Ron Paul has never been this popular. Now in the throes of his third presidential race, it is apparent that in many ways his Libertarian ideals reflect the collective mood of the nation. Times are tough, and just as families, businesses and communal institutions have been forced to hunker down, work hard and weather the economic storm, so, say his supporters, should government adopt a similar stance.
When it comes to foreign policy they say, the same applies. Costly wars and the risk of aggravating nations around the world with U.S. meddling by no means serves American interests. On this front and specifically with regard to Israel, he has been almost universally derided by Jewish Republicans, but would a Ron Paul presidency really spell disaster for the Jewish State?
The case has been made that in truth a non-interventionist policy from the world's only superpower would work well for Israel. For one, the ramrod imposition of some 'peace' that in most proposals comes at great cost to Israel, promising little concrete in return would cease. In addition, the country may find itself healthily jostled towards economic and military independence.
But in truth, the problem with Ron Paul's anarchistic foreign policy approach is far more fundamental than the loss of economic aid to or the withdrawal of troops from any particular country. Allow me to explain.
The term 'Social Contract' is defined by the World English Dictionary as follows:
(in the theories of Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, and others) an agreement, entered into by individuals, that results in the formation of the state or of organized society, the prime motive being the desire for protection, which entails the surrender of some or all personal liberties.
Put simply, if we don't collectively establish governments, police forces, armies and laws (the Social Contract) we would live in a state of constant fear for our lives, perpetually engaged in conflict to protect our property from others. It would be survival of the fittest, the way of the wild. Anarchy.
Now, if an era of global peace will ever prevail on this earth, a Social Contract of sorts must in some way be established in an international setting among nations as well. Some infrastructure has indeed been introduced; the United Nations is a deeply flawed example, but an example nonetheless, as is the Geneva Convention.
But what is the value of a contract that can't be enforced? If not for the sake of justice, certainly to protect those in whose benefit it was established. Hence the establishment of certain multinational forces and military alliances such as NATO. For the most part they exclude regimes that do not respect the freedom of their own citizens, as their very existence flies in the face of the principles that the treaties are bound to protect, tantamount to stacking a police force with criminals.
Due to its status as an economic and military superpower, like it or not, America is the backbone of global law enforcement, and any thinking person should thank their lucky stars that this is the case. Consider for example, if there had been no reaction to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1991, which country would Iraq have invaded next, what would have been Iran's response? And Saudi Arabia's? How quickly would global anarchy spread?
Of course the decisions are not always popular, nor are they always fully consensus-based and at times hindsight has shown them to be ill-conceived and collateral damage has been tragic. However, the same can be said of any police force. Following the 7/7 bombings in London, an innocent Brazilian national was shot in the head by officers who suspected him to be a terrorist, and in the United States, there have been countless cases of accidental killings by police. In spite of these tragic incidents, nobody suggests that law enforcement should be abolished; only that mechanisms are established to avoid the recurrence of such tragedies.
What Ron Paul advocates as foreign policy strategy is tantamount to a law enforcement policy that says, 'there is no need for jails or a police force, if people didn't meddle in the affairs of others there would be no crime.' It is unfortunate that we live in a world in which the maintenance of the extensive global military presence of history's most benevolent superpower is necessary to keep belligerent regimes in check.
Ron Paul's ideology may work in a utopian environment, but in the real world, as Bret Stephens wrote in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, "We will not lessen tensions overseas by diminishing our military footprint: We'll just create vacuums into which others rush and to which we'll eventually return at cost." Frankly, it is borderline insane.