They're Baaaack...

If you’re a Ron Paul supporter, I am trying to grab your attention.  For a change, somebody needs to do so.  I’ve listened to the childish, näive arguments of Ron Paul’s crowd for long enough.  The Republican party has listened to you and tolerated your irrational positions for long enough.  Conservatives have listened to the wistful nonsense for long enough.  The simple fact that neither you nor your chosen candidate will accept is that there are people in this world who hate without any sane rationale,  who will kill, maim, and murder without any but the most nonsensical justifications.  There are people in this world who wish to attack America or Israel for the sake of what they are, rather than what they do.  To pretend otherwise verges on self-delusion and madness.

It’s time for those of you who follow Ron Paul to recognize that the world isn’t such a friendly place. It’s not all “rainbows and unicorns,” so you might want to deal with reality for a spell. I’m flabbergasted with the ability of some Ron Paul supporters to pretend that those who oppose this country play by rules that they could endorse.

In short, it’s time to grow up.

When Ron Paul offered that if only we would withdraw from the Middle East, the Islamists would play nice, it was one of the most dangerously näive statements I’ve heard since Neville Chamberlain’s “peace for our time” foolishness.  Ron Paul fans love to point to the history of the Federal Reserve, but when it comes to the history of warfare and the conflicts between civilizations, it seems they’ve taken a pass.  Specifically, when it comes to matters of foreign policy, Ron Paul has shown a disdain and reckless disregard for the truth of our conflict with radical Islamists.

There is no peace you can make with people who want you dead, and who wish to displace you from your own territory.  The thesis Paul promotes is that we can have peace by simply leaving them be, in the hope that they will leave us be.  This is roughly akin to the idiotic premise put forward by some that you can respond to a playground bully by ignoring him, thus causing him to…what?  Stop being a bully?  This is simply unrealistic in the face of all  human experience to the contrary, because in fact, all that will ultimately stop the playground bully is a knuckle sandwich delivered by one of his would-be victims.  That’s it. That’s the only way it works in the real world.

Paul’s supporters frequently buy into his faulty proposition that if only the United States would remain clear of the Middle East, and withdraw its support of Israel, the Islamists would not have reason to hate the United States, and therefore leave us be in peace.  This is a grotesquely naive view that cannot be shoe-horned into any approximation of reality with which I’m familiar.  It cannot be.  The simple fact is that our civilization is pervasive.  The Soviets learned this as they struggled against our pop-culture, and our vast productivity, and the robust consumerism that tends to dominate a free country.  They hated our blue jeans and our rock and roll, because the young in their empire craved these things as they craved the liberty that brought them into existence.   Few things caused more heartburn in the Kremlin than the creeping of Western culture over their borders, through the airwaves, and into their black markets.   To them, it was a danger on par with our missiles and our bombers built to hold them at bay, but over the long run, they had no weapon to repel it but propaganda which few of them believed.  In much the same way, the American culture now pushes into countries via satellite and Internet and any other pipeline, and this makes the Islamic world tremble, because in the same way these things that speak freedom were a threat to the dictators in the USSR, so too are they a threat to dictators in the Middle East.  The difference is that they are also a threat to the theocratic elements there, who see government as an arm and instrument of Allah.  In the Soviet Union, they outlawed God or gods to establish a state-run monopoly over the lives and thoughts of people, but in the Islamic world, the imams and mullahs seek a similar monopoly via a unity between “church and state.”

In this sense, where the Supreme Soviet made the state God, the Islamists wish to  make God the state.  While the outward appearance of the two approaches seem dis-similar, the character and nature of the two are for all intents and purposes the same, and the results they bear forth are indistinguishable:  Death, poverty, and slavery are all such civilizations can produce.  No amount of happy talk will change this, and neither will it change the aggressive stance such cultures will of necessity take in response to our civilization.  The truth is that in the longer run, a free society of the character ours has been until recently cannot occupy the same space as the sorts of regimes characterized by unrestrained statism in any form, be they secular dictatorships or theocratic regimes.  The cultural bleed-over is the biggest threat to the statist regimes, for with all the control they exert over their people, they cannot deny to them the basic desire to have those material effects of freedom.

Ron Paul and too many of his supporters suffer under the deluded notion that assumes all people share the same basic values and desires.  This is not true of governments, and it may not even be fully true of people.  Yes, we all want food, shelter, water and the necessities of life, but how we go about getting them is a matter of distinction.  A simple example is to compare yourself with a mugger.  You both want money to purchase your life’s necessities, but only one of you is willing to engage in productive work to obtain them.  The mugger is willing to deprive you of property to fulfill his needs, and you wouldn’t permit yourself that abandonment of those values that forbid such actions(or so we would hope.)  With this small example in mind, you really need no greater, more in-depth understanding of the differences that exist among ordinary people in their morality and values to recognize that the difference in the motivations of civilizations can and do vary greatly.

Apply this to the question of foreign policy.  What does America gain from its relations with the Middle East?  We buy oil there, but little else, and in large measure, it had been we who discovered and developed the resource before they forcibly relieved us of our investments.  What do these countries gain from us? Aside from the money in payment for these resources, they obtain many things as free-riders.  No cellular phones would they have developed.  No televisions would they have invented.  Not even a single automobile have they produced.  All of these things were born of our culture and our civilization, and the freedoms we enjoy.  Their culture does not support the widespread production of material prosperity, but their leaders tell them these are all things without which they can live more happily, while said leaders enjoy them.

Those leaders pose as both the material and spiritual caretakers of their respective nations.  On this basis, they are able to mobilize large bodies of militants rapidly to almost any cause or purpose.  Yet these nations produce very little that isn’t seized by force from others in some manner.  Seizure is their primary means of subsistence, and it is this upon which they come to rely.  You can pretend to yourself that if only we will withdraw from them, they will leave us in peace, but their history and their culture offers a vision of conquests and warfare.  If you fail to understand this, you are inviting disaster.  The most certain way to overcome them is not by withdrawal, for you cannot withdraw from a pursuing attacker, but by engagement.  This engagement need not be aggressive on our part, but it must be mindful that sometimes, bullies simply need a knuckle sandwich, and we must recognize that “time-outs” will not suffice.

Neither may we permit ourselves the illusion that by abandoning our allies we may obtain a lasting peace.  Israel is in many ways the closest thing we have to an outpost in their midst.  It is the only country in the region that holds legitimate elections.  It is the only country that recognizes some form of inviolable rights of individual people.  Those in the region who seek to erase Israel from their maps consider it a threat: In their midst is a country in which production beyond bare subsistence is the norm.  In Israel, one need not be a ruler to obtain a prosperous life.   This is the threat Israel poses, and in truth, it is also the threat the US presents to the Islamists.  It is not by mere coincidence that relative prosperity in the region is in tight correlation with militancy.  Poverty and radicalism are constant cohorts; where you find one, you will frequently find the other.  People in poverty more readily turn their lives over to rulers.  Our own welfare state and its well-established relationship to at least one major party should make this clear.

What should have become clear to you by now is that our country is now under that same threat.  In fact, it is being fomented and pushed by people with much the same motives.  For the moment, we retain the power to undo it, but even if we do, we will be forced to confront the sad reality that in places like Egypt and Libya, there will be no easy reform.  It’s clear that we can no longer afford to prop up the devils of our choosing in the region in the hope that they will be less awful than others who may arise, but I also think it’s reasonable to suggest that our foreign policy will still require us to walk a fine line that supports our allies and punishes our foes.  As long as we are dependent for so much of our energy on our trade with the region, we will be compelled to find ways to make it work, but we mustn’t shy from this problem.  Pretending that absolute thugs like those now controlling Iran are anything else is a prescription for disaster.  When Ron Paul offered with a straight face that he believed Iran was interested in nuclear energy solely for peaceful purposes, or that our presence in Saudi Arabia was the cause of the 9/11 attacks, he demonstrated his inability to square reality with his ideology. We can learn a good deal from Dr. Paul on the matter of economics, but his view of foreign policy is irresponsible and immature.  It is made of a childish petulance that demands in the form of a plea for a reformation of bullies it envisions no willingness to enforce.

Put simply, it’s dangerous, precisely because it returns us to an illusory pre-9/11 mindset that is sure to bring deep tragedies upon us.  Many Ron Paul supporters believe their candidate doesn’t find a fair shake, but this is simply not so.  Instead, his foreign policy prescriptions have been roundly rejected by those who would in other issues be his natural allies.  For those of you who hold fast to this position, it’s time for you to realize the nature of what is arrayed against us and man a post.  If our nation is to survive the attacks we will soon know from within as well as those from without, it’s time to grow up and leave the rainbows and unicorns behind.  Our enemies don’t believe in them as the basis for their foreign policies, and neither should you.

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