Monday, January 02, 2012

Papa's Doc's foreign policy

Ben Adler at The Nation addresses Three Myths About Ron Paul 01/02/2012, #2 of which is his segregationist brand of libertarianism and #3 of which is his foreign policy: "Just because Ron Paul opposes imperialism and unnecessary invasions of foreign countries doesn’t mean he has a liberal or progressive bone in his body. Paul is a nationalist and isolationist, staunchly opposed to multilateral organizations."

He links to this piece by Michael Cohen, The World According to Ron Paul Foreign Policy 12/23/2011, which looks at Papa Doc's foreign policy in more detail.

I've been concerned pretty much since the Iraq War started or thereabouts over the way in which neo-Confederate and Old Right isolationist sources like Antiwar.com - which I've quoted numerous times, though normally with a disclaimer about the source - were establishing a presence among war critics for their brand of far-right ideology. Papa Doc's popularity suggests that it's a siren song that some left-leaning critics of US interventionist foreign policy find it hard not to be attracted to.

Cohen writes:

The problem, however, is that there is far more to Paul's view than just his opposition to U.S. military adventurism. Paul also believes that the United States should depart from all international organizations and global alliances. This includes not just NATO, but also the United Nations and the World Health Organization (he introduced legislation to this effect as recently as this March). He stridently opposes NAFTA, all free trade agreements, and even U.S. membership in the WTO on the grounds that free trade should be free of government interference, global rule-making, or apparently dispute mechanisms. He is opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants and believes that securing America's borders should be the "top national security priority."

What about foreign aid? Paul wants to end it completely -- with some vague exceptions made for disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. He claims that "foreign aid never works to achieve the stated goal of helping the poor of other nations." Finally, there is a darker element to Paul's foreign policy views -- a healthy degree of conspiracy-mongering. He has warned against the so-called NAFTA super-highway and the North American Union, a supposed plan to turn the North American continent into an economic union with a single currency and open borders along the lines of the European Union. Paul has even introduced legislation to prevent this non-event from occurring. He has also claimed that the United Nations "wants to influence our domestic environmental, trade, labor, tax, and gun laws" and that "its global planners fully intend to expand the U.N. into a true world government, complete with taxes, courts, and a standing army." [my emphasis]
What some of Papa Doc's left-leaning sympathetic commentators seem to miss is that Papa Doc's rabid nationalism, xenophobia and paranoid conspiracy-mongering are integral parts of his foreign-policy thinking. His antiwar positions don't exist on some parallel track. They are part of a hardcore Old Right isolationist strand of thinking that constitutes an exceptionally ugly tradition. Neither Adler nor Cohen call out climate change as a particular concern. But Papa Doc is also dead set against any kind of international agreements to reduce greenhouse gases. And, for that matter, against any and all domestic government regulations that would control pollution of any kind. Because that would violate the liberty of rich old white guys like the Koch brothers to poison the air, water and soil as they like.

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