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Richard Cohen
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Saturday 7 January 2012
“America is weary of war, especially weary of those, in retrospect, that had no real purpose — the one in Iraq, above all.”

Isolationism Redux Via Ron Paul

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The blogger Andrew Sullivan, typing faster than he could think, endorsed Ron Paul for the Republican presidential nomination. (He took it back, but we’ll get to that later.) Sullivan is British-born, Oxford-taught and, like so many from that sceptered isle, gifted in print and speech. Still, he somehow did not realize that if someone like Paul had been president in the 1940s, his homeland might have succumbed to Nazi Germany while America, maddeningly isolationist, sat out the war. No doubt, curriculum changes would have been made at Oxford.

Paul opposes just about all international treaties and organizations. He would have the United States pull out of the United Nations and NATO. He would do away with foreign aid, abolish the CIA and essentially turn his back on the rest of the world. This is pretty much what used to be called isolationism, and it allowed Hitler to presume, quite correctly as it turned out, that America would not interfere with his plans to conquer Europe, Britain included. It took Germany’s declaration of war on the United States, not the other way round, to get Uncle Sam involved.

The isolationism of the 1930s and early ’40s has come roaring back — in the person of Paul, I am tempted to write, but that is not exactly the case. The old isolationism was deeply conservative, both socially and economically, and its leaders — Sen. William Borah, R-Idaho, for instance — would never have advocated the decriminalization of recreational drugs. Paul does because he is a libertarian. It is this ideology coupled with his staunch antiwar pose that attracts so many young people and, when you take another look, some not so young people as well. Sullivan is/was one of them, but others on both the left and the right have praised Paul on this score, as if his antiwar position can be extracted from his general nuttiness to make a rational candidate. No such luck.

Now some of these people — notably Sullivan — have backed off. Paul’s old newsletters have (once again) surfaced, and their smarmy racism is downright repellent. Paul said he did not write the stuff, and maybe that’s the case. But there’s more than one noxious newsletter, and his name is on them all. Either he never read his stuff, or he did and didn’t wince, or he had people working for him who thought a little racism would please the boss. None of those explanations flatter him.

Just as troubling, though, is what was known about Paul all along — and that is a foreign policy, if it can be called that, drained of morality. His total indifference to what happens overseas is chilling and reminiscent of the old isolationism, best articulated in Des Moines — a world capital this election season — by Charles Lindbergh back in 1941. In that speech, Lindbergh identified three groups that wanted to take America to war against Germany: the Brits, the Jews and the Roosevelt administration. They all had their reasons, he acknowledged, but, “We cannot allow the natural passions and prejudices of other peoples to lead our country to destruction.” I can almost hear these very words coming out of the mouth of Paul.

America is weary of war, especially weary of those, in retrospect, that had no real purpose — the one in Iraq, above all. The country is weary as well of politicians, most of them conservatives, who will not even debate the worth of such wars. (Not a single question about whether the Iraq war was worth nearly 4,500 American lives in the last GOP debate — and the debate was held the very day the last of the troops left that country.)

Yet America remains a mighty nation, capable of doing good in the world. That’s far different than expanding an empire or making the world safe for McDonald’s. The intervention in Libya, a NATO operation but an American enterprise, succeeded. So did the ones in Bosnia and Kosovo. The Libyan bombings will not bring democracy to that country, but they knocked out Moammar Gaddafi, and that ain’t a bad day’s work.

Paul opposed that as he would oppose all military interventions — as he would have opposed the Civil Rights Act, he has said. He cannot for the life of him summon government’s authority or military might to have the right thing done. Still, the man himself is immaterial. His message, though, is a different matter. It has struck a chord, and others, more polished and with better-fitting shirts, will pick it up. Lucky Lindy flies again.

cohenr@washpost.com



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ABOUT Richard Cohen

Richard Cohen is a weekly columnist for The Post, writing on domestic and foreign politics. His column appears on Tuesdays.

Cohen joined The Post as a reporter in 1968 and covered everything from police, city hall, education, state government and national politics. As the paper's chief Maryland correspondent, he was one of two reporters who broke the story of the investigation of former Vice President Spiro Agnew. In 1976, he began writing a column for the paper's Metro section. His column became nationally syndicated in 1981 and has appeared on the op-ed page of The Post since 1984. Cohen is the author, with Jules Witcover of "A Heartbeat Away: The Investigation and Resignation of Spiro T. Agnew" (1974).

Cohen has received the Sigma Delta Chi and Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild Awards for his investigative reporting.

Yes, this article is an

Yes, this article is an extreme joke, as most have pointed out. Some, however have committed the folly of saying it shouldn't have been run on NOC. This is anti-American, anti-Constitutional nonsense. It is healthy to hear all views, including the views of system drudges like Mr. Cohen.

I'd say the most salient point addressed only briefly by commentators is the fact that numerous Wall Streeters, corporatists, corporations, and businessmen were willingly, knowingly part af a huge international cartel hubbed by the German IG Farben, that financed Hitler and the Nazis to execute a war that had been planned from at least 1919. Prescott Bush was caught red-handed in business with the Nazis.

Some of Paul's measures, such as abolishing the CIA, created by, and the handmaiden of, business, would put a big dent in such operations. Vietnam was initially a CIA operation then kicked into full gear by a propaganda lie: the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. We killed 3.5 million people, most of them innocent. By the way, Iraq is closer to 2 million, plus the eternal poisoning with Depleted Uranium. This fully reflects the satanic nature of the controllers of America and its military.

Central banking ("even" commercial banking) must also be neutralized since it is a major fulcrum of control and enslavement by the elite, who, it must be understood in order to understand history, is informed by an ancient (thousands of years) cabal. America's military is their baby, as is the intelligence community. Importantly, however, so are these same agencies of many/most countries, especially NATO. Again, Wall Streeters, corporatists, corporations, and businessmen were intimately involved in the creation of these agencies of 'government,' They operate to serve the cabal first, as Marine Maj Gen Smedley Butler clearly described and stated in 1933: "War Is a Racket."

Not only did the Wall Streeters, corporatists, corporations, and businessmen create the Third Reich, but also the USSR by financing the Bolsheviks (Averell Harriman, Prescott Bush and others). Following that, Wall Streeters, corporatists, corporations, and businessmen nurtured the USSR for 30 years of the Cold War by building its industrial/military machine. "We" built a 30-square-mile heavy truck plant on the Kama River which, while we were in Vietnam, was sending heavy equipment to the North.

Merely by focusing on the "Dramas" of the moment and of history, and not taking the conspiratorial view of history, now clearly revealed for anyone who will look, people are hopelessly confounded by politics and political debate, because they're trying to make sense of concocted chaos. Most significant chaos is symptomatic of the elite manipulation of human society. No better examples than the current financial crunch and 9/11. If NOC has a primary weakness, it is this shallower focus.

Paul's three biggest shortcomings for me are 1) his weakness on 9/11 (probably a political necessity, given the utter blindness and deep denial of most Americans) and 2) advocating a gold-standard currency—because who, do we imagine, controls the mining and marketing of gold—not to mention that getting it out of the ground is enormously destructive of our source of life. ("Fiat currency" is not the enemy. It's the system of interest-bearing debt. A properly managed fiat currency, with the sane creation of money, is most practical.) And 3) Paul is a system believer and believer in "America," which has been from the outset the illusion of freedom serving wealthy controllers—right from Day One. Elite manipulation goes even deeper than events, to belief systems. What has passed for freedom is more accurately called economic slavery, the myth of the Land of the Free notwithstanding.

We need to get over ourselves as the Good Guy in the white hat. We need, in fact, to create for the first time the America so many think they're already living in. That means replacing the system, not 'fixing' it. But Paul would be a very good first step. The real challenge will be getting a sane, uncompromised Congress.

This is simply a big pile of

This is simply a big pile of BS. I'm VOTING FOR RON PAUL. HE IS THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN SAVE OUR COUNTRY FROM THE SNAKLE.. A TWO HEADED SNAKE WITH A DEMOCRATIC HEAD AND A REPUBLICAN HEAD. SAME SYSTEM. PAUL IS HIGH ABOVE THE REST. HE PROMOTES THE CONSTITUTION.. THE REST RAPES THE CONSTITUTION.

There is a great difference

There is a great difference between being prepared to defend and picking a fight. Hitler advanced by invasion of other nations. America advanced up to 1945 by defending other nations, including some not so savory. After the Cold War we are 'The Last Remaining Super Power" and our president, whoever gets elected, is the 'Leader Of The Free World'. Hitler fashioned himself and the Third Reich as Der Feurer. Hitler rose to power by democratic means in the 30s. Neither Ron Paul nor Franklin Roosevelt are angles in politics, but there is some credibility in their respect for the Constitution, the 'gold standard' of American politics. Too bad we no longer have a gold standard. Is the Constitution worth the parchment it was written on?

the above article which uses

the above article which uses a twisted argument to say that isolationism would be bad for us and the world in our current day by saying the overthrow of Ghaddafi would not have happened, is certainly something I would have never expected to read on "Nation of Change' newsletters. Did you print this to show an example of improper media dismissal of a viable candidate?

Ron Paul might have a few extreme issues which don't seem to fit into our cookie cutter world of corporate dominance, but Isolationism is not one of them. BUT mainly....
The beautiful thing about a a candidate with an ideology is that we know essentially where he/she stands on the issues. Ron Paul hasn't "adapted his stance" in order to win votes and hopefully the american people are ready for that. Is it possibly time for us to see through the advertising, and the "adapting" going everywhere one looks in the recent elections of 1992-2010?

What is particularly

What is particularly repugnant about ths article is the hypocrisy of calling your site "Nation of Change" and then publishing an article on it like this. Why is Nation of Change not living up to its name? Publishing anti Ron Paul propaganda on this site is something the editors should be ashamed of.

With apologies to Mr.

With apologies to Mr. Machiavelli, the ends don't justify the means. Whether you're criticizing his opposition to the Civil Rights Act, or avoiding going to war without an actual declaration of war by Congress, please realize that there are people who would simply prefer that the "change" you seek be done by other means. In Vietnam, there was an expression that went something like "we had to bomb the village in order to save it." I reiterate, the ends don't justify the means. Rarely is one noble when they use force to attain their goals.

thank you Odd man. there is

thank you Odd man. there is no reason to put violence on another (nation included) except in the very rare circumstance of self protection against direct life threatening force.
having said that- if isolationism's outgrowth is being friendly to all others then no one would ever want to attack us anyway....

Having to reach all the way

Having to reach all the way back to WWII to find a war that the US might have done well to involve itself in is the tell here. And even then the atrocities inflicted on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, after Germany had surrendered, are ignored. We did Libya no favors, and have been trying to assassinate Khadafi since French fries became Freedom fries. Maybe Paul is past his best-before date. Maybe Paul is kind of nutty. Probably he doesn't stand a chance. But that doesn't make the non-election we're facing any less depressing.

What a joke of an

What a joke of an article.
Absolute travesty.

Ron Paul is the least racist of them all: http://youtu.be/eMQmInReYlI
Many Black Americans realize this: http://youtu.be/Zd_uQx9ulSY (You think the corporate media really cares if Paul is racist? LOL)

Who's the racist? 15 year old newsletters written by someone else in your name or bombing brown people with joystick bombs.

Obama is the terrorist: http://www.salon.com/2011/12/28/snapshots_of_washingtons_essence Just like Bush was and Romney/Santorum would be.

Dear Sir,I am amazed at the

Dear Sir,I am amazed at the curious selection of words and facts you are able to assemble in order to avoid mentioning, for instance, the military-industrial complex behind all american wars, the poor show made by the troops, no matter the mission accomplished declarations, in all the american invasions started in the last 200 years, excluding Panama and Grenada perhaps.As in most of the american comments about the Irak´s victims, you mention only the important ones, the 4500 americans, leaving out the hundreds of thousands of Iraquies massacred there.Yet America remains a mighty nation, capable of doing good in the world. Where? In Iran, for instance? You even give positive points to the Libyan operation, which destroyed the fabric of their society as it did in Irak and Afghanistan, and essentially turn his back on the rest of the world, a baseless and hypochritical assumption, unless you mean taking its lustfull eyes out of the nations that supply raw materials, oil, water, and simple way of lives far from the american decadent consumer society.He would do away with foreign aid, a profitable enterprise for selected american corporations, abolish the CIA ´s plots and assassinations. Your silence about the destruction of the constitutional rights of the american citizen, the enormous costs of the safety measures to keep the american citizen in a terrorist-free limbo, is certainly appaling.It is difficult to reply in short phrases your mishaps. I wonder what is your paper doing in a forum like Nation of Change.Kurepi Guazu

I find it hard to fathom how

I find it hard to fathom how the author so clearly fails to understand our country's trajectory and the great urgency caused by the last 10 years on our civil liberties. Hasn't the recent scuffle over NDAA meant anything?If the ordinary American citizen loses their civil rights, they have lost EVERYTHING. No pro-choice, no gay rights, no freedom of expression, no political dissent, no self-governance. And... as goes the United States so goes the world.Which candidate has consistently insisted on liberty despite the years, the mocking and the ridicule? Just a thought.

Another charming Ron Paul hit

Another charming Ron Paul hit piece. One can always tell if the argument is devoid of persuasive substance when references to Nazis are trotted in. The baseless ad-hominem attacks don't help, either, and distract from the foreign policy issue this article purports to be about.

Ron Paul supports a humble foreign policy of peaceful trade and voluntary association, not the Team America World Police military industrial complex that has been escalated by every administration since Eisenhower warned of it. Dr. Paul is arguing against that which has bankrupted the USA, financially and morally. This is why active duty military personnel donate to Paul's campaign more than all other GOP nominees combined - and more than Barack Obama.

The US government is 15 trillion in the ditch and still digging. To argue that the US should be dumping foreign aid into dictatorships and rogue states - often right up until US forces invade and overthrow them, is the definition of insanity. Until the US is not so utterly bankrupt that it borrows from China with fiat currency to finance its ongoing military aggressions around the globe, there is no reason to take seriously these scurrilous tirades against the only honest man running for president.

RON PAUL 2012!

Thank you, This just about

Thank you, This just about sums up his true nature with the data to back it. I am a concerned citizen that is witnessing the support by especially young people who are on a band wagon without doing the research appropriate to support a man with a horrible perspective of life in general. I will share your article in hopes there are some Americans who will read something longer than it takes for a visit to the bathroom... Which is the only room in my home for the likes of Ron Paul...

Lady, i think the comments by

Lady, i think the comments by Kurepi, Ian, and Danny are all on-point and worth your consideration.

I would only add that Cohen is quite wrong about Libya: the murder of Gadaffi and recolonization of Libya----formerly the most progressive nation in North Africa with free public education and health care and generous unemployment insurance to all of its people---is certainly nothing to be proud of.

There's a lot that's ugly about some of the (decades-old) newsletters from Paul, but there's also a lot that's even uglier about regularly killing dozens of Muslim children in many different countries by drones. Yes --- we should recognize all that's wrong with Paul, but if we have any fear of God we should also recognize what's wrong with our current leaders.

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