Conservatism,Foreign Policy,Military,Neoconservatism,Paleolibertarianism,Political Philosophy,Propaganda,Republicans,Ron Paul,Terrorism


KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL of the Wall Street Journal claimed, in “Why Ron Paul Can’t Win,” that “conservative Republicans” cannot accept Paul’s philosophy as it “fundamentally denies American exceptionalism and refuses to allow for decisive action to protect the U.S. homeland.”

Is STRASSEL equating American exceptionalism with the kind of non-defensive militarism America currently practices? It would appear so.

This writer’s position on said “exceptionalism”: “the United States, by virtue of its origins and ideals,” was unique. But most Americans know nothing of the ideas that animated their country’s founding. In fact, they are more likely to hold ideas in opposition to the classical liberal philosophy of the founders, and hence wish to see the aggrandizement of the coercive state and the fulfillment of their own needs and desires through war and welfare.

Thus, I find myself in agreement with this one statement by Princeton’s Joyce Carol Oates:

“[T]ravel to any foreign country,” Oates wrote in the Atlantic Monthly in November 2007, “and the consensus is: The American idea has become a cruel joke, a blustery and bellicose bodybuilder luridly bulked up on steroids…deranged and myopic, dangerous.”


I thought Paul was strong on Jay Leno, but should probably not have cozied-up to the Left in the way he did. More on that later:

UPDATE: About Bachmann, Paul Said, “she doesn’t like Muslims, she hates them, she wants to go get ‘em.'” “In reference to Rick Santorum, Paul said he can’t stop talking about ‘gay people and Muslims.'” (ABC)

Leave aside whether these statements are true or not: Paul has taken a classic Chris-Matthews kind of ad hominem swipe against Michele Bachmann: she hates Muslims. Santorum hates gays and Muslims. Siding with the Left by adopting its arguments may be situationally advantageous, but it is wrong, and will backfire on a Republican candidate in the long run. This tactic, even if it was a not-so-funny joke, damages Ron Paul’s effectiveness from the vantage point of conservative libertarians who think that liberty cannot be reduced to the non-aggression axiom and has a cultural and civilizational dimension.

Paul is wrong to imply, reductively, that Islamic terrorism in general and September 11 in particular are the sole consequences of American foreign policy. Libertarians cannot persist in such unidirectional formulations. Our adventurous foreign policy is a necessary precondition for Muslim aggression but it is far from a sufficient one.

19 thoughts on “UPDATED: STRASSEL’S Non Sequitur

  1. Trilby

    RP’s suck-up to the Left is perfectly timed. That’s where support for him is building up now. Given his refusal to board the Good Ship Israel, I doubt he’ll ever get much beyond 30% with thoroughly neo-conned Republicrats….who are now so frightened of RP that they are beginning to promote Jeb Bush. He needs to peel off large numbers of “independents” and anti-war Dems, and seems to know how to do it. It’s called Populism.

  2. Redman

    Whether Dr. Paul’s comments were true or not, they diminished his status as one that usually stands above the fray of pettiness. My hope is that he will return to his roots and steer clear from making such comments in the future.

  3. Mark H

    Ilana: What do you mean when you say that liberty has a cultural and civilizational dimension?

  4. Greg

    I don’t care for his remarks either. I am a supporter but he is resorting to sound bites that appeal to the ignorant and uninformed. Please Congressman, stay out of the political gutter.

  5. Dennis

    Hey Redman, I have the same thoughts about Ron Paul diminishing himself too.

    I do not think RP is against national self-defense, but is against indiscriminate assaults on peoples and nations – really now – who would last more than several hours if the U.S. Military were given a green light go-ahead to decisively WIN a war.

    We have a political-social grouping that thinks its collective body has the answers for creating a utopian world…while THEY maintain privileged financial and power-wielding control positions over all of us. The U.S. is not the only entity with these thoughts. However, a capitalist system is superior in producing a superior result.

    Let us stay away from policing the world. Let us use our capitalist system to excel in all areas while allowing individuals to achieve their-own goals and be responsible citizens.

    Government should be mindful of their three highest responsibilities to We the People: Protection from External Attacks, Protection from Domestic Criminals and Attacks, and an impartial Judicial System…all within the strict limits of the Constitution.

    Unfortunately, MSM does not or will not correctly understand RP’s rationale. He must stay on point and illustrate his positions factually all the while explaining why he is the best choice.

  6. My RON-PAUL i

    The Democratic-leaning media has been perfectly happy to pump up and then pop balloons of popularity for Exuberant Michelle, Redneck Perry, Pizzaman Cain, Consultant Newt, and now Libertarian Paul. The Republican establishment will be circling the wagons around Romney to stop Ron Paul’s momentum.

    Besides a few ill-timed or misphrased remarks (although I loved his praise for Grover Cleveland on Leno), Ron will get trashed with anti-Semitism, isolationism, anti-old-people (quotes against Socialist Insecurity) and racism from his 1990’s newsletters and opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Holiness. This has happened before when the “nutcase” “extremist” insurgent Barry Goldwater movement took the party over from the Nixon-Rockefeller-Dewey neo-New-Deal wing:

    For example, one can see:


    about Barry Goldwater meeting up with Right Wing Nazis in Bavaria according to Daniel Schorr and other stuff


    … not that any real Nazis would ever go for a half-Jewish store owner:


    and FACT Magazine wrote articles and surveyed psychiatrists that swore that Barry Goldwater was psychologically unfit for the Presidency (of course LBJ was!)


    (Goldwater himself remarked, “If I didn’t know Goldwater in 1964 and had to depend on the press, I’d have voted against the son of a bitch myself”).


  7. My RON-PAUL i

    I agree completely with your (Ilana’s) comments on both exceptionalism and Moslem aggression.

    A little more history: A 1964 “anti-war” commercial:


    and the son of the 1964 nutcase endorsed the 2008 nutcase:


    Don’t think that the Welfare-Warfare State will go down easily. Over 40% of the population is on the public dole – add the families and the fact that they are more likely to vote (for example, what is the voting rate among Korean grocery store owners) than those who are not on the state-fed-“contractor” payroll… and you have a very formidable problem. Add the auto workers, banksters, ethanol producers, and you have an almost insurmountable obstacle to electoral victory. But there is no sense in giving up (on Ron Paul) – because Romney vs. Obama is just a choice to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.

  8. Tony

    I think Ron Paul has a lot more to gain by trying to get support from left-libertarians and independents, than by kissing the rear ends of so-called conservative libertarians who for some reason just can’t stop themselves from sympathizing with the likes of Michelle Bachmann.
    Those that like Bachmann and her type enough, or who hate the mere idea of being sympathetic to disenfranchised liberals enough, to repudiate support for Paul, may be conservative but they are most certainly not libertarian, and a man of principle doesn’t need them.
    This is not just about ‘hating’ muslims or gay people (or what they stand for) but about expressing it through government policy as the likes of Bachmann and Santorum would obviously do through state-discrimination and war, and so has nothing to do with a cultural or civilizational dimension to libertarianism, and does have everything to do with the non-aggression axiom. State aggression as preferred by Bachmann and Santorum does not become any more acceptable just because it would be employed against lifestyles that the conservative wing of libertarianism deem to be undesirable in society or civilization.
    P.S. I wonder if this is really about cozying up to the left or cultural/civlizational dimensions, or simply about hating muslims and queers to the point where even a fascistic police state enthusiast like Bachmann becomes some kind of sympathetic figure.

  9. lonegranger

    Ron Paul is identified as a potential “spoiler”.

    There is little difference in the performance history and the intellect and/or character of the other GOP candidates compared to Aboma. They all appear to be corrupt or at least self-serving. All the Presidents after JFK seem to have been previously damaged goods.

    The only “spoiling” would be a Ron Paul win; otherwise, there would be no expectation of an essential change, regardless of which other game show contestant won!

    Next stop, Dante Station. End of line! Transfer to Inferno, Purgatorio, or Paradiso.

  10. Trilby

    Paul’s remarks about Bachmann are entirely appropriate. Like most on-the-make US politicians, she spends far too much of her time in Israel. We had no trouble with Jihadists until YKW wound the Zionist entity around America’s neck. Paul gets it, and that’s precisely why the bought-and-paid for Republicrat establishment and neo-con commentariat are so hatin’ on him.

    [Trilby-aka-compassionate fascist: watch it with the ‘Zionist entity” stuff. You were given a reprieve on BAB, as you appealed to my push-over nature by saying that it means a lot to you in tough times to post on BAB. Keep your end of this implicit understanding.—IM]

  11. Andy

    With the corporate media about to go “nuclear” on Paul it will be putting him on the defensive, and, if his past comments are any indication, we can expect a lot of racial pandering on the newsletter scandal. It’s going to be a difficult time for right-leaning libertarians and constitutionalists as Paul expresses his undying support for the holy and untouchable MLK Jr., the joys of unlimited “legal” immigration, and the racist judicial system. Paul is far from my perfect candidate for President but I keep reminding myself that this election is about the vote against the banksters and not culture issues.

  12. Robert Glisson

    ANDY– “Say WHAT?” I know I’m from the sticks an don’t talk good, but there ain’t no way you can make that dog hunt. Interpret please.

  13. Andy

    GLISSON – The media is going to back RP into a corner on his past indiscretions according to their politically correct matrix. Paul, in case one hasn’t noticed, isn’t at his best when backed into a corner. He also holds some politically correct liberal beliefs which endear him to the left but hurt him with most conservative primary voters. The powers that be in this country are tired of dealing with the gadfly in the race and are going to sic the media attack dogs on him like they did with Buchanan in 96. Let me know if you need it explained one more time Rob.

  14. Frank Brady

    With respect, Ilana, Ron Paul was quite accurate. The 9-11 attacks were blow back, the direct result of sixty years of misguided U.S. foreign policy, including the support and subsidization of dictators, the overthrow of national governments and, yes, unremitting support of Israel, regardless of the merits of any issue.

    Although I support Israel’s right to exist and wish her well, the government of Israel has absolutely no right to highjack the American political process–and that is precisely what it has done with AIPAC.

  15. Robert Glisson

    Andy, that makes more sense the second time around. I could argue minor points but, this time you are more clear in stating your views. I am curious about what Paul’s indiscretions are and what “Politically Correct Liberal views” are. I thought that Mr. Paul’s liberal views were simply correct views that made common sense, and had nothing to do with political correctness; however; that aside, I appreciate you taking the time to enlighten me.

  16. Matt

    Thanks for this post Ilana. I’m a big Ron Paul supporter and hope he gets the nomination. That being said the man isn’t perfect and certainly isn’t beyond criticism no matter how strong the fervor of his base. He sounds utterly naive and foolish to think Islam represents no danger. It’s also somewhat disingenuous when he speaks about gay marriage. Believing that government has no role in marriage doesn’t mean you support gay marriage, but he stops after the applause instead of giving his personal opinion on it, fortunately for him most people are to dumb to realize this. It’s also weak of him to take a shot at Bachman, who is closest in ideology to Paul(Yes I realize they have huge differences) while complimenting Romney who is radically different in terms of policy.

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