Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ron Paul: 1930's Isolationists "argued for a pro-American foreign policy"

Ron Paul advocates isolationism as he renounces it

In what is comically called "A History Lesson With Dr. Paul", the Paul campaign has reposted a Washington Post article highlighting Paul's views on isolationism (read here). Dr. Paul was rebutting John McCain's charge that Paul's anti-Iraq War stance is equivalent to those who advocated appeasement in response to Nazi aggression. This is a case where I disagree strongly with both sides in the argument, but that's not my focus here. What caught my eye was an admission by Ron Paul that he, despite numerous and constant denials of his isolationism by him and his campaign, still supports the isolationism of the 1930s that allowed Hitler to conquer most of Europe and plunge the world into chaos. Here's what he says on his website:

"'People in the 1930s who didn't want war didn't cause World War II. I think Hitler caused the war, not the Americans who argued for a pro-American foreign policy,' he said.

While it's true that Hitler and the Nazis (along with Japan) were ultimately to blame for the war, that is a long way from absolution for the isolationists who foolishly prevented the United States from making an appropriately strong response to Hitler's aggression. The original isolationists allowed the Nazis to have a free hand in expanding their military and invading their neighbors, and did their best to prevent the U.S. from preparing for the war that was to follow. Paul now admits that he thinks that the isolationists were just fine and says they were just advocating a "pro-American foreign policy". He does seem to prefer to call both himself and the original isolationists "non-interventionists", however. But now that he has associated himself so clearly with the original isolationist movement and has said that they as well as he should be called anti-interventionist, it's clear where he stands with respect to isolationist ideology and what he really means by the terminology he prefers. Paul's "non-interventionism" is just isolationism with a PR agent.

Paul's brand of isolationist "pro-American foreign policy" would surely be the undoing of the nation it purports to help. The only way it could be sold would be to call it something other than isolationist and to pray that Americans know nothing of their nation's history. That's really what Paul depends upon.

[Thanks to Deborah Lipstadt (read here) for correcting the original version of this post. The "History Lesson" was first published in the Washington Post (read here), then reposted by the Paul campaign website.]

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Our intervention in WWI caused the whole mess to begin with. And no, someone threatening to literaly conquer European civilization is a very $%^#$^ different thing than occupying a middle eastern country to make it democratic.

I mean, is it just me who thinks that comparing Iraqi insurgents to the Wermacht is just straight retarded?

Cawdor said...

"still supports the isolationism of the 1930s that allowed Hitler to conquer most of Europe and plunge the world into chaos. Here's what he says on his website:"

Incorrect, the capitulation of sovereignty for a little security by the European powers and the flawed Treaty of Versailles which allowed for the rise of the Nazi Party allowed Hitler to conquer most of Europe and plunge the world into chaos.

Anonymous said...

Since you are fond of making comparisons and are clearly a history fan, why don't we try some of the following on for size?

What is your basis for the invasion and continued occupation of Iraq?

Brauchen wir lebensraum?

Actions which are more closely allied to the actions of Nazi Germany are corporatism, pre-emptive war and occupation.

The term foolish appeaser is more applicable to those who advocate a continued foreign policy of nation building, regime change and police actions in sovereign nations and sanctions of soveriegn nations.

Anonymous said...

What nonsesne.

It was the active, venemous suppression of Germany following the First Wolrd War -- similar to US policy toward Iraq following the First Gulf War -- that caused the Germans to radicalize.

And where do you get "surely be the undoing of the nation it purports to help"? I must have missed the lecture in History class where Europe's internal collapse was the undoing of America.

If you're really that worried about what a less activist American foreign policy would do to your country, join the IDF and shoot your own Arabs. For the US, it's time to remember the first law of holes and stop digging.

Adam Holland said...

Anonymous #1 blames US intervention in the First World War for the rise of Nazism. I don't know that I can follow his chain of what-if's back that far. Here's a what-if for him to ponder: what if the isolationists in the U.S. had failed to obstruct participation in the League of Nations? Any chance that could have helped prevent Nazism? That's just as plausible as your pro-isolationist scenario.

Cawdor's comment is a bit hard to follow, but he's welcome to try again and I'll reply.

Anonymous #2 seems to think that my post was written to support the invasion of Iraq. He obviously missed the point which concerned Ron Paul's hypocritical rejection of the term "isolationist" while supporting that ideology. (In fact, I did support the war as the majority of Americans seem to, largely because I believed that they were capable of deploying WMDs within minutes and because I foolishly assumed the Bush administration was capable of dealing with the aftermath. I was wrong on both counts.)

Anonymous #2 goes on to argue against "nation building, regime change and police actions in sovereign nations and sanctions of soveriegn (sic) nations". That's precisely the wrong approach that let Milosovic continue to rape Bosnia and lets Sudan rape Darfur If anyone needs proof of the extreme nature of the isolationist ideology, his list of taboo actions should make it clear. By his standards, even responding to Pearl Harbor with sanctions would have been too much. How absurd is that? As absurd as saying that the U.S. is seeking to expand into Iraq for "lebensraum", the Nazi rationalization for their conquest of Eastern Europe.

Does this really represent the ronpaulian perspective? Maybe it's worse than I thought.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Pearl Harbor caused by sanctions on the Japanese?

Adam Holland said...

Anonymous # 3 says that the single cause of the rise of the Nazis was the "venemous suppression of Germany following the First Wolrd War". First, let me recommend a spell checking program. Second, the idea that there was only one cause for the rise of the Nazis, which you call the radicalization of Germany, is illogical. The facts that the punitive measures to which Germany was subjected helped destabilize its economy and political culture, and that it provided Nazis with both a fertile environment and a reason for being, do not exclude other factors in their rise. That argument says nothing whatsoever about the effects of isolationism. Maybe that's an issue you wish to avoid, like Rep. Paul does.

Your accusation that I want to kill Arabs and suggestion that I join the IDF are so palpably bigoted and false that they do not merit any response.

With respect to whether the U.S. should stop digging itself deeper into trouble in Iraq, that argument actually has merit. Maybe you got lucky. Our goal must be to safely extricate ourselves from a major military presence while doing our best not to make an undeniably bad situation worse. But of course, my post really didn't address Iraq, did it? These comments seem to miss that point. Maybe the actual content of the piece is difficult for you to rebut.

Adam Holland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam Holland said...

Anonymous # 4:

There was no single cause for Pearl Harbor. Clearly, those sanctions played a role in the chain of events leading up to the Japanese attack. There were two alternatives to sanctions. First was the isolationist "do nothing" approach which would have facilitated the Japanese conquering most Asia and the South Pacific. What do you think would have happened after that? The other alternative was military intervention which was not within the capability of the U.S. at that time.

A better argument for you and your fellow Paul supporters to make with respect to Pearl Harbor is that the U.S. did not attack Japan preemptively (as it has Iraq) in spite of a great potential threat. That argument against preemptive war without an imminent threat is a strong one, but I shouldn't give you guys ideas.

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