Wednesday, June 24, 2009

His heart was in the right place...

...but heaven knows where his sense of history was...

Ron Paul on the House resolution condemning the Iranian government for its ongoing oppressive thuggery is a triumph of the "Washington Chopping Down Cherry Trees" school of American History:
I adhere to the foreign policy of our Founders, who advised that we not interfere in the internal affairs of countries overseas.
Yusuf ibn Ali Karamanli and his brother Hamet would probably find that statement confusing.

(H/T to Jim at the Travis McGee Reader.)


Hunsdon said...

"Internal affairs" might include things like, oh, crushing internal dissent, holding internal elections, having a violent internal secret police force, dipping Christians in wax and using them as candles for Saturnalia orgies.

Attacking American shipping and demanding tribute to refrain from such attacks, that's not exactly an internal matter.

A tip of the hat, though, for the phrase "His heart was in the right place," though.

Tam said...

True, but Eaton's plan of rounding up a mercenary army and a deposed brother to plant on the throne was a distinctly internal solution to an external problem.

We have good ideals, but we've had difficulty living up to them since Day One.

Bram said...

Lots of people told me he was the next big conservative. I watched him speak for 5 minutes and thought it was a joke.

William said...

It'd be interesting to get Ron Paul's opinion on invading a clear belligerent in order to get a peace treaty. Surely it doesn't follow from opposing the Iraq war and our "meddling" in Iran that the only just way to win a war is by attrition.

fast richard said...

Ron Paul illustrates why I gave up on most libertarians a long time ago. They build an entire moral system on the flimsy basis of the non-initiation of force, then wimp out when their theoretical construct encounters reality. They are unwilling to respond when others initiate force.

Tam said...


Well, let's see...

We had no declaration of war. We used "independent military contractors". We were going to remove the guy on the throne and had a replacement handy.

According to Conventional Wisdom, this is all stuff that never happened before Vietnam... (or the Bay of Pigs, take your pick.)

I've no beef with the sentiment expressed, I just want to make sure we're not hearkening back to halcyon days that never were.

William said...

I agree Tam; I can't imagine Ron Paul supporting that and I shouldn't have implied that he might. Of course, every good libertarian knows that TJ was a great founder and a mediocre president... seems that this rubber meets the road problem has been around quite awhile.

Anonymous said...

I thought Presidents were expected to be mediocre? --One "great leader" can ruin you whole day.

Wasn't TJ overseas thing essentially reactive, rather than proactive? Little piracy problem that they inflicted on us? Not sure if that's the kind of "going abroad in search of mosnters to slay" we were spozed to avoid, or not.

OA said...

Aye. I don't fault him for believing in the Constitution, but it hasn't ever been followed very closely. At some point one crosses over from idealist to unicorn husbandrist.

Hunsdon said...

fast richard at 8:54:

I'll admit it, I'm a Ron Paul fan, so take everything I say in support with a grain of sand.

Ron Paul DID in point of fact vote in favor of the invasion, err, liberation of Afghanistan. I don't think he's ever come out and said that, when attacked, we shouldn't respond.

He also reverts back to his general "no" votes for things like nation building (even in Afghanistan), which to my mind puts him in the "punitive expedition" category, a category I myself wholeheartedly support.

Hunsdon said...


I'd say that, once a problem has become sufficient to entice our interest, the internal/external division mostly falls away.

And if it comes right down to it, I don't mind Eaton's approach, it worked for the Brits for a goodly time. In place of mercenaries, we might want to use the more benign sounding "local auxiliaries" but that's probably quibbling.

If I was going to spin it in modernese, I'd say it was outsourcing the solution to Ruler A by using a small force of US troops to augment the effectiveness of other indigenous populace opposed to Ruler A, without incurring any great expenditure of US blood, treasure or honor. Win win!

(And as a jarhead, I have to point out that it was almost certainly Presley O'Bannion who did all the heavy lifting!)

aczarnowski said...

unicorn husbandrist

[neatly tucks that away for later]

That's damn funny.

Rabbit said...


I went to college with Persians who were Imperialist supporters before and during the '79 revolution, oddly enough. I work with some now, and over the past week or two we've been having some interesting conversations, to say the least.

Having met the man, I honestly believe they could do a lot worse than installing Reza Shah II to the monarchy. He's a smart guy, and sure does like 'Murricans. He's an Honorary Texan, too.


wv:warkshlo How you foment revolution in foreign countries- you wark shlo.

Skekis said...

I thought it was more egregious that Ron Paul wanted to take the Republican Party "back to its roots", yet claimed Abraham Lincoln was responsible for the Civil War and shouldn't have been elected.

I guess Ron Paul wants to go back to that two-year period between the formation of the Republican Party and the election of Lincoln...

Bram said...

"According to Conventional Wisdom, this is all stuff that never happened before Vietnam..." Uh, Banana Wars?

Panama, Nicaragua, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico (chasing Pancho Villa), and a long, nasty occupation of the Philippines - 1989 - WWII.

Tam said...


I said "Conventional Wisdom".

Your average Joe or Jane might know a bit about the unpleasantness of '98 and the Moro fracas that followed, and if he's unusually well read, the Villa Expedition.

I'd wager that less than one American in a hundred knows we had boots on the ground in Korea and China when Robert E. Lee still wore blue.

Steve said...

". . . we had boots on the ground in Korea and China when Robert E. Lee still wore blue."

Okay, that's a new one. And I almost minored in history. That's gonna be some interesting reading. Can you point me in the right direction, Tam?

wv: binomar - when you get a scratch on your binoculars

Tam said...

A good thumbnail sketch of America's history of armed busibodiness is Max Boot's Savage Wars Of Peace...

Kristopher said...

US Navy, Commodore Tattnall, 1858, second Opium War.

He violated the Neutrality Act and, without a formal declaration of war from Congress, ordered his squadron to provide covering fire for a retreating Anglo-French convoy.

Steve Skubinna said...

Damn, I was going to recommend Boot's Savage Wars of Peace and that busybody Tam jumps in and ruins it.

Okay, fine, lady, it's your blog. I shall be content to second the recommendation. Boot's thesis is that small, unconventional wars are more "the American Way of War" than the big shindigs preceeded by declarations, mass mobilizations and all that pageantry.

alath said...

"We have good ideals, but we've had difficulty living up to them since Day One."

That may have been more Paul's point - the founders certainly expressed the intention to avoid foreign entanglements.

To me, 'having difficulty living up to them' is an indicator of a meaningful set of ideals. If you don't fall short of your ideals, you aren't setting your sights very high.

'Course, there's also a distinction between 'falling short' and 'not even trying.'

Sigivald said...

Tam: Now-VP Biden argued persuasively that the AUMF was a "declaration of war" for Constitutional purposes.

Remember that the Constitution does not define the content of such a declaration, and any avoidance of the terms "declare war" in it is for purposes of "international law", ie sucking up to the UN, which is repugnant as a principle.

And despite the "contractors" being used, the vast majority of forces were unsurprisingly US Military. Contracting out some security details to keep from having to train Army personnel in VIP escort? Nothing wrong with that.

Rick R. said...

"No declaration of war"

Let's see. . . Ron Paul HIMSELF described the 2002 AUMF as a declaration of war, albeit one that gave sole discretion to the PRESIDENT to initiate. THAT'S WHY HE OPPOSED IT.

The Supreme Court ruled over 200 years ago that a Congresional AUMF is a declaration that the President can go make war on someone, and that the actions then taken are, legally, "war". (See the cases that came out of the Quasi-War with France.)

Strangely enough, SCOTUS way back when actually read the Constitution and realized that there are no magical "Simon Says" words required in a declaration of war -- so when Congress decalres that the president can now send the Armed Forces out to break things and hurt people, that's a declaration of war.)

Long story short -- if Congress gives POTUS the authority to go make war, then they've declared war.

Anonymous said...

But can Congress actually delegate that authority handed them by the onstitution, or ought they hang for subverting it?

Assrot said...

Hmmm... I think our "Founding Fathers" all came from overseas and interfered in the internal affairs of this country.

Hence the attempted genocide of "Native Americans" and the thievery of their land.


Tam said...

Dammit, we stole that land fair and square!

Steve said...

No, no. We bought it fair and square for a bunch of beads.

Oh. Wait. That was Manhattan Island, and it was the Dutch that bought it.

Can WE give it back?

Thanks for the head up on the book Tam. I've got it coming from the main 'brary downtown to my local branch. Something to read this weekend.

Hunsdon said...

Whenever I hear "Savage Wars of Peace" I automatically think of Chesty Puller, and Cooper's recounting of the sad strange demise of Charlegmane Peralte.

Ed Foster said...

A quick thought: Before about the mid nineteenth century, nobody owned anything he couldn't defend.

The history of the human race was one of tribes wandering about, securing their own good at the expense of other, competing tribes. Some tribes (Europeans, Zulus, Cherokees and Iroquois, Mongols, Othmanli Turks, Han Chinese, etc.) were just better at it.

Every single culture that attained a worthy level of civilization practiced some form of chattel slavery, needing biological machinery to keep things running.

Yes, there may have been yeoman farmers on the outskirts, but they benefitted as much as anyone else from the wealthy markets created for them by the slaves/indentureds/conquereds.

Only one culture in history ever said slavery was wrong, and only that same culture was capable of inventing the industrial revolution that made slavery obsolete. And I should feel guilty because I come from that culture?

Anything that happened before the American Civil War was fair and just BY THE STANDARDS OF THE DAY. Reading modern guilt into ancient history is nothing more than bad novel passed off as moral lesson. Losers weren't saint, they were just losers.

Lose a battle with the Aztecs baby, and they didn't just take your feather headdress. There wasn't a decent source of protein in the entire valley of Mexico. Aztec warriors were rewarded for their service with the choicest cuts of captured POW's. The hearts might have been sacrificed to the gods, but the blood went to the pesinos to be mixed with amaranth, and the meat went to the soldiers and ruling classes.

Almost all of the "Spanish" army that took Tenotchtitlan was composed of other indian tribes who were tired of being eaten.

Rick R. said...

Technically, when Congress does something like the 1798, 1964, 2001, or 2002 AUMFs (OK, officially the 1798 one was the "Act Further to Protect the Commerce of the United States" and the 1964 one was the "Southeast Asia Resolution" AKA the "Tonkin Gulf Resolution". . . but they were what we now call "Authorizations for the Use of Military Force"), it isn't "delegating" it's war-declaring powers to the President.

It is declaring war, and generally giving teh President a blank check on how brutal he wants to be in prosecuting it.

Hey, at least the 1798 AUMF was specific in limiting the action to naval activities against teh French (both their commerce, AND any French goods on hulls of any flag).

Of course we couldn't pass the 1798 AUMF today becuase Letters of marque and Reprisal are now war crimes, and thus, illegal under the legal structure of the Constititution (properly made treaties with 2/3 Senate concurrance). (Despite the fact that Ron Paul thought that it would be a better way to carry out the 2001 AUMF. . . but, hey, it SOUNDS good to Libertarians to say stuff like that. {chuckle})