Book Review: “A Foreign Policy of Freedom” by Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). Reviewed by Gregory Hilton

This 372-page book is a collection of Ron Paul’s foreign policy speeches in the House of Representatives, and he addressed many of these topics during his 2008 presidential campaign. The tone of the book is revealed in the introduction which says the Cold War and the War on Terror are both a “farce”, and they were designed to justify a larger role for government. The author compares the United States role in Afghanistan to “a schoolyard bully.”
The book is important because Congressman Paul is one of the few Republicans who is opposing President Obama’s surge of 34,000 troops in Afghanistan, and his support from the GOP grassroots continues to grow significantly. Paul raised over $35 million for his presidential campaign, and his son (who shares his national security extremism) has an excellent chance of being elected to the U.S. Senate this year.
The book’s title is ironic because the author is completely opposed to the Republican Party’s freedom agenda. This was outlined by Ronald Reagan, and the keystone of this foreign policy is assisting democratic resistance and free market movements. This is what Reagan did in Afghanistan and Nicaragua when he was strenuously opposed by the Libertarians. Ron Paul emphasized his extreme opposition to Reagan when he was the 1988 Libertarian Party candidate for President.
Reagan called for “A crusade for freedom that will engage the faith and fortitude of the next generation. For the sake of peace and justice, let us move toward a world in which all people are at last free to determine their own destiny . . . Our mission is to preserve freedom as well as peace.” Ron Paul is a firm opponent of the freedom agenda and a more accurate title for this book is “A Foreign Policy of Isolationism.”
This book is a must read for any one who is considering supporting the Libertarian Party. I admire free market libertarians who advocate small government and low taxes, but this book clearly emphasizes the radical nature of the Libertarian Party’s national security and foreign policy agenda. The libertarians and paleo-conservatives will remain fringe groups until they disavow this extremist agenda.
I am not sure why Ron Paul is a Republican, but as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee he frequently votes with the Democratic majority. He was first elected in 1976 and has always been isolated in the Republican Caucus. He was the Libertarian Party’s 1988 presidential candidate, and during that campaign he was far more critical of Reagan and George H.W. Bush than Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis.
Paul sought the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, but in one of many stunning moves he often praised ultra-liberal Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who is well to the left of Barack Obama. Paul and Kucinich are united by isolationism and because they are both adherents of numerous conspiracy theories.
Rep. Paul has always been an isolationist, but prefers to call himself a non-interventionist. This book makes it plain that Paul wants to ignore the lessons of the 20th century. He wants to end America’s system of collective security, which probably would have avoided both World Wars I and II. Paul is an advocate of U.S. withdrawal from the UN, NATO, the World Trade Organization and practically every other international organization.
Despite all of the potential terrorists who have recently been captured, Paul also wants to abolish the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA. Paul acknowledges Afghanistan’s responsibility for 9/11 and in 1991 he admitted Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, but in both instances he wanted to do nothing in response. In fact, he wants to ignore all evil in the world. He wanted to do nothing about the genocide in Darfur or the ethnic cleaning in the former Yugoslavia. Morality means nothing to him.
This book is also poorly written and tedious to read. It would have been better if the redundant speeches had been eliminated, but that would have left only a small number of pages.
The speeches should have been organized by subject rather than the year in which they were delivered. There is no organized structure or logical progression to this book. It has no index, and the table of contents is inadequate. The book also contains numerous typographical and factual errors.
The author’s isolationist and simplistic foreign policy is easy to summarize because there is not much to it. Similar to his domestic ideology, he advocates highly impractical solutions to complex problems.
The best way to understand the author is read his works. This is what he says about neo-conservatives, and practically all of his accusations are wrong: “More important than the names of people affiliated with neo-conservatism are the views they adhere to. Here is a brief summary of the general understanding of what neocons believe:
1. They agree with Trotsky on permanent revolution, violent as well as intellectual.
2. They are for redrawing the map of the Middle East and are willing to use force to do so.
3. They believe in preemptive war to achieve desired ends.
4. They accept the notion that the ends justify the means – that hard-ball politics is a moral necessity.
5. They express no opposition to the welfare state.
6. They are not bashful about an American empire; instead they strongly endorse it.
7. They believe lying is necessary for the state to survive.
8. They believe a powerful federal government is a benefit.
9. They believe pertinent facts about how a society should be run should be held by the elite and withheld from those who do not have the courage to deal with it.
10. They believe neutrality in foreign affairs is ill-advised.
11. They hold Leo Strauss in high esteem.
12. They believe imperialism, if progressive in nature, is appropriate.
13. Using American might to force American ideals on others is acceptable. Force should not be limited to the defense of our country.
14. 9-11 resulted from the lack of foreign entanglements, not from too many.
15. They dislike and despise libertarians (therefore, the same applies to all strict constitutionalists.)
16. They endorse attacks on civil liberties, such as those found in the Patriot Act, as being necessary.
17. They unconditionally support Israel and have a close alliance with the Likud Party.

The author is correct that conservatives do support the Patriot Act but it is not an attack on civil liberties. They support Israel but there is no special relationship with Likud. A preemptive war was necessary in Iraq, but every other statement above made by the Congressman is false.
The author makes repeated references to our founding fathers. What he does not say is that United States had the first democratic revolution, and many of the founding fathers acknowledged they were acting for all nations.
It is disturbing that Rep. Paul wants the United States to ignore all of the state sponsors of terror. The Congressman’s repeated insistence that “There is no risk of somebody invading us” is just what the isolationists of the 1930s believed — right up until Pearl Harbor.
He is wrong and they did attack us: 1993 (WTC I), 1996 (Khobar Towers), 1998 (African Embassies), 2000 (USS Cole), and 2001 (WTC/Pentagon). His logic would have caused the US to lift not a finger to help Europe against Hitler (remember: “non-intervention”), nor help the West Berliners (1948), nor help the South Koreans (1950), nor help the Grenadians (1984), nor help the Kuwaitis (1990).
Paul’s idea that we can maintain peace by halting our projection of military strength has been proven wrong by history. Collective security was a major lesson of the 20th century.
Ron Paul has not outlined a foreign policy of freedom, but he has done an excellent job of articulating a foreign policy of failure.

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