Thursday, December 29, 2011

Union Leader takes on Paul

As we approach the Hawkeye Cawkeye, it looks to be a big finish for Ron Paul in Iowa.  A result that once seemed impossible--Dr. No getting a ticket (top 3) out of Des Moines--now seems a real possibility.  

While I'm deeply impressed by many of Rep. Paul's core convictions, particularly his allegiance to a strict interpretation of the Constitution--one that constrains federal authority, and hence regulation, taxation, spending, nanny-statism, etc.--that same dogmatic approach will create some impossibly high hurdles for him, should he be elected President.  In actuality, he simply has too many fatal flaws to be considered a realistic player for the nomination.


Here are some of the major problems a Paul candidacy would present:


  • He would be the oldest President ever.  He would be in his 80's before the end of his first term.
  • He has never been an executive.
  • He has an ideological rigidity which is not compatible with the coalition building necessary to move a legislative agenda (which ties in directly with never having been an executive).
  • The content of the Ron Paul Newsletter is disqualifying, period.
  • The fact that he disclaims knowledge of the content of the Ron Paul Newsletter is disqualifying.  Either he is lying to the people, or is completely incapable of running a small newsletter shop.
  • Most importantly: he would put the lives of American citizens in danger by his approach to foreign policy (or more specifically, counter-terrorism and intelligence).  


It is on this last point that the Union Leader has weighed in with an editorial arguing that New Hampshirites should counter any momentum that Paul brings with him out of Iowa.

Paul believes that al-Qaida terrorists caught in the United States ought to be treated as common criminals, not enemy combatants. He wants them read Miranda rights to which they are not entitled and he wants them tried and sentenced in civil courts rather than by military tribunals.
This is nothing short of nuts. What is needed to competently fight a war, and al-Qaida is indeed at war with us, is the ability to gather information. Telling the enemy that it has a “right to remain silent” is absurd.
Paul believes that if a U.S. citizen throws in with al-Qaida or associated groups overseas, where he plots American death and destruction, we need to somehow find him, arrest him, and bring him back to stand civil trial here rather than eliminate him, even if that is the only option.
For Ron Paul, offering enemy combatants the legal protections of a citizen isn't just about due process.  It's about unwinding the War Powers act, bringing back the power of the legislature to declare war, weakening the role of the Executive as CIC, returning to a laissez-faire federal governement, foreign policy, and a stripped-down, pre-WWII type military.

My point is that his position on enemy combatants is not just some crackpot lunacy.  It fits into his broader world view, his understanding of where America has gone wrong.  And while I agree with many of his broader principles, the agreement is more directional than one of destination.  For instance, while I agree with the concept of a lighter military footprint around the world for the U.S., the idea that we could never engage enemies of the state without a formal act of Congress is absurd.  While I agree our primary "face" to the international community should be that of a prosperous, competitive, free opportunity society--and not a strongman with a billy club--that doesn't mean we should forgo robust intelligence gathering capabilities with the ability to project targeted force (think Special Forces, extraction and eradication teams) as needed, as fits the threat of terrorist organizations.  We aren't fighting Soviet Russia anymore, and our military should reflect that.

This last paragraph also fits closely with what Jon Huntsman has been saying on foreign policy--that we need a highly engaged internationalist approach to foreign policy, one that relies on economic and trade ties with allies, economic punishment for enemies, and restructuring our military to meet the nature of the threats that confront us today.  Intelligence gathering and tactical deployments are increasingly important.  We can maintain (and improve) our ability to strike terrorist organizations and/or rogue regimes, while reducing the amount of nation-building and long-term military deployments we have been engaged in recently.  This would be a win for the safety of the country, and an also a win for our image around the world.

I doubt Huntsman manages to overcome Mitt in New Hampshire, but his pragmatic approach to foreign policy should be embraced by GOP voters for this cycle and beyond.

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Always sniffing for the truth

Always sniffing for the truth

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