I’ve been catching up on the blogs lately, and I noticed you listed his opposition to the Osama raid as one of Paul’s “crank” positions. Really? I’m not denying bin Laden was a bad guy who had it in for the U.S., but I’m not sure that opposing extrajudicial killing of someone who was never convincted of a crime in US courts is necessarily a “crank” position.

Much as I have liked some elements of Obama’s presidency, he’s been distressingly willing to continue Bush’s policy of ignoring the rule of law when it suits his administration’s military objectives, and has shown no initiative in transforming the neocon’s endless, overhyped, and badly-defined war on terror into a sane antiterror foreign policy strategy, much less a realistic domestic security strategy. Besides Osama, there’s the matter of being willing to use drones to kill U.S. civilians (again, neither convicted of nor sentenced for capital crimes by an American court)–al-Awlaqi may have held reprehensible political views, but that hardly obviates the necessity of adhering to the rule of law. Paul is a crank, and an often inconsistent one, but I can’t help but have sympathy for his views on this one. Maybe I am more of a leftist outlier than I thought I was.


The Osama bit doesn’t seem difficult to me.  He was directly responsible for killing 3000 Americans and he had declared himself to be at war with the US.  We are not under any obligation to try rather than kill enemy warriors.  Ideally he’d be arrested anyway— but Obama and his advisors obviously believed that Pakistan was incapable of apprehending him.  Indeed, it seems likely that he was being shielded, perhaps not by the top officials of the state, but all it takes is a bunch of sympathetic insiders.   Also, the US team was under orders to accept a clear surrender, and none was given. (Understandable given a violent raid in the middle of the night, but important morally as well as operationally.  Soldiers have to neutralize armed opponents immediately.)

As for the rest, I’m not happy about it either— if you’ll notice, I included opposition to foreign interventions and the national security state as the refreshing bits of Paul’s positions.  But, two things.  One, candidates are packages.  It’s not an election on whether to use drone attacks in Pakistan.  You don’t get Paul without the rest of Paul’s positions, including leaving the UN,  going back to the gold standard, making abortion and “sodomy” illegal, giving away more money to the rich, and dismantling the New Deal.

Ah, but some of his personal positions probably wouldn’t get past Congress.  That brings us to the second point: presidents come attached to a party, and Paul is running as a Republican.  That means Republican allies, Republican values, Republican judges.  It also almost surely means that he won’t be the nominee.  But if he was, and won, he’d be relying on the support of a party that wants torture, wants more war, wants no-strings-attached support of Israel.  I just don’t see a path where this combination actually leads to an actual non-interventionist policy.