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Taco John
08-02-2007, 11:16 PM
Goldwater is to Reagan as Ron Paul is to...

By Gregory Scoblete

In politics, ideas frequently spread like viruses. Even if their host succumbs, the ideas that animated them can survive to infect the body politic. Such was the certainly case with Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. In the era of the Great Society, his limited government views were resoundingly rejected by the electorate in his 1964 presidential bid. Yet those same ideas eventually culminated in a very contagious outbreak - the Reagan revolution -16 years later.

Will there be a similar legacy for Texas congressman Ron Paul? Yes, Paul's platform differs greatly from Goldwater's and Paul is even more of a long shot than was Goldwater in winning the nomination, which was half of Goldwater's great achievement, but we know one element of the comparison is already apt: Paul will not be President of the United States. But just as Goldwater's limited government creed found a receptive public years later, one theme of Paul's campaign will, with time, also carry the day: his embrace of non-interventionism.

Though he has garnered considerable Internet enthusiasm, Paul trails in all the major polls. He does not possess the name recognition of a Giuliani, the personal wealth of a Romney or the fame and establishment enthusiasm of a Thomson. He is derided by many conservative pundits as idiosyncratic, or worse, a paranoiac.

Yet, unlike the rest of the field, Paul possess a compelling foreign policy message of humility and restraint in the exercise of U.S. power. To say that such a message is unpopular, especially with the contemporary GOP, is an understatement. But it is a message increasingly vindicated by events and by the strategic realities of the post Cold War world.

During the May 15 debate in South Carolina, Paul wondered how Republicans were able to capture the presidency in 2000. "We talked about a humble foreign policy," he said. "No nation-building; don't police the world." Paul, alone among GOP contenders, opposed the invasion of Iraq and has been a critic of the enterprise ever since.

Such restraint does not sit well with many conservatives intent on seizing what columnist Charles Krauthammer dubbed the "unipolar moment" of American ascendancy in a world without the Soviet Union. To them, only the maximalist goals espoused by President Bush in his second inaugural address are worthy of America. Neoconservative champions of an "American Empire" such as Council on Foreign Relations scholar Max Boot chafe at the notion that there are, or should be, limits to American power or that the American interest should be defined as anything less than a globe-spanning, benevolent imperium. Unfazed by our inability to pacify Iraq, neoconservatives like Norman Podhoretz (recently named as an advisor to the Giuliani campaign) are now agitating to expand the war into Iran.

Nor does Paul's parsimony sit well with Democrats and liberals, whose predilection to use military force seems to increase as the relevancy of the mission to U.S. security decreases. Supposedly aghast by the civil war in Iraq, Democratic statesmen like Delaware Senator Joseph Biden want to insert the U.S. into Sudan. If you blanched at the President's Second Inaugural, which pledged to erase tyranny from the pages of human memory, you won't find much comfort in Barack Obama's barely-less expansive formulation of America's interests in Foreign Affairs.

Against such an overwhelming tide of grandiosity and hubris, it sounds farcical to suggest that non-interventionism will some day sway voters and find eventual electoral success. But it will.

First though, it's important to distinguish non-interventionism from isolationism. The former seeks a more rigorous and delimited definition of America's interests, while the latter a walled garden that completely cuts America off from the world. Non-interventionists are not pacifists, but they do reserve war fighting for moments of actual national peril. (Paul, for instance, voted to authorize war in Afghanistan in 2001.) They do not view the military as an instrument of social policy. If war is to be fought, non-interventionists demand a Congressional declaration of war to ensure that the conflict is one in which the nation's resources are fully brought to bear.

Unlike isolationists, non-interventionists do not fear expanding and liberalizing trade (Paul has frequently said as much). Non-interventionists are confident in American strength and, unlike isolationists, are optimistic about America's engagement with the world. What they do not seek, however, is dominion over it. Non-interventionists trust that Western values are persuasive on their own terms, and become correspondingly less so when they are imposed on societies at gunpoint. Finally, non-interventionists tend to possess a truly conservative skepticism about government and the malleability of human nature. They do not believe America should squander its blood and treasure as it pursues utopian schemes like "ridding the world of evil."

The precise content of Paul's campaign platform won't be adopted, even many years down the road. With calls to withdraw from NATO and the UN, it's far too radical. Yet the contours of his non-interventionist approach to foreign policy will ultimately win the day. For starters, thank President Bush. The invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq have exposed and discredited a number of dubious theories endorsed by the war's advocates. It reminded us that the proper role of a military is to destroy states, not coax democratic ones from the rubble. Yet it also underscored that even if we were adept nation builders, an "American Empire" won't protect us. Unraveled terror plots in the U.S. and Europe discredit the notion that "freedom is the antidote to terror" or that we must "fight them over there so they don't come over here."

When the Bush administration leaves office, it also will leave a list of serious foreign policy failures. The administration will pass off a military vastly weaker than the one it inherited and larger nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran. On the singular issue of Islamic terrorism, the record is largely abysmal. President Bush inherited one jihadist safe haven in a relatively weak state, Afghanistan. He will leave office with two safe havens: one in nuclear-armed Pakistan, the other in Iraq -- in the heart of the oil-rich, increasingly unstable Middle East. Far from discredited and marginalized, our intelligence services warn that the ideology of radical Islam is enflamed. As the coup-de-grace, the administration is proposing to shower billions of dollars worth of advanced weaponry on the very Sunni autocrats responsible for whipping up the jihadist frenzy.

There will be a great incentive among politicians and policymakers to put a good deal of distance between themselves and this record. (Bush's basement level approval ratings don't help either.) But there is a deeper reason why non-interventionism will find more fertile soil years hence. America's current global commitments reflect antiquated, Cold War-era priorities that will only become more untenable as time passes.

During that conflict, we subsidized the defense of the free world to deter Soviet adventurism and to allow the battered nations of World War II to focus resources on reconstruction. We undertook an interventionist foreign policy (in Korea, South East Asia, and the Middle East) to thwart the Kremlin's ambitions.

Well, mission accomplished. Today, American military decampments in Asia and Europe reflect strategic entropy. With the Soviet Union resting comfortably on the ash heap of history, with much of the world free and democratic, there is no serious reason why the U.S. is still defending South Korea, Europe, Taiwan, Israel and the Gulf monarchies. Without exception, these nations possess the economic resources to sustain a modern military capable of meeting their unique security needs.

Paul argues for such a transfer of responsibility. With time, this chorus will grow because there is no threat to the U.S. on par with Soviet communism that necessitates the type of global posture America assumed during the Cold War. True, radical Islam is a serious global menace, but it is not one that will be beaten back with U.S. military bases and defense commitments to autocratic client-states. Indeed, many of the same policies so instrumental in containing communism - the use of proxies, reliance on pliant autocrats and an intrusive military posture - are now the very ones likely to exacerbate the current danger.

And besides, even if the U.S. does not consciously - and conscientiously - shift its policy to reflect this new reality, the retiring baby boomers will force such a change. Anyone with a passing familiarity with the federal budget and demographic trends knows that the U.S. cannot sustain both its mammoth defense budgets and its entitlements as the boomers retire en-masse. When forced to choose, it's difficult to imagine baby boomers will prefer defending billionaire Saudi fundamentalists to Medicare.

Ron Paul's rebuke of America's current Cold War posture will be vindicated, but only when the costs of America's commitments and their irrelevance to U.S. national security become clearer. Until such time, Paul, like Goldwater, will likely pass his time in Congress waiting for America's political class to catch up.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/08/goldwater_is_to_reagan_as_ron.html

Taco John
08-02-2007, 11:27 PM
THis is a great article, but I'm more optimistic than the author is on Ron Paul's chances. I really believe that at some point Ron Paul's campaign is going to get an elevator boost, where people will be forced to take notice. Will he win? Who knows. The way I see it, his best chance of winning is if the Democrats nominate Hillary and the Republicans nominate Giuliani. That's the best scenario for Ron Paul.

Against those two vipers, Ron Paul is probably not vicious enough to win it all. But like the article says, I believe his ideas will outlive his campaign.

ClevelandBronco
08-03-2007, 01:09 AM
Goldwater (loser) is to Reagan (winner)

as

Paul (loser) is to ?

Taco John
08-03-2007, 02:19 AM
The snarkiness of your response is amusing, because that's actually what the article is hopeful about. By the looks of your response, the whole thing went right over your head.

But then, you're not here to actually discuss anything. You're here to piss on Ron Paul fans. In which case, good show man!

ClevelandBronco
08-03-2007, 02:31 AM
The snarkiness of your response is amusing, because that's actually what the article is hopeful about. By the looks of your response, the whole thing went right over your head.

But then, you're not here to actually discuss anything. You're here to piss on Ron Paul fans. In which case, good show man!

I didn't read the article. I'm just not interested.

BucEyedPea
08-03-2007, 09:03 AM
Goldwater (loser) is to Reagan (winner)

as

Paul (loser) is to ?
Depends on what you consider losing.
He lost the election but it was Goldwater's ideas that eventually led to the rise of Reagan on the right. So the idea still has power. They are more powerful than bullets.

If the media/education wasn't owned by the Establishment Elite the original vision for America may have never died. We'd be freer, more prosperous and safer.

SNR
08-06-2007, 07:36 PM
Ron Paul is closer to Goldwater than Reagan was. Hell, Ron Paul is closer to Goldwater than Goldwater was :) In terms of the libertarian revolution that sparked from Goldwater's politics, Ron Paul is huge.

The sad thing is I firmly believe this country needs Ron Paul NOW. I don't know if we can wait 16 years. How many years can we wait with a failed foreign policy in the Middle East that would be continued by the Republicans... or with a rapidly decreasing value of the dollar should the Democrats win?

Adept Havelock
08-06-2007, 07:38 PM
I didn't read the article. I'm just not interested.

Ron Paul supporters, meet SandyVag, AKA ClevelandBronco. SandyVag, meet Ron Paul's Supporters.

BucEyedPea
08-06-2007, 11:14 PM
Ron Paul is closer to Goldwater than Reagan was. Hell, Ron Paul is closer to Goldwater than Goldwater was :) In terms of the libertarian revolution that sparked from Goldwater's politics, Ron Paul is huge.

The sad thing is I firmly believe this country needs Ron Paul NOW. I don't know if we can wait 16 years. How many years can we wait with a failed foreign policy in the Middle East that would be continued by the Republicans... or with a rapidly decreasing value of the dollar should the Democrats win?
Well I don't disagree at all.
I was just saying what happened before.
If Ron Paul doesn't win the nom, I hope the GOP loses because of their message. America is in for a rough ride with the current two parties.

Mr Luzcious
08-06-2007, 11:28 PM
Every time I read an article on Paul, I like him a little bit more.

Jenson71
08-06-2007, 11:33 PM
Every time I read an article on Paul, I like him a little bit more.

The only thing bad about this article was that it said he's going to lose. :(

BucEyedPea
08-06-2007, 11:34 PM
Every time I read an article on Paul, I like him a little bit more.
I really think he'd be polling ahead if more saw his message. It's just he does not have the big guns of the major media (aka powerful vested interests) on his side. Especially Rudy since he has Fox on his side. However, some good news is that in one month his meetups have more than doubled.

Mr Luzcious
08-06-2007, 11:41 PM
The only thing bad about this article was that it said he's going to lose. :(

I'm just kind of ignoring that part. I like to pretend he has a chance.

Mr Luzcious
08-06-2007, 11:42 PM
I really think he'd be polling ahead if more saw his message. It's just he does not have the big guns of the major media (aka powerful vested interests) on his side. Especially Rudy since he has Fox on his side. However, some good news is that in one month his meetups have more than doubled.

He has chiefsplanet, that should count for something.

ClevelandBronco
08-07-2007, 12:00 AM
The guy isn't irrelevant to internal GOP politics, but at this point in time he's irrelevant to the presidential race.

If I hear that he's achieved double digit support anywhere except on Internet football boards I'll start paying attention.

Cochise
08-07-2007, 12:15 AM
To renew my comparisons of him to Pat Buchanan, I think there are a wealth of similarities, and I respect Buchanan a lot.

However he never had an issue to latch on to like Paul does, where he represents the avant garde in the Republican field.

Taco John
08-07-2007, 12:24 AM
I like Pat Buchanan, though I disagree with him on a lot of things. The thing about Pat, though, is that I never have any doubt about what his true interests are. He's not the pandering type who is going to get in anyone's pocket. There's not that many types out there anymore. But Pat's one of them. Ron Paul is another.

ClevelandBronco
08-07-2007, 12:41 AM
To renew my comparisons of him to Pat Buchanan, I think there are a wealth of similarities, and I respect Buchanan a lot.

However he never had an issue to latch on to like Paul does, where he represents the avant garde in the Republican field.

Avant garde Republican. It sounds at first like an inherent contradiction, but maybe you have something there.

BucEyedPea
08-07-2007, 01:25 AM
I like Pat Buchanan, though I disagree with him on a lot of things. The thing about Pat, though, is that I never have any doubt about what his true interests are. He's not the pandering type who is going to get in anyone's pocket. There's not that many types out there anymore. But Pat's one of them. Ron Paul is another.
Pat's been outflanking the left on the anti-war issues.
The paleo-con right (Pat) and the paleo-libertarians are more honest about being anti-interventionist or war....whereas too many on the left just want to use it to gain power to impose their own agenda.

SBK
08-07-2007, 08:40 AM
I read this article last week and almost posted it here. Pretty interesting read for me, being that I'm far too young to remember Goldwater. Heck, I was only 1 when Reagan got elected, so it's not like I remember much about his first term at all anyway......

oldandslow
08-07-2007, 09:36 AM
Pat's been outflanking the left on the anti-war issues.
The paleo-con right (Pat) and the paleo-libertarians are more honest about being anti-interventionist or war....whereas too many on the left just want to use it to gain power to impose their own agenda.

BUP...

while I agree with your sentiments concerning Buchanan and Ron Paul, the right and the left are using the war as a political football.

BucEyedPea
08-07-2007, 09:52 AM
BUP...

while I agree with your sentiments concerning Buchanan and Ron Paul, the right and the left are using the war as a political football.
BUP? Who's that? ;)

Depends on which part of the right you're referrin to O&S.
Not my wing of the right....not the paleo-cons or traditionalists.

I guess that's true in the sense that we'd like to see our policies implemented also. But what I mean by that is once the Dems took power, they failed to do much about the war. In fact are strengthening the garrison state and want to raise a bigger army while going after minimum wage etc. So in terms of the politicians on the left they're a sort of fake opposition. It may be less true for the grassroots though. However, even they hated Bush since day one anyway.

I don't see that for the paleo-cons or paleo-libertarians. I think they are more sincere on this war and FP.

StcChief
08-07-2007, 10:06 AM
Pat Buchanan seems like best analogy

Adept Havelock
08-07-2007, 03:27 PM
To renew my comparisons of him to Pat Buchanan, I think there are a wealth of similarities, and I respect Buchanan a lot.

However he never had an issue to latch on to like Paul does, where he represents the avant garde in the Republican field.


I'll agree. They have quite a bit in common.

Oh, Pat had an issue to latch on to. It's just Xenophobia doesn't play very well with the majority of the country.