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05/17/2007 - 1:47am

Ron Paul Schools Rudy Giuliani in "Blowback"


Watch this section of the debate.

The media, and the former mayor of New York, will have you believe that Dr. Paul made an extraordinary statement that was anti-patriotic, and that he handed the debate over to Giuliani.

There is a phenomenon called "blowback." Wikipedia begins by explaining it this way:

"Blowback is a term now broadly used in espionage to describe the unintended consequences of covert operations. Blowback typically appears as a surprise, apparently random and without cause, because the public generally is unaware of the secret operations that caused it."

Our government is involved in all sorts of interventionist foreign policies, some of which we are aware of (attacking Iraq), but many that we don't know about until decades later.

Imagine if some country came to the US and overthrew our government, putting one of its own in place. Ya think we'd sit back and just be fine with that? How about if this country systematically did very similar "secret" operations all over the world, imposing its will on other countries. Do you think various nations, especially those that fell victim to this country, would develop a deep hatred? You bet!

This is exactly what our federal government has been doing since 1953. The terrorist attacks against us from these countries is what is known as "blowback." Because of how our government has (mis)behaved over the past several decades, we have made a lot of enemies that the general public isn't aware of. We are led to believe that these are simple "extremists", and we need to intervene and head them off before they attack us. It's our intervention that caused them to hate us in the first place. A foreign policy of isolationism would have been the best foreign policy to keep us safe.

But we can't go back in time. Now they hate us, and isolationism by itself may not be good enough. So does that mean we should invade other countries to protect ourselves? You can't "undo" what was done by perpetuating the behavior that caused it. You don't borrow money to get out of debt, you don't stuff yourself with ice-cream to lose weight, and you don't attack other countries to get them to stop disliking you.

Isolationism is still our best bet. We should defend this country on our soil. Yes, we will have attacks in the future (as we will no matter what policy we choose). The difference is that over time, our new isolationism policy will begin to make these taper off, because the behavior that caused them has changed.

Or we could maintain a strong presence in the Middle East and terrorism will simply be a way of life. Giuliani was right about one thing; it was an extraordinary statement.

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Posted by: nobody
07/21/2007 1:57am

Hi Nick,

I've been enjoying reading your blogs. They are much more interesting than most and you seem to have a much better grasp of reality than 95% of Americans, so that's nice.

"This is exactly what our federal government has been doing since 1953."

Change that to ~1791 and I agree with your post.

Well mostly.

"It's our intervention that caused them to hate us in the first place."


"A foreign policy of isolationism would have been the best foreign policy to keep us safe."

Going back to the time when we began using an interventionist foreign policy (which was around the time we became a nation of our own), it might have kept us safe for a time, until some other country became more powerful than us and took us over, or installed a regime in the US (or just forced our leaders to comply) that would extract the nation's production (wealth).

A country has to be rich and powerful, otherwise it's government will just be pushed around, dominated, by other countries. Most of the people who have been running the USA since it's founding understood this and believed it to be better to do the pushing around than to be pushed around, as is evidenced by the continuous adherence to the Monroe Doctrine, and continuous intervention in South and Central America. The President I liked most, Cleveland, put an end to the European powers exerting any kind of control over South American nations, thus giving the USA total dominion over the western hemisphere in the 1890s. That was a good (and ballsy) move. Whether Bush today is being ballsy and wise, or just plain greedy and stupid, is another question.

Without our interventionist foreign policy throughout South America during the 1800s, we would not have become the most powerful country in the Western Hemisphere that controlled nearly all of the wealth of the Western hemisphere. Instead we would have been dominated by the other world powers, like France, Britain, or possibly another regional power in our own hemisphere. Hence we would not have been nearly so powerful in the early 1900s for our global confrontations with the other major world powers. We certainly would not have been victorious in those confrontations if we were just another third world country in the western hemisphere, and we certainly would not have become the preeminent world power that we are today.

One thing most people fail to recognize is that our "interventionist foreign policies" are much more of a reason for our rich and powerful position than our somewhat free-market economy is (which isn't really free, if you consider how much force we have exerted throughout our hemisphere since the late 1700s, and the entire world since the early 1900s). It's a myth (believed by nearly all Americans, regardless of political party or level of education) that the USA is rich and powerful because of it's "free" economy and "uniquely democratic" form of government (which is not unique at all).

It's as though we like the riches that we receive from exerting force throughout the globe, but we like to pretend that those riches come from our industriousness, cleverness and righteousness rather than from the exertion of force (domination). That's all part of (dysfunctional) human nature, just making ourselves feel good about ourselves in spite of our rotten behavior. But one could argue that we behave rottenly out of necessity.

So you are correct, we wouldn't be "suffering from" blowback (which you describe very accurately, and although it is obvious, you are in the minority to recognize the obvious) if we had had an isolationist foreign policy for the past 80 years or so, but we also wouldn't have the status and riches that we enjoy today. Would we, or the entire western world, be better off if we weren't a (the) super-power? That's a question worthy of hard and long consideration. Would the rest of the world be better off (that is, the majority of the world that we dominate) if we had been isolationists? One would think so, but you never know, someone else probably would have dominated them instead, and who knows if that would have been better or worse for them. Would we be safer if we weren't a super-power? Of course not; we'd be at the mercy of someone else.

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