Ron Paul's Cognitive Dissonance - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Ron Paul’s Cognitive Dissonance

Here are Ron Paul’s remarks from last night’s Univision debate on Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro which prompted loud boos and caused me to speculate that the Congressman might be smoking crack. This was a response to a question about how he would handle Chavez if elected president:

PAUL: Well, he’s not the easiest person to deal with, but we should deal with everybody around the world the same way: with friendship and opportunity to talk and try to trade with people. We talked to — we talked to Stalin, we talked to Khrushchev, we’ve talked to Mao, and we’ve talked to the world, and we get along with people. Actually, I believe we’re at a time where we even ought to talk to Cuba and trade and travel to Cuba. But let me — let me tell you — let me tell you why — let me tell you why we have a problem in South America and Central America: because we’ve been involved in their internal affairs for so long. We have been meddling in their business. We create the Chavezes of the world, we create the Castros of the world by interfering and creating chaos in their countries, and they respond by throwing out their leader.

It doesn’t get any better on second consideration. Paul and his supporters like to accuse neoconservatives of naivete for suggesting that the United States can change the world in a way that will make us more secure by uprooting or isolating rouge regimes and encouraging more democratic, pro-American, governments to emerge in their place. But ultimately, Paul’s foreign policy rests on the same assumptions about America’s ability to influence world events, only in reverse. For Paul, instead of America having the power to change other nations for the good, every foreign policy problem in the entire globe be traced back to American interference. Pretty much every answer Paul has had to a foreign policy question during these debates can be explained as above: “we’ve been involved in their internal affairs for so long. We have been meddling in their business.” It’s one thing to argue that in the wake of the Iraq War, America needs to have more humility about our ability to spread democracy, or more broadly speaking, our ability to change the world for the better. It’s one thing to argue that in some cases, when America gets involved in a foreign entanglement, it could actually make the situation worse. But Paul exhibits a certain cognitive dissonance by arguing, practically speaking, that returning to an 18th-century foreign policy mindset would rid us of all the anti-American dictators, despots, and terrorists in the world.

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