Obama’s Kenya Debacle Shows Folly of Interventionism

Obama lectures the audience

When the US lectures the rest of the world about what laws and values it should adopt, the effect is usually the opposite of what is intended. From Kenya to Russia and beyond, US foreign policy is making enemies rather than influencing people.

Ron Paul: Hello everybody, and thank you for tuning in to The Liberty Report. Daniel McAdams is with me today. Daniel, it’s nice to see you.

Daniel McAdams: Good morning, Dr. Paul.

Ron Paul: Today, I want to talk a little bit about a subject we have visited before, but from a little different approach, and that is the subject of foreign interventionism, which is something we decry all the time. There have been several articles in the media recently that addresses this in a slightly different way, not so much the philosophic opposition we express, which is: we don’t have the moral authority, we don’t have the constitutional authority, and it doesn’t make sense just to pass that foreign aid.

This is more about why it doesn’t work, because the approach isn’t the right one, and they emphasis in these various articles the lack of understanding in the people that we’re talking to and why they might resist it. They can’t quite comprehend something that I tried to push in the last campaign, which was: why don’t we think about how we would react if somebody else did that to us, and I think this is the point that they’re making in some ways. One point in particular that I found fascinating was written by Stephen Kinzer, and he, of course, is the author of “The Brothers” which is a fascinating book on recent history. He wrote a recent article here today that was pretty interesting, he said, “We’ll always be foreigners, no matter what we do”.

And that’s the way it would be if people came into our country and told us what to do. So, once again he says the good intentions of us going over and spreading good ideas is secondary to what really happens. Our people go over there under the best of intentions and they might have a decent idea, but it’s irrelevant, because people there are going to resist and become secondary to the whole issue of us invading their country not in a military sense, but invading their country in a cultural sense and a religious sense, and all of a sudden that builds up resistance. I think this is the problem we face: I believe that we’ll always be the foreigners.

Daniel McAdams: It was an excellent article, and it had a couple of very great zingers in it. If I can just read a couple of them, he said, “Many people don’t like to side with foreigners, no matter how good their ideas may be”. And the other one which was so good was, “In some countries, patriots are more eager to be free of foreign influence than to have good government”. But this is a practical and pragmatic assessment of U.S. influence and efforts overseas. But as he also pointed out, this was nothing new.

There was a great quote from Professor Summer back during the time of the Spanish-American wars in the late 19th century, and he said, “We assume that what we like and practice and what we think better must come as a welcome blessing to Spanish-Americans and Filipinos. This is grossly and obviously untrue. They hate our ways. They are hostile to our ideas. Our religion, language, institutions, and manners offend them. They like their own ways, and if we appear amongst them as rulers, there will be social discord …”

Ron Paul: I think he’s hit the nail on the head there, because we don’t have this understanding. But that is not a judgment on what we believe, because there will be some good ideas. But this whole idea of us intruding and forcing or bribing them to accept these ideas when what they’re trying to do is win the hearts and minds of these individuals … And if you look at some of the countries that we went into with, of course, good intentions, we go in and there might be 3 or 4 different factions that want to get rid of the regime, and we want to get rid of the regime.

I think this was always true in Iran, we would go in and we would threaten; and the more we threatened, the more we unified the people who were trained to change the regime internally, because we didn’t understand it culturally. This is Kinzer’s special point that I’m trying to get us to understand. But there are others who have talked about this, too. Michael Shore had a recent piece that was highly critical of Obama’s trip to Kenya, and I think he touched on these same points.

Daniel McAdams: He was asked, “when you come to the country, please try not to discuss some of the more contentious issues that we’re dealing with here, primarily homosexuality and woman’s issues”. And instead of doing that, he went in and he gave a very strong speech and told them about all of these values they must adopt and the things they must do and these sort of things. It was a demeaning lecture that he delivered that will probably have the opposite effect that he may have wanted.

Ron Paul: Yes, but he covered himself. As he was walking out of the door and he had offended everybody, he says, “Oh, I’ll send you a check”. Sometimes that can be insulting even to the people who really need it, as if they were going to say, “Oh, if you give us enough money, we will give up our traditions”. This is the main argument for not using force of any means.

But even if somebody said, “They’re not using force, they’re not using guns or going over there”, but they’re using force to take our money, the tax payers money, from us and go there and try to impose themselves. It is a good example of Jacobinism: the more stronger we believe in our goodness and our exceptionalism and the more we want to do this, the more problem we have. I think these two individuals have pointed these problems out rather well.

Daniel McAdams: Just think of how foolish it sounds. He goes over there and says how corrupt the government and the system is, he says, “You guys have got to change your ways, and by the way, here’s 50 million dollars”.

Ron Paul: Yes, and that’s going to be okay. But his argument, of course, is he’s disruptive over there because it’s challenging, but it’s disruptive over here because it costs money and it’s embarrassing and it might offend the people that might disagree with those particular issues. But it’s amazing that the people here go along with this and don’t scream and say, “Hey, why are you doing this?” When you think about us and our different organizations and our presidents going over there and interfering, a pretty good question would be, “Don’t you think we have enough problems here, do we have perfect relationships with all our cultural diversity here, and could we be making any mistakes here?” That deserves some discussion, too.

Maybe they could get into the problems of poverty in the inner cities and the corruption there and the police brutality and all these things that are huge. I know that elect about it, but it seems like we should have a better system here. My argument has always been that if we truly want to influence others around the world, which could be a worthy goal, it should be by us setting a good standard so they would want to emulate us. But the way I understand these writers are talking about, we’re doing exactly the opposite. Even when there may be somebody leaning in our direction, the fact that this is identified as intrusive Americans, they’re going to get their dander up and probably have more resistance.

Daniel McAdams: I don’t think there are many people in the U.S. that someone should be in prison for 14 years just for being homosexual, but when you go over there and you start wagging your finger at them, the possibility that they will actually change their system probably goes down to 0%.

Ron Paul: There was this one sign held up, and this was in front of the U.S. embassy in Moscow, and it’s too bad I don’t have it up on the screen, but it’s very easy to identify. This, once again, is from Kinzer and this is a young Russian student holding it up, and time says, “We didn’t ask the U.S. to fight for our rights, go home”. And I don’t think that means they don’t want their rights, it just means that us fighting for their rights isn’t really solving the problem. But there was somebody else writing in the news recently, and that has to do with the president of National Endowment for Democracy, Carl Gershman, and he had something to say about what we should be doing over there.

Daniel McAdams: We’ve talked about Carl Gershman before, he’s sort of the president for life of the National Endowment for Democracy, they have these Trotskyist background so they believe in the world revolution. But his theory is that Russia has decided to kick the National Endowment for Democracy out of the country, and he says, “It just shows how horrible they are that they’re kicking us out, we’re just doing good.” He’s upset that they passed a law prohibiting Russian democrats from getting any international assistance to promote freedom, and he said, “This goes against all international laws”.

But you know what the NED does when it goes into any of these countries, is it finds favored political parties, and they have publications about them, and it showers them with money and it strengthens them and builds them up. It looks for ways of undermining, regardless of how people vote, they will undermine the vote by propping up other parties. But this whole idea that it’s against international law is a joke, too, because it is against American law for any foreigner, any foreign corporation, association or independent to have anything whatsoever to do with our elections.

Ron Paul: And I think he made some mistakes. Kenzer pointed out that they go in there rather arrogantly to deal with problems that Russia does have, but at the same time, he lectures them because they have a weak economy, and they have a weak economy only because they haven’t listened to us. We have these wonderful ideas and there’s a lot of different reasons why there’s a downturn in the economy in Russia: some dealing with the foreign policy as well as the decreasing oil prices, which might be one and the same for all that we know. He’s saying that if they would just be more like us, we wouldn’t have these problems. But, once again, I think that’s going to insult the very people that he pretends that he can convert to westernized ideas.

Daniel McAdams: He likes to promote this idea that if we just help the opposition in Russia … but he doesn’t tell people that the main opposition party in Russia is the Russian Communist Party. They have a very significant following, they’re much more honkish against the U.S. meddling than Putin’s people are by a long shot. But the “Democrats” that he talks about consistently amount to only 1% in the polls. So if you are for pro-democracy, you can’t see that this guy with 1% deserves to be in the ruling party.

Ron Paul: Well, I think intrusiveness is the real problem, and we’ve been doing that for a long time around the world. I think foreign interventionism has been especially bad for us and for the policy of our country for over a hundred years, certainly since the turn of the last century, and this is going to continue. Just by electing a different Congress or a different president, we can’t expect to change it because there won’t be enough votes there. The people who are really in charge are in charge of both political parties, and that’s the big trouble. If you take this issue of how has Obama has gotten this far with what seems to be a reasonable approach with the Iranians, you may realize that there may be some economic things involved there that the establishments are willing to go along with. Maybe there’s going to be an opening with tremendous economic co-operation with the Iranians, so we don’t know exactly.

But we do know that the American people have a long way to go, they have to speak out, understand, and defend what is a more constitutional foreign policy and a more sensible one. According to these gentlemen, it would be much more practical, because we’re not getting very far with what we’re doing. We’re actually supporting the enemies that are trying to change, because they don’t under their culture, their religion, and the various things., and you can’t change that by our force and our intimidation. So I think the answer for this is non-intervention, and that does not mean isolationism, it means treating people fairly and being friends with all countries and staying out of entangling alliances. That would go a long way to help us influence the world in a positive way, as long as we set a good standard.

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

This video was published by the Ron Paul Institute.