Ron Paul vs. foreign policy partisanship

Perhaps Sarah Palin said it best last week on Sean Hannity’s Fox program: “You’ve got to give it to Ron Paul … [who] I think hit the nail on the head, when he came out and said Obama had better be careful when he interjects himself and our country in other nations’ business.”

Palin was, of course, talking about Libya. Hannity agreed with her.

So what does saying, “I like Ron Paul, except on foreign policy” really mean?

A crass but not untrue answer would be that Republicans don’t mind Republican wars, despite the reasons, results or costs, and Democrats don’t mind Democrat wars, despite the reasons, results or costs. And the American people in general don’t mind wars as long as the results are good and the costs are low.

Paul believes that any war under any president will come with a significant cost, which is why our reasons for going to war should be ultra-strong and the desired results, ultra-clear. What threat does a country actually pose? If we go in, what is victory? What is our exit strategy?

Palin summed up Paul’s defense philosophy well when she pointed out that being extremely “careful” about “interjecting our country in other nations’ business” is precisely Paul’s foreign policy. For someone to say, “I like Ron Paul, except on foreign policy” is really to say that Paul’s consistent reluctance to go to war can be quite annoying when it clashes with partisan attachment or popular opinion.

But such is contemporary American politics, however unfair to our soldiers, harmful to our children’s financial futures and dangerous to our actual security the foreign policy status quo may be. And to like Ron Paul “except on foreign policy” at this juncture — given what we now know about these wars — is to continue embracing these troubling contradictions.

Jack Hunter writes at the “Paulitical Ticker,” where he is the official Ron Paul 2012 campaign blogger.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that “almost 3,000 American soldiers” have been killed in the Afghanistan war. The actual number of American troops killed in Afghanistan (as of Oct. 28) is 1,822.