The astute reader will note that I took pains to show my support of Ron Paul, and even to agree with the general premise of his foreign policy. I support a policy of non-interventionism. I believe the number of troops we have stationed indefinitely abroad is obscene and wholly unnecessary. But I also feel it is naive to believe that we can deal rationally with certain governments that are by their very inception and definition, irrational. It is here, in the area of non-interventionism, where many people seem to have misunderstood my meaning. This misunderstanding is best embodied in a blowback post by Marc Gallagher at Liberty Maven. There he cites me and writes:
This has been a common response to my opinion. Some, who obviously failed to actually read the entire post, have gone so far as to call me a neo-con. However, upon reading my words carefully, you will note that nowhere did I ever promote that we should be interventionist or interfere in Iran's election process. The issue at hand is not an issue of interventionism versus non-interventionism. The issue at hand is a country whose people are willing to die, nay, be martyred in the streets in a fight for their own liberties, their own basic human right to a fair, honest, democratic vote. The issue at hand is a government losing its overbearing grip on its people, and responding with intentional slaughter.
Those clamoring for intervention need to answer a few questions, but there is one question that trumps them all.
What is the endgame of intervening in Iran?
Is it the preposterous idea to enforce a fair election in another country and install Mousavi as President so the Iranian reformers can be “free”? Where in the U.S. Constitution that we claim is the supreme law of the land permits the U.S. government to intervene in another country’s election process (no matter how flawed it may be)?
This is a black and white issue of right and wrong. It is simply wrong that the Iranian government would kill its own people, no matter the reason. The fact that the government is killing its own people for the purpose of continuing to violate their basic human rights is flat out evil. The United States sits across the dinner table of the world and observes this abuse, pushes its chair back, rises and makes its voice heard in condemnation of these events. This condemnation is not an act of interventionism. It is a commentary by the world's leading power on what is right. If we cannot lead by our examples, we must at times be heard.
The proper place from which we should have been heard was the mouth of our President. The United States is still the most powerful country in the world. We still reside at the head of the dinner table. Barack Obama was unwilling to sit at the head of the dinner table watching this blatant misbehavior take place, rise and be the stern voice of authority necessary to bring the room to order. He was unwilling to stand up and be a voice of justice.
In the absence of a stern voice of authority resonating from the White House, our Congress voted to pass a condemnation of Iran's brutality. The resolution is a simple, strong statement for freedom and individual liberties:
Nothing in the language of this resolution is remotely interventionist. The resolution is a statement of American values, and a declaration of what all individuals should expect as their rights. A unanimous vote could have provided the world with the resounding statement by America that Iran's actions are wrong, that its people deserve to be treated as human beings instead of animals. Instead we fall one vote shy of unanimity. One vote provides the international community with reason to doubt America's belief in her own values. Ron Paul's vote. His reasoning?
Expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law, and for other purposes.
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;
(2) condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cellphones; and
(3) affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections.
I rise in reluctant opposition to H Res 560, which condemns the Iranian government for its recent actions during the unrest in that country. While I never condone violence, much less the violence that governments are only too willing to mete out to their own citizens, I am always very cautious about “condemning” the actions of governments overseas. As an elected member of the United States House of Representatives, I have always questioned our constitutional authority to sit in judgment of the actions of foreign governments of which we are not representatives. I have always hesitated when my colleagues rush to pronounce final judgment on events thousands of miles away about which we know very little. And we know very little beyond limited press reports about what is happening in Iran.Where do I even begin? Let's work backwards. We know very little beyond limited press reports about what is happening in Iran? Excuse me? For a man whose campaigning and fundraising has relied so heavily on the viral spread of information via the internet, he sure seems to be ignoring the fact that it even exists in this case. There is so much information available online, even including videos of martyrs being made, that it's unfathomable to believe anybody, let alone the internet-savvy Ron Paul, just isn't sure about what's happening in Iran.
He questions Congress' constitutional authority to sit in judgement of foreign governments? Of course we have no constitutional authority to affect the actions of foreign governments. But this does not mean we cannot, as the shining beacon of liberty and freedom, have our country's voice be heard at a time that demands that we provide a strong voice of leadership. Iran is spilling the blood of her own people in the streets, and it's not within our authority even to say something about it? Please.
He goes on:
Of course I do not support attempts by foreign governments to suppress the democratic aspirations of their people, but when is the last time we condemned Saudi Arabia or Egypt or the many other countries where unlike in Iran there is no opportunity to exercise any substantial vote on political leadership? It seems our criticism is selective and applied when there are political points to be made. I have admired President Obama’s cautious approach to the situation in Iran and I would have preferred that we in the House had acted similarly.He invokes Saudi Arabia and Egypt as examples of countries that do not offer their citizens the right to vote, and comparatively wonders why we have not offered similar resolutions condemning those countries for not offering their citizens their basic rights. He completely ignores the blatant facts involved in the situation at hand. The citizens of Saudi Arabia and Egypt are not protesting their governments en masse, and being slaughtered for it in the streets. Does this seem like selective criticism only for a political point to be made? It sure seems to me like we're trying to do the right thing with this resolution. The only one trying to use this situation to make a political point is Ron Paul, as he grandstands for non-interventionism over a case that is entirely exclusive of interventionism at all.