January 17, 2019

Ron Paul Is Dangerous? Americans Must Start Thinking for Themselves

American politics in the 21st century is about soundbytes, image, and spin. That’s the only way for candidates to try to reach 300 million people in the time that they will likely be in front of them on any given day. For some candidates, the soundbyte is the length and breadth of their views on the issue. For others, that is not necessarily true. In any case, the issues that they speak to are issues of substance and there is no way to form an opinion about them unless you think them through.  That might seem like stating the obvious, but here’s the rub: almost no one is thinking about issues that could profoundly affect all of us for the rest of our lives.

What most Americans are doing is repeating the soundbytes and buzz words that they hear from talking heads as if they were indisputable fact. Maybe some of them are. Maybe some are not. What is crucial is that every individual think about them critically. That means challenging the veracity of those statements and determining for yourself if they stand up to the most vigorous intellectual attack that you can mount against them.

Ron Paul’s opponents use soundbytes to discredit him and Ron Paul does likewise. He has accused Newt Gingrich of “serial hypocrisy” and accused all of his opponents collectively of being “shitzus” on cutting spending. No one should accept those allegations as true without looking into the evidence for and against them and determining for himself whether or not they are true. Part of that process must be the intellectual exercise of taking the position that they are not true and saying to Ron Paul, “Prove it. Newt Gingrich is not a hypocrite just because you said he was in a 30-second TV ad. Where is your proof? I’ll consider it and get back to you.”

I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance of mine as we prepared for a class that we take together. He asked me who I was supporting for the Republican nomination and I said that I was supporting Ron Paul. He immediately smiled and said that Ron Paul was too “crazy” for him. Not one to go on the attack just because someone disagrees with me, I calmly replied, “I hear that a lot. Which of his policies do you think are too crazy?”

I was not surprised by the blank stare that I received in response. That was followed by some stammering and searching for an answer. He finally said that it was Ron Paul’s stance on regulations. I asked, “Which regulatory issues do you disagree with him on?” More of the same stammering and searching and finally the answer was “Well, I haven’t caught up on the issues this time around yet, but I remember hearing him talk about a regulation a while back. I can’t remember which one.”

Out of the tens of thousands of pages of federal regulation, he had heard Ron Paul’s views on one of them and had concluded that he was crazy. Not misinformed. Not wrong. Not even very, very wrong. Crazy. Does that sound like a reasonable conclusion to you?

Let’s be honest. This gentleman just made up the whole “stance on regulations” answer to cover for the fact that he had no answer. He had no idea why he thought Ron Paul was crazy. He had heard it on television in a five second soundbyte, had accepted it as true without even four seconds of critical thought, and was now repeating it to other people who for the most part will do likewise.

However, the “Ron Paul is crazy” narrative is losing its effectiveness. It is getting harder and harder for his opponents to make that charge stick. After predicting the stock market crash of 1987 four years in advance and predicting the housing market collapse five years in advance, Ron Paul has emerged as the only candidate who is not crazy by Albert Einstein’s definition (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result).

So Paul’s opponents need a new buzz word. I’m sure you’ve heard it. Ron Paul is now “dangerous.” Not wrong. Not very, very wrong. Not even “crazy” anymore. Now he’s dangerous. That’s an extraordinary claim. I can’t say that I remember it ever being used against another politician. I don’t remember any politician being called “dangerous” during the Cold War, when the Russians had 40,000 nuclear weapons pointed at every major American city. But that is the word that Paul’s opponents use to describe him now. One should immediately wonder why.

Of course you have heard this word repeated by every journalist and talking head as if it were true just because some enterprising young campaign staffer put it out as a talking point. That is fine. That is how the game is played. What is important is that you don’t immediately believe it just because you heard it on television, even if you heard it from a lot of people. Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. You have to at least challenge the claim before you decide.

The new “dangerous” tag is based upon the argument that Ron Paul will not preemptively bomb or invade Iran to try to stop them from developing a nuclear weapon. His political opponents (including the other Republicans and Barack Obama) uniformly state that “We cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”  The establishment candidates also assert that Iran will have a nuclear weapon as early as a year from now. That means that whatever the U.S. government is going to do about it must happen now.

Q. What exactly is the danger of electing this man? A. He will “allow” Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.

Q. What can the United States do to stop another nation from developing a nuclear weapon? A. Bomb or invade them immediately and destroy their capacity to build it.

Q. What if Ron Paul was president and Iran did develop a nuclear weapon? What would happen next?

Here is where most people completely shut down and stop thinking. The standard answer is that Iran will “wipe Israel off the map” or, even more irrationally, that they will “take out an American city.” Now, I know why Ron Paul’s political opponents say those things and we’ll get to that in a minute. What I’m concerned with is this: How could any rational, average American believe them?

Let’s say that Iran does indeed develop a nuclear weapon by January 2013. They would still be decades away from an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States. However, they may be able to use it against Israel. What happens next?

Nuclear weapons are a terrible thing. I think that most people wish that they didn’t exist. I know I do. But let’s acknowledge reality. Iran could not “wipe Israel off the map” (something Ahmadinejad NEVER EVEN SAID, by the way) with one nuclear weapon. They could kill a lot of people. On the other hand, Israel has 200-300 nuclear weapons. They could wipe Iran off the map and would do so the minute that Iran launched their missile. Every square inch of Iran would be incinerated before Iran’s nuclear missile ever reached Israel, if it got there at all. That is a fact that no reasonable person could dispute. That’s without even broaching the subject of what would happen to Iran if they showed any sign of aggression toward the United States. Think about it. To say that Iran is a danger to Israel or the United States is crazy.

That raises another question. If it indeed is crazy that Iran could ever threaten either the United States or Israel, why would so many politicians and talking heads be saying it? Could it possibly be that these politicians have something to gain if the United States goes to war with Iran?

Is it possible that politicians, supported by military contractors and financial institutions that together make trillions of dollars on these wars at your expense are saying this because they want to keep making more money? Or is it more likely that even though these people will “just happen” to profit immensely from a war with Iran, that they are both sincere and correct that Iran with one nuclear bomb is a threat to Israel and the United States, that between them have tens of thousands?

Ron Paul has argued that the war rhetoric today about Iran is identical to the war rhetoric about Iraq in 2002-2003. Is he right? Aren’t the same people who told us that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” telling us the same thing now about Iran? Aren’t all of the same elements of the argument about Iraq present in the arguments for war with Iran? They are evil. They want to destroy Israel. They are developing weapons of mass destruction. There is even the same time limit. “They may have one as early as a year from now.” That’s just what they told us about Saddam Hussein. There is no time to think it over. Within a year there will be a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv, possibly New York City. Haven’t we heard all of this before? Isn’t it insane to accept the same claims from the same people without question?

Conversely, isn’t Ron Paul telling us the same thing that he told us about Iraq? Exactly why should we believe the people that lied to us or at least were dead wrong about Iraq and dismiss the one man that told us the truth and was dead right about Iraq? How long will we go on doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? Isn’t that crazy?

Dangerous. That’s what you are going to keep hearing about Ron Paul. There is no reasonable argument to be made that Ron Paul’s foreign policy is dangerous. This is an act of desperation by people that are deathly afraid that Ron Paul is going to put them out of business (not just the war-making business, but a trillion dollars of other government waste that he’ll end in his first year as well).

They aren’t appealing to your reason. They are appealing to your emotions. They are trying to strike an irrational fear in you that will cause you to reject Ron Paul, support one of their candidates, and support another unnecessary war that they will profit from at your expense. Again. Just like Iraq. However, there is one thing that you can do to avoid being fooled again.

Think about it.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

What If Barack Obama Had Not Been Elected?

Most conservatives abhor Barack Obama’s presidency. They believe that Obama is leading the United States to its ruin and that nothing is more important than defeating him in the next election. They believe that our very way of life is threated if they do not succeed. I don’t happen to share their opinion that there is a substantive difference between the Bush and Obama administrations, or that anything today would be different if John McCain had been elected.

However, let’s say for the sake of argument that conservatives are correct. The Obama administration is bent on altering American society in fundamental and irreversible ways. Nothing is more important than removing him from office.

Still, conservatives do not look to violently overthrow the present administration. They recognize that, whether the choice was a wise or a foolish one, a majority of those Americans who cared enough to vote chose Barack Obama as their president. So, no matter how relentlessly the Republican Party attacks Obama through its vast network of think tanks, talking heads, and media outlets, no matter how nasty or allegedly unfair conservative talk radio may be, when all is said and done, conservative efforts to remove Obama from office are peaceful.

But what if Obama had not been elected?

What if John McCain had won the election, but was then removed from office in a coup d’état fomented by covert agents of a foreign government? What if that government then installed Barack Obama as president, overriding the wishes of the American electorate? What if that foreign government propped up the Obama administration for decades and American citizens were unable to depose him peacefully through the electoral process?

What if Americans decided to rebel against this tyranny and overthrow Obama in a revolution? What if the foreign government called the American rebels insurgents or terrorists for removing the tyrant, when it was obvious to the whole world that the Americans had been justified in deposing Obama as a usurper backed by foreign interests?

What if, after the revolution, Americans elected a leader that they felt represented their values but that people in other countries did not like? What if the foreign government that had previously overthrown John McCain joined with other countries and imposed sanctions upon Americans, using military force to prevent voluntary trade between the United States and other countries? What if that foreign government sent billions of dollars to Mexico, allowing her to arm herself with nuclear weapons, but forbade the United States to similarly arm herself in her own defense?

What if that same foreign government armed and supported Canada in waging a decade-long war against the United States? What if that government then turned on Canada and invaded her, setting up military bases on her soil, with tens of thousands of troops capable of striking at the United States at any moment?

What if Americans resented the sanctions and threats of violence directed at them and responded with threatening statements of their own?  What if Americans were vilified as terrorists for opposing these aggressive actions with manly firmness? What if the United States had not invaded another country in over 200 years, but was still characterized as a threat to the whole world by a government that routinely invaded other nations, had already overthrown the U.S. government once in the past, had armed America’s neighbors with weapons of mass destruction, and regularly issued official government statements calling for “regime change” in the United States?

What if there were credible rumors that a preemptive nuclear strike by Mexico was imminent? What if the foreign government pledged its full support for Mexico and warned Americans not to attempt to arm themselves adequately to prevent this unprovoked attack? What if it was apparent to all Americans that they had no chance to fight their enemies in a conventional war and win?

What would Americans be prepared to do then?

For more thought-provoking “What Ifs?” see here, here, and here.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

How Can Conservatives Support Sanctions Against Iran?

Many have decried that the so-called “liberal left” has abandoned its anti-war stance and thrown its support behind President Obama’s intent to impose sanctions on Iran. As the reason for the sanctions is Iran’s supposed pursuit of nuclear weapons, the left actually remains more philosophically consistent than the right. Liberals have always attacked the natural right of self defense, usually as it manifests itself in the individual right  to keep and bear arms. They have also traditionally supported large-scale warfare, as long as the war was started by a member of their party. Remember that U.S. involvement in WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and Viet Nam was initiated in each case by a liberal Democratic president with the support of a Democratic majority in Congress. There is nothing out-of-character about liberals supporting President Obama’s war agenda with Iran.

What is harder to understand is how conservatives can defend the 2nd Amendment and still support these sanctions, given the stated reason for their imposition. As a sovereign nation, Iran could make all of the same arguments regarding their right to develop nuclear weapons as conservatives make regarding the individual right to keep and bear arms. Iran lives in a world in which many of its neighbors possess nuclear weapons. In the event of a nuclear attack against Iran, there is nothing the “international community” can do until it is too late, just as there is nothing the police can do for an individual at the moment he is attacked by an aggressor. Like any potential mugging victim, Iran is much safer armed with a deterrent than at the mercy of those who wish her harm.

Liberals often argue for gun controls or bans based upon what an armed civilian might do with a weapon. Conservatives correctly argue there is not justice in using government force against people because of “what they might do.” Until an individual actually commits some form of aggression, conservatives  argue it is no one’s right to infringe upon another’s right to keep and bear arms. This certainly applies equally to nations in relation to one another. How can conservatives deny this right to Iran?

Liberals make the argument that the world is safer without handguns and so oppose them indiscriminately for everyone except government employees. Conservatives correctly argue an armed citizenry is much safer against criminals than an unarmed one. They remind us that every known statistic shows neighborhoods under stricter gun controls have a higher incidence of violent crime, because the criminals still have guns and  know law abiding citizens are helpless. Conservatives understand this implicitly in terms of individuals, but it completely eludes them when applied to the relationships between nations. They also fail to recognize that history supports this argument: the only nuclear attack in human history was perpetrated by a nuclear-armed nation against one that did not possess nuclear weapons.

Conservatives make the argument that to deny Iran the right to develop nuclear weapons is not the same as disarming them. They would still be “allowed” to retain a conventional military force. How ironic this argument is coming from conservatives, who become red in the face when liberals argue that they are not violating the 2nd amendment by limiting the types of firearms that civilians can carry or by banning “assault weapons (is there another kind?).” Conservatives recognize that the word “allow” has no place in the same conversation when discussing a right, including the right to keep and bear arms.

Denying one individual or group the right to keep weapons relatively equal to those possessed by his peers nullifies his ability to effectively defend himself. Conservatives routinely make this argument, saying law abiding citizens need weapons of comparable fire power to the average gang-banger. Otherwise, the poorly armed citizen is still at a disadvantage against the well-armed criminal.

Their reasoning is sound. Why does it not apply to Iran? To deny Iran’s right to possess weaponry equal to that of any other sovereign nation – especially those that habitually threaten her – is to deny Iranians their right to provide for their own defense.

Conservatives respond that Iran is a “rogue nation” and therefore cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons. This is nothing more than cultural bias which is flatly refuted by reality. During the past 200 years, Iran has never invaded another country or initiated military force against anyone. Beyond the 1979 hostage crisis, they have burned a few U.S. flags and said some very nasty things about the U.S. and Israel. Otherwise, they have been content to screw up their own country and leave the rest of the world alone.

In contrast, the United States has invaded doezens of nations in just the past 50 years and has committed direct acts of war against Iran, including overthrowing their democratically-elected government and installing an American puppet in its place. When Iran responded by deposing the Shah and taking U.S. hostages, the U.S. waged a decade-long proxy war against Iran through another of its puppets, Saddam Hussein.

This is not to condone Iran’s seizure of civilian hostages in 1979. Violence against civilians is never justified. But given that the hostages were returned relatively unharmed just over a year after their capture, the U.S. government’s conduct at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and secret prisons throughout the world seems to overshadow Iran’s “rogueness” in this area rather considerably. Using the “rogue nation” standard, there is a long list of nations that should be sanctioned ahead of Iran, starting with our own.

Conservatives  recognize the right of self defense is the foundation of freedom and equality. They understand that if all men are created equal, there is no justification for one person to deny to another the right to defend themselves, nor to deny another person the right to determine for themselves what weapons are necessary to that end. In order to defend themselves against aggression by other nations, individuals delegate that aspect of self defense to their government’s military force. Based on the same principles as our own Constitution, this is as much their right as the individual right to keep and bear arms. As in the case of individuals, no nation has a right to decide for another what weapons it will keep for that purpose.

The people of Iran as a sovereign nation have all of the same rights that the people of the United States. It is not for the United States to decide what weapons Iran possesses any more than it is Iran’s place to decide what weapons the United States possesses. One would have to employ the most convoluted logic imaginable to arrive at any other conclusion.

The United States was born defending the right to keep and bear arms, a fact  glossed over when American history is taught in public schools. Despite the “intolerable” taxes, quartering of troops, monetary manipulation, and a host of other offenses by their government, the American colonists did not fire upon their own troops until those troops attempted to disarm them. The colonists recognized that if they were disarmed they were no longer free. Why would Iran think any differently?

The United States government claims to be promoting freedom in the Middle East. These sanctions demonstrate it has forgotten about what freedom really is. In order for Iraq, Iran, or any other Middle Eastern nation to be free, they must be recognized as equals by the other nations of the world, with all of the same rights that equals are entitled to. The most important right is the right of self preservation, often called the “first law of nature.” Until we recognize Iran in this way, we will be in a perpetual state of war with her, with nothing to gain and so much to lose. It is time to stop playing emperor with Iran and start practicing what we preach. Liberals have always been confused about the relationship between self defense and freedom, but conservatives should know better than to deny Iran’s right to keep and bear arms.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.