Without Ron Paul in the mix, last night's debate would have been more a bidding up of hostility to foreigners (except Israel) than any actual arena of opposing ideas on the future of American foreign policy.
Paul started off talking of "needless and unnecessary wars" making us less safe and beggering our coffers; probably slipped by using Timothy McVeigh as an example of how normal legal procedures can deal with terrorism (and I wish he'd have challenged Ed Meese on the factual significance of these alleged 42 terror assaults that Patriot Act has stopped; aren't they in fact mostly ginned-up nonsense such as Jacob Sullum blogged about earlier today?) since it allowed Gingrich to claim that the real goal are legal procedures that make sure nothing bad ever happens. Paul had a good rescue by stressing the threat to liberty of priviliging stopping crimes above any other concern, but I wonder how resonant such concerns are.
Paul reminded us that we might not want to give the president the sole power to assassinate Americans on his say so; that Israel can likely make the most intelligent decision on their own as to whether to start attacking Iranian alleged nuclear site and we should neither be dictating such decisions nor committing to help with them; that trying to buy friendship overseas with foreign aid doesn't always work; that foreign aid isn't necessary for overseas development and in fact is often more like making poor people here support rich people over there; and kept reminding his fellow alleged fiscal conservatives that foreign policy has real financial costs that they are never thinking of.
Paul also last night hit the drug war as "another war we ought to cancel," at length, concluding "the federal war on drugs is a total failure" with specific hat tips toward the absurdity of federal assaults on states with medical pot; and that meddling in the Middle East is what gins up terror against us in the Middle East, with his usual calls to empathetic understanding, considering what we would think/do if other countries did to us what we blithely do to other countries–"it's just looking for trouble, why don't we mind our own business?"
Paul's most summational quotable quote, applicable to not only foreign policy but so much about the current plans and ambitions of the U.S. government: "It's a road to disaster. We better wake up."
Here's the Paul-centric highlights clip from last night:
In other Paul observations and news:
*Paul as the only voice last night against racial profiling in the name of the war on terror.
*AEI sums up the debate it co-sponsored, giving as much attention to Jon Huntsman's wan anti-nation-building comments as to Paul's concerted assault on the roots of GOP and American foreign policy.
*Glenn Greenwald from Salon attacks the nature and character of the interlocutors at the debate, and hat-tips to Paul's rare sense:
It was like a carnival of war criminals, warmongers, torturers, and petty tyrants: Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese, best known for his 1980s war on pornography, was dredged up to demand that the government be vested with more Patriot Act powers (because he's a believer in individual liberty and small government); there was long-time supporter of Ahmad Chalabi and a war on Iran, Danielle Pletka; Iraq War propagandist andtorture regime architect Paul Wolfowitz; and Fred Kagan of the mighty Kagan warrior family. But remember: as the supremely "objective" CBS' Bob Schieffer made clear in his snickering, scornful interview on Face the Nation this weekend, it is Ron Paul who is crazy and bizarre for suggesting that U.S. aggression played a role in motivating 9/11 and for being worried that bellicose actions against Iran are making things worse and may lead to war.
*From Paul's campaign web site blogger Jack Hunter, a set of media stars giving Paul props for schooling Romney last night on the myth of defense cuts.
*The Christian Science Monitor from a few days ago collecting examples of major media now taking Paul seriously, in a story that was front-page linked on Drudge. While I don't follow Drudge meticulously, various Paulistas believe this might have been his first big-time positive play for Paul on that site, which they see in itself as a further sign of Paul's reputational rise.
*In a poll commissioned by Paul-supporting superpac RevolutionPAC, Paul actually is winning in Iowa with 25 percent. Here's why they think their poll is better than others:
The TeleResearch survey is the first to incorporate disaffected Democrats and Independents who will not vote to reelect Obama and will instead crossover to participate in the Iowa Republican Caucus, as well as likely Republican caucus-goers.
Survey sample size is approximately 2,900, with almost 700 likely Republican caucus-goers. Indiana's TeleResearch Corp., which has been polling voters for more than 18 years, reports that the margin of error is less than 3%.
Factoring in both Republican caucus-goers and disaffected Democrats and Independents who've indicated that they will participate in the Iowa Republican Caucus, Ron Paul leads at 25%, with an approximate 4-point advantage over Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain.