Phil, I was prepared to believe from your earlier post that Paul said something nutty. But from your latest post — and I did not watch the debate so I am judging Paul’s remarks only from your post — I really don’t see it.
Our efforts against Fidel Castro, the longest-serving dictator in the world, have manifestly failed. There can be no serious debate about this. I supported the embargo against Cuba during the Cold War. I no longer support it. It has given Castro an excuse for the failure of his own policies, as anticommunist conservatives ranging from Bill Buckley to Pat Buchanan to Jeff Flake have recognized, and trade and travel with Cuba are things I would currently support.
As for Hugo Chavez, he obviously thrives on anti-American sentiment, no matter how unjustified. Our support for the failed coup against Chavez contributed to the conditions that allow him to still be in power today. Do you really believe there is no respectable case to be made for this?
Paul’s views of communist dictators can be summed up well in his reaction to the death of Mao Tse-Tung:
It is true that Chinese values are different from those in America and the West, but it is foolish to believe the Chinese people do not have the same yearning for freedom we have. This fact is confirmed by the untold thousands who have risked their lives to escape Communist totalitarianism for the liberty of Hong Kong.
We are asked to be “realists” and overlook such unpleasantries because we need the support of Communist China as a balance to the growing military power of the Soviet Union. This is a foolish policy that simply repeats America’s past error of treating all of our enemies’ enemies as our friends. This policy has probably done more to destroy our credibility as a champion of freedom than any other thing.
Americans pride themselves for having broken with the balance-of-power politics of Europe and establishing a foreign policy that not only upholds American interests, but is moral as well. This is a tradition which is as old as the country itself and which survives today in spite of Henry Kissinger’s efforts to destroy it…
America must remain forthright in universal opposition to tyranny. This is why we must recognize Mao Tse-tung for what he was; perhaps the most oppressive dictator who ever lived.
Do I wish Paul was as forthright in his condemnation of our current enemies — who deserve condemnation irrespective of even our most counterproductive overseas interventions — today? Yes, absolutely. But the notion that we can’t debate the consequences rather than the intentions of our interventions in our own backyard only guarantees more foreign-policy failures.
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