Dec 26, 2011

If Ron Paul Were President in 1941...

Ron Paul touts himself as a "non-interventionist" in his foreign policy. He believes that we should have few if any military bases in foreign countries, that we should have few if any defense treaties with other countries, and that we should not involve ourselves in any military conflicts unless we are directly attacked. This means no military interventions like Kuwait, Iraq, Kosovo, etc. It means we should not have troops in South Korea and definitely should not bother to help the South Koreans defend themselves against any North Korean invasion. That's their business not ours.

For all those out there who are enamored with Ron Paul and his foreign policy, I ask you to consider some implications of his views. Specifically, I ask you to imagine what would be the case if Ron Paul had been President of the U.S. in 1941 when the U.S. (in actual history) was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor and subsequently entered into World War II. Think about it: If Ron Paul had been President in 1941. . .



  • China would probably still be under Imperial Japanese occupation.

  • The Philipines would still be under Imperial Japanese occupation.

  • Some of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska would still be under Imperial Japanese occupation.

  • Korea, Burma, and most of SE Asia would be under Imperial Japanese occupation.

  • Australia would very well have been invaded by Imperial Japan and would still be under its occupation.

  • Nazi Germany would still exist and would still be occupying most of continental Europe and problably Russia too and possibly Great Britain.

  • Nazi Germany would still occupy most of North Africa and would likely have extended its rule to Palestine and other parts of Arabia.

Ron Paul supporters might object to all this by saying, "Wait a minute! Paul does believe in military responses to agression against the United States. Japan attacked the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor. And then the Nazi's declared war on us. So, Paul would not have objected to our participation in World War II." However, this response falters on the fact that if Ron Paul were President in 1941, we would not have had any naval or military bases in Pearl Harbor for the Japanese to attack in the first place! And even if we had military bases in Pearl Harbor, the Japanese would not have attacked us given Paul's non-interventionist policies. They would have gone about their business and invaded the Philipines, Australia, etc., and not had to worry about our naval fleet in Pearl Harbor.


Ron Paul's foreign policy would have been naive and dangerous then (not to mention cruel), and it's naive and dangerous now.

6 comments:

Daniel Davis said...

Well, this is all speculation, isn't it? You're right to say that a non-interventionist US probably wouldn't have been attacked in 1941 because there wouldn't have been any incentive for the Japanese to do so.

But it's a big leap to say that, if the US had not intervened, everything would be worse off than it is today. (North Africa, for instance, is hardly a paradise of liberty today; who's to say the Japanese wouldn't have been milder rulers after a while?) There's no way to know. I can provide a counterfactual history just as well:

The Soviets (who killed far more people than the Nazis and were no friendlier to minorities, etc.) and the Nazis would have bled each other out. If they still dominated more than their prewar territory, their grip would be weakened, and local insurgencies could have established home rule or independence. There would have been no Cold War, no Mao (who killed more than Stalin). The US would have never militarized, and thus we wouldn't have had 9/11, and our example of liberty, peace, and prosperity would have inspired people in other nations to demand like conduct by their governments.

Now, I happen to think that my version of counterfactual history is more plausible than yours. But so what, really? It's moral principles that are important in deciding whether to, say, immolate hundreds of thousands of women, not historical speculation.

Czar said...

Daniel Davis, and what of the Jews?

You lose.

Toph Morris said...

First, let me agree with Mr. Davis and say that this is all highly speculative, but allow me put a different spin on that. If Paul had been in charge in 1941, he might not have even had the views he espouses now. I think it comes largely from how we've become the world's police, at our own economic peril, our own solders' peril, and with everything America has done with Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, etc, etc...

I don't think that Mr. Paul is espousing a view which wholeheartedly supports non-involvement, but certainly non-involvement when it makes no economic sense, and certainly when we weren't... y'know... invited?

At any rate, history remembers well questionable men who were in the right place at the right time (ahem...our sixteenth president comes to mind), and right now, in our current economic state, someone like Mr. Paul is exactly what I think America needs.

Steve Cowan said...

In response to Daniel Davis: I really don't think that I'm speculating a whole lot. I think it is more than plausible that the condition of the world would be as I suiggest if a non-interventionist like Paul were President in WWII. Even if the Japanese and Nazi regimes did not still exist, they would have survived for many more years than they did with the consequence of even more oppresssion and slaughter.

You may be right that there could very well have been no Cold War and no 9/11, but what consolation is that? The prevention of those evils would pale in comparison to the evils non-interventionism would have caused.

And I agree with you that what matters are the moral principles involved in this discussion. But that, of course, is what my little thought experiment was designed to hightlight. The non-interventionists, in standing back and allowing the Japanese and Nazis to perpetuate their reigns of terror, demonstrate their commitment to the wrong moral priciples.

Toph Morris said...

With all due respect, Dr. Cowan, I don't know that you can bring up non-intervention in WW2 as an example of why non-intervention may be wrong. There are two reasons: first, that America didn't get involved in that war at the drop of a hat... we waited a considerable amount of time; and second, almost EVERYONE was involved in WW2. Axis or Allies, Switzerland is notable for being the country that DIDN'T get involved.

I think Mr. Paul's point isn't that we should always stay out of other countries' business, but that we don't need to be playing the world's police force. The same policy was adopted by George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson (although, it would seem that Washington was the only one of the three who was actually able to stay out of it). Why did they adopt the policy of non-intervention? Because America, having just fought a major war, was broke and couldn't afford getting caught up in Old World squabbles. Jefferson, particularly, wanted to stay out for reasons of wanting to move forward, idealistically, except that world events drew him and us back into the fray, potentially stunting our growth.

The point is, there's a time and a place for intervention and there's a time and a place for non-intervention. I absolutely agree with Mr. Paul that countries like Israel need to be set up in a position to able to defend themselves without us getting involved every time one of the Palestinian nations threatens to blow them off the map. I think the best way to bless them would be to help them become entirely self-sufficient.

But this is one issue out of about a hundred, and even if I agreed with you that non-intervention was the way to go, I'd still say that I'd rather have someone in office who genuinely believes in the words coming forth from his mouth than another politician saying whatever his current target audience wants to hear (and this is how I see Romney).

Toph Morris said...

With all due respect, Dr. Cowan, I don't know that you can bring up non-intervention in WW2 as an example of why non-intervention may be wrong. There are two reasons: first, that America didn't get involved in that war at the drop of a hat... we waited a considerable amount of time; and second, almost EVERYONE was involved in WW2. Axis or Allies, Switzerland is notable for being the country that DIDN'T get involved.

I think Mr. Paul's point isn't that we should always stay out of other countries' business, but that we don't need to be playing the world's police force. The same policy was adopted by George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson (although, it would seem that Washington was the only one of the three who was actually able to stay out of it). Why did they adopt the policy of non-intervention? Because America, having just fought a major war, was broke and couldn't afford getting caught up in Old World squabbles. Jefferson, particularly, wanted to stay out for reasons of wanting to move forward, idealistically, except that world events drew him and us back into the fray, potentially stunting our growth.

The point is, there's a time and a place for intervention and there's a time and a place for non-intervention. I absolutely agree with Mr. Paul that countries like Israel need to be set up in a position to able to defend themselves without us getting involved every time one of the Palestinian nations threatens to blow them off the map. I think the best way to bless them would be to help them become entirely self-sufficient.

But this is one issue out of about a hundred, and even if I agreed with you that non-intervention was the way to go, I'd still say that I'd rather have someone in office who genuinely believes in the words coming forth from his mouth than another politician saying whatever his current target audience wants to hear (and this is how I see Romney).