Quotes of the day

posted at 10:41 pm on April 22, 2014 by Allahpundit

It has been at least 20 years since Republicans have argued this angrily about foreign policy. Voters don’t much care about this debate, though, and probably won’t until events overseas turn more menacing. In the meantime, Republicans vying for the 2016 presidential nomination are pushing the party toward one of two extremes on the issue — neither of which will do the party or the country much good…

Paul portrays himself as a “realist” as well as a Reaganite: someone who asks hard questions before putting American credibility, money and troops on the line. It’s an attractive self-presentation, because policy makers should ask those questions: Are our interests at stake abroad? Is there any feasible way to promote them? Would the effort have an acceptable cost?

You can be skeptical about foreign interventions — from Iran to Syria to Ukraine — without having a conspiratorial mindset about them. Paul sometimes makes it a package deal, as in his repeated suggestions that former Vice President Dick Cheney pushed the Iraq war because of his ties to Halliburton Co. — a ridiculous charge that even Cheney’s bitter Democratic opponents have had too much sense to make.

And you can set a high bar for taking action against an aggressive and illiberal foreign regime without making excuses for it. Paul doesn’t always observe that distinction.

***

The knives are out for conservatives who dare question unlimited involvement in foreign wars.

Foreign policy, the interventionist critics claim, has no place for nuance or realism. You are either for us or against us. No middle ground is acceptable. The Wilsonian ideologues must have democracy worldwide now and damn all obstacles to that utopia. I say sharpen your knives, because the battle once begun will not end easily…

With regard to the Iraq War, [William F.] Buckley came to believe not only that it was a mistake but that it was not a “conservative” approach to foreign policy. In fact, in discussing foreign policy Buckley sounded quite the realist…

Reagan himself was sometimes castigated for not intervening around the world enough. According to Peter Beinart, Norman Podhoretz, one of the founding neoconservatives, wrote that “in the use of military power, Mr. Reagan was much more restrained” than his more hawkish fans had hoped.

So as today’s young aspiring Buckleyites sharpen their knives to carve up conservatives who propose a more realist and nuanced approach to foreign policy, they should realize they’re also pointing daggers at some of their own.

***

None of Paul’s critics at NRO have said anything like what Paul claims about nuance or realism, or called for unlimited involvement in foreign wars. And criticism of Paul — and his excuse-making for the Russian and Syrian regimes – does not amount to criticism of realism. Nor does William F. Buckley Jr.’s retrospective opposition to the Iraq war amount to Senator Paul’s view that Halliburton’s influence over Dick Cheney had something to do with its start.

I’m glad Senator Paul is there to push back against, for example, the ill-considered proposal to strike at Syria last year. But he’d be a more effective advocate for realism if he showed an ability to make obvious distinctions.

***

Again and again, he characterizes his opponents as flat-out warmongers, such as those “within the Christian community [who] are such great defenders of the promised land and the chosen people that they think war is always the answer, maybe even preemptive war.” Choices are always binary in his world — one must either follow his way of diplomacy or, as in his Heritage speech, take the position that “war is the only option.” In a recent speech at the Center for the National Interest, he built the same militaristic straw man. Those who favor bigger defense forces and more robust postures, he said, have the attitude that “diplomacy is distrusted and war is, if not the first choice, the preferred option.”

The worst warmongers in Paul World are always the nefarious “neocons,” sometimes directly associated with Israel, who are blamed for such a wide assortment of ills and bad motives that an uninformed listener might think they are more dangerous to world peace than the Soviets ever were.

***

How many times has Obama accused his critics of wanting to force “false choices” between two absurd, all-or-nothing extremes, when virtually nobody has seriously suggested that those are the only choices? This is exactly what Paul is doing. So when Rich Lowry asserts that “Paul’s belief that the Iraq War may have been about padding a corporate bottom line echoes charges of ‘war profiteering’ that have been a staple of the Left,” Paul rather nastily (and wrongly) writes that “today’s young aspiring Buckleyites sharpen their knives to carve up conservatives who propose a more realist and nuanced approach to foreign policy.” But is it more “nuanced” and “realist” to accuse Dick Cheney of choosing to send thousands to their deaths because of his search for lucre, or is it instead more realist to question such a vicious conspiracy theory?…

Rand Paul is more intelligent than this. He must know he is vastly misrepresenting his critics and vastly oversimplifying complex foreign-policy questions. If he continues to do so, his statements will no longer be able to be considered rhetorical sloppiness, but instead will justly be labeled demagoguery.

***

The Tarrance Group recently conducted a survey on behalf of Concerned Veterans for America that was released on April 18. It just so happens that “nearly three-quarters of veterans and members of the military (73%) agree with former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen’s statement that our nation’s debt is ‘the greatest threat to our National Security.’”

That is to say: Admiral Mike Mullen and 73 percent of veterans, Guard/Reserve, and active-duty military surveyed share Rand Paul’s “naïve and otherworldly” claim…

Judging by this survey, Rand Paul is simply echoing the concerns of a former Joint Chief, and the vast majority of military men and women surveyed by a noted veterans advocacy organization. That’s not bad company to keep.

***

The default position of the GOP is still toward strength, and the party will instinctively recoil from the distorted view of America implicit in some of Paul’s more impolitic statements.

If we launched the Iraq War for corporate profits, we have a poisonously corrupt government that is a threat to world peace. If we caused Japan to react angrily with ill-considered sanctions prior to Pearl Harbor, as Paul said in 2012, perhaps we were reaping what we sowed in what is usually regarded as one of the most notorious sneak attacks of all time. If we are guilty of tweaking Russia while it secures a traditional sphere of influence, as Paul said when the Crimea crisis first broke out, it’s no wonder that Vladimir Putin lashes out…

Paul likes to calls his foreign policy “realism,” but his record on Russia suggests the label is inapt. Last year, he thought what was wrong with President Barack Obama’s Syria policy was that we weren’t engaging the Russians enough. Earlier this year, he held out the Syria chemical-weapons deal — a humiliation for the United States that secured Bashar Assad in power — as a model for future diplomacy. He thought the Russians were a partner for peace, right on the cusp of their launching a war.

You don’t have to be a war profiteer to consider this dewy-eyed foolishness. Barack Obama’s can’t-we-all-get-along naiveté didn’t hurt him in his primary fight in 2008, but he was running in the other party. Rand Paul is running in a party that, while chastened on foreign policy, still has a hawkish reflex — and not because it is beholden to Halliburton.

***

Paul says he’s a “non-interventionist,” and by saying so tries to wrap himself in the image of Ronald Reagan. Let’s be clear: every conservative is a non-interventionist. But, like Ronald Reagan we believe that some acts of aggression are so severe they cannot be tolerated, and that some adversaries cannot be deterred, so they must be defeated at the time and place most advantageous to us…

Paul claims his policy is “nuanced,” and that such sophistication in strategy is what we have lacked before his deft-handed approach came along. But Paul is stumbling along a path we’ve trod before. He’s probably unaware of it, but the political world is round and when you go far enough to the right, you end up on the left. Rand Paul’s foreign policy would have the same effect as Obama’s because they are different only in names and labels.

Not even the Republicans are dumb enough to nominate Rand Paul, but a Paul candidacy — like the last one — will have only negative effects. The media will try to damage the whole field of candidates by associating them with Paul’s civil rights horrors. And Paul will serve as the media’s foil on foreign policy. Reagan mastered “strategic ambiguity” because he knew that it meant keeping the adversary off-balance. To Rand Paul, strategic ambiguity means confusing our allies and our military, keeping them off-balance while trying to understand when he means to be are serious and when he does not. He’s just a chip off the old blockhead.

***

Mr. Paul’s conclusion: “9/11 became an excuse for a war they already wanted in Iraq.”

Cui bono—to whose benefit? It’s the signature question of every conspiracy theorist with an unhinged mind. C heney. Halliburton. Big Oil. The military-industrial complex. Neocons. 9/11. Soldiers electrocuted in the shower. It all makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

If Mr. Paul wants to accuse the former vice president of engineering a war in Iraq so he could shovel some profits over to his past employer, he should come out and say so explicitly. Ideally at the next Heritage Action powwow. Let’s not mince words. This man wants to be the Republican nominee for president.

And so he should be. Because maybe what the GOP needs is another humbling landslide defeat. When moderation on a subject like immigration is ideologically disqualifying, but bark-at-the-moon lunacy about Halliburton is not, then the party has worse problems than merely its choice of nominee.

***


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We certainly gained some…ummm…interesting Trolls during the Open Registration, didn’t we?

kingsjester on April 23, 2014 at 7:21 AM

I’m trying to #cott here, and I keep getting called in. :)

*exasperated expression*

^ a little arm-flailing

Axe on April 23, 2014 at 7:25 AM

I’m sorry, Oscar, but God would’ve supplied 100% of Jesus’ DNA (immaculate conception, remember?); furthermore, Jesus’ DNA would NOT have been “diluted” if’n he had married and consummated said marriage.

Newtie and the Beauty on April 23, 2014 at 1:07 AM

The Immaculate Conception does not refer to Christ. This is a common misunderstanding in some sects of protestantism.

The Immaculate Conception refers to the Ark that carried the word…his mother Mary who was born full of grace and without the stain of Eve’s original sin so she could fulfill her role as the Ark to carry the word Christ.

The Ark had to be pure, free of sin in order to carry the word…Mary was full of grace throughout her life because God granted that grace to her to protect her.

Christ was not conceived as we understand it…he was begotten not made.

workingclass artist on April 23, 2014 at 7:26 AM

Had Christ been married, his DNA would have been diluted and there would be demi-god’s walking the earth now. Or… At the barest minimum individuals claiming to be his decedents who would be claiming to be semi divine demi-gods.
oscarwilde on April 23, 2014 at 1:04 AM

Are we talking about rock stars again? Chuckle and I know OC will not see this comment; just could not resist.

HonestLib on April 23, 2014 at 7:27 AM

OC? Meant OW, oh well maybe one day I will finally have a post without a typo?

HonestLib on April 23, 2014 at 7:30 AM

It isn’t like the Royals of Europe haven’t already tried to make that claim over the centuries, nothing comes of it, it wouldn’t be believed.

Scrumpy on April 23, 2014 at 1:09 AM

I have a friend who put her ancestor into Ancestry and pagea and pages kept coming up until it said she was descended from the god, Odin. Someone a long time ago wanted to be descended from a god.

crankyoldlady on April 23, 2014 at 7:32 AM

. . . It’s difficult. It’s convoluted nonsense. But it’s worth it.

I think.

Please be worth it.

Axe on April 23, 2014 at 7:13 AM

Bah, you got it easy. Me, on the other hand…..the wife used to buy my depends with little yellow ducks on the front and brown frogs on the back and all was well in the morning and got them on in just one try. Lately she has been buying ‘em with red flowers all around. Playing hummingbird now takes up half my morning and my little wings are so darn tired when I finally get to work.

HonestLib on April 23, 2014 at 7:39 AM

Last post of the morning……. until I have a gold fish moment and post another last post of the morning.

I have a white board next to my desk at work and in big blue letter I wrote April 23 (3:45) around a month ago? I have asked everybody I know if I have a meeting today at 3:45pm and so far no joy. Now, I have to figure out if I stay at work until 3:45pm or go home and see if I scheduled some kind of meeting there. I have no clue and will just have to wait and see. This getting old does have a few draw-backs, but it also gives me an excuse when I forget things.

HonestLib on April 23, 2014 at 7:56 AM

Read the gospel of Thomas. Then read the ones of Mary Magdalene and Phillip, the Luminous Gospels. What hit the cutting room floor puts everything in place. The Bishop of Alexandria lied by omission.

John the Libertarian on April 23, 2014 at 2:16 AM

The Nag Hammadi texts which you refer to are theologically muddled….some of which are gnostic in nature. Most of which have questionable provenance. There were a lot of anti-christian propaganda texts and rumors circulating at the time written by Jewish scribes as well as Roman pagans to confuse potential followers to the new religion, much like there is today.

Gnosticism is not inclusive but inherently elitist….it is antithetical to what Christ and later his disciples preached.

This is why God selected Saul who became Paul to do his work.

It was Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit through his conversion to Christ who clarified the liturgical foundation for Christology during those early years.

Paul had unique qualifications to contribute, both in his authoritative liturgical education and in his dynamic conversion.

God could find no better apostle to join the others in spreading the good news and establishing the Church.

workingclass artist on April 23, 2014 at 7:56 AM

So when is force justified according to Sen. Paul?

It is possible to invoke Law of Nations to point out that the US was entirely within its sovereign power to go into Iraq because Saddam had not dealt honestly to get a cease-fire and continually broke his word on the agreement which was put into place during on-going hostilities. That is the highest form of treaty as it allows for civilized activity to take place in the midst of war, and anyone breaking their agreement on the battlefield is no longer due any respect as they are breaking their side of the cease-fire agreement.

What can be argued after that is the wisdom of actually ending the cease-fire to continue hostilities. Those pros and cons got argued in Congress because the Executive wanted to make sure every one was on the same page. No one can ever know the results of a war once started and it may not come out to your liking as that is the nature of war.

One can acknowledge that justification was in place and argue about the wisdom of re-starting active hostilities. A cease-fire can remain in place so long that you begin to think it is ‘peace’ like in the Koreas, although one side is actively testing the other constantly for decades looking for weakness and reason to restart some level of hostility. That is not actual ‘peace’ but one side trying to stall the other to look for an opening to final victory. With Saddam the argument of being able to contain his ambitions after he has gone against his own accords for a cease-fire and started liquidating opponents internally is questionable. His manipulation of the crude oil market to damage western concerns using OFF as a means of economic warfare are never cited, save during a 1999 Congressional hearing in which independent small business oilmen in the US pointed out that Saddam was artificially undercutting the market which was putting them out of business. Thus ‘containment’ for Saddam had problems going for it. Yet to reinforce the cease-fire and stop economic hostilities abroad meant a long-term set of approaches that the west had been unwilling to take. And no one was proposing a better way to make Saddam keep to his word.

Thus, as a foreign policy, going to war with Saddam was not, of necessity, good or bad, but was becoming a matter of necessity: when such a man sits atop a natural resource and can undercut the market to hurt others and still not abide by his word in a cease-fire, the options of having him comply began to fall into give up on him and let him loose, or re-start hostilities. Necessary wars are not good wars but are undertaken to reinforce the understanding of what is required when Nations make agreements with each other, especially on the battlefield.

I would like to hear Sen. Paul’s conception of when going to war is justified, and that there are unpalatable conflicts that do arise that can have a rationale that is not just in the interest of the Nation but of all Nations, and yet falls to a very few to uphold.

Of course he could always hold up a 3-part foreign policy and use that as the rational for when war is justified. There are three types of Nation and they each are respected differently according to how they approach us.

Friends are first, and we should welcome them as spreaders of liberty for their own people to show why a free people are the best ones to lead a good life and make a good society for themselves and their families. We should encourage these values in all corners, for all peoples. Yet we are not their defenders, and only in instances that our friends wish to be allies, do we then join with them in the common defense of these values.

Second are those that are neither friend nor foe. They should pay the freight in the way of having their goods imported to our Nation taxed, so that our Nation can prosper from those who do not see the wisdom of freedom and liberty for their own people.

Third are our foes that we arm against. We do not seek war with them and give them two options to avoid conflict with us: be friends or be neutrals. We wish that the peoples of these lands would change their government and their minds about their freedom and liberty, but that is not our job, but theirs.

Thus we hold open friendship, first and always. That is the first option.

Second Neutrality is always respected and so long as those trading with us understand that taxing that trade is our way of demonstrating that there is a material value for asking for trade from free people, that they can always avoid that by seeking to let their people become freer and have more liberty in their lives. We can graduate such taxes in the hope of encouraging trade and friends, both.

To our enemies, you get no trade. We seek no harm to you and only reply when harm is directed towards us or those we are allied with. Even then we are patient but patience has a limit to it.

War is not the first option.

War is not the last option, as that means you are willing to give up to slavery before going to war.

That places war at a very respectable #3. Not the first tool of foreign policy, nor even the second. It is the backer to the third tool which is: leave us the hell alone so we don’t have to do anything about you that you won’t like. That is not a threat. It is a promise.

Perhaps libertarians could start seeing Nations as people, but people who are all on equal footing and bound only by necessity: each a sovereign and none guaranteed to be civilized. The world looks very different through that prism and it is one where freedom and liberty are not guarantees and we only keep the Law of Nature at bay by our agreements with each other, and we each must, as Nations, keep to our word or at least be orderly about moving from our agreements so everyone knows why and wherefore we do so. War is a very different proposition under this regime. The regime of Law of Nations and how we, as a free people, must abide by it and demonstrate that to be civilized means a duty to being civilized and that our freedom makes us a power of civilization while those under tyrants are just naked force, red of tooth and claw.

ajacksonian on April 23, 2014 at 7:56 AM

Sorry to get in the way of ajacksonian’s amazing post. I really do admire your intelligent writing, AJ.

But, Ugh! I turned on the Weather Channel to see how cold it is this morning (yup, oatmeal weather, crankyoldlady) and they were showing these pictures as an “accurate” depiction of sea level rises! I can’t believe they are this vested in the fakery of Global Warming that they would show stuff like this during a morning news chat as accurate. Un-fricken-believable. John Coleman must be furious.

Sorry. Back to the topic…

Fallon on April 23, 2014 at 8:55 AM

Predator, my friend,
I know you’re scheduled for surgery and I just wanted to let you know that I’m pulling for you and thinking of you. I wish you a complete and swift recovery. I’ll see you back here at the QOTD when you’re up to it, gallant sir. :)

thatsafactjack on April 23, 2014 at 9:22 AM

“The media will try to damage the whole field of candidates by associating them with Paul’s civil rights horrors”

What did I miss? all I know is he spoke at Howard and took questions from the students, did something happen?

timoric on April 23, 2014 at 9:48 AM

:-), Mr. Wilde.

pambi on April 23, 2014 at 9:58 AM

oscarwilde on April 23, 2014 at 1:04 AM

Are we talking about rock stars again? Chuckle and I know OC will not see this comment; just could not resist.

HonestLib on April 23, 2014 at 7:27 AM

OC? Meant OW, oh well maybe one day I will finally have a post without a typo?

HonestLib on April 23, 2014 at 7:30 AM

<—- Insert evil laughter here…

I have a friend who put her ancestor into Ancestry and pagea and pages kept coming up until it said she was descended from the god, Odin. Someone a long time ago wanted to be descended from a god.

crankyoldlady on April 23, 2014 at 7:32 AM

Somebody got seriously pranked. Yes, I have an ancestry account, no, they do not go back to Odin.

oscarwilde on April 23, 2014 at 10:15 AM

If you can’t see that the Iraq war was a contrived initiative that had nothing actually I do with the stated goals, then you’re hopeless, hapless, and a further danger to our already eroding republic.

It was something they’d wanted for a decade and just used a reason to jump into it, just like they said would be required to it to happen in their policy papers a decade before when the plans were first laid out.

Genuine on April 23, 2014 at 11:25 AM

IS that Wiley E. Coyote?

Murphy9 on April 23, 2014 at 11:32 AM

Scrumpy on April 23, 2014 at 1:47 AM

I am not asking you to have faith in any organized religion, though, when you say that you have faith in God and Jesus, I must ask you, where does this faith come from? Where did you hear that which caused you to believe, and why did you consider that source to have enough veracity for you to place your trust in it? In short, is your faith blind, or can you give an account of your faith?

oscarwilde on April 23, 2014 at 1:52 AM

As a child I was told about Jesus and God in that sense that a child would understand, I am of the belief that there is a Creator. My source is personal experience, what God did for me at my lowest point, and also in great debate with JW’s, I even wrote a book, unpublished, for my own truth searching.

God had me deep into His word, so many things I needed to understand and comprehend, He required it of me.

I did not mean to set off a little ‘firestorm’ just wanted to know what a married Jesus would do to ones belief.

It matters not to me, because I have personal belief in His having saved me, it changes nothing for me.

We are asked to have ‘blind’ faith as we cannot see God, but we can ‘see’ Him in everything, so yes, I guess I have blind faith.

I do not believe in the ramblings of man, not even any Church, they all claim to be the ‘right one’ and all have a distrust of everyone else, this one says this and that one says that, yoking people unecessarily with their contrived church rules.

I have experienced many different beliefs in this country, and they all fall short, even my own founding belief of Anglicanism.

I have a very personal and direct relationship with God.

I have a few more folks to answer :)

Scrumpy on April 23, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Fu8rthermore, the notion that Jesus Christ would have willingly and knowingly placed a woman in the position of being his wi9fe, knowing full well what his own fate was, renders any notion that he was compassionate pretty absurd. Or, it attempts to suggest that contrary to scripture, Jesus Christ was unaware of what his mission here on earth was. According to the scripture he ALWAYS knew that he was going to be crucified, it was ALWAYS the plan.

oscarwilde on April 23, 2014 at 1:57 AM

I will ask, why was Peter so against Jesus relationship with Mary, and why did he so dispise to have this woman, as Jesus said, as a potential Disciple able to preach and teach as well as them?

Jesus had to become fully Man in order to satisfy the Scriptures.

Being with a woman does not say that He had no compassion, quite the opposite, he seemed to have loved Mary, alot, she was very special to Him.

Scrumpy on April 23, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Leave. Scrumpy. Alone.
Axe on April 23, 2014 at 2:11 AM

Thank You Axe, but have no fear, I am very secure in my faith :)

Scrumpy on April 23, 2014 at 1:11 PM

But no sex, no kids — the argument is getting pretty artificial.
Axe on April 23, 2014 at 1:49 AM

Sometimes I just write what pops into my head…

God can do anything He wants to.

Artificial? No.

We attach our thoughts and emotions to somthing that only God/Jesus has understanding of.

I love to be challenged, does any of it, the idea that Jesus was married, challenge my faith in God? No.

Scrumpy on April 23, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Please consider that God having sex with a woman annihilates both Judaism and Christianity before continuing to entertain this particular perversion.

Axe on April 23, 2014 at 1:25 AM

How does sex do that? I would like you to expand on that. :)

Scrumpy on April 23, 2014 at 1:26 PM

The bible refers to the wife of the lamb, and if you read further, it refers to the church as the wife

Brock Robamney on April 23, 2014 at 5:48 AM

Absolutely…

Not talking about that aspect tho :)

Scrumpy on April 23, 2014 at 1:27 PM

I’m trying to #cott here, and I keep getting called in. :)

*exasperated expression*

^ a little arm-flailing

Axe on April 23, 2014 at 7:25 AM

Lol, cuz you a smart one you is :)

Quit flailing!!

Scrumpy on April 23, 2014 at 1:30 PM

I have a friend who put her ancestor into Ancestry and pagea and pages kept coming up until it said she was descended from the god, Odin. Someone a long time ago wanted to be descended from a god.

crankyoldlady on April 23, 2014 at 7:32 AM

Now that’s funny!

My mum did a similar thing and found she was related to royalty…

But, think about this, since God created us, in His image, are we not then godlets? Hey! I had to go there :D

Swooshing outta here for now!!

** swoosh **

Scrumpy on April 23, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Somebody got seriously pranked. Yes, I have an ancestry account, no, they do not go back to Odin.

oscarwilde on April 23, 2014 at 10:15 AM

It should go all the way back to Adam and Eve!!

Scrumpy on April 23, 2014 at 1:36 PM

Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

Scrumpy on April 23, 2014 at 1:37 PM

The pastoral letters signed by Paul aren’t evidence that Paul existed?

Axe on April 23, 2014 at 6:01 AM

I’m sure he did. That doesn’t prove Jesus did.

crankyoldlady on April 23, 2014 at 6:28 AM

How far back do you want to go, col? You agree that Paul existed. What about the other Apostles? Do you believe they were real? What do you believe was motivating their evangelism? Lies or delusions about their experiences with Jesus?

How do you decide what to pick and choose what you’ll believe about them, and the history of early Christianity? Anyone can find and make up reasons to disbelieve. It’s not so hard to do, obviously.

non-nonpartisan on April 23, 2014 at 2:22 PM

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