VP Debate: Hawk Versus Hawk

How do you have a debate on foreign policy when both sides agree on the fundamentals? They can only call names and argue about who would bomb more and sooner. Also, do vice presidents matter? Think about how many presidents died or were killed in office.

Ron Paul: Hello everybody, thank you for tuning in to The Liberty Report. Today with me is Daniel McAdams, the co-host. Daniel, it’s good to see you today.

Daniel McAdams: Good morning, Dr. Paul.

Ron Paul: There was a little debate last night, but I know you stayed up and watched it diligently. I have to confess that I did, I had good intentions. I sat down, and I was going to watch that thing and do my homework. But, for some reason I snoozed off, so I decided there must best more productive. But it isn’t hard to catch up on things and what they debated, and, of course, one thing I was interested in, as you always are, is on the foreign policy. I know this is the Vice President, and they’re not too important. Sometimes you can have a vice president like Daniel Quayle, and who remembers about him and what role did he play. But then, people can remember Dick Cheney, he was almost like a president. He certainly was the individual that steered foreign policy.

So that is pretty important, but I was just stopping to think and wonder, what are the odds of one of these guys becoming president? They might be a pseudo president and have a lot of influence, they might not be too important, but there’s always a chance something happens. It’s surprising that a significant (when it comes to percentages of American citizens) die in office. It’s like 18% of the American presidents end up with the vice president taking over.

Daniel McAdams: That’s pretty significant, that’s 8 people who have become president. Usually as you say, you think of a vice president as being a sort of an adjunct.

Ron Paul: That’s the reason why I think the debate was important. And, of course, I work on the assumption, which I believe is correct, that there’s not a dramatic difference between the two. People will give me more argument, because obviously Donald Trump is different than Hillary Clinton, but the people they pick make an important thing. I had very, very high hopes for Ronald Reagan, but a lot of people were very disappointed when he picked George Bush who didn’t represent anything that Ronald Reagan had talked about. I think the people they pick are a reflection of the candidate’s opinion. People that Hillary Clinton picks, I think you can expect something. But also, if Donald Trump picks somebody, and he happens to be very, very close to the neo-cons, I don’t think that’s an accident. I think that we have to pay attention to that, and I think that came out in the debate last night.

Daniel McAdams: It almost becomes comical when both sides agree on a hawkish foreign policy, on a neo-con foreign policy, American exceptionalism. Because what they are forced to do, is descend into almost schoolyard taunts. Here’s one example from last night, Pence was trying to say about that Hillary Clinton and Obama Administration’s weak foreign policy. He said, “The situation we’re watching hour by hour in Syria is a result of the failed foreign policy and weak foreign policy that Hillary Clinton helped lead in this administration.” Tim Kaine’s response was not to challenge that, but to say, “You guys love Russia”, and then he said to the audience about Donald Trump, “He loves dictators”. He’s got a kind of a personal Mt. Rushmore: Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, and Muammar Gaddafi.

Ron Paul: What bothers me is there is never a challenge to policy. They’re not non-interventionist, they’re interventionist, but they have to have a contest going on to satisfy the media and to satisfy the voters that there’s really a big conflict here. But it’s just a variation in tone, and variation in interventionism. To say that Hillary Clinton personally herself created all these monstrosities … she contributed a lot, but it was the policies of Republicans and Democrats endorsing intervention. So even when you have a democratic president, and especially when you have a Republican Congress, they have to support it. But now, the big complain here from the republican side is they’re not tough enough, they’re not mean enough, they don’t drop enough bombs; we should send more troops in to Syria. They’re not questioning whether it’s even wise to be there. You never hear this, that there’s this big contest.

What about the lack of a contest or discussion about a no-fly zone? We have talked about that, and it mainly was Hillary Clinton that was pushing that. So what do the republicans really want? Do we have a vice president that’s going to have an influence and move it along? He certainly is on the side of a lot of powerful people, the media and everybody else and the military-industrial complex. Yes, they want this type of thing, and yet, we’ve heard something in a different tone with Donald Trump. But then again, Donald Trump is responsible for picking the people. I keep thinking about, what if I had staff people back in my office that started writing all these crazy memos that contradict everything I believed in?

Daniel McAdams: You may have had one or two, but they didn’t last too long.

Ron Paul: But it just seems like that’s conventional, it’s all more or less to try to confuse the voter.

Daniel McAdams: The no fly zone is a great example, because that’s been the center piece of Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy: no fly zone in Syria. And so here Pence comes out, and Donald Trump has not been specific, but Pence comes out last night and says, “No fly zone for Syria”. So they’re having a war over something they agree with. But, as you point out, the one thing they don’t understand is the policy, because there’s a huge difference between a no fly zone, and a please no fly zone. Because a please no fly zone would say, “We’d rather not have you fly over this area”. But a no fly zone means that you have got to take out the air defense system of the Syrians and the Russians in Syria, you’ve got to bomb air fields, you’ve got to have an extensive, probably weeklong bombing campaign against Syrians and Russians.

And, you know, the chairman of the joint chiefs was before Congress last week, and one senator was puffing himself up saying, “Why can’t we have a no fly zone over Syria?” And the General said, “Because we would have to go to war with Syria and Russia”, that’s what it would entail. It never enters into the discussion, it’s just about chest puffing.

Ron Paul: They brought up Syria and Ukraine and, of course, who’s the biggest aggressor, and who’s the bad guys. Of course, everybody has to agree that Russia is the bad guy, and that we’re saints. To argue anything differently, to suggest maybe there’s a strategic and moral justification for somebody doing something near their borders versus somebody going 6,000 miles away because they are the policeman of the world and they have to surround countries like Iran and Russia; there’s a big difference. But people want to turn that around and say, “Oh, you’re soft on the dictatorships”. Even when Kaine attacked Pence on dictatorship … what is the history of this country, it’s sickening on how many times we have supported dictatorships. Just think of how many dictators we prop up, and then they committed crimes, whether it’s in Cuba or Phnom or Iran.

And then finally things turn to tide, and they say, “Oh, we don’t like dictators”. And then they pretense that we’re on our high horse and say, “We don’t like them”. They’re trying to find out who’s the most moral now. But, from my viewpoint, that’s all political grandstanding, it has nothing to do with our role in the world. They both agree that we have had this ominous role to be the policeman of the world, to have bases all over the place, and how many times did the subject of money come up last night? I couldn’t find anything to say, “Maybe, we could have more wealth in this country, maybe if people need more things if we left that money in the economy, people would be wealthier here”. But republicans, Donald Trump, and Pence all want to spent more money, and the democrats have never pretended that they wanted to cut anything. Some say, “Oh, they’re less militant”, that’s a bunch of baloney.

Matter of fact, right now, if you look at the numbers, Hillary Clinton has more neo-con support than Donald Trump. But Donald Trump still has neo-con support, so I think the deep state protects their interest. It doesn’t sound like that, it sounds like you got independent candidates, but the deep state is always involved. I think they were definitely involved with the Reagan Administration, and I think they’ve been involved throughout, and they’re going to be involved. I think, of course, that the Bush family has been very much involved in the deep state, and have their finger in just about everything. But what do we have now, we have the leaders of the Republican Party, like the Bushes, flocking to Hillary Clinton. And the people say, “Oh no, there’s a big difference between the republicans and democrats”, but it turns out not true. It’s disgusting, it’s almost like a farce.

Daniel McAdams: Yes, it is, and sort of the caricaturization of Putin as some sort of a … It was Hillary Clinton that said he’s the new Hitler, that Putin is the new Hitler. Everyone knows how it goes, they said if they had taken out Hitler early, we wouldn’t have had all this. The assumption is that you make the connection. The other thing about the Russians being in Syria that people don’t talk about, obviously they didn’t talk about it last night, but there are literally thousands of Russians from the caucuses who have flocked to Syria to learn Jihad, to learn how to do these things. And that’s always been a difficult problem for Russia; how to manage those parts of Russia where you do have a lot of radical Islam. They’re going to see these guys coming back home in the thousands causing trouble, so they do have a real reason to be concerned, as we would if we were next door, for example, in Mexico, if something like this was happening there.

Ron Paul: I think the war drums are beating, and a lot of people would like to ignore them and think that one side is better than the other on foreign policy. I don’t believe that to be true, but this week the Army Chief of Staff, Mark Milley, made a statement, and have said, “We must destroy Russia, they are the aggressors, they are at fault for everything”. They’re mainly talking about the defense of a naval base next door that they’ve had a treaty with, but we decided Assad had to go. And also the Crimea, that has a long convoluted history. I think an analogy might be that somebody on a moralistic basis could make the case. But how well would we tolerate making sure that we have no access to any basis in the Philippines or in Japan or anything, some day that is going to end. But we just accept that as routine, but if another country does that …

I think distances make a difference. When you mentioned Mexico, if you’re dealing with threats in Mexico and next door in Cuba I think it’s a little bit different. But if we’re going to so many places around the world 6, to 7 thousand miles from us, and just looking for trouble and threatening people … I can’t believe the people who do this want the war. I know they want to sell weapons and things like that, but I think what they don’t realize is it can get out of control. Maybe they want just a modest confrontation, but it too often gets out of control and ends up into a real hot war.

Daniel McAdams: Again, you have the low information, you have the mainstream media that doesn’t give information, it only propagandizes. Because Crimea was part of Russia longer than California has been part of the U.S.; it was part of Mexico. So this whole idea … and the other thing about Crimea is that if they really were under siege, you’d be seeing some social unrest there. The people there are almost 100% Russian, they speak Russian.

Ron Paul: The other thing right now about the acceleration of the war drums beating is that we’re supposed to be on Russia’s side, we try to pretend we are, and then the agreements fall apart. We’re both ISIS, yet we help ISIS, and yet we’re against Assad, and the Russians like Assad. So we say, “Well, we’re going to start bombing, we’re tired of all this, we’re going to get rid of Assad, he’s crossed the red line”. Donald Trump’s beating the drums, he’s saying, “Don’t pussyfoot around, be tough”. It looks like the administration may have a very strong chief of staff in the army, who says be very, very strong. But what about these missiles, this sounds like escalation. The Russians have missiles near Syria, the S-400s which are very effective, but they literally put S-300s. The shipments are noticed, and those are anti-ballistic missiles. Of course, United States says it is “more aggression, more aggression, we have to do something.”

But the statement is that these are purely defensive weapons. If nobody bombs the government of Syria, they don’t need to worry about it. Of course, we want to bomb and we want to escalate. At the same time, we’re encouraging ISIS to join us in trying to defeat Assad, and they say, “We’ll take care of ISIS later on”, sort of like we were going to take care of the mujahedeen that turned into the Taliban, and we’re still fighting that war.

Daniel McAdams: You’re right, because I think there was a piece yesterday in the Washington Post, I think Josh Rogin wrote it, he’s a big neo-con writer, a big favorite. Here’s the title, “U.S. military strikes against Assad are back on the table”. He’s talking about the U.S. seriously considering starting to bomb Assad. Over here you have the Russians and Syrians getting defensive weapons, and why is it so absurd to do that when you are openly threatening them. But here’s something that caught my attention in the article: “The CIA and the joint staff have said that the fall of Aleppo would undermine America’s counter-terrorism goals in Syria”. If you back that statement up a little bit, we know from Colonel Steve Warren, who’s a Pentagon spokesman, Eastern Aleppo is controlled by Al-Qaida. So how the fall, i.e. the defeat, of Al-Qaida in Aleppo undermine our counter-terrorism efforts? It literally does not make sense.

Ron Paul: Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t even know where Aleppo is, and we have trouble figuring it out. But we were talking just in generalities about vice presidents, and that there were 8 presidents who had died in office, and half died by assassination. But there were some where it was significant on foreign policy, and, of course, when McKinley was shot, Roosevelt took over. And this wasn’t major, but he was also a lot more aggressive with foreign policy in central and south America. So it did have an effect. But FDR died in office, and we had Truman. War was over and things were done, but a big event occurred under Truman, and he actually challenged a lot of military people, including Eisenhower bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki; so it does have an effect. But what about the most recent one? I think philosophically this is the biggest change that occurred, and it was just because of the events, and that has to do with the Kennedy assassination, which I quite frankly think the CIA was probably involved in.

But LBJ was the vice president for political reasons, but Kennedy was hated by the CIA, and it had to do with the Bay of Pigs, and ultimately the embarrassment of the Dulles Brothers, especially Allen Dulles. But then they got LBJ, and I think Vietnam was part of that, too. Kennedy didn’t want to escalate, he was tired of it all. Even though he participated in it, he finally got an education the few years he was there, and he decided that he didn’t want to do this, which was a threat to the establishment and the control of what was going on. So what did we get, we got LBJ, and look at the disaster there that continued even into the Nixon administration. So vice presidential candidates, and even vice presidents, can be very significant.

Daniel McAdams: Absolutely, those are great examples, because you would be inclined to say, “What’s the big deal, it’s just vice presidents”. But you mentioned Cheney early on, too, and I think everybody would admit that Cheney was the George W. Bush’s foreign policy, he was the conduit for all the neo-cons, and the conduit for all the wars and the aggression. As so said, he was almost a co-president.

Ron Paul: Even though he had the greatest influence and power over many things, obviously those were the plans. George W. Bush appointed him, picked him out, and nothing was said. Matter of fact, it seemed like it was smooth sailing, until they lost the war, until they continued to lose the war, until we continued to suffer from the consequences. They can point out strategy, ther failure strategy, there were not enough troops. But they never say maybe the philosophically of our foreign policy is deeply flawed. Even under the circumstances of 9/11, they never suggest what possibly could be the motivation between individuals that would just kill themselves and sacrifice their whole lives because they want to make a point. They never ask that, it’s always distortion, and they never get down to saying, “Maybe there’s something we’re doing wrong, maybe we should have followed the founder’s advice about not being the policeman of the world and not being in entangling alliances, and not be involved in the European affairs”.

All those things are different now, we live in globalism, we have to be the global cop. And look how much wonderful things we have brought about in the world.

Daniel McAdams: One of the things that you said in one of your presidential campaigns, and I can’t quote it, but it made a real impression on me. Because the issue here is weakness versus strength, “Oh, you’re weak, I would be strong, I would be stronger”. I’m sure you’ll refresh us, but you said sometimes the greater strength is the strength to avoid, the strength to push back when you’re told to do …

Ron Paul: Yes, because the pressure is great, because they paint you so badly. Nobody likes to be painted as un-American, and a weak national defense. I think the pressure is very great. Matter of fact, it’s much easier to go along with the propaganda. If the members of Congress were a little weak on going to war, like they were before the Iraq War, they get their strength by the war propagandas. We talked about that just recently, that they build up the war propaganda, and then the people change their mind and accept it, and then the people can go home and talk about it and the people will accept it. I think that standing up to public pressure is probably more difficult for a president than probably just going on. But hopefully the attitudes of the people that put pressure on the president would be more positive.

On occasion, we had that victory, because even though we’re on the verge of bombing Assad again, remember a couple of years ago the public pressure made Obama back off. But I think the major thing that the people have to realize is that you’re not getting two choices, and we don’t have somebody out there talking about non-intervention, which is what we really need. The argument is always tactical and strategic, and strategy is not considered a change of foreign policy, nobody really is concerned about that. I think the debate last night was certainly typical of that, because deep down in their hearts they agree on a lot of things. They just say, “Well, you should be tougher, you should bomb sooner, you should use more troops”, and, “You don’t like the right dictators, you’re too friendly with this dictator. We like our dictator, and we like these special interests”.

But when it comes down to neo-cons influencing our foreign policy, I don’t see any difference. There has been some hope that the neo-cons would have less influence in a Donald Trump administration, I hope that is true. I don’t know whether it will be true, but I do know there are a lot of neo-cons who have lined up with Hillary Clinton, and the neo-cons are generally thought to be more republican. But there are neo-cons with Donald Trump, too, so what are you going to believe in? Then you’re going to have to look at vice presidential choices, and the people surrounding people. They are significant, because they make personal choices on those individuals. If that is the case, we still have a lot of work to do to talk about a non-interventionist foreign policy and a foreign policy designed for national defense, rather than for policing the world.

I want to thank everybody for tuning in today to The Liberty Report, please come back soon.