I don’t understand this even within the parameters of the Ron Paul worldview. I thought hardcore isolationists — sorry, “non-interventionists” — believe that the war machine will always find a new pretext to keep rolling even if the current one goes bust. Obama, for instance, did eventually get Bin Laden, along with many other Al Qaeda capos … and yet at this very moment there’s an AUMF pending in Congress to authorize a wider American war against jihadis in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. could have nuked Tora Bora in 2001, vaporizing Bin Laden and every jihadi degenerate within 50 miles, and Bush still would have had a case that Saddam’s Iraq was too dangerous to continue, both as a potential nuclear threat and an enabler in various ways of Islamic radicalism. Paul must be the only true-blue dove in the U.S. who thinks the Vast PNAC Iraq War Conspiracy hinged on whether one guy survived to 2003 or not.
His “letters of marque” idea also feels like something his fans would have crapped all over if an officially designated warmonger rather than Ron Paul himself had suggested it. One of the anti-war movement’s biggest knocks on Bush was the Pentagon’s overuse of private contractors, a.k.a. mercenaries, who lacked the sort of accountability required of American soldiers. Imagine the scandal among doves if a full-blown mercenary army, no doubt dubbed “Dick Cheney’s Rough Riders” by critics, had been dropped into Afghanistan and rampaged its way across the countryside in the name of finding Bin Laden with the backing of the U.S. government. If they succeeded in killing him, doves would have treated it as a short-term success that nonetheless set a dangerous precedent in empowering self-interested soldiers of questionable discipline and reliability. If they failed to kill him, doves would have destroyed Bush for waging war on the cheap and sending a small, unprofessional force to wreak havoc when the U.S. military surely could have done the job better and faster. In fact, we’re training a mercenary army right now in Syria to take the fight to ISIS. How’s that working out? As I recall, Rand Paul’s pretty been dim on the idea of outsourcing our war to shady Syrian “moderates.” Would Blackwater be better?
Anyway. It’s fascinating that Papa Paul’s making no effort to rein in this sort of thing even as major papers are reporting the tentative date of his son’s presidential announcement. The problem for Rand isn’t so much that he’ll be held responsible for dad’s views, although of course that is a potential problem. The problem for Rand is that he needs to hold onto Ron’s libertarian base to have a fighting chance at the nomination, and every time Ron goes full metal isolationist like this, it’s a reminder to libertarians that Rand’s a pale imitation of what got them excited about the rEVOLution in the first place. The nightmare scenario for Rand is that mainstream conservatives give up on him because they fear he’s secretly too much like Ron while libertarians give up on him because they fear he’s secretly not much like Ron. Why, if you asked him, I bet Rand would say that the federal government didn’t know where Bin Laden is and didn’t use his fugitive status as a reason to invade Iraq. What kind of rEVOLutionary is that?