The Neocon Reaction to Ron Paul

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"First
they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you,
then you win."

~
Mohandas Gandhi

As I was listening
to neocon Glenn Beck's radio show on Wednesday, I tried to figure
out how he made the jump from step 2 to step 3 so quickly.

Following the
first Republican Presidential Debate, Beck was contented with dismissing
Dr. Ron Paul as "crazy" and wondering "How did this
guy get on stage?" He didn't seem too threatened — not enough
at least to fear that anyone important would notice his blatant
and no doubt intentional misrepresentation of Paul's response to
a question posed by a reader of Politico.com. "As president
you need to make critical decisions," the reader wrote, "What
critical decisions have you made in your career that have affected
many people?" Beck
carefully selected
a portion of Paul's response:

I guess,
in medicine, I made a lot of critical decisions. I mean, you’re
called upon all the time to make critical, life-saving decisions.
But I can’t think of any one particular event where I made a critical
decision that affected a lot of other people.

Doing his best
to make Paul out to be a bumbling fool, Beck responded:

That`s got
to be one of the worst answers I’ve ever heard to the question,
“Have you ever made a critical decision? Tell us how you made
a critical decision where it affected a lot of people.” The guy’s
been in Congress now for how many years. Every decision he makes
affects 300 million people, and that was his answer?

No, Mr. Beck
that was only a part of his answer that you selected. In
the first part of the answer (MSNBC transcript), Paul stated:

I wonder
if he’s referring to a political decision like running for office,
or something like that. (Laughter) I guess, in medicine, I made
a lot of critical decisions. I mean, you’re called upon all the
time to make critical, life-saving decisions. But I can’t think
of any one particular event where I made a critical decision that
affected a lot of other people.

With the added
context, we can see that Paul was trying to figure out how to answer
this extremely vague and overly broad question posed by an amateur
by dividing his response into decisions he made in private life
and later, those made in public life. Now that we know he only dealt
with one patient at a time in his medical practice (the horror,
Mr. Beck, the horror), we can now turn to what Paul said
about his political career.

But I think
all our decisions we make in politics are critical. My major decision,
political decision, which was a constitutional decision, was to
urge for (inaudible) years that this country not go to war in
Iraq.

There you go,
Mr. Beck. He said exactly what you said he should have a full
three seconds after you blasted him for not saying it. That
has got to one of the worst attempts to smear someone I've ever
seen.

But the day
after the Paul-Giuliani
exchange
during the second Republican debate, things turned
more serious. Beck was no longer engaged in mere dismissal and misrepresentation.
He launched into a shrill diatribe against Paul, a tirade worthy
of the most hate-filled leftists. Calling Paul a "dope,"
he declared, "If Republicans start thinking like this, WE'RE
DEAD."

For Beck, leaders
in the Middle East use the Western World, and the United States
in particular, as a scapegoat to distract their populations from
the misery they are facing domestically. While this may be superficially
true, can any rational thinker honestly deny that the United States
government's interventionist foreign policy has been instrumental
in the popularity and growth of organizations like al-Qaeda — exactly
what the
CIA
, the 9/11
Commission
, and Osama
bin Laden himself
tell us?

No. And the
public is realizing this because it's not too hard to consider the
perspective of our enemy. As Dr. Paul himself argued, "It would
be like if the Chinese had their navy in the Gulf of Mexico and
bases in New Hampshire and in Texas and they think we wouldn't pull
out our guns and do some shooting?"

Sean Hannity,
not surprisingly, was even more obtuse in the aftermath of the debate
the night before. He demanded to know what America did to cause
9/11. Paul responded,

Americans
didn’t do anything to cause it, but policies over many years caused
and elicited hatred toward us [so much so that] somebody was willing
to commit suicide [to fight us]. For instance, the occupation
with our military troops on their holy land in Saudi Arabia; bombing
a Muslim country for 10 years; putting on sanctions that killed
hundreds of thousands of people — that caused the anger.

Not having
any intelligent response on hand, Hannity shifted focus and demanded
to know,

Are you saying
then that the world has no moral obligation, like in the first
Gulf War, when an innocent country’s being pillaged, and people
are being raped and murdered and slaughtered, or in the case of
Saddam, he’s gassing his own people, are you suggesting we have
no moral obligation there? Do you stand by and let that immorality
happen?

He then compared
a non-interventionist foreign policy to standing by and doing nothing
while a woman was being raped. I wonder then Sean, why it was okay
in 1998 when you
opposed
Clinton's purely "humanitarian" intervention
in Kosovo?

The fact is
that it is not humanitarian when the intervention costs tens
of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. (See
here
for info on the debate over the numbers of dead in Iraq.)

Plus, this
isn't even counting the indirect effects (see the writings of Christopher
Preble
for an overview). Besides inciting hatred that can lead
to further conflict and terrorism, the United State's hegemonic
role as "world policeman" leads to the diminishment of
local centers of security. Foreigners start to think, if the U.S.
is going to invade our enemies, why should we even bother with our
own defense?

For whatever
reason — perhaps out of fear or power lust — neocons have abandoned
conservative skepticism of government in favor of a blind ideology
of American exceptionalism. Beck, Hannity, and Giuliani have jumped
on Dr. Paul relentlessly because they are beginning to realize that
many conservative voters are dissatisfied with the spendthrift,
Wilsonian mainstream of the Republican Party. As the base shrinks
and moderates start voting Democratic, they know and fear that true
conservatives who believe in the ideals of the Old Right might wake
up from their post-9/11 slumber and leave the neocons as well. In
their attempt to hold their floundering movement together, they
have resorted to shouting down and ostracizing the "crazed
dope" Ron Paul, hoping to push him "way
out
" of the presidential race. Dr. Paul and his supporters
must be doing something right to raise such fear and ire from the
neocons; let us keep it up.

May
19, 2007

Eric
Phillips [send him mail]
is a disaffected inhabitant of Washington, DC.

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