I blogged before that I felt Ron Paul did well in last night’s debate: He NAILED it! He stated a moral voice that the GOP must hear. We start with what could be a new definition of chutzpah – CBS claiming that Paul was successful in getting his message out (in spite of only 89 seconds in the first hour):
The polls suggest Paul’s brand of hardcore libertarianism has a limited appeal with GOP primary voters, and he remains a serious longshot for the Republican presidential nomination. But his goal is also to get his ideas into the public sphere, and on that front this debate was an unqualified success for him.
Go ahead and laugh! But Ron Paul is a moral voice in our nation today. We need to recall that although there are several fine candidates on the GOP side (yes, I heard Newt Gingrich mention Agenda 21 last night!) and almost any of them are better than the present occupant of the White House, most of this debate was fighting over the bar bill on the Titanic again. More wars, more intervention, no ability to pay for them and a willingness to deny rights to others, including American juveniles killed on order of the President of the United States.
Iran was a start. Several said it was “unacceptable” for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Romney and Gingrich actually explicitly floated a military option. (These are from the official debate transcript) Here’s Romney:
Fin– finally, the president should have built credible– threat of military action, and made it very clear that the United States of America is willing, in the final analysis, if necessary, to take military action to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon. Look, one thing you can know– and that is if we reelect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if we elect Mitt Romney, if you’d like me as the next president, they will not have a nuclear weapon.
If in the end, despite all of those things– the dictatorship persists, you have to take whatever steps are necessary to break its capacity to have a nuclear weapon.
In fairness to both candidates, they expressed war as a last resort after covert operations, sanctions and diplomatic means with allies. But neither discussed how that military strike or incursion would look like. Here’s an excellent article how difficult military action against Iran would be.
Ron Paul said this on Iran – this refutes the idea he is a bleeding heart:
No, it isn’t worthwhile. The only way you would do that is– you would have to go through Congress. We– we as commander in chief aren’t making the decision to go to war. You know, the old-fashioned way, the Constitution, you go to the Congress and find out if our national security is threatened. And– I’m afraid what’s going on right now is similar to the war propaganda that went on against Iraq. And, you know, they didn’t have nuc– weapons of mass destruction. And it was orchestrated and it was– to me, a tragedy of what’s happened these past– last ten years, the death and destruction, $4 billion– $4 trillion in debt. So no, it’s not worthwhile goin’ to war. If you do, you get a declaration of war and you fight it and you win it and get it over with. (emphasis added)
Now we turn to the torture question. Here it is:
And it comes from Stephen Schafroth (PH) of Odell’s (PH), Oregon. And I’d like to address this question to Mr. Cain. Stephen writes, “I served on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War. I believe that torture is always wrong in all cases. What is your stance on torture?”
Admittedly I am conflicted on this as well. I believe the Bush administration tried very hard in these interrogation techniques not to cross the line. I find the rendition program more troubling than the waterboarding. But we did execute Japanese soldiers as war criminals for among other things, waterboarding. Paul’s position was clear:
Well, waterboarding is torture. And– and many other– it’s ill– it’s illegal under international law and under our law. It’s also immoral. The– and it’s also very impractical. There’s no evidence that you really get reliable evidence. Why would you accept the position of torturing 100 people because you know one person might have information? And that’s what you do when you accept the principal of a– of– of– of torture. I think it’s– I think it’s uncivilized and prac– and has no practical advantages and is really un-American to accept on principal that we will torture people that we capture.
Then we turn to assassinations of American citizens. Gingrich had this exchange with the moderator:
Speaker Gingrich, if I could just ask you the same question, as President of the United States, would you sign that death warrant for an American citizen overseas who you believe is a terrorist suspect?
Newt Gingrich: Well, he’s not a terrorist suspect. He’s a person who was found guilty under review of actively seeking the death of Americans.
Scott Pelley: Not– not found guilty by a court, sir.
Newt Gingrich: He was found guilty by a panel that looked at it and reported to the president.
Scott Pelley: Well, that’s ex-judicial. That’s– it’s not–
Newt Gingrich: Let me– let me– let me tell you a story– let me just tell you this.
Scott Pelley: –the rule of law.
Newt Gingrich: It is the rule of law. That is explicitly false. It is the rule of law.
Scott Pelley: No.
Newt Gingrich: If you engage in war against the United States, you are an enemy combatant. You have none of the civil liberties of the United States. You cannot go to court. Let me be– let me be very clear about this. There are two levels. There’s a huge gap here that– that frankly far too many people get confused over. Civil defense, criminal defense, is a function of being within the American law. Waging war on the United States is outside criminal law. It is an act of war and should be dealt with as an act of war. And the correct thing in an act of war is to kill people who are trying to kill you.
Here’s Ron Paul’s answer to that:
I think that– this is a mess. It’s a mess because we have a bad foreign policy. We’re pretending we’re at war. We haven’t declared the war, but we’re at war against a tactic. And therefore– there’s no limits to it. So we create these monstrosities. And we do think outside the law. We come up with assassination, allowing the president to decide who’s going to be assassinated?
And– lo and behold, three Americans now have been on the list. They’ve been assassinated. But they don’t talk about the second one, because the second one happened to be a 16 year old son of Awlaki. So what are we doing here to accept this idea that our president, and this lawlessness, to pursue? And that– we some day will be subject to those same courts.
So no, you don’t. You want to live within– in the law and obey the law. Because– otherwise, it’s going to be very bad for all– all of us. And– this whole idea that– now we can be assassinated by somebody that we don’t even like to run our medical care, and giving this power to the president to be the prosecutor, the executor, the judge and the jury, we better look at that carefully before you automatically endorse something like that.
This is pure imperial power. I hate to say it but Speaker Gingrich is simply wrong: Enemy combatants do have legal rights. There are two cases that govern enemy combatants prior to the Boumediene v. Bush case: Ex parte Milligan and Ex parte Quirin Milligan (a case I know a little bit about as I authored a scholarly legal article on this subject in the Whittier Law Review [it costs money to get it here]) holds that a US citizen cannot be tried before a military tribunal unless the courts are closed. Quirin dealt with foreign enemy combatants and said they have no right to habeas corpus in time of war. It was decided by the same WWII Court that decided Japanese should be detained against their will. I question its effectiveness.
Finally Bush says that foreign military combatants DO have right to habeas corpus!
It is true that before today the Court has never held that noncitizens detained by our Government in territory over which another country maintains de jure sovereignty have any rights under our Constitution. * * * We hold that Art. I, §9, cl. 2, of the Constitution has full effect at Guantanamo Bay.
So former Speaker Gingrich and Rep. Bachmann are wrong about no rights for citizens or non-citizens found to be enemy combatants. Nor should the American people want to place anyone outside the rights that we enjoy as Americans.
Paul returns to non-intervention in a discussion of Syria:
Major Garrett: Congressman Paul, covert operations in Syria?
Ron Paul: I think–
Major Garrett: A green light for you?
Ron Paul: I think it would– be a mistake. I think the Syrians oughta deal with their country. I think we should have dealt–
Major Garrett: But what about the– what about the 3,500 dead?
Ron Paul: Well, there– there’s been a lot of people killed throughout the world in the last century. You know, the Soviets and the Chinese killed hundreds of millions. But we didn’t feel compelled morally to try to stop it. No. It’s a tragedy. And it would be nice if they would accept different views.
But for us to get in the middle of that and prop up the different dictatorships, this is why we get into this trouble. It’s overthrowin’ dictatorships that we have supported that causes so much of this problem. So to get further involved, you– want to have self determination. We don’t need to lose anymore troops. You get in there with covert operations. And you have troops involved. And–
Major Garrett: Thank you, Congressman.
Ron Paul: It’s– very costly.
Scott Pelley: Thank you, Congressman.
Ron Paul: It’s not a good idea.
I do think there is a difference between covert operations and actual troops used for intervention. However, meddling in the internal matters of Syria will have some sort of unintended consequences and should be done only in the national interest. Not because goody-goodies want another war.
Congressman Ron Paul is a moral force in America today. It’s time for the American people to stop arguing over the bar bill on the Titanic. Support Ron Paul. He has the best solution for the economy and in foreign policy. Restore the Republic and obey the Constitution.