Ron Paul: I Would Not Have Ordered The Mission Against Bin Laden

Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who will enter the Presidential race tomorrow, says he wouldn't have tried to have Osama bin Laden killed.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who will apparently be launching his third campaign for President tomorrow in New Hampshire, is getting a lot of attention today for his comments about the raid against Osama bin Laden:

“I think things could have been done somewhat differently,” Paul said this week. “I would suggest the way they got Khalid [Sheikh] Mohammed. We went and cooperated with Pakistan. They arrested him, actually, and turned him over to us, and he’s been in prison. Why can’t we work with the government?”

Asked by WHO Radio’s Simon Conway whether he would have given the go-ahead to kill bin Laden if it meant entering another country, Paul shot back that it “absolutely was not necessary.”

“I don’t think it was necessary, no. It absolutely was not necessary,” Paul said during his Tuesday comments. “I think respect for the rule of law and world law and international law. What if he’d been in a hotel in London? We wanted to keep it secret, so would we have sent the airplane, you know the helicopters in to London, because they were afraid the information would get out?”

As Reason’s Brian Doherty notes, this position is largely consistent with Paul’s general positions on foreign policy:

This very controversial position is in line with his general sense that the U.S. should not and need not act like a power that can do whatever it wants wherever it wants, and that other people and nations in the Middle East generally deserve to be treated with the same sympathy and empathy as any other. He’s held firm to these stances, and seems like he’ll continue to, though it remains to be seen how many GOP primary voters will go along with him.

In general, I tend to agree with Paul in principle. A foreign policy based on the idea that American can and should throw its weight around in the world for whatever reason it wants strikes me as a recipe for eternal war abroad, and deprivations of civil liberties and massive government spending at home. Paul, however, seems to apply this principle in an overly strict, some would say old fashioned manner that doesn’t take into account the realities of the world. The Pakistan of 2003 when KSM was captured is not the same as the Pakistan of 2011, and, arguably, Osama bin Laden is a far different target than Mohammed. Moreover, I think the Administration’s skepticism about trusting the Pakistani “government” with any of the operational or intelligence details of this mission before it took place was fairly well-placed given the considerable evidence that they aren’t necessarily trustworthy.

It’s also worth noting that the other libertarian Republican in the race, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, has taken a far different position on this incident and even the Libertarian Party had no qualms about asserting that the mission was correct and proper. As I’ve said before, there’s no legitimate doubt that the mission was legal and Constitutional, and while capturing bin Laden alive and getting the chance to interrogate him might have been life, his life isn’t worth the death of a single American solider.

 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, National Security, Terrorism, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tlaloc says:

    I’ve often said if they had two presidents, one who dealt with foreign affairs and one who dealt with domestic policy I’d vote RP for the former in a heartbeat. I’d never even consider voting for him for the latter.

    I’d also be in favor of having a small contingent of say 12-20 real libertarians in the house and maybe 3-5 in the senate. They could be a good break on the excesses of either party.




    0



    0
  2. Gerry W. says:

    The problem with libertarians is that they won’t deviate from their ideology. Since he delivered a lot of babies, did he do it the regular way or did he use C sections. There is no set rules in anything. And Bush has given one example of no flexibility “stay the course.” Sorry, Ron Paul may be a nice guy, but I have had it with a bunch of nuts.




    0



    0
  3. anjin-san says:

    I don’t agree with him, but in paul’s case, this seems more like a principled stand then the political grandstanding we are seeing so much of.




    0



    0
  4. Hey Norm says:

    Just as well…it’s not like he would ever have the opportunity to give the order. I have to say though that Rand makes Ron look sane.




    0



    0
  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Well, he might have given that order … if Bin Laden somehow were Jewish.




    0



    0
  6. Franklin says:

    Mr. Paul seems extraordinarily consistent, smart, and honest for a ‘politician.’ He’s not really even a politician. But that doesn’t mean I agree with him.




    0



    0
  7. TG Chicago says:

    The Pakistan of 2003 when KSM was captured is not the same as the Pakistan of 2011…

    Can you elaborate on this? I mean, sure, 2003 was Musharraf and 2011 is Zardari, but it seems like you’re getting at something deeper here.




    0



    0
  8. TG Chicago says:

    I don’t agree with him, but in paul’s case, this seems more like a principled stand then the political grandstanding we are seeing so much of.

    That’s a bit of an understatement. I’m trying to imagine someone politically grandstanding on the idea that they wouldn’t have killed bin Laden.




    0



    0
  9. Eric Florack says:

    The problem with libertarians is that they won’t deviate from their ideology.

    It’s called “principle”. I think his principle is the wrong one, but at least he’s sticking to his.

    And hold the phone; Anjin gets one right for a change. Will the world be able to stand the strain?

    That said, Paul is a moron, who has already had his Ross Perot moment.

    Taking out UBL was one of the few things that Obama has gotten right.




    0



    0
  10. Eric Florack says:

    Addendum:

    “I think things could have been done somewhat differently,” Paul said this week. “I would suggest the way they got Khalid [Sheikh] Mohammed. We went and cooperated with Pakistan. They arrested him, actually, and turned him over to us, and he’s been in prison. Why can’t we work with the government?”

    Ron Paul is apparently the only person on the planet that doesn’t understand that the Pakistani. government is corrupted. You’d think he’d be better at recognizing corruption having railed against it so often in the past. What’s really sad is that the left now has the ability to label him as the voice of the right and the tea party. He’s not that voice, of course but since when has the truth ever been a limit to the projections of the left? The tea party had best avoid him co-opting their message…. something that given the power the left will aid him in doing.




    0



    0
  11. An Interested Party says:

    What’s really sad is that the left now has the ability to label him as the voice of the right and the tea party.

    Uh huh, right…since when has the truth ever been a limit to your projections…




    0



    0
  12. Gerry W. says:

    That’s the problem with principles. They don’t work every time and they are not adaptable to the situation. In this case, Pakistan is corrupt and they are willing to sacrifice one person, but for whatever reason, Bin Laden was protected.




    0



    0
  13. michael reynolds says:

    I don’t admire consistency. Consistency is not particularly useful for survival: adaptability is.

    Too often “principle” is just another word for “rigidity.”




    0



    0
  14. Herb says:

    “Too often “principle” is just another word for “rigidity.””

    Not only that, but consistently holding the wrong principles is no great achievement. After all, Bin Laden’s jihad was based on “principle” too….

    That said, I’m heartened to hear Florack call Paul a moron. No doubt, you agree with his views much more than I do, but from a pure strategic point of view, “moronic” is an apt description.

    Admitting you wouldn’t have killed Bin Laden….and then hoping to beat the guy who did in an election? Dumb.




    0



    0
  15. Eric Florack says:

    That’s the problem with principles. They don’t work every time and they are not adaptable to the situation

    The problem with pragmatism is that it’s how we got where we are. (Shrug)




    0



    0
  16. hey norm says:

    what planet is eric on? the tea party started pre-’08 with the ron paul revolution. since then the ridiculous people who wear tea bags dangling from their hats have sold out to and been co-opted by dick armey and the koch bros. and it is now a completely corporate run entity. just the same – for eric to now claim that it’s the left who is labeling paul as the voice of the tea party is ridiculous – but on par with many of his other claims.




    0



    0
  17. Eric Florack says:

    what planet is eric on? the tea party started pre-’08 with the ron paul revolution

    No.
    Else, explain for us how Ron Paul has far less supporters than the tea party has members.




    0



    0
  18. Gerry W. says:

    Oh, I don’t know if there is much pragmatism, or maybe those in Washington think they have a symptom of it. While people are entitled to their mistakes, they never seem to fix them in Washington. Obama pursued a commission on spending, but then it suddenly stopped. Bush stayed the course while problems around him piled up. Al Gore wanted corn for ethanol and admits he was wrong, but it keeps going on. Politicians have to campaign and make big promises and are influenced by votes and interest groups.

    I think on the Mideast, what Obama did could have easily failed. But we have learned or should have learned from the Carter fiasco in Iran. One reason that this mission worked is that the helicopters (besides being stealth) had only an hour of flight. So being in Afghanistan had its advantage. Carter did not have that luxury, along with a better trained Navy Seals. I think, if all possible, these kinds of strikes along with the drones are quite effective with the support of our military. The military stays more in the background and let the drones and a CIA backed force work. Of course, it all depends what the situation is, and every situation is different.

    And for those that don’t want to do anything, like a Ron Paul, well there is a little of truth in what the libertarians say, but in the end, the world is not a perfect world. Some things just don’t fix themselves.




    0



    0
  19. Hey Norm says:

    Eric..I thought I explained that…the grassroots movement that started with the Ron Paul revolution got branded, corporatized, and astroturfed by dick and the koch’s. Please try to keep up.




    0



    0
  20. mantis says:

    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

    The problem with pragmatism is that it’s how we got where we are. (Shrug)

    Yeah, if we had operated on a libertarian ideological hardline, we could have destroyed the country long ago.




    0



    0
  21. Eric Florack says:

    Eric..I thought I explained that…the grassroots movement that started with the Ron Paul revolution got branded, corporatized, and astroturfed by dick and the koch’s. Please try to keep up.

    LOL You’re kidding, right?




    0



    0