Ron Paul’s Berlin Wall Problem

Ronald Reagan told the Communists to “tear down” the Berlin Wall.  Ron Paul’s vision is, “oh that’s O.K., you can leave it up.”  This is the fundamental difference between Ronald Reagan and Ron Paul, and when a reporter finally asks Paul the “Berlin Wall” question, his nascent campaign for the Republican nomination for President will appropriately crumble.

Yesterday, August 13, Congressman Ron Paul, a former Republican defector who ran for President on the Libertarian Party platform in 1988 and won less than half of 1% of the vote in 46 states nationwide, came in a strong second place in the Iowa straw poll.  According to John Gizzi of Human Events, who was on the ground, and as evidenced by the earlier nationally televised debate of Republican candidates, Paul did so by repeatedly urging what the main stream media is calling “non-intervention” in foreign affairs.  “Bring the troops home” he yelled in Ames, Iowa, complaining about what some deeper-thinking Republicans refer to as the “cost of freedom” in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Paul screamed that the cost was just too much for the United States budget and economy to bear.  Even Democrat Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who is a socialist, not a Republican straw poll voter, agreed with Paul’s views.

There is no question that Paul just bubbles with crank viewpoints.  After losing a race for U.S. Senate in Texas to Phil Gramm in 1984, he bolted the GOP and ran for president in 1988 on a platform that called for abolition of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency, according to published accounts.  Those abolitional topics have not been as evident in Paul’s more current campaign speeches this election year, which are more focused on abolishing the Federal Reserve Board, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.  (I personally admit I have thought about abolishing the Bank of America when the teller lines get too long. though not all of the FBI, CIA, IMF, and so on.)  But ubiquitous of his viewpoints since his early days in the 1970s as a Congressman, has been his view that U.S. troops should not be stationed overseas no matter what.  And in the case of the Cold War and Berlin, those views simply do not square with a “freedom philosophy.”

While voters in Iowa were casting their ballots in the straw poll, thousands of miles away in Central Europe, freedom loving people in Germany were observing a minute of silence in memory of 125 dead people.  Why?  Well, that same day was coincidentally the 50th anniversary of that sad time in 1961 when troops of a communist dictatorship, the former German Democratic Republic, began construction of a massive reinforced concrete and barbed wire structure that divided the city of Berlin and defined the Cold War.  The 125 who were mourned were East Germans who were killed by machine gun fire by their own government trying to cross over that Wall and flee tyranny in the East for freedom in the West.

Ronald Reagan had a philosophy about Communism.  He opposed it.  And in June of 1987 he stood below the Brandenburg Gate on the free, west side of Berlin and declared to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, “tear down this wall.”  Reagan’s statement was the expression of a life long commitment to the cause of individual liberty.  It was a salvo in the “war of ideas” against the Communist dictatorships who opposed individual liberties and inspired hope in countless millions in the East, in Poland and other countries just brimming for freedom.  But it was a statement also backed up by a strong foreign and defense policy that committed, according to the Heritage Foundation, over 250,000 U.S. troops every year in Germany and Berlin, and important spending on a ballistic missile and nuclear defense strategy that Communism could not compete with.  With Reagan’s statement at the Berlin Wall, backed by his policies as President, the Cold War was essentially won.  By November of 1989, East German residents started tearing down the Wall undeterred by their own broken-down government.  And now pieces of the Wall can be found not only in Berlin, but in places like the Monaco train station, at Reagan’s former ranch in Santa Barbara county, and at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley; all symbolic remembrances of how freedom was threatened by tyranny; and that freedom won out in the end.

So the question is, what was Ron Paul’s view of Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy regarding the Berlin Wall?

Ron Paul may never get asked that question on a national T.V. network, because the liberals who dominate the media are beginning to define him as the “Republican with new ideas” who is “exciting young people”.  They know what they are doing by propping him up: they are trivializing the debate about who the Republican party’s next standard bearer should be, and after the Ames straw poll, things are getting dangerous!

If a reporter ever really does ask Paul the question, Paul’s likely response will be to avoid the question and to trot out a quote attributed to Ronald Reagan praising him, and a bill he introduced in Congress in 2001 to “give every veteran of the Cold War a medal.”  But these wily responses are without substance.  Paul’s Reagan quote is little more than press release verbiage Reagan generously handed-out to just about every incumbent Republican member of Congress facing a tough re-election.  Paul didn’t deserve it.  There is little question that Ron Paul was a vociferous opponent of Reagan’s foreign and defense policies during the 1980s, a policy which literally demolished Communism in Europe and brought millions and millions of people into freedom; freedom that would never have been achieved under Ron Paul’s naive “non-interventionist” views.  If Ron Paul was President instead of Ronald Reagan, have no doubt that America would have lost the Cold War, and countless more would live in tyranny to this day than in freedom.  And the Berlin Wall would still be there.

Ron Paul’s Berlin Wall problem exemplifies the difference not only between Ronald Reagan and himself, but the essential difference between radical libertarianism and true conservatism.  I cannot account for what those 4,000 people were really thinking in Ames when they cast their straw vote ballots.  But I know that the threat of Islamic militants as epitomized by the events of September 11 remain a terrible threat to our way of life in America, and that these threats are in some ways even more directly pointed at U.S. citizens, than in the Cold War.  The response to these threats is not to bring troops home from Afghanistan.  The fix for our economy is not to stop spending money on steps that protect our nation from terrorist attacks.  And surely, the answer to such important questions is not in electing Ron Paul our next president.


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