Posted by Rojas @ 1:08 pm on July 13th 2007

Ron Paul jumps the rails

One of the points on which we pride ourselves here at the Crossed Pond is that we don’t let our support for a given candidate or concept prevent us from discussing the downside. I think we’ve applied that reasoning pretty consistently in the case of Ron Paul. We’ve expressed admiration for his strengths as a supporter of liberty, but we’ve also discussed his alleged racist statements, his shifting views of the 9/11 commission report and talked about our reservations in other areas–for instance, the gay rights and libertarianism discussion immediately below.

I’ve also gone out of my way personally to express the opinion that people who support the campaign need to leave their personal agendas at home. I’ve said that we need to recognize that the Paul campaign is pursuing mainstream appeal and that the candidate shouldn’t be painted as an ally of radical or conspiratorial views.

All of which makes me look pretty stupid when the candidate himself goes and says something like this:

Speaking to The Alex Jones Show, the Texas Congressman was asked his opinion on Cindy Sheehan’s recent comments that the U.S. is in danger of a staged terror attack or a Gulf of Tonkin style provocation that will validate the Neo-Con agenda and lead to the implementation of the infrastructure of martial law that Bush recently signed into law via executive order, as well as public pronouncements from prominent officials that the West needs terrorism to save a doomed foreign policy.

“I think we’re in great danger of it,” responded the Congressman, “We’re in danger in many ways, the attack on our civil liberties here at home, the foreign policy that’s in shambles and our obligations overseas and commitment which endangers our troops and our national defense.”

“Every day we’re in worse shape and right now there’s an orchestrated effort to blame the Iranians for everything that’s gone wrong in Iraq and we’re quite concerned that the attack will be on Iran and that will jeopardize so many more of our troops, so I would say that we’re in much greater danger than we even were four or five years ago,” asserted Paul.


Where to begin?

First of all: look, I fully understand that the candidate is going to express his views on all issues at all times. That’s the way he is, and I wouldn’t have him be otherwise. But…damnit, Dr. Paul, you had to know that this sort of question was coming when you went on Alex Jones. Is this really the face you want the campaign to put forward towards the public?

There is something uniquely and spectacularly poisonous about this sort of allegation. Once it’s out there, it renders the administration less able to defend against actual acts of military aggression by America’s enemies–if Iran were to engage in aggression of some sort at this point, this sort of reasoning would inevitably be deployed in order to make a proportionate and justifiable response politically impossible. Congressman Paul has expressed the opinion that the US ought to retain the ability to respond to aggression against itself; his airing of this scenario makes it less possible for the US to do so. I’d much, much rather he hadn’t crossed that line.

That having been said, one can make a case for this sort of expression if you believe it’s true that the US might try to fabricate an attack. And, given the shenanigans surrounding the Iraq invasion, it’s not the most outlandish scenario imaginable. In fact, I can almost–almost–buy the Gulf of Tonkin scenario here.

But there’s a major problem with both the Gulf of Tonkin scenario and the much more ludicrous prospect of a staged attack. And that problem is timing.

Why now? In order to buy that some sort of provocation for War with Iran is coming, you’d have to accept that the administration chose not to engage in that provocation when doing so would have provided a far, far greater political benefit. Like, for example, when the administration was:

* seeking the renewal of the Patriot Act;

* facing the prospect of defeat in the 2004 Presidential elections;

* facing the loss of both chambers of Congress in 2006;

* seeking to knock any number of embarrassing scandals, from Katrina to Scooter Libby, off the front page.

Why now? The President is no longer even pretending that he needs broad public consent to exercise the powers of the Presidency; he’s the decider, and that’s that. The President has sufficient military jurisdiction to provoke war with Iran on his own and without provocation. He can bomb Tehran tomorrow if he chooses. Why, exactly, would he seek political cover for such an operation? In order to build international support? Please. In order to “protect his legacy?” If he engages in this operation, it will be because he thinks the operation ITSELF is something history will remember fondly; he’d gain nothing historically from being forced into it.

The bottom line is that there just isn’t any reasonable case to be made that the President is seeking to stage an attack on the US as a pretext for invading Iran. It is either a foolhardly belief on Paul’s part, or worse, a deliberate attempt at fearmongering. Either way, shame on him.


  1. I don’t follow you. I read that quote and thought it seemed totally reasonable. Then you went on some diatribe about how it was the wrong thing to say. *Shrug*. It made sense to me.

    Comment by weltschmerz — 7/13/2007 @ 1:25 pm

  2. Well, that certainly validates Rojas’ point quite well.

    Comment by James — 7/13/2007 @ 1:43 pm

  3. I listened to the broadcast and I agree with Dr. Paul.

    The neocons have two choices in the face of flagging support for the war on Iraq:

    1) Admit failed policy and withdraw. No fervent mass-movement would accept this at the risk of power.

    2) Find another -devil- as defined best by Eric Hoffa in the ‘True Believer’. To paraphrase: the fuel that sustains irrational action of any mass-movement is fear.

    There is a great deal of drum-beating going on with regard to the perceived threat that is Iran. The insurgency in Iraq is now painted as a fight against ‘terrorists’ who hate ‘our freedom’. Every one who dies in Iraq lately is either an American ‘Hero’ or an Al Queda Terrorist. So is there great risk that Neocons will use an overblown fear of Iran to sustain their hegemony? They already are. Is another Gulf of Tonkin scenario possible? It scares the hell out of me, but, yeah, there is.

    Comment by michael — 7/13/2007 @ 1:56 pm

  4. I wish Ron Paul would stop appearing on Alex Jones. It really gives opponents a chance to attack him based on association. Then again, Alex Jones has some really fanatical fans – which is both good and bad. They love Ron Paul but they tend to push their own agenda at the same time.

    There is no longer a domestic political reason to attack Iran. There is only the desire to remake the Middle East or stamp out “Islamo-fascism” whatever that means. Maybe the US can make it safe for missionaries to convert those people into Christianity. I am certainly worried about this plan of action, since I would think that this sentiment runs strongly in Cheney.

    To that end, a “Gulf of Tonkin” event would be necessary for war against Iran. Because without it, war against Iran would be logistically impossible. There is just not enough resources – namely boots on the ground and a lack of morale in the Army.

    There is of course, what Paul mentioned – the attempt to shirk responsibility for the Iraq failure and blame Iran. But I don’t think anybody in the US would buy that except for the die-hard neo-cons.

    Anyways, Paul should hold Alex Jones at arm’s length.

    Comment by TanGeng — 7/13/2007 @ 2:11 pm

  5. It makes no sense whatsoever. As Rojas said, why now? Bush is nearing the end of his Presidency, the political backlash would not be pretty at this stage. If the ‘black helicopters’ were going to fly, they would have been deployed at many other points along the way that would have at least had had an impact that would have given the Sith a brief bump in the polls.

    Nope, this is the craziness that Ron Paul needs to run, not walk, but run from or he will do great harm to his candidacy by giving his opponents bullets for their ‘loony guns’. He will also lose rational supporters like me.

    Comment by James — 7/13/2007 @ 2:18 pm

  6. Yep, I agree with that, James.

    Dr. Paul is at his best when he is talking about liberty and smaller government. He is at his worst when speculating about what the current administration might do to drag us into another war.

    Just voicing a heavy dose of skepticism for war will do for me.

    Comment by TanGeng — 7/13/2007 @ 2:39 pm

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