Ron Paul, Syria and a visit to DePauw


Are you ready for a dose of candid Libertarian spirit?

The martyr of this movement, Rep. Ron Paul, will be speaking on DePauw’s campus this evening. His pallet of platforms includes limited government, agency slashing and a rejection of revenue generation. Paul’s “third-party” association has captured hold of America’s individualists.
I am not one of those people. Neither am I one of the political rejectionists that roam this campus. Personally, I find it easier to enter political discourse via the old-fashioned two-party tug-of-war. Using the GOP to purport his more radical views, I find Paul’s Libertarian agenda idealistic. The Libertarian mindset of no taxes, no government and no necessary regulation policies translate loosely to no roads, no healthcare for veterans and no sanity. Sound familiar? Oh yes, the Tea Party. And it’s no coincidence his son, Senator Rand Paul, is the poster child for the Congressional Tea Party caucus.
OK, so I’m one to establish Paul as a torch-bearer of an irrational political movement. But I do succumb to the notion that some of his views are pragmatic and bold.
Moreover, I find Paul’s visit to DePauw to be timely. The National Security Agency leaks and the current situation plaguing Syria are both relevant issues in which I agree with Paul. With the NSA, Paul rightly cites the Constitution in blasting the current surveillance program. Paul has framed the discussion pertinently. Instead of debating whether leaker Edward Snowden is a traitor, Paul has brought up the larger issue of government versus citizen civil liberties.
In an interview with CNN journalist Piers Morgan, Paul asked, “What is the penalty for people who deliberately destroy the Constitution and rationalize and say, ‘Oh, we have to do it for security?'”
Although Paul feels national security should be a priority, the means to that end is often ambiguous. This path of secretive government surveillance is effective only if it does not completely violate our constitutional rights. Paul also has pointed out that simply using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) is not a form of oversight. And I validate Paul’s concern. FISA is not an operable line of checks and balances against the executive branch.
Vigilant public criticism and questioning not only needs to be addressed with domestic security, it should also be used to deal with foreign affairs. Paul’s non-interventionist slant on Syria should be a rallying cry for all Americans. The last time we entered the fray with sectarian strife, it didn’t turn out so well. Afghanistan and Iraq were (are still) disasters. I acknowledge New York Times columnist Bill Keller’s belief that Iraq and Syria are quite different. But, where Keller and others who support intervention go wrong in depth of analysis.
Paul, myself, and others on both sides of the proverbial political aisle understand the deeper reality at hand. The “rebels” are not a uniform opposition. Syria is government against fragmented radical extremist Islamists, a so-called secular opposition, and a violent sectarian front. And there are also proxy forces filing in from Iran and Jordan. In recent interviews, Paul has warned that this intervention in Syria would be both a deadly cost to the United States and a black hole for involvement with Iran.
Does Syrian involvement benefit the U.S.? The answer is a resounding no.
Although I am repugnant toward Libertarian/Republican/Tea Party platforms, the NSA’s breach of constitutional law and the White House’s War-Hawk spirit in Syria are concerning. Only a few individuals are so willing to speak outside of the box.
For now, I’m happy to welcome Paul to our campus.

-Schwartz is a junior communications and political science major from Upper Arlington, Ohio.