For the Daily Beast, Jamie Kirchick dives into Ron Paul’s new foreign-policy think thank, the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He finds it’s populated by an assortment of conspiracy theorists and apologists for authoritarianism, not exactly a surprising fact for an institution whose banner program is called “Neo-Con Watch.” These usual suspects include Lew Rockwell, Paul’s former chief of staff and the David Duke fan who supposedly wrote, without Paul’s knowledge, the noxious newsletters published under the congressman’s name. Even if that defense is true, Paul can hardly now deny his voluntary association with Rockwell’s views, since he just put the man on the board of his foundation.
Kirchick’s conclusion about the problems with Paulism is perspicacious:
What’s so ironic is that so-called libertarians are defending nationalist politicians who never hesitate to use the full powers of the state in quashing the personal freedoms of their citizenry (witness the bizarre spectacle of McAdams, who advocates a massive reduction in the size and scope of the American government, here defending the chosen successor of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a revolutionary socialist who nationalized everything he could lay his hands on, against a nonexistent, American-backed “color revolution” to unseat him).
In the Ron Paul Institute, we see a group of people supposedly prioritizing limited government and personal freedom shilling on behalf of regimes which have actually implemented the very sort of surveillance state policies these civil liberties obsessives routinely cry are being imposed on unsuspecting Americans by Democratic and Republican politicians alike.
This is not classical liberalism, but rather anti-government (more specifically, anti-American government) extremism. “Being a friend of the U.S. government does not make someone my enemy, just as being an enemy of the U.S. government does not make someone my friend,” the prominent libertarian thinker Tom Palmer has written in response to the geopolitical posturing of Paul, Rockwell, the BHHRG, and their ilk.
There’s a difference between arguing that libertarianism means we can’t or shouldn’t do anything about abuses of liberty outside our borders, and actually defending the leaders and systems responsible for those abuses — Paul is much too sympathetic to people who do the latter.