Is Ron Paul Setting Back Non-Interventionism? Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 5 2012 @ 11:06am

Greg Scoblete joins the debate:

[T]he real center of gravity of this discussion isn't on whether the public is aware or not aware of non-interventionism. What matters is whether the elite consensus that guides U.S. policy becomes more receptive to the idea. To the extent that Paul is exposing people to the idea (especially young people) and these people eventually enter into the machinery of U.S. foreign policy slightly more skeptical of international crusades, so much the better. But he may also be reinforcing in the minds of up-and-coming policymakers that only fringe candidates support the idea and for the sake of their political careers they'd better steer clear.

Larison counters:

I would say that just about any exposure is good exposure. There is always the danger that non-interventionists can be portrayed in a unflattering light, but to a large extent negative associations are already there, and they aren’t going to be eliminated by waiting for a different messenger to show up.

What Paul has done is introduce a new paradigm: that freedom matters more than power. He is now campaigning in a state whose motto is "Live Free Or Die", a concept so alien to the current GOP candidates it might as well be in Swahili. Newt Gingrich, to take one example, has doubled down on Dick Cheney's "one percent" doctrine, arguing that the US should assume that a Jihadist with a nuke in an American city is not just feasible, but potentially imminent – despite the fact that we have not had a single suicide bomber succeed in the US since 9/11 with even a bunch of fertilizer explosives. "Live Risk-Free Or Die" is the core GOP message on national security. "We will take care of you".

And this is an attractive illusion to so many, who grow up in a culture where every problem has a solution, and most problems require collective government solutions. If the left says "we will take care of you by entitlements" at home; the right says "we will take care of you by constant warfare" abroad. Paul – in stark contrast to both – is saying a famous "why?" to Robert Kennedy's "why not?" And part of his appeal is its complete inversion of our politics, left and right. I have no idea whether this will backfire or not. Most good ideas do, at first. But he has expanded the range of ideas in our national debate more radically than anyone since Reagan. And since I believe ideas have consequences, and that wider debates are likely to lead to better collective judgments, good for him.