Dr. No som præsident II

 Tre-fire måneder før nogen danske MSM opdagede, at der blandt de Republikanske præsidentkandidater var et vist kongresmedlem, Dr. Ron Paul, skrev vi om ham her på stedet. Nu er andre medier ved at følge efter, i takt med at den libertarianske “Dr. No”’s position som den eneste Republikanske præsidentkandidat, der er–og hele tiden har været–imod Irak-krigen, er ved at manifestere sig. Paul har ganske vist ikke en jordisk chance for at vinde hverken nominering eller præsidentembede, men han er i det mindste et interessant indslag. New York Times havde f.eks. en stor og lang portrætartikel, “The Antiwar, Anti-Abortion, Anti-Drug-Enforcement-
Administration, Anti-Medicare Candidacy of Dr. Ron Paul” i søndagsudgavens magasin. Heri hed det bl.a.:

“Paul represents a different Republican Party from the one that Iraq, deficits and corruption have soured the country on. In late June, despite a life of antitax agitation and churchgoing, he was excluded from a Republican forum sponsored by Iowa antitax and Christian groups. His school of Republicanism, which had its last serious national airing in the Goldwater campaign of 1964, stands for a certain idea of the Constitution — the idea that much of the power asserted by modern presidents has been usurped from Congress, and that much of the power asserted by Congress has been usurped from the states. Though Paul acknowledges flaws in both the Constitution (it included slavery) and the Bill of Rights (it doesn’t go far enough), he still thinks a comprehensive array of positions can be drawn from them: Against gun control. For the sovereignty of states. And against foreign-policy adventures. Paul was the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate in 1988. … In Congress, Paul is generally admired for his fidelity to principle and lack of ego. “He is one of the easiest people in Congress to work with, because he bases his positions on the merits of issues,” says Barney Frank, who has worked with Paul on efforts to ease the regulation of gambling and medical marijuana. “He is independent but not ornery.” Paul has made a habit of objecting to things that no one else objects to. In October 2001, he was one of three House Republicans to vote against the USA Patriot Act. He was the sole House member of either party to vote against the Financial Antiterrorism Act (final tally: 412-1). In 1999, he was the only naysayer in a 424-1 vote in favor of casting a medal to honor Rosa Parks. Nothing against Rosa Parks: Paul voted against similar medals for Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. He routinely opposes resolutions that presume to advise foreign governments how to run their affairs: He has refused to condemn Robert Mugabe’s violence against Zimbabwean citizens (421-1), to call on Vietnam to release political prisoners (425-1) or to ask the League of Arab States to help stop the killing in Darfur (425-1).”

 Ikke alle amerikanske libertarianere/liberalister er dog lige begejstrede for Ron Pauls kandidatur. En af de mest begavede akademikere, jeg nogensinde har kendt, er jura-professoren Randy E. Barnett, som i snart 30 år har været kendt som en af de mest velformulerede men også mest “hard core” liberalister i amerikansk samfundsdebat. Han havde i sidste uge et lidt overraskende frontalt angreb på Ron Pauls kandidatur, i en klumme, “Libertarians and the war”, i Wall Street Journal:

“While the number of Americans who self-identify as “libertarian” remains small, a substantial proportion agree with the core stances of limited constitutional government in both the economic and social spheres–what is sometimes called “economic conservatism” and “social liberalism.” But if they watched the Republican presidential debate on May 15, many Americans might resist the libertarian label, because they now identify it with strident opposition to the war in Iraq, and perhaps even to the war against Islamic jihadists.

During that debate, the riveting exchange between Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul about whether American foreign policy provoked the 9/11 attack raised the visibility of both candidates. … The exchange also drew attention to Mr. Paul, who until then had been a rather marginal member of the 10-man Republican field. One striking feature of Mr. Paul’s debate performance was his insistence on connecting his answer to almost every question put to him–even friendly questions about taxes, spending and personal liberty–to the war.

This raised the question: Does being a libertarian commit one to a particular stance toward the Iraq war? The simple answer is “no.”

First and foremost, llibertarians believe in robust rights of private property, freedom of contract, and restitution to victims of crime. They hold that these rights define true “liberty” and provide the boundaries within which individuals may pursue happiness by making their own free choices while living in close proximity to each other. Within these boundaries, individuals can actualize their potential while minimizing their interference with the pursuit of happiness by others.

When it comes to foreign policy, libertarians’ severe skepticism of government planning in the domestic arena carries over to the government’s ability to accomplish anything positive through foreign aid, whether economic or military–a skepticism they share with most Americans. All libertarians, I suspect, oppose military conscription on principle, considering it involuntary servitude. To a libertarian, any effort at “nation building” seems to be just another form of central planning which, however well-motivated, is fraught with unintended consequences and the danger of blowback. And, like most everyone, libertarians oppose any war of aggression. In all these regards, Mr. Paul is a mainstream libertarian.

But like all libertarians, even Mr. Paul believes in the fundamental, individual right of self-defense, which is why libertarians like him overwhelmingly support the right to keep and bear arms. And most also believe that when the territory of the U.S. is attacked militarily, the government–which claims a monopoly on providing for national defense and extracts billions of tax dollars for this purpose–is justified in using the military in self-defense. For this reason, many libertarians (though not all) who now oppose the war in Iraq supported U.S. military actions against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which had aided and harbored the al Qaeda network that organized the 9/11 attack.

But here is the rub. While all libertarians accept the principle of self-defense, and most accept the role of the U.S. government in defending U.S. territory, libertarian first principles of indiv
idual rights and the rule
of law tell us little about what constitutes appropriate and effective self-defense after an attack. Devising a military defense strategy is a matter of judgment or prudence about which reasonable libertarians may differ greatly.”

Herefter skifter Barnetts klumme til en stil, der bedst kan betegnes som “tredje-person flertal”, men som uden tvivl må læses som beskrivende hans eget synspunkt:

“[Some libertarians] supported the war in Iraq because they viewed it as part of a larger war of self-defense against Islamic jihadists who were organizationally independent of any government. They viewed radical Islamic fundamentalism as resulting in part from the corrupt dictatorial regimes that inhabit the Middle East, which have effectively repressed indigenous democratic reformers. Although opposed to nation building generally, these libertarians believed that a strategy of fomenting democratic regimes in the Middle East, as was done in Germany and Japan after World War II, might well be the best way to take the fight to the enemy rather than solely trying to ward off the next attack.

Moreover, the pro-war libertarians believed there was “legal” cause to take military action against Saddam’s regime–from its manifold violations of the ceasefire to firing on American planes legally patrolling the “no fly” zone and its persistent refusals to cooperate with weapons inspections. Saddam’s regime was left in power after its unprovoked invasion of Kuwait on these and other conditions that it repeatedly had violated, thereby legally justifying its removal by force if necessary. Better to be rid of Saddam and establish an ally in the war against Islamic jihadists in the heart of the Middle East, the argument goes, and then withdraw American troops.

Naturally, the libertarians who supported the war in Iraq are disappointed, though hardly shocked, that it was so badly executed. The Bush administration might be faulted, not so much for its initial errors which occur in any war against a determined foe who adjusts creatively to any preconceived central “plan,” but for its dogged refusal to alter its approach … when it became clear that its tactics were not working. …

These libertarians are still rooting for success in Iraq because it would make Americans more safe, while defeat would greatly undermine the fight against those who declared war on the U.S. They are concerned that Americans may get the misleading impression that all libertarians oppose the Iraq war–as Ron Paul does–and even that libertarianism itself dictates opposition to this war. It would be a shame if this misinterpretation inhibited a wider acceptance of the libertarian principles that would promote the general welfare of the American people.”

Update: Se også Reason Magazines artikel om Ron Paul.

Update II: 180Grader.dk har onsdag en artikel om Ron Paul.

6 Comments

  1. Naturally, the libertarians who supported the war in Iraq are disappointed, though hardly shocked, that it was so badly executed.Med andre ord – I ved, at staten som regel vil fucke up, når de påtager sig store projekter og derfor blev I ikke overrasket, da det skete. Men I støttede det alligevel? Modstanden mod statens projektmageri blandt libertarians er ikke bygget på den indsigt, at staten per definition ikke kan gøre noget godt, men i stedet at resultatet som regel bliver skidt. Derfor er Ron Pauls principielle modstand berettiget, fordi overall-resultatet bliver bedre, selv om vi går glip af de projekter, der rent faktisk kunne have nyttet noget. At tro man kan forudse så komplekse sammenhænge som forløbet af en rask lille invasion og så noget nationbuilding bagefter og dermed vælge de gode projekter ud på forhånd, indeholder en arrogance libertarianere plejer at lade politikliderlige om at besidde.Jeg håber naturligvis også stadig på succes i Irak, og det har jeg gjort fra starten af, i og med vi nu engang er der, men det forhindrer mig ikke i at ytre min principielle modstand hverken nu eller dengang. Barnetts klumme lugter af dårlig samvittighed.

  2. Nå, ingen koder. Sorry.

  3. Ole Birk Olesen

    25. juli 2007 at 10:18

    I forlængelse af Publikums indvending mod Randy Barnett er her hvad David Brooks skriver om Bush’ syn på nationbuilding kontra Tolstoys (følge Café Hayek: http://cafehayek.typepad.com/hayek/2007/07/tolstoy-on-haye.html). Bush’ holdning komprimeres af Brooks til dette:”He’s convinced leaders have the power to change societies. Even in a place as chaotic as Iraq, good leadership makes all the difference.When Bush is asked about military strategy, he talks about the leadership qualities of his top generals. Before, it was Generals Abizaid and Casey. Now, it’s Generals Petraeus and Odierno.When Bush talks about world affairs more generally, he talks about national leaders. When he is asked to analyze Iraq, he talks about Maliki. With Russia, it’s Putin. With Europe, it’s Merkel, Sarkozy, Brown and the rest.He is confident in his ability to read other leaders: Who has courage? Who has a chip on his shoulder? And he is confident that in reading the individual character of leaders, he is reading the tablet that really matters. History is driven by the club of those in power. When far-sighted leaders change laws and institutions, they have the power to transform people.”Tolstoy derimod mente ifølge Brooks det her:”Tolstoy had a very different theory of history. Tolstoy believed great leaders are puffed-up popinjays. They think their public decisions shape history, but really it is the everyday experiences of millions of people which organically and chaotically shape the destiny of nations — from the bottom up.According to this view, societies are infinitely complex. They can’t be understood or directed by a group of politicians in the White House or the Green Zone. Societies move and breathe on their own, through the jostling of mentalities and habits. Politics is a thin crust on the surface of culture. Political leaders can only play a tiny role in transforming a people, especially when the integral fabric of society has dissolved.If Bush’s theory of history is correct, the right security plan can lead to safety, the right political compromises to stability. But if Tolstoy is right, then the future of Iraq is beyond the reach of global summits, political benchmarks and the understanding of any chief executive.”For mig er det indlysende, at Tolstoy havde en mere realistisk indstilling til dette spørgsmål end ikke alene Bush, men også Barnett. For også Barnett synes at mene, at hvis bare man havde haft en præsident, som modsat Bush havde været villig til at lære af sine fejl og ændre taktik undervejs, så ville alt være gået godt i Irak. Social engineering er muligt, mener Barnett, hvis bare politikerne er dygtige nok.

  4. Jeg har tidligere udtrykt mine uforbeholdende og særdeles positive holdning overfor Ron Paul og hans politiske linje; både her og på min egen blog, der på et tidspunkt svømmede i YouTube-indlæg, så alle kunne se, hvor formidabel hans meninger er.At han så ikke kan sælge budskabet er en anden ting.Hvis man elsker frihed skal man selvfølgelig håbe på, at Ron Paul kan lave en ny Barry Goldwater: Han taber nomineringen men vinder (på sigt) holdningen.Det tog Goldwaters holdninger 20 år om at forgrene sig ud i Det Republikanske Parti; men da det skete, blev han holdninger også fremført af USAs største præsident i det 20. århundrede. (Det er vist ikke nødvendigt at nævne hans navn).Jeg tror, at vi kommer til at se flere mænd/kvinder af Pauls holdningsmæssige kaliber i Amerikansk politik indenfor de næste 10-15 år.Om ikke andet, så håber jeg det.

  5. Benjamin Skou

    22. august 2007 at 01:28

    Det er selvfølgelig ingen nyhed, men den er vel stadig gal med Barnett´s (politiske) præmis for at støtte krigen i Irak; jeg aner ikke, hvilket bevis, han har set, der kan begrunde invasionen med legitimt selvforsvar. Findes det bevis? Ideologi beskæftiger sig måske mest med sandheden på det normative, intellektuelle plan, men som akademiker kan Barnett vel ikke være helt ligeglad med bevisførelse. Kan nogen? Vel især ikke, når ideologien skal holdes op imod drab på mennesker. Fordi man frygter og foragter islamismen som pesten, er det vel ikke et bæredygtigt argument for at angribe og demokratisere et strategisk godt placeret diktatur. Nu her efter kolonialismen skal den angribende part vel helst opleve en reel trussel mod sig, før den angriber. Selvfølgelig er det let at pege fingre, nu det viste sig, at Saddam ikke havde masseødelæggelsesvåben, og landet efterfølgende er eksploderet i den terror, som langt de fleste menneker på jorden gerne vil befries for. Men netop fordi, vi er blevet klogere på, hvordan situationen i Irak er og var, klinger forsvaret for `liberalister og krigen i Irak´ så hult. Så indrøm dog, at krigen var et fejlskøn. Det kan være nærmest rabiat ideologi, når sympatiske youtube-Ron stemmer i Kongressen (425-1 votes). Jeg ved intet om, hvilke ligesindede han har haft siden isolationismen dominerede amerikansk udenrigspolitik. Jeg mener, at USA fortsat skal spille en stor rolle i den globale kamp for stabilitet. Men måske ville det være godt at holde sig til politisk pression for en tid. Bare et par år. En enkelt præsidentperiode. Man kan jo altid vende tilbage til krigen mod terror.

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