Obama Couldn’t, Maybe Paul Can

Once again, blogs are on fire.  This week, Andrew Sullivan, the maestro of the blogsphere, endorsed Ron Paul for the GOP nomination.  (He still supports Obama for the general elections.)  Others, including other media, criticized Fox News for their condescending and unfair coverage of Paul’s campaign, and Fox ended up giving Paul an unusual amount of time in this week’s debate to explain his ideas.

Jonathan Chait is astounded that many left-of-center politicos or pundits so appreciate a man whom he chronicles as promoting some serious racist views.  Frum blames everything sectarian about today’s GOP on the libertarian trend that Paul represents.

Wow! The ‘intellectuals’ -both right and left – seem obsessed with Paul.  Why? After all, Paul had an intense and vocal following in 2008 which got him into the GOP debates as a sid-show.

This year is different.  He may even win Iowa and has shown stamina in other states leading up to the primaries.  More importantly, at a time when it’s downright embarrassing to listen to what comes out of the mouths of each GOP candidate for the presidential nomination, Paul is at least consistent, humble and genuine.  This in itself is attracking attention.

But Paul’s real contribution to American politics in 2011 is his uncompromising anti-interventionist foreign policy framework.

In 2008, Obama held out the promise of the new path for US foreign policy.  He was against the Iraq war and pledged to ‘talk to’ enemies like Iran and to solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Obama instead has proved a ‘realist’ without the scope and vision that once defined realism nor does he offer an integral, unique vision arising from his own views.

Here comes Paul.  The Iraq war was a huge waste of money.  So are all the other costs of America policing of the world.  Iran isn’t a threat; it doesn’t even have the flying ability to reach the US.  In fact, Iran reacts to what it sees as American military moves all around it, primarily American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this summer NATO actions in Libya, with threats against its ally, Syria.  Iraq is in defensive, not offensive, mode.

Israel is more a problem than an asset for the United States. Why should the US stay involved in the ‘peace process’?  Let them figure it out on their own.

Paul is the only politician within the Democrats or Republicans who can and does consistently advocate a new way of looking at the US role in the world.  His world view counters establishment ‘realism’, ‘neoconservatism’ , ‘liberal imperialism’, an ill-define and muffled ‘Obama’ doctrine and other theories so in vogue in America since it became a Great Power after WW2 – a phenomenal rise for a country not yet 200 years old!

Paul appealed to strong sentiments within the American electorate in last night’s GOP debate.  Why are we trying to change the world: we have too many problems here.  All the money going into war would be better spent here.

Paul ignores  ‘popular’ intellectual discussions about, say, Iran.  He offers up a completely different world view.  It’s no longer ‘should we have given more  support to the Green movement’ or ‘how close are the Mullahs to possessing a nuclear bomb’?

It’s ‘why are we in this conflict with Iran in the first place’?  Maybe Iran is reacting to the Anglo-American coup against their democratically-elected government in 1953; the forced installation of a brutal Shah; support for Iraq during the Iraq/Iran war; the rejection of Iran’s olive branch to the US after 9/11?

I voted for Obama because I thought he would put American foreign policy on a new track.  I thought he might actually do something with Iran on the same level that Nixon did with China.  But that takes skill, patience and sometimes years of preparation, not to mention a clear understanding on both sides of what each gets out of it.  It didn’t happen.

I thought Obama would actually work behind the scenes for a regional solution to Iraq and Afghanistan.  Deals with Assad. Deals with Saudi Arabia.  That did not take off.

Paul dismisses all that. As a candidate he asks: could America help build an international order based on trade that could move beyond the balance of power politics that has been the foundation of international relations for several centuries.

I may be reading too much into Paul’s views as well as Obama’s.  But the world went from a regional balance of power framework for understanding   foreign policy relations, into a two superpowers framework, and now into something variously described as a’unipolar’ model, a ‘multi-polar’ world or a ‘hyper power’ framework.  If not these, then the foundation is  ‘American decline’ and paralysis among everyone else.

This is too much, too fast.  Someone who can get the stage has to advocate for a competing world view.  That wasn’t Obama.  At least for a moment, it’s Paul

 

 

 

 

 

 

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