Ron Paul’s Foreign Policy

by Chuck Donovan

I have been hearing many people say that they agree with Ron Paul 95%.  Most recently, Shawn Hannity interviewed Ron Paul and he began the interview saying he agrees with 95% of what Congressman Paul has been saying in his campaign.

Let’s get something clear right away.  If you find a politician or any business deal where you can get 95% of what you want, I have only one thing to say to you.  Take the deal.  Fast!  More importantly, if you agree with 95% of what Ron Paul is saying, you need look no further.  No other politician is even close to the positions Ron Paul holds and has demonstrated he is committed to.

People have taken the mainstream media sound bites of Ron Paul’s foreign policy comments to mean that he thinks we have brought terrorist attacks on ourselves.  If you think that is what he is saying, you need to listen much closer and longer.  Ron Paul does not view the terrorists as blameless.  He also never takes the shameful view that we had it coming.  However, he does confront us with a question of our own share of responsibility.  After all, we weren’t just sitting here in America minding our own business when an attack suddenly happened.

First, get a little more educated on the subject than the bumper sticker sized phrases you are being fed by the mainstream media.  The links below are a good start.  Try the Podcasts I recommend and put your mp3 player to better use than listening to the same songs over and over.  Spend a little time reading a real expert on Afghanistan like Malou Innocent, instead of someone from the Fox network.  The last two links are to more complete books on the historic context.

  1. Cato Institute
    1.  Counterterrorism and Homeland Security
      1. i. “Terrorizing Ourselves:  Why U.S. Counterterrorism Policy is Failing and How to Fix It
    2.  Podcasts
      1.  “Lessons From a Decade of War
      2.  “Abolish the Department of Homeland Security
      3.  “Less Safe, Less Confident, Less Free
      4.  “The Risks of Terrorism
      5.  Malou Innocent
        1.  “Osama Bin Laden’s Goals
        2.  “Escaping the “Graveyard of Empires”: A Strategy to Exit Afghanistan”
    3.  “The Crusades Through Arab Eyes”, by Amin Maalouf
    4.  “Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World”, by Margaret MacMillan
      1.  A discussion of the World War I, “Versaille Treaty” negotiations and their effect on the Mideast.

What I learned from these sources is that the United States has been tinkering with Mideast politics and lives for over a century.  Looking just at Iran, we changed their border and modified the neighboring country with the Versailles Treaty in 1919.  Our CIA was linked to the overthrow and assassination of their Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq in 1952.  We backed the Shah of Iran for decades despite his horrendous record of human rights abuses.  Our President Jimmy Carter was connected to the return of the Ayatollah Khomeini, and thus we are connected to the ruin Khomeini brought on Iran.  During the 1980 to 1988 Iran-Iraq War, a war in which the Iranians sustained massive casualties, the U.S. openly supported Iraq.

To be sure, the Mideast is not the only place we have used our power to intervene.  A cursory look at the history of U.S. interventions around the world will quickly bring up countries on every continent where we politically, economically, and militarily intervened.  In South America alone, we are linked to the violent overthrow of Chile’s democratically elected President Salvador Allende.  We then supported his replacement, another leader with a terrible human rights record, Augusto Pinochet.  However, Chile’s reaction to U.S. abuses is much different than Iran’s reaction.  Even the U.S. culpability for the rise of Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega, and even Castro cannot be compared to the terrorism that has come from the Mideast.

I don’t think Ron Paul ignores that important difference.  He makes no excuses for the terrorists, but he does correctly draw a line between criminal acts, and acts of war committed by nation states.

Does Ron Paul want Iran to get nuclear weapons?  Of course he does not.  Nobody wants Iran to have nukes.  First understand I am not a confused liberal who thinks it is a bad thing you have a handgun, but it is good for world peace when every country has a nuke.  (No one questions the Libertarian support for 2nd Amendment rights.)  Though, with all this concern about Iran getting a nuke why isn’t there an equal outcry to disarm Pakistan?  Why are we so ready to dance along with John McCain when he sings, “Bomb, bomb Iran”, but show no readiness to confront North Korea?

Nuclear weapons are game-changers, that is true.  The current Iranian regime with nukes in their hands is a frightening prospect.  However, just how do you think we are going to stop them?  Are you planning to nuke them with a preemptive strike?  It would certainly stop them, but there are obvious problems with that course of action.  Do you actually think conventional attacks will stop them?  Are you insane enough after what Iraq has cost us to think we can invade Iran?  Cyber attacks have only slowed them down, not stopped them.  The Iranians have links to the former Soviets and to the Chinese who are helping them with their nuclear program.  There are probable Iranian links to A.Q. Kahn, the so-called “Father” of the Pakistan nuclear weapon.  Kahn supported North Korea’s nuclear program and is connected to Libya’s nuclear centrifuge and “yellow cake” program.  What are the further geopolitical repercussions of a military confrontation with Iran in light of these connections?

Ron Paul discusses all of these points and confronts us with the idea there may be another way.





To be sure, we have not just been sitting around here in the US, minding our own business and not bothering anyone else.  While the Mideast culture most certainly has heavy responsibility for their acts of terrorism, we must admit responsibility for our long history of interventions.  This is what Ron Paul says, and I agree.


Once you understand this point, it is easy to conclude we must do the following:

  1. Immediately bring our troops home from all countries outside of the U.S.
  2. Don’t deploy again without a formal declaration of war as required by our law, the Constitution.
  3. Maintain a ready, mobile, and modern force that can violently confront those who threaten our security here in the United States.
  4. Continue to deal with terrorism as the crime it is, not as a nation state act.
  5. Never forget Von Clausewitz who told us that war is the final diplomatic tool.
  6. Never forget Bastiat who said, “If goods don’t cross boarders, armies will.”
  7. Never forget Jefferson’s quote, “…peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none…”
  8. Remember, that open trade does not mean you as an individual are compelled to purchase their products, and that you still as an individual and as a nation have the right to voice your opinion about how they run their business, their government, and their society.

If you agree with 95% of what Ron Paul is saying, don’t give up and fawn over some other well packaged, polished, and blow-dried, establishment tool, among the cookie-cutter cast of cartoon characters the mainstream insists on parading in front of us.  Find out how to deal with the 5% disagreement, and celebrate the fact you finally found a politician you agree with 95%.


For more reading on the subject, the Cato Institute offers this book.  Smart Power: Toward a Prudent Foreign Policy for America”, By Ted Galen Carpenter