Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Barak Obama & Ron Paul Have The Same Foreign Policy Goals

I was born at the tail end of the Cold War. I remember when people thought that the Berlin wall would never come down. And yet it did. Less than twenty two years later, the world is changing again in dramatic way. A few years ago, it was unthinkable that protests for freedom would erupt across the Middle East in Iran, Tunisia, Lebanon, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Iraq. Even protests are erupting in China again.
Obama campaigned on a promise of hope and change. Yet, when the moment of real hope and change comes to the Middle East and other nations around the world, he's reluctant to support the people in other nations who want hope and change. 
Prior to the the Iranian protests in 2009, President Obama stated that he did not want to interfere with Iran. He made good on that promise by doing nothing when the people of Iran protested. He continues to keep that promise even as cries for democracy sweep across the Middle East. 
Even Democrats are flabbergasted by Obama's unwillingness to provide support for protesters on the fear that his Presidential actions would be seen as interfering with the affairs of another nation. Niall Ferguson explains that Obama has and continues to blow it when it comes to these historic events in the Middle East:
"The statesman can only wait and listen until he hears the footsteps of God resounding through events; then he must jump up and grasp the hem of His coat, that is all." Thus Otto von Bismarck, the great Prussian statesman who united Germany and thereby reshaped Europe's balance of power nearly a century and a half ago.
Last week, for the second time in his presidency, Barack Obama heard those footsteps, jumped up to grasp a historic opportunity… and missed it completely.
In Bismarck's case, it was not so much God's coattails he caught as the revolutionary wave of mid-19th-century German nationalism. And he did more than catch it; he managed to surf it in a direction of his own choosing. The wave Obama just missed—again—is the revolutionary wave of Middle Eastern democracy. It has surged through the region twice since he was elected: once in Iran in the summer of 2009, the second time right across North Africa, from Tunisia all the way down the Red Sea to Yemen. But the swell has been biggest in Egypt, the Middle East's most populous country."
The President's desire to follow a non-interventionist policy is the same policy that Ron Paul advocates. Some people think Ron Paul is an isolationist while others argue that he's merely a non-interventionist. Regardless of what you call Obama and Ron Paul's foreign policy decisions, the effect is the same. It is turning a blind eye to what is going on in the world and letting them unfold while withholding praise or condemnation for what is  happening.
Refusing to get involved in the affairs of other nations is the most spineless position a President can take. If you cannot fight for a principle, then you have no principle to fight for. If you're not willing to fight for something you believe is wrong, then doing nothing about it is not equivalent to doing something about it. An attempt to be morally neutral is a moral evil. 
The refusal to intervene demonstrates that whatever principle you claim to uphold doesn't really matter much to you if you're not willing to go to the mat for it. If one claims to champion liberty and freedom but is willing to be silent or to stand back while dictators beat, shoot and imprison people and not speak out for what is right and good, then freedom and liberty do not mean much to that person.
Furthermore, if someone is seeing evil unfolding before their very eyes and says nothing or doesn't do anything about it, what does it say about the person themselves? I would think that they are morally empty, weak or dysfunctional. Moreover, its hard to take someone seriously when the make an attempt to take a moral stand on a different or unrelated matter in the future. I think isolationism or non-interventionism undermines the credibility and reliability of the person.
President Barak Obama is a good example of both claims here. Since he was silent when the 2009 Iranian protest rolled around, he hasn't been very reliable or credible while a bigger wave of protests have been sweeping across the nation. Moreover, Obama has been morally dysfunctional and empty when it comes to the brutality and killings that the Middle East protesters have experienced. Even though he expressed remorse over the death of an Iranian protester in 2009, His attempt to be even handed, cool and detached is so odd in the face protesters who have been beaten or have been killed.
Ron Paul is well known for his position that America should not be involved in the affairs of other nations. For example, he was the only person to vote against the House Resolution to support Iranian dissenters and here is his explanation for why he voted the way he did:
"I rise in reluctant opposition to H Res 560, which condemns the Iranian government for its recent actions during the unrest in that country. While I never condone violence, much less the violence that governments are only too willing to mete out to their own citizens, I am always very cautious about "condemning" the actions of governments overseas. As an elected member of the United States House of Representatives, I have always questioned our constitutional authority to sit in judgment of the actions of foreign governments of which we are not representatives. I have always hesitated when my colleagues rush to pronounce final judgment on events thousands of miles away about which we know very little. And we know very little beyond limited press reports about what is happening in Iran.
Of course I do not support attempts by foreign governments to suppress the democratic aspirations of their people, but when is the last time we condemned Saudi Arabia or Egypt or the many other countries where unlike in Iran there is no opportunity to exercise any substantial vote on political leadership? It seems our criticism is selective and applied when there are political points to be made. I have admired President Obama's cautious approach to the situation in Iran and I would have preferred that we in the House had acted similarly.
I adhere to the foreign policy of our Founders, who advised that we not interfere in the internal affairs of countries overseas. I believe that is the best policy for the United States, for our national security and for our prosperity. I urge my colleagues to reject this and all similar meddling resolutions."
Its clear from this quote that Ron Paul admires Obama for his commitment to non-interventionism. If you want to see what Ron Paul would look like as President, you don't have to wait and find out because Ron Paul and Barak Obama have the same foreign policy goals. 
Ron Paul's voting record clearly demonstrates his commitment to isolationism or non-interventionism.  He was the only politician to vote no on a bill to condemn the Chinese government's religious persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. Again, he was the lone "nay" voter in the House resolution honoring heroic Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
Its not surprising that he was the lone no vote two years ago on a resolution expressing condolences to the people of Burma after they were hit by a devastating cyclone or that he was the only member of the House to vote against a 2007 resolution “noting the disturbing pattern of killings of numerous independent journalists in Russia since 2000, and urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to authorize cooperation with outside investigators in solving those murders.”
He was also the lone voter on  H.Res. 180, the "Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007" which would "require the identification of companies that conduct business operations in Sudan [and] prohibit United States Government contracts with such companies." Its amazing to me that Ron Paul would vote no on businesses who were making money in countries were mass genocide were taking place.
But then again, its not surprising that he would vote  no on a resolution that required the Secretary of Defense to keep track of companies operating within the United States that are associated with the People's Liberation Army of China. I am truly baffled by this vote. How does authorizing the Secretary of Defense to track American business who do business with China's army meddling with another country? If Ron Paul thinks there's nothing wrong with America businesses selling products to a foreign enemy, I'd like to hear his explanation of how that will keep America safer or strong.
Not only did Ron Paul vote no in monitoring companies who conduct business in Darfur or with the People's Liberation Army of China, he also voted against HR 1400, which aimed at blocking foreign investment in Iran, in particular its lucrative energy sector. But then again, why make it harder for foreign companies to invest in Iran's energy sector if he thinks that Iran is using these nuclear plants for peaceful purposes?  
Ron Paul doesn't always vote no. He did vote "yes" on a law dealing with “Romania’s ban on intercountry adoptions and the welfare of orphaned or abandoned children in Romania.” 
Wait a minute. If Ron Paul is against meddling with the affairs of other nations, isn't he interfering with Romania's right to place a ban on intercountry adoptions and the welfare of orphaned or abandoned children?
Ron Paul also voted in favor of House Resolution 364 encouraging Bill Clinton to support a resolution condemning China's violations of Human rights at the next session of United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

What is so ironic about his votes is that he's against the United Nations in all its forms and has voted in support of withdrawing from the United Nations. But hey, he's not against American involvement in foreign affairs so long as its done through an intermediary like the United Nations. I guess Ron Paul favors interfering with other nations so long as we don't do it directly but indirectly. 

If you look at Ron Paul's voting record, his position of isolationism and non-interventionism is morally hollow and spineless position. Taking a stand on another country's ban adoptions is easy to do. There's nothing evil or inherently wrong about it. Telling the President to vote in favor of a U.N. resolution doesn't require any moral courage either.

However, there is something evil and wrong with governments who willing to oppress, brutalize or kill their own citizens. And taking a stand against evil governments require a certain amount of moral courage and strength.

As the old adage goes, "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." By refusing to vote yes in support of Iranian protesters, a religious minority in China, or people who have been hit by a devastating cyclone or to refusing to support news reporters who are being killed by their own governments or refusing to monitor business who are making a profit in a country where genocide is taking place or who do business with your enemies, it is  allowing evil to prevail because you're allowing evil men to carry on their activities unobstructed, unrestricted and unopposed.

Not only is the refusal to meddle in the affairs of other nations morally hollow and spineless, it is also unrealistic.

One blogger points out that a failure to intervene makes not only makes problems grow bigger when it could have been resolved early but the refusal to interfere doesn't mean others will reciprocate in not interfering with the isolationist or non-interventionist:
"The most simple rule of history, as Paul Kennedy unwittingly provides in the Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, is that if you don’t entangle, “they” will entangle you, and usually from a position of superiority and untapped aggression." 
And most often, the refusal to intervene in world events allow bad things to go on longer than they should:   
"The twentieth century was a depressing list of lost opportunities to confront extreme leviathans that were once just sea urchins — from Prussian militarism, fascism, and communism to Islamism. Mr. Paul and his allies would do well to understand that it is precisely those entanglements that must and will continue to enhance our security."
If Obama and Ron Paul are willing to stand back and do nothing, then other nations are more than willing to step in and entangle in the affairs of other nations and will go even further to involve themselves in our own country's affairs here at home. In other words, if America chooses not to intervene, then China, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea or some other nation known for its brutal oppression of it own people and repressing freedoms will be glad to step in.

And once you've decided isolate your self or refuse to entangle with others, it makes it so much easier for them to interfere. Moreover, it gets harder to fight back or assert your national interests once you've resigned from playing on the world stage. That is why foreign aid, diplomacy, economic trade and military might are so crucial to the United States because if we don't intervene, someone else will. Moreover, it will be harder to acquire the needed resources, material and support since our clout will shrink while another nation's power expand.

Not only is non-interventionalism or islolationsim not a realistic position to take, it is also a great way to lose friends and allies in around the world. He voted no on the United States-Caribbean Trade Partnership Act which would expand tarriff free relations to several south American and Caribbean nations. He voted against the U.S.and India Nuclear Cooperation Act of 2006 and the bill approving US-India Nuclear deal.  He voted against a bill supporting democratic institutions in Pakistan  and voted in support of removing our soldiers from Pakistan. He voted against giving Aid to Haiti after it experienced the worst earthquake in its history but it passed by 411 to 1. He voted no on funding to Combat AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis around the world.

Ron Paul was adamantly opposed to President Clinton using American forces to stop ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. He voted Yes on the Military Operations in Yugoslavia Limitation Act which forbids the Defense Department from spending money deploying our troops in that region unless Congress approved it. He also supported the bill to withdraw our troops from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He also voted yes on a similar bill called the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops from the Balkans resolution.

Ron Paul also thinks that we shouldn't be an ally of Israel. But then again, he doesn't think we should be supporting Taiwain either since he did not support the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act which increases military ties and cooperation with Taiwan. Not surprisingly, he also voted against the U.S.-Taiwan Missile Defense Cooperation bill.

Perhaps the most troubling thing about Ron Paul commitment to non-interventionalism or islolationsim is that Ron Paul claims to be a supporter of the Constitution and freedom yet votes "no" when the opportunity arises to demonstrate that support. As one blogger so angrily points out, Ron Paul's claim to support  freedom and the Constitution is contradicted by his voting record and the historical record: 
"Ron Paul is the only patriot in America.
(Hey Doktor Senile Fucktard, where exactly in your pocket Constitution does it say the United States can’t give cost-free moral support to democratic movements? You know, because the motherfucking FOUNDERS sure supported nascent democratic movements. Idiot.)"
For example, Ron Paul Voted against the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998 which would allow President Clinton to give assistance to Iraqis who wanted freedom in Iraq. He also voted against the China Political Freedom bill as well. Strangely enough, he did vote yes on Tiananmen Square Resolution encouraging President Clinton to reconsider attending a formal welcoming ceremony in Tiananmen Square until the Government of the People's Republic of China acknowledges the Tiananmen Square massacre, pledges that such atrocities will never happen again, and releases those Chinese students still imprisoned for protesting that day.

But then again, a vote encouraging the President to reconsider going to a welcoming ceremony held in Tianamen square is an easy and cowardly position to take. 

Given that Ron Paul weak and soft position on international issues and national security issues, its not a surprise that the Young Americans For Freedom would finally remove Ron Paul from the organization's National Advisory Board.

Which brings me back to Obama. This is why Obama's foreign policy decisions are the same as Ron Paul's. Obama has a different approach to isolationism or non-interventionism in that he won't intervene unilaterally unless other countries decide to intervene as well: 
"The Obama administration also behaves as if the weight of the United States in world affairs is approximately the same as that of Switzerland. We await developments. We urge caution, even restraint. We hope for the formation of an international consensus. And, just as there is something despicable about the way in which Swiss bankers change horses, so there is something contemptible about the way in which Washington has been affecting—and perhaps helping to bring about—American impotence. Except that, whereas at least the Swiss have the excuse of cynicism, American policy manages to be both cynical and naive."
The only difference between Ron Paul and Barak Obama is that Ron Paul will not intervene with another country under any circumstances whereas President Obama will intervene only if other countries want to do so.
Whether Ron Paul or Barak Obama is an isolationst or non-interventionalist, the effect of his foreign policy is the same. Isolationism by any name is still isolationism. Obama and Ron Paul may have different approaches about how to go about implementing their foreign policy views but in the end, final result is the same. It is a  refusal to interact with the world and to make decisions that will have an effect on other nations. It is a refusal to take a stand or a position on how other nations behave or act. It is a willingness to turn a blind eye to death and destruction. It is a willingness to take a stand on soft issues but not on hard ones. For some people, it means to draw inward and shut the world out. For others, it means not acting unless there has been an international consensus to act.
As a result, it is a naive, unrealistic and morally cowardly position to take. It is a passive, limp wristed, and leaderless way to deal with the problems around the world. Moreover, often times, isolationist make matters worse because by refusing to take a stand, you let the problem grow bigger rather dealing with it in its infancy. While isolationsit think that they're doing the right thing by not interefering, they're actually doing the wrong thing. Isolationists actually help the bad guys since they can continue with their unobstructed, unrestricted and unopposed. 
Which why I find Ron Paul and Barak Obama foreign policy positions to be very disturbing. They have good intentions and desires but the fruit of their beliefs results in bad outcomes. What is even more disturbing is that they are not disturbed by the consequences of their own beliefs. They are willing to stand back and not do anything while people are dying or being abused at the hands of their governments. 
I would like to introduce you to a leader who had no qualms with interfering with other nations. He got in the face of evil and challenged them. He was no milquetoast when it came to foreign policy. He was a strong leader who argued that isolationism or non-interventionism is just to surrender and appease your enemies. Listen to this man explain why America must play an assertive role in promoting and defending freedom around the world: 


  1. Interesting perspective, I never had seen the connection until you pointed it out!

    I figured I'd comment before the usual Paultards come on here(and I say that in the most loving way possible), but I think you are missing a crucial part of Paul's ideological position. By that I mean to say, his view of the 'actual' role of government is different from Reagan's or Obama's. Whereas for some the Federal Gov't may be a tool to directly(Reagan) or indirectly(Obama) coerce others or push an agenda, Paul believes it is simply there to maximize the ability of its citizens to do what they will.

    Reagan would send US troops to overthrow Grenada in order to support democracy. Obama would send Gov't humanitarian aid to those victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti in order to help those in need. Paul's answer to these would be to get the red tape out of the way so that passionate supporters of freedom in Grenada could go there themselves and fight for change, and to make it as easy as possible for those who wish to help those in Haiti help, be it by donations or going there to help. In his mind, its not the Federal Government's role to make these decisions for people, or to tie up aid in BS Senatorial procedures. It's to lay a solid foundation for people to act upon. Do you still think that is a weak position to take?

  2. How would cutting red tape help citizens of another country who are not citizens of the US be helpful in retaking the Government of Grenada?

    I didn't know the US government had red tape for people of other countries who want to overthrow their own government.

    The idea of cutting red tape to help out in foreign crisis is stupid and unrealistic. It doesn't even make sense.

  3. This is a really funny article, considering Obama seems to be a pretty adamant interventionist. The wars Iraq and Afghanistan are still going on, and now we're in Libya.

  4. Anonymous: Obama was or used to be an admant non-interventionist or isolationist. He was certainly that way when he was a U.S. Senator.

    Perhaps he's become an interventionist now that he's become President and he actually has to make decisions as President. But as I stated in my article, Obama will conduct a war only if the world community agrees to it or pushes for it. He won't act unilaterally as a President to resolve a world crisis.

    Regardless, Obama's actions with Libya proves my point that its not possible to be an non-interventionist or isolationist in today's world.

  5. What is truly naive is to believe that the morass of political interests that comprise the federal government would ever act for purely moral reasons. If you believe for a second that the President has initiated war against the Libyan state for humanitarian reasons alone, you are indeed being grossly ignorant of reality. To believe that we have the ability to perpetually fund such global policing and nation-building endeavors is also ignorant, and the truth of the matter is without undermining the legitimacy of the dollar and allowing it to inflate and national debt to pile up, we would not be able to fund such schemes. There is a limit to how far we can stretch our military power and our resources, and to continue to push these limits and press our luck with how much funny money we can print to pay for this stuff until our economy collapses is indeed itself be a threat to our national security.
    Furthermore to advocate the unilateral action of the executive branch without the consent of Congress and a declaration of war which our Constitution mandates is to not advocate the principles of constrained, constitutionally limited, free government; but indeed to, as a logical consequence, sanction at least the authority of dictators, if not to slaughter and brutalize their citizens, at least to rule with legitimacy, no limits or constraints on their executive power required.