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Ron Paul vs. Big-Government Conservatives

Jacob Hornberger
Campaign For Liberty
March 1, 2010

An op-ed entitled “Conservatives’ Isolationist Dalliance” in the Washington Times today by Jeffrey T. Kuhner, president of the conservative Edmund Burke Institute, is an excellent example of the difficult task that Ron Paul has in convincing conservatives to abandon their devotion to Big Government in foreign affairs.

Praising Paul for his limited-government domestic policy, Kuhner then proceeds to excoriate him for his limited-government foreign policy. To make his case, Kuhner goes back to World War II — the so-called “good war,” pointing out that “old isolationist conservatives were prepared to abandon Europe to Hitler’s Germany.”

Kuhner also denies that the U.S. government “imperialist” policies in the Middle East produced the September 11 attacks. The attacks, he claims, are because the Jihadists “seek to restore a medieval Islamic caliphate” and that “America’s support for Israel or foreign aid to Egypt is simply a rationalization for their revolutionary aims.”

What Kuhner and indeed so many other conservatives cannot bring themselves to recognize is that it is conservatives themselves who are doing the rationalizing. Unable to abandon their deep commitment to Big Government, they inevitably seek out, consciously or unconsciously, every rationalization possible to maintain Big Government.

From the end of World War II through the fall of the Berlin Wall, conservatives advocated Big Government in the form of a massive Cold War military machine and an ever-expanding military-industrial complex, along with the ever-increasing spending, debts, taxes, and inflation that accompanied them. During that entire time, the big official enemy — the justification that conservatives used for maintaining Big Government — was communism.

During the entire Cold War, did conservatives ever exclaim against the jihadists, the Muslims, the terrorists, the Islamofascists, or the Koran extremists? Of course not. The reason was because they felt they were safe in using the threat of communism to justify their commitment to Big Government. It never occurred to them that they would ever lose communism as an official enemy. That’s why they felt safe in proclaiming that if the Cold War ever ended, they would be fully supportive of abandoning their commitment to Big Government. In their minds, it was a safe thing to say.

In fact, not only did they never talk about an Islamic threat during the Cold War, they enthusiastically supported the U.S. Empire’s partnership with Osama bin Laden and other “Islamofascists” when they were trying to rid Afghanistan of the Soviet Empire’s occupation.

Indeed, even today, when many conservatives are claiming that Muslims worldwide are waging a holy war against Christians, Jews, and atheists because the Koran supposedly requires them to do so, conservatives remain strangely silent about the U.S. government’s financial and military support of the Islamic regimes in Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and others. I wonder why conservatives aren’t calling on bombing them. Indeed, why aren’t conservatives killing the Muslim enemy here at home? Surely they’re not afraid of a criminal indictment for murder in time of war, are they?

Then the big shock came. The Berlin Wall fell. The communist threat disappeared (although for years many conservatives were claiming that it was all part of an elaborate communist plot to conquer the West). The Cold War ended.

“Oh my gosh! What to do now? How can we convince Americans to maintain Big Government now that our 45-year-old rationalization for Big Government — the one we never thought would disappear — is now gone. Why, people are now even talking about a ‘peace dividend’ involving massive reductions in Big Government military spending.”

It’s important that we first point out though what conservatives never like to talk about: the role that their “good war” played in producing the Cold War official enemy that they used to rationalize their support of Big Government for more than half-a-century.

Kuhner mocks non-interventionist Americans like Robert Taft and Charles Lindbergh for opposing U.S. entry into World War II. He says, “They were prepared to abandon Europe to Hitler’s Germany.”

What Kuhner fails to point out though is that most Americans opposed entry into World War II, primarily because they had experienced the destructive idiocy of U.S. intervention into World War I, a war that Kuhner, not surprisingly, doesn’t even mention in his op-ed, no doubt because it accomplished nothing more than the wasteful sacrifice of thousands of American lives, not to mention giving rise to Adolf Hitler and, ultimately, World War II.

More significant, however, is Kuhner’s failure to point out the actual results of the “good war.” Oh sure, like other interventionist conservatives he likes to point to the defeat of Adolf Hitler, pointing out that Europe was saved from the Nazis … but then he just stops there with his analysis. How convenient!

What Kuhner obviously doesn’t feel too comfortable talking about is that while World War II saved Eastern Europe from the Nazis, the Eastern Europeans were delivered into the hands of America’s communist partner in WW II, the Soviet Union. And so were the East Germans. Yes, the same communists who conservatives then used as the official enemy to justify Big Government for the next 45 years!

Are you seeing why Kuhner stops his analysis of World War II so abruptly? When Great Britain and France declared war on Germany (it wasn’t the other way around), it was ostensibly to save the Poles and Czechs from the clutches of Nazi totalitarianism. What happened at the end of the war? The Poles and Czechs and many others ended up in the hands of the Soviet communists. It is not surprising that the Poles and the Czechs don’t celebrate World War II as a great victory, the way that conservative interventionists like Kuhner do.

So, what happened after the fall of the Berlin Wall? Well, for a time conservatives and the Pentagon were desperately in search of a new official enemy, practically pleading with Americans not to dismantle the enormous Cold War military machine and military industrial complex that President Eisenhower had warned was a threat to our American way of life. They talked about how they might fight the drug war, or help American businesses overseas, or even how they could help manage an “unsafe world.”

But all the while, they began poking hornets’ nests, especially in the Middle East. After having partnered with such unelected brutal dictators as the Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein, they turned on Saddam and killed countless Iraqis in the Persian Gulf War. They intentionally destroyed Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants after a Pentagon study confirmed that this would help spread infectious illnesses. They enforced brutal sanctions against Iraq and then crowed that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it.” They stationed U.S. troops near Islamic holy lands knowing how insulting this was to Muslim sensitivities. They killed even more Iraqis with the no-fly zones that had been authorized by neither Congress nor the UN. They continually provided foreign aid to the Israeli government and to the brutal and corrupt authoritarian Arab regimes in the region.

Yet, Kuhner steadfastly maintains that none of this had anything to do with why people in the Middle East have gotten so angry at the United States. Perhaps he’s unfamiliar with the angry tirade by Ramzi Yousef, the convicted terrorist in the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, who specifically cited U.S. foreign policy as the reason for his anger. Perhaps he’s unaware of the numerous references to U.S. foreign policy by the al-Qaeda terrorists who followed up the 1993 WTC attack with attacks on the USS Cole, the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and 9/11. Indeed, perhaps he’s unaware of the statement by Najubullah Zazi, the convicted terrorist who pled guilty this past week and who cited the killings of civilians in Afghanistan for his reason to retaliate.

No, in Kuhner’s mind — indeed, in the minds of other Big Government conservatives — all that is just irrelevant rationalizations. People in the Middle East don’t get angry when the lives of their loved ones are snuffed out or when they’re abused or humiliated. That only applies to Americans, not foreigners. Anyway, as conservatives often reminded us during the Vietnam War, foreigners don’t place the same high value on human life as the Americans.

The fact is that the war on terror has provided conservatives with another rationalization for supporting Big Government. In their minds, it’s actually even better than communism or the war on drugs. After all, the terrorist threat goes on forever, especially when the Empire is over there continuing to kill, maim, abuse, and humiliate people.

Kuhner’s op-ed shows how incorrigible many conservatives are when it comes to Big Government. After so many years of allegiance to Big Government in foreign affairs, many of these people are simply not going to change. We advocates of freedom and limited government shouldn’t waste our time trying to do so. Instead, we should continue finding the people who wish to dismantle Big Government, in terms of both the welfare state and the warfare state, with the aim of reaching a critical mass that overcomes liberals, conservatives, and others supporters of Big Government and restores freedom, prosperity, and peace to our land.

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