Dorothy Rabinowitz’s Attack on Ron Paul, Part 1
by Jacob G. Hornberger
One of the more fascinating attacks on Ron Paul comes from Dorothy Rabinowitz in the December 22, 2012, issue of the Wall Street Journal.
Not surprisingly, given that Rabinowitz serves on the Journal’s editorial board, she goes after Paul for his foreign-policy views. What I found interesting about the article, which is entitled “What Ron Paul Thinks of America,” is the superficial nature of the attack. Rabinowitz’s article, quite simply, lacks any depth of analysis on the critical points she makes about Paul.
Rabinowitz begins her attack by repeating the standard canard that interventionists love to level at libertarians who point to the role that U.S. foreign policy played in motivating the 9/11 attacks. She says that Paul is blaming America for the attacks and even accuses Paul of being the “best-known American propagandist for our enemies.”
But contrary to Rabinowitz’s assertion, neither Paul nor any other libertarian has ever blamed America for the 9/11 attacks. Libertarians point to what the federal government has done to people overseas that has incited them to anger and rage, which ultimately has motivated some of them to engage in terrorist retaliation.
Did you catch that? Libertarians point to the role of the U.S. government’s foreign policy is generating the anger and hatred that many foreigners have for the United States, which ultimately culminated in the 9/11 attacks? Do you see anything in the previous paragraph about blaming America or the American people for anti-American terrorism?
Like so many other interventionists, Rabinowitz makes the standard mistake of conflating the federal government and the country. For her, they are obviously one and the same thing. For the interventionist, the federal government is America. Condemn what the U.S. government has done to people overseas and you’re condemning America. You’ve become a “propagandist for America’s enemies.”
It’s a shame that Rabinowitz didn’t take the time to delve into and carefully analyze this point of her attack. It would have been fascinating to see her confront how she herself jumps from a critique made of the U.S. government’s foreign policy to one of blaming America or even becoming a “propagandist for America’s enemies.”
In fact, given the Journal’s devotion to the Constitution, it would have been fascinating to see how Rabinowitz reconciles her mindset, in which she conflates the federal government and the country, with the Bill of Rights. Since the Bill of Rights expressly protects America from the federal government, that is fairly persuasive proof that the federal government and the country are two separate and distinct entities. How would Rabinowitz deal with that?
Actually, however, the problem goes deeper than that. I wish Rabinowitz had carefully explained her reasoning regarding libertarian critique of U.S. foreign policy. Here are some questions that would have made for a much more interesting article:
1. Is Rabinowitz saying that the federal government/America is incapable of doing bad things to people overseas?
2. Or is she saying that when the federal government/America does bad things to people overseas, foreigners are incapable of getting angry over such things?
3. Or is she saying that when foreigners do get angry over bad things that the federal government/America does to them, it is inconceivable that such anger could ever manifest itself in terrorist retaliation?
4. Or is she saying that the evidence with respect to 9/11 suggests that the terrorists were motivated by hatred for America’s “freedom and values” rather than by anger arising from U.S. foreign policy?
Alas, in her haste to attack Ron Paul for his non-interventionism, Rabinowitz failed to confront any of those questions. That’s a shame because she could have really enlightened people as to the nature of the interventionist mindset and it truly differs from that of libertarians.