things are slow around here …
Archive for the ‘2008 Politics’ Category
Obama’s vice presidential running mate will be none other than Sweet Caroline herself.
Think about it, if Barack calls upon Caroline Kennedy he will do nothing but increase his rock star status by strengthening the aura of Camelot regained. Think about the drama of a sick, weakened Patriarch drawing his last public breaths to anoint Obama the true heir while a princess-of-the-blood takes her rightful place in American politics.
Such a pick will have the added benefit of all those angry white women happy.
As Charles Brown already notes in his summary of chapter 2 of The Revolution, Ron Paul raises the interesting issue of Christian just war theory. Citing Christian thinkers from Ambrose to Suarez Paul concludes that the war in Iraq fails to live up to the standards of just war theory.
Paul (Ron not Apostle) lays out three foundational principles:
1. An initial act of aggression in response to which a just war may be waged
2. All diplomatic solutions have been exhausted
3. War is undertaken by the proper authority
Paul’s book is short so he spends few words making his case how the Iraqi conflict fails to meet Christian standards. I am left with a number of questions.
1. Is a ever justified in the case when the act of aggression was against a third party? This was common within Christendom. Christian just war theory traditionally recognizes the possibility of a nation coming to the aid of other Christian peoples, nation, ect.
2. How has the age of mass terrorism impact our idea of just war? Augustine could not envision the consequence of a single terrorist carrying a dirty bomb killing thousands or even tens of thousands? How does this change how we look at preemptive wars? Does it?
3. Does Paul’s account fail to give a charitable reading to the motivations of the pro-war party?
I have great sympathy with the case Paul is making but finding it imprudent is different from declaring it a sin. Thoughts?
Paul begins the substantial part of his book by taking up the issue which has probably gained him the most notoriety. Among leading Republicans, Paul has been virtually a solitary voice against the interventionist wars of recent years, encompassing both the Bush and Clinton administrations. Paul reminds us in this chapter of the noninterventionist foreign policy of the founding fathers, which also happened to be the foreign policy espoused by our current president during his campaign in the year 2000. Of course, 9/11 changed everything. But is there still wisdom for today in the U.S. foreign policies of the 18th century?
Paul, obviously, thinks so. And he does a superb job of making his case, by presenting the historical facts and allowing the authorities to speak for themselves. There is compelling evidence to support the notion that US interventionism in the Middle East provoked the attacks of 9/11, and there is equally compelling evidence to support the notion that we were wrong to take out our frustrations and anger upon Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Of special interest to DRC readers might be Paul’s invocation of “just war” theory to expose the moral dimension of the conflict in Iraq. Citing Ambrose, Augustine, and Aquinas, the congressman argues that the Iraq war fails the moral litmus test. There was no initial act of aggression; diplomatic solutions had not been exhausted; the war was not undertaken by the proper authorities (“…Congress unconstitutionally delegated its decision-making power over war to the president”). Not only does Paul appeal to the Church Fathers in this chapter, he also cites the fathers of modern conservatism—Kirk, Weaver, and Nisbet—to make his case against militarism. Whether you are a Christian or a secularist, you need not be a pacifist in order to be opposed to militarism, as Paul proves convincingly.
The chapter concludes with a note about the high cost—one trillion dollars per year—of maintaining troops in 700 bases around the globe. Yet, no one ever seems to consider the possibility of scaling back our worldwide military presence. In America, the political discourse focuses on which kind of interventionist policy we’ll follow. Paul, though, would have us question our assumptions about interventionism.
One political question perhaps worth pondering is why many who are strongly opposed to the killing performed by abortion doctors seem far less concerned with killing performed by soldiers. But, if Paul is right, much of the killing in Iraq (and other places) has been unjust. I realize that war is a more complex matter than abortion, but I would still like to see more Christians reconsider their support for interventionist wars.
I was quite befuddled after I discovered a few weeks ago that Ron Paul had a new book out on the market. Isn’t it a little late for a book from this guy? He’s a loser, a has-been. Who would want to read this book now? Why wasn’t this book published six months ago? What a waste! I had no interest in reading it.
Then I learned that the book was a #1 bestseller, and I thought that maybe it might contain something worth reading. But, of course, Paul’s supporters are so crazy; they certainly inflated his sales numbers. (I’m sure that many of his fans still have not come to grips with the fact that he has zero chance of becoming our next president.) I kept wondering, though, about the contents of this “manifesto”. My curiosity finally got the best of me, and I picked up a copy for myself.
In part, I purchased the book as a political statement. Yes, I voted for Paul in the Illinois primary. And I wanted to stand with the legions of “revolutionaries” who were reading the Paul manifesto. I even felt a little proud when the cashier at my local Barnes and Noble sneered slightly as I checked out with the book—I was bearing the reproach of Ron Paul.
There’s something about the Ron Paul movement which has given people hope for the future of our nation and optimism concerning the American political scene—and, given all of our nation’s present ills, we desperately need reasons for hope and optimism right now. The book is certainly evidence of the unusual character of this politician and his campaign. What kind of a presidential candidate releases a best-selling book after he has been eliminated from contention? And when you remember that this candidate is 72 years old, you know that he’s not preparing for another campaign four years from now. Ron Paul is an unusual politician, because he gives you every impression that he’s genuinely concerned about America’s future. Here’s a man who runs for president, not to make a name for himself, but out of a sense of duty. He’s frank and honest, and he doesn’t care how unpopular that makes him.
All of these characteristics are conveyed in the book. Paul recognizes that a substantial number of Americans, particularly younger Americans, have enthusiastically latched on to his political platform. Paul doesn’t want the spirit of ’76 to fade away with his passing. Paul may not be alive to see the real fruit of his peaceful revolution, but that doesn’t deter him. As he writes in the preface, he’s but a small cog in a “long-term project that will persist far into the future”. The issues raised in Paul’s campaign “cannot be allowed to die”. Thus, he concludes, “That is why I wrote this book.”
Chapter One introduces us to “The False Choices of American Politics”. Here, Paul argues that our two major political parties differ very little in substance. Essentially, both parties favor big government, and both want to impinge upon our freedom. Neither party is willing to engage in the basic questions about liberty and individual rights. Yes, Paul sides with the Republican party, but he represents the old Republican tradition of Robert A. Taft, whose words he cites at length:
When I say liberty I do not simply mean what is referred to as “free enterprise.” I mean liberty of the individual to think his own thoughts and live his own life as he desires to think and to live; the liberty of the family to decide how they wish to live, what they want to eat for breakfast and for dinner, and how they wish to spend their time; liberty of a man to develop his ideas and get other people to teach those ideas, if he can convince them that they have some value to the world; liberty of every local community to decide how its children shall be educated, how its local services shall be run, and who its local leaders shall be; liberty of a man to choose his own occupation; and liberty of a man to run his own business as he thinks it ought to be run, as long as he does not interfere with the right of other people to do the same.
Paul writes to return us to the values of the Founding Fathers: liberty, self-government, constitutionalism, and a non-interventionist foreign policy. It’s hard to argue with his premise that most of our political leaders today espouse views which are at odds with the policies that shaped this nation and made this nation great. We’ve fallen a long way. Can we get back on our feet? As Paul suggests, it will likely take another revolution—albeit one without cannons and muskets.