"Ron Paul strikes us as nothing like Ezra Pound," is today's unlikeliest nut sentence, from a New York Sun editorial acquitting Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) of the charge of anti-Semitism. The Sun acknowledges that Paul is an enemy of neoconservatives and that "his views on foreign policy are at odds with those of this newspaper." But the Sun finds a lot to like in Paul's campaign for honest money:
He is a libertarian and believes that war is a friend of the state, meaning that war invariably empowers the state over the individual. We don't disagree about that, only about whether the costs of war are justified in the current conflict. Dr. Paul is opposed to foreign aid on constitutional grounds; we're not so sure he's wrong about that. His aversion to both war and foreign aid have put him at odds with those of us who support the expeditions in Iraq and Afghanistan and also robust American backing of the Jewish state.
No doubt Dr. Paul's views have won him hosannas from some who oppose Israel for base reasons, but it is well to mark that the congressman is no friend of Osama bin Laden and his ilk. He is the leading advocate of using against Mr. Bin Laden one of the bedrock war powers of the Constitution, the letter of marque and reprisal. That constitutional instrument — which authorizes private parties to commit acts of war — was used against the Barbary Pirates. Letters of marque have issued only rarely since, but were advanced for use against terrorists back in the 1990s by the Jewish Forward.
Dr. Paul unsheathed the constitutional sword within days of Al Qaeda's attacks on New York and Washington, introducing the September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001 to authorize private parties to go after Osama bin Laden. He has pressed continually since then for legislation authorizing the granting of such letters, delivering an eloquent exposition to anyone who will listen. Say what one will about that strategy, but after so many hundreds of billions of dollars of outlays on conventional war, letters of marque and reprisal seem less chimerical than when Dr. Paul first proposed them.
This does leave open the question of which High Modernist Ron Paul actually is. Wyndham Lewis, the lonely old volcano of the Right? T.S. Eliot, a heartbroken traditionalist and gentleman in heart and habit? I'm going with William Carlos Williams, the most amiable literary giant of the Pound era.