Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ron Paul: Our Foreign Policy Narrative Sucks

Rick Fisk writes in Liberty United today:
"In 2010, the neocons suffered an arguably fatal blow when top spokesmen for the movement came out against Rand Paul’s primary bid in Kentucky and he won handily in spite of it. It was a stinging defeat and it has emboldened GOP hopefuls like Romney and Michelle Bachman to stray from the neoconservative talking points without consequence. This would have been unheard of 4 years ago."
It's a persistent myth that Ron Paul is speaking in tongues when he challenges the effectiveness of the US foreign policy narrative:
"Yes, the attacks of 9/11 deserved a response. But the manner in which we responded has allowed radicals in the Muslim world to advance a very threatening narrative about us"
Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted that the US foreign policy narrative is losing ground: during a U.S. Foreign Policy Priorities committee meeting in march she argued that the State Department needs more money because the US military-industrial complex is:
 “losing the information war"
We remember the propaganda campaign in april 2010 by a member of Clinton's policy planning staff, Jared Cohen, that aimed to shore up the image of Paul Kagame ahead of a crucial visit to New York in the run up to the August 2010 elections.

We remember former Obama New Media Campaign manager Mary Joyc's critical article on Hillary Clinton's “21st century statecraft” july 2010 in which she said:
"What more can be done by those in US government? First: listen more. Instead of engaging with billionaires and titans of tech"
We remember Africa specialist Tony Gambino's interview with Jason Stearns december 2010 in which he said:
"During the Cold War, US foreign policy globally had clear priorities. That clear lens, however, disappeared with the end of the Cold War in 1990"
We remember Ron Paul asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton some pertinent questions on the inconsistencies in US foreign policy (march 1 2011 transcript):
"But a lot of people in this country have come to the
conclusion that our policy overall has been inconsistent; that
sometimes we support the bad guys and the bad guys become our
enemies. For instance, you know, we worked with Osama bin Laden
when he was fighting the Soviets. We were allies with Saddam
Hussein when he was fighting the Iranians. We certainly propped
up the Shah of Iran for 26 years, and that bred resentment and
hatred that ushered in an age that now you are dealing with
because we have radicals, you know, in Iran. So it goes on and
    We now have propped up Saudi Arabia for a long time, sold
them a lot of weapons, and yet 15 of the Saudis were part of
the 9/11 disaster, and even the 9-11 Commission said that our
presence there had a lot to do with that.
    We keep supporting Algeria and Morocco and Yemen and all
these dictators, and yet we pretend that as soon as it looks
like the dictator might fall, oh, we are all for democracy and
we are for freedom and we are against these dictators. I don't
think the people there understand. I don't think our people in
this country quite understand either.
You mentioned in your comments about Libya, that nothing
should be taken off the table, which is to me a little
frightening, because the previous administration would say that
when they would be asked questions about first strikes,
preemptive war, nuclear first attacks. That scares the living
daylights out of me when nothing is taken off the table, and I
dread the fact that we might be considering military activity
in Libya. "
Ron Paul is certainly not the only one who sees these obvious inconsistencies, just watch this interview between Richard Downie and Jennifer Cooke who both work at the Center for Strategic And International Studies in which they argue that:
"Perhaps US needs to focus less on kind of the individualities, the personalities in charge of these governments, the Paul Kagame's, the Museveni's and really look more at the institutions and building up that institutional strength in these countries"
The answer by the Obama administration has been to hang on to the interventionist narrative, go low profile but continue the support for dictators (spoiling over into legal battles in the US!) and let donors like the Netherlands and France take a more visible role, while ignoring the African Union.

Getting rid of the superficial and counterproductive francophone/anglophone foreignpolicy animosity in Africa is certainly a step forward. I also admit that moving away from the "strongmen narrative" is a delicate process. However, that doesn't mean there should be no critical self reflection at the highest level of the State Department and Pentagon. The lack of clear foreign policy focus since the end of the cold war which led to blind support for - and unhealthy focus on supposed enlightened strongmen is at the heart of the foreign policy conversation among policymakers from both parties. This conversation should not be drowned in superficial rhetoric and propaganda.

Ron Paul said about this conversation:
"it is very tempting to simply believe what we would like to hear. But listening to lies does not make us safer, even though it might make us feel better about ourselves."
He might not have all the answers, but  Ron Paul certainly has been asking the right questions! 

Republican Strategist Jack Burkman on freedom watch:
"This guy could come from behind as the horses turn for home, to win the nomination"

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