Guest Submission by Yasuhiko Genku Kimura
There exists persistent misinformation and misunderstanding perpetuated against Dr. Ron Paul’s foreign and defense-military policy in order to marginalize him and his candidacy. He is neither an isolationist nor an apologist for terrorists or dictators nor an anti-defense politician as portrayed by his detractors. Let me start with some quotes:
“War involves in its progress such a train of unforeseen and unsupposed circumstances that no human wisdom can calculate the end. It has but one thing certain, and that is to increase taxes [plus printing of fiat money and national debt]. –Thomas Paine
“The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.” –George Washington
“As to everything except commerce, we ought to divorce ourselves from [all of other (European) nations and their incessant quarrels].—Thomas Jefferson
“Never was so much false arithmetic employed on any subject, as that which has been employed to persuade nations that it is in their self-interest to go to war.” –Thomas Jefferson
- 1. Neutralism vs. Isolationism
Ron Paul’s foreign policy is completely in line with that of Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. He is not an isolationist; he is a neutralist, just as George Washington strongly recommended the Americans to be in his Farewell Speech. Dr. Paul recommends and encourages the extension of “our commercial relations” with peoples of the world while having “as little political connection as possible.”
Commercial relations belong to the domain of the private sector, while political connections belong to the domain of the government sector. Throughout history, wars are fought almost always entirely and exclusively between states, that is, between governments. And in the last 5600 plus years there have been 14000 plus wars—on the average five wars every two years or a new war every 4 months and 24 days. Further, most of those 14,000 plus wars were driven by vendettas, the end of one war being just as the set-up for the next war of revenge.
Politicians speak of our allies such as Israel and strategic alliance with them but they do not seem to be cognizant of the fact that the ideas of alliances or global protection or national (i.e., state’s) self-interest are more a cause of war than of peace. We do not need to look far in history to recognize that international alliances shift constantly and that yesterday’s enemy becomes today’s ally (e.g. Japan before and after WWII) or vice versa (e.g., USSR before and after WWII). An argument can be made that the United States’ joining the wars under the pretext of strategic alliances and national self-defense/self-interest turned regional wars in Europe and Asia into two World Wars, the ending of which did not make the world more peaceful at all.
Since the time of the Roman Empire, major state political powers almost always pursued the policy of Pax Romana—the achievement of a “universal peace” under the fascist control of a dominant state having the greatest political power. No universal peace has ever been achieved through Pax Romana—neither by the Roman Empire nor by the British Empire nor by any other states. For the “universal peace” sought therewith has only been the pretext for the real intention, that is, political control and domination.
The Founders and Framers of the United States expressly argued against Pax Romana and insisted on political neutrality. (In this regard, Thomas Jefferson made an error by committing troops to the Barbary Wars of the early 1800s (1801 – 1805), setting a wrong precedence for global protection and cost externalization. For, his action, however well-intended and successful, was the government intervening with the activities of private American businesses that should be responsible for their own decisions and actions and protections.*)
Dr. Paul is not an isolationist. He is a neutralist in the distinguished tradition of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founders. He promotes “peace through commerce” which is totally in alignment with a basic political tenet of capitalism.
* Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution states with respect to the role of the Navy, “To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations.” This is what defines defense, one of the three necessary protective functions of the state, but the Gulf of Sidra in Northern Africa was not and is not a part of the US defense territory and therefore outside the Navy’s jurisdiction. When the Barbary Wars were fought, there was no international law established in the area and the regions in and near Tripoli and the Gulf of Sidra had been claimed by Muslims since the Middles Ages. In those days, the majority of Muslims living in the Barbary States were refugees from the European Inquisitions or descendants of people killed by the Crusaders. They levied a tax on European vessels sailing along the African coast. Resentful of the Crusades and Inquisitions, the Muslims raised the tax frequently. Finally in 1801 the nascent American government could no longer afford to pay. U.S. merchantmen continued to sail through the area anyway and the Pasha of Tripoli captured and imprisoned the tax evaders. European rulers called the Muslims pirates and American bought into their propaganda. For the Europeans and the Muslims the conflict was simply the latest chapter in the Crusades. This is the pretext under which the Barbary Wars were started.
- 2. Unintended Consequences
Many characterize Ron Paul’s attitude as “blaming America” or “apologist for terrorists.”
Claude Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850), the French classical liberal theorist, political economist, and member of the French assembly, wrote That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Not Seen: The Unintended Consequences of Government Spending, in which he demonstrates the logic behind unintended consequences that occur as a result of the government’s economic intervention which are unseen and unpredictable at the outset.
What Frédéric Bastiat described about economic activities also applies to military activities that often produce tragic, devastating, and calamitous unintended consequences. For instance, the siding with Stalin against Hitler resulted in the Cold War; or the supporting of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden for short-term political reasons resulted, in part, in creating two monstrous US antagonists in the so-called “war on terror.”
Dr. Paul seems to be the only presidential candidate, from both the Republican and the Democratic Parties, who is clearly and explicitly aware of the logic of unintended consequences as they relate to military and economic activities of the government. (I am sure that he has read Bastiat’s work along with other works of classical liberalism upon which principles the United States had been founded and the Constitution had been written.)
Therefore, Ron Paul is not blaming America, for example, for the tragedy of 9/11. His voting records will prove it. We must go after those who are culpable and justice must always prevail. Instead, he is simply but urgently warning against any kind of headlong military actions by the government that almost inevitably resulted and will continue to result in negative unintended consequences that tend to escalate and compound the existing problems.
- 3. Strong Defense
Ron Paul is not anti-defense. On the contrary, he is pro-defense. His point is that by extending and expending US military all around the world, the United States is weakening her defense capabilities.
For instance, the Middle East conflicts and wars have been going on virtually unceasingly since the time of Pope Sylverster II (940 – 1003 AD). If we include Europe and Russia, thousands of wars have been perpetually waged since the time of the Roman Empire throughout this whole region of the Old World. As stated above, the Pax Romana has never produced intended or purported peace but only perpetual wars and conflicts.
On the basis of this historical precedence and evidence, what can the United States realistically accomplish by becoming perpetually involved in the Middle East? Were the Founders not right in principle and practice in advocating a non-interventionist/non-interference neutralist foreign policy coupled with a strong self-defense policy? Is their approach not more consistent with the fundamental principle of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, of which Ron Paul is an acknowledged champion?
(By the way, even for those conservatives who advocate a constitutional government, when it comes to foreign and military policy, the Bill of Rights seems to stop at the border.)
It is important to recognize that democracy is not liberty and liberty is not democracy. The United States was founded on the principle of Liberty as an individual right and as a foundation of a free country. The Founders believed in Liberty but feared democracy, for democracy as practiced had always been mobocracy – the tyranny of the majority manipulated by the political powers that be.
Therefore, “spreading democracy” is not the same as “spreading liberty.” Is not spreading liberty much more easily and consistently accomplished by means of commerce and entrepreneurship than by means of politics? Is not spreading real capitalism by means of commerce a better way to bring about peace?
Political power is the legal privilege to use force on innocent people and to back up one group’s decision and will with violence or threat thereof. Thus all political actions and solutions involve force and violence. It does not take too much intelligence to realize that violence only begets and breeds more violence and can never bring about peace.
The economists and political historians James Dale Davidson & Lord William Rees-Mogg wrote in The Sovereign Individual (1997) that large-scale nation-states such as the United States with their large-scale industrial-age military technology and warfare strategy are essentially powerless against small bands of terrorists who can freely move across national borders and are equipped with small high-tech weaponry and military equipment.
The United States cannot morally, legally, or financially spread around the world destroying all the countries that financially, militarily, or strategically support terrorists. Therefore, is it not much wiser and more strategic to develop higher military-terrorist intelligence, effective defensive rather than offensive high-tech military weaponry, and a powerful military trained more in the way of the Navy Seal?
My study of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War taught me that the fundamental purpose of (military) strategy is to ensure winning before the war. In my view, the U.S. military and foreign policy appears reactionary, and not coherently and strategically proactive, moribundly offensive, in contradistinction to contemporarily defensive, and ideologically contradictory to the Founding principle as well as strategically counterproductive to its very purpose.
It pains me deeply that 4,486 U.S. servicemen and women and 316 Allied soldiers were killed (based on an official US Government Report), while over 150,726 Iraqis (out of which 103,536 to 113,125 were civilians) were killed (based on the Iraq Body Count Project) in these eight and half years of the Iraq War. These numbers may be relatively small compared to other wars but we must remember that all of these people are real people just like us with families and friends whom they loved and who were loved by them.
If we reflect upon our history fraught with wars and violence, it becomes evident that no perceived temporary gains from war victory are really ever worth the lives lost and the destructions incurred. There are unseen, unforeseen, and unforeseeable negative consequences as the result of an action taken even with the best of intentions. War, which is whole sale destruction, is in the final analysis never good not only for the looser but also for the winner.
The United States must find a way to achieve internal freedom, prosperity, and peace again so that she can serves as an example, a beacon, which the sane majority of the rest of the world would want to emulate. This is a far better way to contribute to the rest of the world in their mutual achievement of freedom, prosperity, and peace. Sanity must prevail over insanity. We must come to our senses and realize that war, which is the act of humans killing other humans with impunity, is utter mass insanity.
For this reason, I reason that Ron Paul’s foreign and defense policies are the only sane and sound policies.
Today we stand upon the history of ceaseless foreign wars since the Spanish-American War of 1898, and upon the intricately interwoven consequences of extensive and violent interventions by the US government in the affairs of foreign nations throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.
Returning to the original neutralism, and restoring the original constitutional principles as applied to foreign policy, requires, in today’s geopolitical reality, principled and practical strategic moves. I trust that Dr. Paul is prudent and practical enough to be able to guide the course of such restoration.
Even if Ron Paul is not nominated, and no matter who becomes the Republican nominee, he or she must incorporate Dr. Paul’s rational and constitutional approach and enroll his supporters in order to restore a free, prosperous, and peaceful country envisaged by the Founders-Framers by defeating Mr. Obama and the power structure behind him that are bent on transmogrifying this nation into a socialist welfare dystopia depicted by Ayn Rand in her masterpiece novel, Atlas Shrugged.
Let me close this with Thomas Paine’s statement in his Common Sense:
“Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.
“Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.”
George Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796
Nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.
So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.
As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils. Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.
The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. . . .
Yasuhiko Genku Kimura
Vision without action is empty.
Action without vision is blind.