by Jacob G. Hornberger
One of the more fascinating attacks on Ron Paul comes from Dorothy Rabinowitz in the December 22, 2012, issue of the Wall Street Journal.
Not surprisingly, given that Rabinowitz serves on the Journal’s editorial board, she goes after Paul for his foreign-policy views. What I found interesting about the article, which is entitled “What Ron Paul Thinks of America,” is the superficial nature of the attack. Rabinowitz’s article, quite simply, lacks any depth of analysis on the critical points she makes about Paul.
Rabinowitz begins her attack by repeating the standard canard that interventionists love to level at libertarians who point to the role that U.S. foreign policy played in motivating the 9/11 attacks. She says that Paul is blaming America for the attacks and even accuses Paul of being the “best-known American propagandist for our enemies.”
But contrary to Rabinowitz’s assertion, neither Paul nor any other libertarian has ever blamed America for the 9/11 attacks. Libertarians point to what the federal government has done to people overseas that has incited them to anger and rage, which ultimately has motivated some of them to engage in terrorist retaliation.
Did you catch that? Libertarians point to the role of the U.S. government’s foreign policy is generating the anger and hatred that many foreigners have for the United States, which ultimately culminated in the 9/11 attacks? Do you see anything in the previous paragraph about blaming America or the American people for anti-American terrorism?
Like so many other interventionists, Rabinowitz makes the standard mistake of conflating the federal government and the country. For her, they are obviously one and the same thing. For the interventionist, the federal government is America. Condemn what the U.S. government has done to people overseas and you’re condemning America. You’ve become a “propagandist for America’s enemies.”
It’s a shame that Rabinowitz didn’t take the time to delve into and carefully analyze this point of her attack. It would have been fascinating to see her confront how she herself jumps from a critique made of the U.S. government’s foreign policy to one of blaming America or even becoming a “propagandist for America’s enemies.”
In fact, given the Journal’s devotion to the Constitution, it would have been fascinating to see how Rabinowitz reconciles her mindset, in which she conflates the federal government and the country, with the Bill of Rights. Since the Bill of Rights expressly protects America from the federal government, that is fairly persuasive proof that the federal government and the country are two separate and distinct entities. How would Rabinowitz deal with that?
Actually, however, the problem goes deeper than that. I wish Rabinowitz had carefully explained her reasoning regarding libertarian critique of U.S. foreign policy. Here are some questions that would have made for a much more interesting article:
1. Is Rabinowitz saying that the federal government/America is incapable of doing bad things to people overseas?
2. Or is she saying that when the federal government/America does bad things to people overseas, foreigners are incapable of getting angry over such things?
3. Or is she saying that when foreigners do get angry over bad things that the federal government/America does to them, it is inconceivable that such anger could ever manifest itself in terrorist retaliation?
4. Or is she saying that the evidence with respect to 9/11 suggests that the terrorists were motivated by hatred for America’s “freedom and values” rather than by anger arising from U.S. foreign policy?
Alas, in her haste to attack Ron Paul for his non-interventionism, Rabinowitz failed to confront any of those questions. That’s a shame because she could have really enlightened people as to the nature of the interventionist mindset and it truly differs from that of libertarians.
Given the ongoing tensions between the U.S. government and the Iranian regime, it is not surprising that Wall Street Journal editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz brought up Iran in her attack on Ron Paul’s libertarian views on foreign policy.
What was disappointing, again, was the superficial level of her attack. Here was an excellent opportunity to show people the nature of the interventionist mindset, how it applies specifically to Iran, and how it differs from that of libertarians.
Instead, Rabinowitz limited her remarks to mocking Ron Paul over a statement that Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made long ago about wiping Israel off the map and Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust.
What a shame because Rabinowitz missed the opportunity to discuss Iran in the context of a central issue of her op-ed — whether U.S. foreign policy ever engenders so much anger and hatred for the United States that the victims are motivated to retaliate with acts of terrorism.
Consider, for example, the CIA-instigated coup in Iran in 1953, which ousted the democratically elected prime minister of the country from office and replaced him with a brutal unelected dictator, one who continued oppressing the Iranian people for the next 25 years.
It would have been fascinating to read Rabinowitz’s take on the CIA coup. Does she believe that the U.S. government was justified in destroying Iran’s experiment with democracy and installing a brutal U.S.-supported dictatorship in its stead? Does she consider the CIA’s coup an act of war against a sovereign and independent regime? Does she consider it an act of goodness for the benefit of the Iranian people? Does she justify the coup by resorting to the old time-honored mantra of the national-security state, “national security”?
Equally important, how does she perceive the reaction of the Iranian people upon learning what the CIA had done to their country? Does she feel that Iranians became angry over the coup? Or does she take the position that it is inconceivable the coup would generate anger among Iranians given that a friend of the United States was installed into power?
When the Iranian revolution occurred in 1979, after 25 years of brutal and oppressive U.S. government-supported dictatorship, some of the revolutionaries took U.S. diplomats hostage, which was clearly an act of terrorism. What would Rabinowitz say about that? Would she say that the terrorist retaliation had nothing to do with what the CIA had done 25 years before and nothing to do with the U.S. government’s support of the Iranian dictatorship for the previous 25 years? Would she say that the terrorism was instead motivated by hatred for America’s “freedom and values”? Indeed, would she argue that America’s “freedom and values” encompass the authority of the U.S. government to engage in regime-change operations in countries whose regimes are headed by officials who don’t kowtow to the U.S. government?
Again, we don’t know the answer to those questions because, unfortunately, Rabinowitz’s attack on Ron Paul, while long on superficialities, was short on substance.
Consider the recent alleged assassination plot on American soil that U.S. officials claimed was orchestrated by the Iranian government. Weren’t interventionists angry and outraged over it? Didn’t they consider it to be an act of aggression? Weren’t they calling for military retaliation against Iran?
Yet, at the same time, such interventionists cannot understand why Iranians would get angry over a successful CIA-instigated coup in their country that destroyed their experiment with democracy and subjected them to a brutal unelected dictatorship for the next 25 years.
Indeed, there is significant evidence that the U.S. military and the CIA are currently engaged in covert assassinations of atomic scientists in Iran. What do U.S. interventionists say about that? They think it’s inconceivable that Iranians would get angry over such a thing and, in any event, that such anger would be unjustified.
And what about the deadly and destructive effects of the U.S. sanctions against Iran? Does Rabinowitz concede that they might engender anger and hatred for the United States among the Iranian people? Alas, we don’t know because she chose not to address that critically important issue.
In her article, Rabinowitz mocked the assertion that Iran might want to acquire a nuclear bomb for defensive purposes.
Yet, consider the fact that there are no regime-change operations directed at North Korea, which U.S. officials placed in the same “axis of evil” in which they placed Iran. Why the difference in treatment? North Korea has acquired a nuclear weapon, one that is clearly not being fired at the United States but instead has succeeded in deterring a U.S. regime-change operation in North Korea, unlike, say, the situation in Iraq, where the regime had no nuclear weapons and where the U.S. government did succeed in effecting regime change with a brutal military invasion and a deadly nine-year military occupation.
Might that not explain why Iran might try to acquire a nuclear weapon? Why can’t interventionists see that?
And therein lies a big part of the problem with the interventionist mindset: Interventionists simply cannot place themselves in the shoes of foreigners who are the victims of U.S. foreign policy. All they can think about is being in the shoes of the U.S. Empire, as it treads across the globe, killing, maiming, kidnapping, renditioning, incarcerating, torturing, and abusing people in the process of trying to install pro-U.S. regimes into power, which interventionists say must all be good because it is being done by the U.S. Empire.
Alas, Rabinowitz fails to discuss any of this. Instead, she limits her superficial attack on Ron Paul to some statement that Ahmadinejad made years ago about wiping Israel off the map and his denial that the Holocaust took place.
Yet, throughout the Cold War conservatives were saying the same thing about the Soviet Union that Ahmadinejad said about Israel — how they wanted to see the Soviet Union wiped off the map. While it is true that many officials in the Pentagon favored a first-strike nuclear attack on the Soviet Union during the Cold War, most conservatives were simply hoping that the Soviet Union would collapse and disintegrate — i.e., be wiped off the map — of its own accord, which it ultimately was.
What about Rabinowitz’s complaint that Ahmadinejad has denied the Holocaust? Libertarians hold that the God-given rights of freedom of thought and freedom of speech entail the right to believe and say whatever people want, no matter how despicable. But I suppose that’s just one more difference between libertarians and conservatives.
One of the most disappointing aspects of Wall Street Journal editorial member Dorothy Rabinowitz’s attack on Ron Paul for his foreign-policy views pertains to the motives of those who are driven to commit terrorist attacks on the United States. While repeatedly pooh-poohing Paul’s emphasis on U.S. foreign policy for being the motive behind the 9/11 attacks, Rabinowitz failed to reveal her own thinking on the subject. That’s truly a shame because she passed up an opportunity to give people a glimpse into the interventionist mind on this important subject.
Does Rabinowitz take the same line that many U.S. officials took immediately after the 9/11 attacks: that the terrorists were motivated by hatred for America’s “freedom and values“? Was it their disdain for rock and roll, religious liberty, gun rights, and freedom of speech that drove them to commit those suicide attacks?
Alas, we don’t know because Rabinowitz didn’t reveal her thinking on the issue. Instead, she simply mocked what libertarians, including Paul, have been saying ever since the 9/11 attacks — that what the U.S. government had been doing to people in the Middle East produced so much anger and rage that it ultimately manifested itself in acts of terrorism.
Let’s examine some of those aspects of U.S. foreign policy and ask ourselves what Rabinowitz would say about their possible effect on people in the Middle East.
Let’s consider, for example, the brutal sanctions that the U.S. government and the UN (at the behest of the U.S. government) imposed and enforced against Iraq for more than 10 years, which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.
What would Rabinowitz say about that? Would she say that the sanctions didn’t really do that? Would she say that the brunt of the sanctions fell only on Saddam Hussein and his inner circle? Would she deny that people in the Middle East attributed the deaths of the children to the sanctions? What would she say about the two high UN officials — Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponek — who resigned in protest against what they called genocide?
Or would she say that even though hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children died as a result of the sanctions, people in the Middle East didn’t really get angry about it? Would she say the same thing that U.S. officials said about Asians during the Vietnam War — that people in the Middle East simply don’t place the same value on human life as Americans do? Would she say that friends and relatives of the deceased children would have been okay with the deaths given that the sanctions were meant for a good purpose — regime change in Iraq?
Alas, we just don’t know what Rabinowitz would say about that because, for whatever reason, she chose not address the issue in her attack on Ron Paul.
In 1996 — five years before the sanctions were finally lifted — U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright — was asked by “Sixty Minutes“: “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?“
Albright responded: “I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.“
Did any U.S. official, including President Clinton, condemn Albright or correct her? Nope. Presumably their mindset was the same as hers.
So, what would Rabinowitz say about that? Would she say that “Sixty Minutes“ misquoted Albright or took her words out of context? Would she say that Albright forgot to deny that half-a-million children had died as a result of the sanctions? Or would she say that people in the Middle East, including the parents of the children, would not actually get too upset over such a statement by the U.S. government’s official spokesman before the UN?
Again, we don’t know what Rabinowitz would say because she remained silent on the issue in her attack on Ron Paul. What a shame because it would have been fascinating to gain a glimpse of the interventionist mindset on this important issue.
Or consider the unconditional foreign aid, both cash and weaponry, that the U.S. government has long provided the Israeli government. No matter where one falls on the divide between Israel and the Palestinians, everyone agrees that there is tremendous anger and hatred among many Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims over the existence of the Israeli state and what they consider has been horrible mistreatment of the Palestinians by the Israeli government. Therefore, doesn’t it stand to reason that such anger and hatred would apply to the foreign regime that unconditionally provides cash and armaments to the regime that such people hate?
What would Rabinowitz say about that? Again, we just don’t know.
What about the U.S. government’s stationing of troops near Mecca and Medina? Everyone knows that those are the holiest lands in the Muslim religion. Most everyone also knows that many Muslims hold that non-Muslims are infidels. Thus, wouldn’t it stand to reason that such Muslims might get angry over the stationing of people whom they consider infidels near lands that they consider sacred?
What would Rabinowitz say about that? Again, we just don’t know.
Do you recall the sex-abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison? There was a batch of videos that the U.S. government ordered to be kept secret from the American people and the people of the world. Apparently the videos contained things so horrific that U.S. military officials felt that disclosing them would incite people in the Middle East to attack U.S. troops.
Doesn’t that imply that people in the Middle East can get full of rage over U.S. government misconduct in that part of the world?
What would Rabinowitz say about that? Would she say that the U.S. government was behaving in a silly manner in keeping those videos under wraps because it is inconceivable that people in the Middle East might get angry over the misconduct of U.S. troops in the region?
Again, we just don’t know because Rabinowitz failed to tell us.
Indeed, I can’t help but wonder how Rabinowitz would respond to the fact that the anti-American terrorists themselves, time after time, have pointed to the bad things the U.S. government has done in the Middle East as the root of their anger.
Go back, for example, to Ramzi Yousef’s angry tirade to the federal judge at his sentencing hearing for his role in the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Or Osama bin Laden’s fatwah against the United States. Or the Ft. Hood bomber. Or the Detroit bomber. They all point to U.S. foreign policy as the source of their rage, not hatred for rock and roll, religious liberty, freedom of speech, or any other of America’s “freedom and values.“
What would Rabinowitz say about that? We just don’t know.
Or maybe Rabinowitz would say that motive just doesn’t matter. Maybe she would say that once the terrorists attacked on 9/11, all that mattered was the wreaking of vengeance.
But wouldn’t that be a short-sighted view? Establishing why someone did something might be important in establishing policy that avoids such conduct in the future, which might go a long way in avoiding any more loss of innocent life.
Consider a real-life example of where establishing motive was important. After Timothy McVeigh’s terrorist attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City, libertarians pointed to what had motivated McVeigh to commit his act of terrorism — the federal massacre of the Branch Davidians at Waco.
Statists, who wanted no examination into what the feds had done at Waco (or at Ruby Ridge), leveled the same type of nasty attack on libertarians that Rabinowitz has leveled on Ron Paul. Trying to shut down any public discussion of the federal wrongdoing at Waco, the statists accused libertarians of being justifiers. “You people are justifiers,“ they cried. “By pointing to McVeigh’s motive, you’re justifying his conduct and you’re sympathizing with him.“
But notice something important about Waco and Oklahoma City. Thanks to the spotlight that libertarians shone on Waco, there have been no more Waco-type massacres of American citizens by U.S. officials and, consequently, no more Oklahoma City type of retaliatory terrorist attacks.
The principle is no different with U.S. foreign policy and anti-American terrorism. Dismantle the empire and end the interventionism, and the anger and rage that motivates foreigners to retaliate with terrorism disintegrates, which, by the way, would also eliminate the excuse for taking away our rights and freedoms here at home in the name of “keeping us safe.“
While we’re on the subject of motive, is it possible that Rabinowitz’s motive in leveling her superficial attack on Ron Paul was to dissuade Americans into examining and questioning U.S. foreign policy, including such things as sanctions, foreign aid, invasions, coups, occupations, kidnappings, support of dictatorships, torture, secret prison camps, indefinite detention, kangaroo military tribunals, out of control spending and debt, TSA porn scans and body groping, the PATRIOT Act, telecom immunity, sneak and peek searches, and all of the other deadly and destructive anti-freedom things that interventionists hold dear?
The most disgraceful — but, at the same time, the most revealing and, also, the most ominous — aspect of Wall Street Journal editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz’s attack on Ron Paul was when she accused Paul of being “the best-known of our homegrown propagandists for our chief enemies in the world.”
That is one fascinating and honest revelation of the interventionist mindset.
After all, let’s not forget two important things about the country in which we now live:
(1) We now live in a country in which the president, operating through his military forces and the CIA, now wields the power to assassinate; and
(2) We now live in a country in which the military wields the authority to round up Americans and incarcerate them indefinitely in military facilities without trial and treat them as terrorists.
What’s the standard by which these powers are exercised? We don’t know. It’s classified. We’re not permitted to know because to reveal the standard would, they tell us, threaten “national security.”
But what we do know is that one of the Americans they’ve assassinated was alleged to be precisely what Rabinowitz has accused Ron Paul of being: a homegrown propagandist for our chief enemies of the world.
That’s why President Obama, the Pentagon, and the CIA assassinated American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki — for being a homegrown propagandist for our chief enemies of the world.
And therein lies one of the chief threats to a free society posed by interventionism.
And let me tell you something: Rabinowitz is not some interventionist aberration. She’s a model for the interventionist mindset. She is the epitome of the paradigm of foreign interventionism.
In that one sentence, Rabinowitz revealed the true essence of the interventionist mind — one that conflates criticism of government policy with those who are violently resisting the U.S. government’s actions overseas. For her, they are obviously one and the same thing.
After all, no one seriously believes that Ron Paul has formally joined al Qaeda or the insurgency in Afghanistan or the people resisting U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere. Not even Rabinowitz believes that.
Then why would she say that? Why would she accuse Paul of the precise thing that al-Awlaki was assassinated for?
Because her mindset is obviously such that when a person criticizes what the government is doing to people overseas, the critic automatically has joined the other side.
Rabinowitz accused Ron Paul of being “a homegrown propagandist for our chief enemies of the world” because she honestly believes it. And the reason she believes it is based on nothing more than Paul’s criticism of the U.S. government’s policies abroad.
This is one of the big reasons that we libertarians have been opposing the enemy-combatant doctrine ever since it was adopted immediately after 9/11. We have consistently maintained that you can’t trust the president, the military, and the CIA with the decision as to who is guilty of terrorism and who isn’t. That’s what a criminal trial is for — to determine who is guilty of a crime and who isn’t. And if anyone doubts whether terrorism is in fact a federal criminal offense, all he need do is go look at the U.S. Code or visit any number of federal courts across the land in which people have been indicted and are being prosecuted for terrorism.
Equally important, we have repeatedly emphasized that whenever a country’s ruler, along with his military and intelligence forces, wields these types of omnipotent powers, officials inevitably begin perceiving critics of the regime as part of the enemy forces. Thus, the round-ups, the detention, the torture, and the executions inevitably expand to encompass critics of the regime, especially during “crises” or “emergencies,” when the citizenry is frightened.
Look at Egypt, where the U.S.-supported military dictatorship absolutely refuses to give up the same powers that are now wielded by Obama, the Pentagon, and the CIA. Those are the same powers that angered the Egyptian people to such an extent that they violently revolted against the tyranny of their own government. For 30 years, Egypt’s military dictatorship has used those powers to round up and incarcerate critics and dissidents, torture them, and execute them.
And all in the name of “national security,” “order and stability,” and “keeping the people safe.”
Oh, and don’t forget — these 30-year-old emergency powers were supposed to be only temporary. To this day, Egypt’s military dictatorship, said to be the friend of the people, has bared its fangs by absolutely refusing to give up its power to round up people as “terrorists” (and as “drug dealers”), incarcerate them without trial, torture them, and execute them — the same power now wielded by the president and the Pentagon here in the United States as part of their “war on terrorism.”
And, hey, the mindset of the Egyptian military is the same as the interventionist mindset in America. A critic of the regime is an enemy of the regime. By criticizing the regime, he has joined the other side. He has become a propagandist for the nation’s enemies. He needs to be treated accordingly. How else can “national security” be preserved? How else can “order and stability” be maintained? How else can “the people be kept safe?”
And make no mistake about it: Deep down, the people in the Pentagon and the CIA share the Rabinowitz mindset. After all, let’s not forget who’s been supporting, cooperating, training, funding, and cozying up to Egypt’s totalitarian military regime for the last 30 years.
Yes, the Pentagon and the CIA. That’s because they’ve believed in the Egyptian military dictatorship. They’ve favored what that dictatorship has been doing for the past 30 years. After all, what better way to protect “national security” and “establish order and stability” and “keep people safe” than by silencing people who are objecting to the totalitarian policies under which they are living?
And it’s not as though the Pentagon and the CIA were unaware of the Egypt’s military dictatorship’s excellent system for torturing people. They were fully aware of it given that they have chosen Egypt’s military dictatorship to be one of their foreign torture partners, a partnerships in which Egyptian military goons torture people that U.S. officials send to them for that purpose.
No American should have any pretensions on whether the Pentagon and the CIA will follow whatever orders the president issues, especially in the midst of an “emergency” or “crisis.” They loyally followed orders to round up Americans and cart them away to concentration camps in World War II. They loyally followed orders to arrest, incarcerate, and torture American citizen Jose Padilla, after his removal from the jurisdiction of the federal courts. They loyally followed orders to assassinate American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. They have loyally followed orders to incarcerate indefinitely without trial, torture, and execute a large number of foreign citizens. They have loyally followed orders to sanction, invade, and occupy countries that have never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so, killing and maiming countless people in the process.
Make no mistake about it: To protect our “national security” and to maintain “order and stability” and to “keep us safe” — especially in an “emergency” or “crisis” — the military and the CIA will follow whatever orders the president issues to them. In their mind, by doing so they will be “supporting and defending the Constitution” and the “rights and freedoms we all enjoy as Americans.”
The Rabinowitz mindset, as manifested in her piece that the Wall Street Journal knowingly, deliberately, and intentionally chose to publish, constitutes a perfect revelation of the grave danger to freedom that Americans now face under the government’s omnipotent power to round up Americans and to assassinate Americans. It is the same threat that the Egyptian people face. And the Chinese people. And the North Korean people. And the Cuban people. It is the threat that people living under totalitarian regimes throughout history have had to face.
It is the very real danger in which critics of government policy are viewed as enemies of the state — people who have joined the other side — fifth columnists — people who have crossed the line and become propagandists for the nation’s enemies — people who need to be dealt with accordingly by the nation’s military and intelligence forces, whose mission is to protect “national security,” “maintain order and stability,” and “keep the people safe.”
What follows the round-ups, incarceration, torture, and execution is oftentimes silence — a deafening silence as the rest of the citizenry realize what lies in store for them if they protest the treatment of those who have already been forced into the concentration camps, the military dungeons, the torture chambers, and the execution rooms.
It is tremendously encouraging that interventionists are openly attacking Ron Paul for his foreign policy views — views that mirror those of America’s Founding Fathers — and, in the process, revealing their interventionist mindsets. It shows that the interventionists are getting nervous about the fact that increasing numbers of Americans are finally recognizing that the interventionists have brought us nothing but moral debauchery, economic depression, financial bankruptcy, and ever-increasing loss of our rights and freedoms and who are now wishing to restore a free, peaceful, harmonious, and prosperous society and a constitutional republic to our land.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
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