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Ron Paul – Isolationist

Ron Paul has been an isolationist for most of his career. It will cost him his last campaign, despite his good ideas about the economy.

What is an isolationist?

Ron Paul showed, during the Iowa debate, that he disputes what an isolationist is. Isolationism does not mean not even trading with other countries. That is not isolationism; it is protectionism. Caroline B. Glick tells her readers what isolationism is in Jewish World Review. It means

withdrawing to [one’s own, presumably fortified, borders] and leaving the rest of the world’s nations to fight it out among themselves.

Perhaps only a potential superpower can turn isolationist. A country of lesser military power, like Switzerland, that keeps its troops strictly at home, is not isolationist; it is simply neutral.

The problem with isolationism, as Glick shows, is that cruel empire builders, like Napoleon and Hitler, can spring up at any time. They inevitably will attack even the most fortified of countries, to seize their resources (human and mineral) or even their land. No country can stand forever when someone keeps attacking it, unless it makes a counterattack. Trying to stand behind fortified borders is like trying to withstand an old-fashioned siege. Any general knows that the only way to break a siege is to attack the besiegers from behind. The Romans knew this. They laid siege to the Samnite city of Nola during the Social Wars, and patiently waited for ten years until the city gave up. No one should doubt that other empire builders can be just as patient when they need to be.

How is Ron Paul an isolationist?

Ron Paul speaking at CPAC
Ron Paul speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, February, 2010. Photo: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic License

Ron Paul said during the Iowa debate, as he always says, that America has nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by fighting in any war off our borders. Again and again during the Iowa debate he returned to this theme. Even when moderators were asking him about the economy, Paul spoke about “militarism” and “bring[ing] the troops home.”

He also argued with former Senator Rick Santorum about whether the United States, or any of its allies, is under any threat at all. The key subject: Iran, and whether it has nuclear weapons or wants to build them. Paul flatly said no.

The war drums keep beating! Iran has no air force! They can’t make enough gasoline! And you talk about their acquiring nuclear weapons?

Ron Paul ignores the Iranian navy, which has deployed in the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, and through the Suez Canal to the eastern Mediterranean.

Separately, Paul wants to lift all trade sanctions against Cuba. That prompted FrontPageMag.com to offer a “history lesson” that all is not as Paul says it is in Cuba.

Does Ron Paul have any good ideas?

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Yes. He has sparred often with the Federal Reserve. He witheringly criticized Ben Bernanke, the head of the Fed, for saying that gold is not money. (In fact, the Constitution mentions gold and silver coin as legal tender; see Article I, Section 10.) He wants an audit of the Federal Reserve, which has never submitted to one.

But he seems to assume, without warrant, that military spending, chiefly or even alone, drives up the public debt. This is not correct. Entitlement spending drives the debt. But curiously, Ron Paul did not want to talk about this in the debate, nor is he talking about it today in Ames.

Whither Ron Paul?

Seema Mehta of The Los Angeles Times is typical of many reporters who think that Ron Paul can win at Ames. She correctly notes that many people who dismissed Paul as “a nut” do not dismiss him so easily today. When he called at the Iowa debate for auditing the Federal Reserve, not a single opponent argued with him.

But can he win at Ames on that argument alone? No. Whether he wins or loses depends on whether his isolationist message will appeal to the war-weary. Even that is no guarantee. The American people might now wish that the government “picked its spots” better than it has for the last several years. But that does not make them willing to fight no battles at all.

Featured image: Ron Paul’s official portrait. Photo: United States House of Representatives.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

candidate, constitutional law, debt, debt ceiling, gold, president, store of value, war


Terry A. Hurlbut

Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

Comments (20)

  • And the countries the Mongol invaded must not be forgotten. They were classic walled cities. Afghanistan and that area was home to some old empires that fell at the hands of the Mongol invaders.

  • ron paul has the same failed left wing foreign policy that jimmy carter had. and ron paul is not a serious candidate except with the ”nut brigade”. in 2008 paul ran in the republican primary for president. he only got 5% of the vote. that means 19 out of 20 republican primary voters wisely rejected this wacko who wants to ”blame america and israel” for all the worlds problems.

    • Let’s be fair. First, concerning his performance in 2008: that was then. This is now. What remains to be seen is whether his performance in Ames will translate into enough money to catch Bachmann (or Perry).

      Second: Ron Paul’s isolationism comes from a different perspective. Jimmy Carter thought the USA deserved humiliation, or even outright conquest. Ron Paul says only that other nations that get into scraps deserve one another, and that taking sides is useless.

      What Paul fails to realize is that justice demands taking sides when one group of people initiates force against another. And prudence demands moving swiftly against any group of people who would eventually initiate force against us.

    • You are off your rocker if you actually believe Ron Paul’s followers to be nuts. In fact, you know better and it scares you because you have fallen for the war propaganda thrown at you by the Establishment. Sad, but true. Ron Paul has already been endorsed by several serious and highly respected republicans including Rep. Walter Jones (N.C.) who said, This year will be different, Jones said, because ‘the country is in worse trouble.’ He added that Paul’s message on the Federal Reserve, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the nation’s debt are resonating more than ever.”

      According to Political Ticker:
      Ron Paul is arguably the most conservative Republican to ever run for president. Paul’s limited government principles cannot be swayed and his long and consistent record is a testament to his unique integrity.

      Many people believe that such a thorough constitutionalist is far too pure to ever become president. Gallup says they’re wrong:

      “President Barack Obama is closely matched against each of four possible Republican opponents when registered voters are asked whom they would support if the 2012 presidential election were held today. Mitt Romney leads Obama by two percentage points, 48% to 46%, Rick Perry and Obama are tied at 47%, and Obama edges out Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann by two and four points, respectively.”

      Among registered voters, Paul receives 45% to Obama’s 47%. Among national adults, Paul gets 44% to Obama’s 45%. These numbers essentially show statistical dead heats between President Obama and Paul, and the same is true of the other Republican candidates mentioned.

      The real story here is that Ron Paul is winning—whether the establishment likes it or not.

      • Add these to the above:
        The undecideds always break for the challenger in any election. That Obama could not achieve better than 47 percent against Paul, definitely shows that if the Republican Party nominated Ron Paul, then Ron Paul will win. Don’t just take my word for it; ask anyone who does polling for a living. Paul’s rather striking power is undeniable—and this editor certainly will not deny it.
        Paul, Bachmann, Romney, and Perry all show comparable numbers. In fact, Romney and Perry come out slightly ahead of Obama. That said, none of the four has a significant advantage over the other. All are equally electable.
        Remember that, moving forward.

        The only thing that your editor wants to know from Dr. Paul is this: will he sign a repeal of the Neutrality Act, so that Americans may sign on as foreign auxiliaries to a foreign power “recognized as civilized,” if they wish? I assume here that in the Ron Paul foreign policy scheme, the category of “ally” will be obsolete. (Allied powers bind themselves to one another, to declare wars each in parallel with the other. I assume that Dr. Paul wants to avoid a repeat of the First World War.)

    • By god Mikey you must be an ALL STAR!! I mean surely our current foreign policy has worked so well. I mean look at Iraq! It is soooo much better off now than it was under Saddam. Those who used to enjoy modern conveniences such as electricity, running water, etc. Now only get power for 3 hours max out of a 24 hour period. IF they get any at all. Virtually every storekeeper has lost their business. And the place has turned into a modern [censored] wasteland with no constructive political system to speak of:) The perfect terrorism breeding cesspool……GOOD JOB BUSHY BOY! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!! Surely Iran can now freely secure Iraq, its people and resources all for its lonesome self. UNLESS of course we go to war with Iran1! Just what the doctor ordered right MIKEY?? Another war? Who knows maybe China next! Maybe we should just take one big [censored] Atom bomb and desimate half the [censored] globe! All in the name of the “war on terror”. Lol. Oh well at least the rest of the world agrees with your oh so productive views on foreign policy! Oh….wait Mikey:( They don’t. Because when it comes to the real world Mikey; [Censored] transcends beyond the left right paradigm.

      • You watch your language in my comment space.

        Besides: by your logic, Mussolini ran the trains on time in his country. You might have some valid arguments for having the US government stay out of it, but this isn’t one of them.

  • Requiring that we actually have a national interest at stake as a prerequisite for intervention is not isolationism. And nation-building is advocated only by the foolish.

    In a speech in 1984, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, who had opposed the Beirut mission, enunciated the lesson he drew from Lebanon: Don’t commit insufficient military forces to an ill-defined mission with no clear national interest or exit strategy.

    • Trouble is, the Ron Paul position goes far further than you just did. A “national interest” could mean “not having bad people bear a weapon that they could use against American citizens on American soil.” From his remarks concerning Iran, Ron Paul does not agree, or willfully turns a blind eye.

  • […] 8,662 Originally Posted by PHINFAN There is so much in wrong with what you wrote here, i find it difficult to decide where to start, but i guess the best thing to do is to call you on it. Explain to me, the guy with a two digit IQ ( lot of those two digit IQ guys in navy nuclear propulsion school in orlando) what EXACTLY do you mean by Paul being a "isolationist"? Read what you wrote, then look up Ron Pauls foreign policy and explain how it jives. Tell me, and tell the rest of this forum how that would make us "isolationists". The only reason you throw that term around is because, again, it has been given to you by your owners, and you regurgitate on these pages. It makes me wonder if you know what the term even means. If i had a nickel for every republican that has told me, yeah, i kind of like some of his ideas, but that isolationism just isn't going to work. Your words, i asked for your words, trying to make you think for a change…Sorry, I have some business to take care of by here….. and since I'm so wrong read this and refute what you will! Ron Paul […]

  • Russell Kirk, the modern father of conservatism, would lock arms with Ron Paul. It’s todays neocon’s who love war and regard our young men as cannon fodder. People need to stop referring to themselves as conservatives, when they are really for conserving domestic big government and big government foreign policy.

  • what baffles is me really is why must we be participating in a war somewhere else to make us feel safe at home. We are not fighting any wars in China currently and we don’t feel threatened by them and there possibly the most powerful nation in the world. We don’t have troops in Japan, Russia, or any other superpower that could wipe us off the map with a push of a button, yet we don’t feel threatened by them. Im not suggesting that we ought to be, i’m just curious why we are so afraid of the middle east and why is this fear is eased by us messing in there business. There are plenty of countries who are NOT interfering in there affairs(possibly considered isolationist) who are doing just fine economically, and there people at home are completely safe. And about the switzerland being considered neutral because they are a small nation. Since when does being a larger nation require you to take the roll as peace keeper. Someone please …. ease my mind…. why must we be in the middle east, in not one but several wars, when other successful nations(call them neutral, call them isolated, i dont care) are doing just fine economically and are safe?

    • The arguments that make the best sense are these:

      1. Muhammad went to war with the most prosperous nation-state then on earth: the Byzantine Empire. His successors the Baghdad Caliphs tried to conquer Europe. In the late eighteenth century, Muslim surrogates (The Barbary Pirates) attacked our shipping and brazenly declared that they did so in obedience to their Koran, a warning that then-Secretary of State Jefferson remembered when he became President. Today, the Caliph wannabes (all of whom are in the Middle East) know that the United States, and only the United States, stands between them and world conquest. “Today the Great Satan, tomorrow the Little Satan [Israel], and the day after, the world.”
      2. For all the complaining that Muslims do about specific reverses that they have suffered at American hands, their biggest complaints are about an event that the United States had nothing to do with: their defeat at the hands of King Ferdinand of Spain at Andalusia, before Christopher Columbus would set sail for the New World, and before anyone even knew about a New World. That tells you of their designs right there.
      3. The United States has been the only country in the Western world to show honor in its dealings with those who, whether you or I think it makes any sense or not, are God’s chosen people, and are still God’s chosen people, no matter how meshuggeh some of them seem to behave.
      4. The leaders of those other countries you mention don’t mess with us because they know that the instant they did so, they would provoke a response that they, at least, find too horrible to contemplate. But what you might not realize is that they are always plotting to turn the tables. They just seem to have more patience than Muslims have.
      5. A Muslim finds nothing too horrible to contemplate. Death in war is the only means they know, or think they know, to achieve redemption in God’s eyes—their god’s eyes, anyway. Muhammad set it up that way, and you have to admit that he was a very clever fellow. And his influence remains today. I blame it for the World Trade Center Incident, and I blame it for the assassination, on the first anniversary of the Six-Day War, of Senator Robert Francis Kennedy, Democrat of New York.

      Regrettably, Dr. Ron Paul shows no understanding of the threat. He seeks instead to make a tasteless joke of it on The Tonight Show. If he granted me leave to advise him, I’d tell him to lay off joking about threats to national security. But first someone has to convince him to take those threats seriously.

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