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David Mamet on Politics, Life, Sex, and the Angry Emptiness of Modern Culture | Main | Flight 370: Let the Confusion Continue
March 13, 2014

Ron (Not Rand) Paul Supports Crimea's Right to "Self-Determination"

As usual, Paul makes a sound point and then buries it in an avalanche of hyperideological crankery.

He's quite right that sections of nations ought to have the right to secede from the body of the nation. I'm not sold on this baseline assumption that randomly drawn borders from 1930 represent the best possible unit of self-governance.

I think the non-Allowite areas of Syria should be permitted to secede from Syria. I wish Iraq had simply been broken into pieces in 2004. (Although there are significant problems with doing so -- such as the Shi'ite areas having most of the oil and the Kurds the most of the rest, with very little in the Sunni-held areas.)

In a perfect world, I'd like to see a massive property exchange in Kashmir, so that Muslims can move (voluntarily) to areas closer to Pakistan and Hindus can move to an area closer to India; then partition it.

A lot of people are dying for a border some guy drew on a piece of paper 50 years ago, or dying for the right and privilege of having a political superiority over another Tribe of people.

So I don't object to Paul's basic point that a Crimean secession from Ukraine is somehow unthinkable.

What I object to is the rest of it, the denial of obvious facts as being ideologically inconvenient -- as regards the Russian invasion of Crimea, he says Russia has a treaty to maintain a naval base at Sevastapol, so, if I'm following this correctly, obviously they also have a right to send in tanks and APCs.

He also claims "we" are in there as well, that is, America and the EU. The fact that "we" did not bring our tanks and APCs seems to be a minor point that hardly merits a mention.

Paul has some points right, but then he buries those points in relentlessly anti-American "Empire" narrative no different at all from the same pap preached by Howard Zinn and Oliver Stone.

But you can be the judge.

Allah considers this all, as well as the possible impact on Rand Paul's candidacy.

So What's Going On Here? I'll ask since you didn't.

Most people would like to conceive themselves as idealists and do not like confessing to selfish impulses.

Now, much of isolation is predicated on a selfish impulse: Let them work it out themselves; we will not trade the lives of our boys to spare theirs.

This selfishness is... not a bad thing. It does make a great deal of sense to question, whenever America is going to undertake a military response, if the lives of the people we hope to save are equal in number and value to the lives we will be sacrificing in their favor.

How many foreign lives is one of our Boys worth? I'd say -- and you can say I'm selfish or I hate foreigners, but I'd just respond that I'm inclined to favor my own countrymen -- one of Our Boys is worth at least 100 foreign civilians, and probably more than that.

Now, I know those foreign civilians would see it differently -- but of course the foreign civilians are doing the same thing I am, valuing a life more highly based on its closeness and connection. An American is close and connected to me in a way an Iraqi frankly is not. I wish the Iraqis well, but of course I value American lives more.

So there is a selfishness here, or at least a self-interestedness, and this is also a subjective thing; I value American lives more because they are American. Period.

But people do not like admitting they are ever capable of being selfish or that they engage in subjective reasoning. They must always claim to be acting out of altruism, and engaging in purely objective reasoning.

So the real answer as to why we shouldn't go intervening everywhere around the world -- because we're selfish of our treasure and protective of those in the American Family -- isn't favored by those claiming to be Idealists.

And what do Idealists do, then, if the best explanation to justify their preferences doesn't seem elevated enough?

Well, what they do then is begin working to offer a different explanation, one that doesn't sound selfish or subjective.

And the explanation they wind up offering, most of the time, is that America is evil, American exercise of power is evil (and not merely misguided or a poor trade of American lives for foreign ones), and the evil done by foreign powers is either only as evil, or even less evil, than the evils worked by Americans.

Now they're speaking in terms of Idealism, not Selfishness: They, like interventionists, are crusading against evil.

It's just that that evil is principally located in the dark heart of the American Empire.

Rather than saying "I'm against going on crusades against dragons overseas," and acknowledge there are indeed evils afoot in the world which he will not support action against, the Idealist is still determined to go on crusades against an evil dragon himself: And that evil dragon is called the United States of America.

In this way many isolationists poison their movement and set people against it.

There is a great difference between two underlying theories for isolationism:

America is too good to put itself at risk for the benefit of the rest of the world


The rest of the world is too good to be tainted by America.

Why people like Paul always have to come down to that second formulation escapes me.

digg this
posted by Ace at 05:02 PM

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