Last month, in The Federalist, I published a piece entitled, “Why Ron Paul is Dead Wrong on Venezuela.” Therein, I described Paul’s outlook on Venezuela as the product of being seriously misinformed about the political and economic situation, and misguided with respect to the proper role for American foreign policy and leadership.
Paul has been correctly arguing for decades, along with such conservative commentators as Pat Buchanan, that the United States can no longer afford to have a global military empire with hundreds of land, sea, and air bases around the world, and millions of troops, acting as the world’s policeman, all on the dime of the longsuffering US taxpayer. Neither would this be in our best interests.
Iraq was the perfect example of our disastrous foreign policy. In the name of a search for weapons of mass destruction, we ended up in a bloody, costly, and protracted sectarian civil war, which ended up with us refereeing a centuries-long conflict between Sunni and Shia, in which we had no compelling reason or interest in having boots on the ground.
Iraq was a disaster. But should we rule out any military invention? Paul seems to think so. And in doing so, he has bought into the great fallacy of pacifism: perhaps the most ludicrous and destructive ideological movement in history, second only to socialism.
Pacifism is a fool’s errand, because it assumes that the rest of the world is also desirous of the kind of free commerce, Jeffersonian democracy, individual liberties, and republican principles that have made the United States and its allies the greatest economic success in the history of the world.
Paul’s pacifism and non-interventionism may work for a time, but faced with a world that does not respect democracy and capitalism, in which powerful nations and interests…dictators and totalitarians…seek to crush freedoms on a regular basis, the basis of non-interventionism crumbles.
Let’s look at World War 2. Were we to stand by and allow Hitler to take over all of Eastern and Western Europe, conquer Moscow and St. Petersburg, and then leave the United Kingdom to go it alone? In Korea. Were we to allow North Korea to launch an unprovoked invasion of South Korea, turning the entire peninsula into a bastion of Communism?
What about Vietnam?
Vietnam was a truly tragic case of military intervention, largely due to the incompetence of the South Vietnamese government. Successive US administrations also were repeatedly unable to define the military objectives of our presence there, leading to demoralization and confusion. It would have been better for the United States to make a difficult choice from the beginning: either we will not intervene militarily in Vietnam…or, we will defend the territorial integrity of South Vietnam.
Now, faced with the greatest humanitarian disaster in Latin American history, experts suggest that 6 million Venezuelans will leave the country by the end of 2019, if things continue on their present course. That is 20% of a population of 30 million people.
Paul seems hellbent on propping up Maduro at all costs, which is curious. He is outraged that the United States would question the legitimacy of Maduro’s presidency. He has even taken up the bizarre conspiracy that the CIA caused the recent blackouts in Venezuela by targeting the country’s massive Guri hydroelectric dam, when experts have concluded that a series of fires along transmission lines running between Caracas and the dam caused the blackout.
Why Paul wants to simultaneously back the legitimacy of the Maduro regime, and buy into ludicrous conspiracy theories about American attacks on the Venezuelan electrical grid, is a mystery.
One might venture to bet, however, that Paul has never actually been to Venezuela, or spoken with Venezuelans about their perspective on the situation.
Now, a libertarian icon finds himself in a curious position: he is going to great lengths to back up a socialist dictator who champions the central-planning that Paul has spent his life fighting.
Paul apparently doesn’t see the irony in that.
Paul’s support for the Maduro regime rings out loud and clear, and it will not soon be forgotten.