About This Blog

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was the greatest economist of my time. His greatest works can be accessed here at no charge.

Mises believed that property, freedom and peace are and should be the hallmarks of a satisfying and prosperous society. I agree. Mises proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the prospect for general and individual prosperity is maximized, indeed, is only possible, if the principle of private property reigns supreme. What's yours is yours. What's mine is mine. When the line between yours and mine is smudged, the door to conflict opens. Without freedom (individual liberty of action) the principle of private property is neutered and the free market, which is the child of property and freedom and the mother of prosperity and satisfaction, cannot exist. Peace is the goal of a prosperous and satisfying society of free individuals, not peace which is purchased by submission to the enemies of property and freedom, but peace which results from the unyielding defense of these principles against all who challenge them.

In this blog I measure American society against the metrics of property, freedom and peace.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ron Paul Tests My Patience

As of this moment, I still plan to vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primary. Obviously, if Paul wins the Republican nomination, I will vote for him instead of Obama.

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 best you can say about Paul and his comments is that he's not a politician that panders to public opinion. On the other hand, at worst, Paul can be said to be out of touch with reality.

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.


John Galt said...

We created a table where we score all Republican candidates in six important issues of this campaign.

I would be very interested to see how your scores will differ from this table in six of the candidates (I would exclude Ron Paul for you. I am mystified by your support for Paul - considering that I give you high intellectual marks. I won't try to discuss him with you. I will just wait till February and see what your new option would be then).

Sherman Broder said...

Hi John. I'll try to send some sort of rating to you.

I don't expect Paul to win, but he gets my vote in the primary because of his free market philosophy. The rest of the candidates -- with the possible exception of Bachmann, I'm afraid, are all talk and no hat.

LD Jackson said...

As you know, I am supporting Ron Paul. I honestly believe he is the best candidate in the race. I wholeheartedly support his economic and financial policy stances and agree with him on a great deal of his foreign policy. However, he has a major problem to overcome his stance on Iran. That problem is actually two-fold.

First, a large number of Americans believe Iran poses a major threat to the security of the world. That belief transcends party affiliation. Trying to drive his point home that Iran doesn't pose such a threat, and that they have every right to pursue nuclear technology does not sit well with many, many people.

Second, the manner in which he goes after this issue turns a lot of people off to his candidacy. I do not believe he is "crazy", but his method of stating his case does not help him as a candidate for President.

I am not a political expert, but after last night's performance, I fully expect to see Ron Paul drop in the polls. I hope I am wrong.

Sherman Broder said...

LD, I agree with your entire comment.

I believe the primaries are the time to vote for the best candidate for the job, regardless of "electability."

I really don't expect Ron Paul to win in the primaries. Too many conservative Republicans hate him for various reasons, but the number one reason they hate him, IMHO, is his libertarian isolationist ideology, which is perceived by patriotic conservatives as pacifism and anti-Americanism, both of which they see as a real threat to America's national security.

In their mind this is a cardinal sin.

I think Paul is neither a pacifist nor an anti-American. He is simply a cynic. He's been around Washington long enough to see how power, money and career in the military, the State Department and Congress bloat budgets and influence foreign policy, many times against the best interests of the American people. Thus, his first instinct is to distrust the establishment.

Too often conservatives are willing to give that same establishment the benefit of the doubt and a blank check. They assume the establishment most always acts in America's best interest.

I think this assumption is far more unrealistic than Paul's cynicism.