Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ask Me How Sick I am of This

Any number of characters in the cow manure pit that is political punditry whom I know to be capable of stringing English sentences together have been driving me up a wall this election season over just one single thing. Okay, so they're driving me up a wall over a whole mess of things, but this one thing over all: nobody seems to be able to rub more than two or three words together to denigrate Ron Paul's foreign policy. The most common permutations are "It is foolish" or "It is stupid," while as far as I can tell in reality it is neither.

What exactly is this keh-RAY-zy foreign policy that takes the politically-opinionated class' verbosity away? The sloughing off of foreign entaglements? The shuttering of bases in every corner of the world? Admitting that, were we to talk about America's "sphere of interest," we would not be talking about the sphere that is our entire planet? The curtailing of a military and military-industrial complex against which a hero of WWII and president famously warned? Let me ask you exactly what kind of crank you think said these words:

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

I know, nuts, right?

Truth be told, I'm starting to think that the comparisons between America and Rome are becoming more apt. We've gone from a country that acknowledged military power as a necessary evil to one that idolizes it as the epitome of manliness. Even those of us who should know better are little more than cheerleaders for the legionnaires. And it's this militaristic idolatry that leads me to the conclusion that it's not the self-evident foolishness of those like Ron Paul that leaves the talking heads with a dearth of words; rather, it's their inability to form an argument against an ideology that does not recognize the ground from which they would sally forth. Or perhaps it's from which they would courageously launch their unmanned drones, these days.

Whatever way you slice it, I'm seeing a depressing lack of engagement around the fundamentals of foreign policy. Everyone is straining to outdo each other to jam us still farther down the sorry rabbit whole of entanglement, until we truly become Trey Parker and Matt Stone's Team America: World Police.

So here comes a challenge that I expect to go unmet: somebody give me a detailed argument in favor of the position that Ron Paul is foolish or insane on foreign policy. I'm not promising you a series of Lincoln-Douglas style debates (does my head look as big as Newt's?) but I have been wanting a discussion on this topic so badly for so long that I am ready to argue and ultimately to lose, if that's what it takes. Confirm I'm right, prove me wrong, whatever it takes, I just need to have it out on this one.

Although based on my past efforts to engage on this, I'm not holding my breath.

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