Saturday, March 9, 2013

How Ron Paul Changed My Mind

 In my book SWINDLED I mention that  Congressman Paul remains the only politician to ever change my mind on anything, but I  declined to mention in the  book what exactly the issue was.   The issue  was foreign policy, and I'll let you in on how it happened.  but first a little background.
  I was a teenager in the late 80's and  came to political awareness listening to Rush Limbaugh in his early days.  I grew up in a  lower middle class family  with a strong history of Democratic support, and  Rush's   promotion of individual  liberty fascinated me.  I was probably a  mainstream conservative by the time I joined the military. As a member of the military I made  multiple trips to the Middle East to enforce one UN resolution or another even though I  disliked the UN and felt  our military was being mis-used, I believed that our overseas intervention was an unfortunate, but a necessity.
  I voted for  George W. Bush in 2000, and although I  always felt there was something  fishy about the Sept 11 attacks, I accepted the idea of a pre-emptive war on terror.   Even while accepting it it, I saw that it could be used as an excuse for all sorts of villainy.  Unfortunately over the next few years, I was more than right. The attacks were used as an excuse for the  greatest  expansion of the police state in my lifetime, all  pushed by a president who claimed to believe in limited government. I watched family members  who were still in the military do   4 and 5  tours of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan , with no end in sight.  And to make things worse, nobody seemed to have a solution except more of the same.  Well, not exactly nobody.....
    In 2008, while running for President,  Congressman Paul  was part of a debate in South Carolina.  I  remember watching this debate  specifically because of the exchange between Dr. Paul and Mayor Giuliani.  Dr. Paul made the  case that  American foreign policy was making things worse and that the  9/11 attacks were an inevitable result of  misguided American foreign policy. The crowd at the debate were silent, maybe even a little  hostile, and when Giuliani wrapped himself in the flag of 9/11 and demanded that Dr. Paul withdraw the remark, the crowd went wild. It was interesting theater in that the highly lauded "Mr 9/11"  seemed to have scored a decisive blow against the lesser known Congressman from Texas. But what happened next was the most amazing moment of the campaign; Ron Paul did not back down.  To a hostile crowd he continued to patiently, politely explain himself.  He was , like so many other times in his career, alone in  a crowd.  I thought to myself, the old guys got guts.
   But the larger question was,what if he's right?  I had  a President  in whom I had lost all confidence who   repeatedly had said 'they hate us because we're free'.  Surely, I thought, this would be an easy thing to research. All I have to do is find  some self-proclaimed  enemy terrorist type citing our freedom as a reason for his hatred.  As far as I can tell, gentle reader, no such proclamation exists. Over and  over again, those hostile to  US interventionism  say the same thing. They cite our meddling in their internal politics, or our occupation of their sacred lands, or our financing and arming of their enemies.  As a military man, I  had been  taught the concept of 'asymmetrical  warfare',  a  technique by which a  small force can outmaneuver and score  symbolic victories over a  larger military opponent. It occurred to me that was exactly what was going on. The 'irrational politics of the Middle East' might not so irrational after all.
  The other thing  that Dr. Paul said that night was he asked  how would we react if  another country did to us what we were doing to them. What if China  was  doing patrols in the Gulf of Mexico, or building  military bases in Kansas?   Extending that out, we could include drone warfare, or toppling of regimes or manipulation of currencies or trade sanctions. To  apply one set of standards to ourselves and another set to every other nation on earth is worse than incompetent; it's the morality of a bully. Its the morality of a government that thinks, whether it says it out loud or not, that might really does make right, and that we do these things because after all, we can. A  government who will do this to  nameless, faceless people abroad will eventually turn that  mindset towards its own  citizens which is exactly what we are seeing now, and will continue to see for the foreseeable future.
   I go public with this because  the other night  Mayor Giuliani  was on some news channel being asked his opinion about some terrorism related issue.  This vexed me greatly.This mayor , who had misread the reasons for  overseas hostility to America, was still being treated as an genius while the  man who had predicted  this and others to follow was a media pariah on this issue. Its almost as ludicrous as Giuliani being asked his opinion on Paul supporters  right before the 2012 convention. As "America's Mayor" criticized people like myself I couldn't help but think that Mayor Giuliani had managed to win NO delegates in his run for the White House, yet he was  an expert on what  Dr, Paul should do. His campaign had ended with a mountain of debt, but he was an expert on  how the well-funded Congressman from Texas should handle himself. Along a similar line,  Mr. Giuliani  could never hope to amass the sort of young enthusiastic crowds that appeared everywhere Ron Paul went, but his opinion was the one being sought.  Is the world a crazy place or what?
Post a Comment