But I must confess, Ron Paul is testing my patience.
In last evening's FOX News debate, Ron Paul performed well when discussing domestic economic policy. However, his comments regarding foreign policy were troubling, and have caused an immediate and outraged backlash from Republican conservative websites.
What did Paul say?
I'm not going to go to the transcripts. There are plenty of YouTube videos out there. I'm going to rely on my memory. As I remember it, Paul said:
- The US has killed one million innocent people in Iraq.
- The official reports regarding Iran's efforts to build nuclear weapons are "hype."
- The threats of Iranian officials to "wipe Israel off the map" have been mistranslated. The correct translation reflects the Iranian government's intent to merely change Israel's status as a state.
The number of innocent Iraqis killed as a result of the preemptive invasion of Iraq by the United States is certainly not one million! Wikipedia reports that 6,616 Iraqis were killed as a result of the pre-invasion "shock and awe" bombing of Baghdad. I have no idea how many Iraqis were killed as a result of the 10 year military action in Iraq. Wikipedia cites six estimates gathered from various sources. Three of the estimates place the number of deaths between approx. 110,000 deaths. An Iraqi source puts the number at approx. 150,000. Another source counts about 600,000 dead. And yet another source counts about a million dead. How many of these numbers comprise "innocent" deaths cannot be known, given the nature of the war.
The point is Ron Paul selected the highest number, which probably says more about his ideology than reality.
Now, some might say that Paul's estimate includes "excess deaths" suffered by Iraqi infants during the 10-year period of sanctions against Iraq, sanctions which were largely imposed by the US. However, again according to Wikipedia: "Estimates of excess civilian deaths during the sanctions vary widely, but range from 170,000 to over 1.5 million." Again, Paul felt compelled to choose the largest number of casualties to make his case.
Moreover, this article from the National Post written by Matt Welch analyzes the source of the highest number of estimated sanction deaths and concludes that the "Iraqi death toll doesn't add up." You'll have to read it to understand why, but the author is very persuasive.
With regard to world suspicions that Iran is building nuclear weapons on the sly, this website might be helpful: ISIS NuclearIran. The website is packed with informative information. As best I can tell, no one in the west has hard and certain evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon. However, the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. Furthermore, Iran has not been forthcoming about the matter, cloaking all the circumstantial evidence in secrecy. In addition, most agree -- even Ron Paul himself makes the case -- that Iran has plausible and understandable political motivations to develop a bomb and a delivery system.
Again, at best Paul is technically correct. At worst, he's spinning the facts.
Have government officials in Iran expressed a desire to "wipe Israel off the map." I don't speak Farsi. However, I pay careful attention to the daily news. I don't think there is any doubt various leaders, both political and religious in Iran (and in Iran these are often one and the same), have made comments about their desire to see Israel go away. What does Paul have to gain by papering over the reality of these Iranian threats?
I still believe Ron Paul's economics recommend him as a candidate and overwhelm his foreign policy foibles. However, there is reason for concern.
I am not an isolationist. I do not agree with the strict libertarian isolationist doctrine which includes, the last time I checked, a nonsensical recommendation that the US have open borders.
In many ways, America today is like the Republican Party. In the last decades, America has undertaken ill-advised military adventures that IMHO not only were unnecessary to secure America but served to do America harm. Whether this was the result of neo-conservative influences that advise using overwhelming military force to change regimes and install democratic governments, or whether it was sheer stupidity, I don't know. But I am not about to say America is an "evil empire" as a result of these misadventures, as many on the far left are wont to do.
America, like the Republican Party, is not a lost cause. It is merely in need of reform. Americans have been corrupted by a deep Progressive influence and need to find their way back to the Constitution, private property, freedom and domestic peace. As far as the military goes, America needs to carry a big stick, but avoid the Neo-conservative impulse to use it proactively.
The Republican Party is not a lost cause either. It needs to be reformed from within, by Constitutional conservatives and libertarians with a reasonable foreign policy.
As for Ron Paul, he needs to rein in his isolationist rhetoric and re-examine his strict libertarian foreign policy recommendations.
Libertarians are cynical of government and so they should be. However, cynicism can quickly degenerate into complete rejection. Hence the totally bizarre anarchist wing of the movement. So long as America remains a government of the people, and so long as a few good people remain part of government, paranoid delusions and conspiracy theories about the US government shouldn't rule our every opinion.