when we most need an unapologetic leader who can reverse the tide and reassert American power and dignity, we get four years of, to borrow from Steyn again, “sheer stupid half-witted parochialism” instead. Imagine Ron Paul is our next President.
*The Paul camp has not disputed the substance of these accusations, only dismissed their source as “a disgruntled former staffer who… has zero credibility.”
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