Being an election year, candidates pandering to interest groups is in full swing. One “interest group” that has not been pandered to is the Muslim-American community. We’ve actually been politically quarantined.
But another interest group that has gotten the usual celebrity treatment from the candidates are the supporters of Israel. From the beginning of the presidential campaign, many Israel supporters have written-off Ron Paul as not being a “friend of Israel”. After all, Paul did say that the Israeli lobby has too much influence on our government, and it has gotten America involved in foreign wars and entanglements that it has no business being involved in. Paul also said he would stop all foreign aid to Israel, and that Iran is not a real existential threat to Israel. He was the only presidential candidate who did not attend the AIPAC conference in March 2012, which was held in DC. But, last week Ron Paul said something that flipped everything on its head.
He was talking to a group of Evangelical leaders, and their first question was about moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Paul responded by saying that if Israel wants its capital in Jerusalem, “then it’s Jerusalem”, and America should move its embassy to the capital just like it does in every other country. Israeli supporters who previously hated Paul for his views, now found themselves loving him. While those critical of Israeli policies and who previously loved Paul for his views, now found themselves calling him a sell-out.
When taken in isolation, I can see the confusion this creates on both sides. But when put into the context of his overall foreign policy, it actually makes perfect “Paulian” sense, and it’s what makes his positions revolutionary. Ron Paul says that America’s foreign policy should be absolutely no intervention. America would not go out of its way to support or oppose Israel. A Ron Paul president wouldn’t authorize any more American financial or military aid to Israel. He also would not be tied into playing the veto game in the UN every time a resolution is proposed that censures Israel or calls it to action (and that’s even if he decides to remain a member of the UN). So his view is an American hands-off policy that would allow Israel to do what it wants, and it would also allow America to no longer use its blood and resources to shield Israel.
Israel already has most of its government functions headquartered in West Jerusalem. But if Israel dared to claim East Jerusalem and parts of occupied West Bank as part of its “united capital”, then it would be challenged again by the international community. The international community has already passed dozens of UN resolutions over the past decades that Israel has never implemented. The withdrawal of America’s overwhelming support, would put the responsibility on Israel to start acting in a civil and respectful manner towards the Palestinians and its neighbors. It would no longer have America’s protection which has emboldened its aggressive and oppressive behaviors. It would lose its privileged status and find itself alone. Israel would actually have to answer directly to its neighbors and the rest of the world. But despite all of this, America under a Ron Paul presidency would say “it’s their right to put their capital wherever they want”.
Paul sees that the role of America in the world, is for it to be a neutral country. America is not the policeman of the world. It doesn’t have the moral compass to do so. Nor should it be the bully of the world by invading, attacking, causing coups, and undermining the sovereignty of countries and people. But this is what America has been doing for the past 100 years. This was the warning of President Eisenhower who, in his 1961 farewell address, warned of the dangerous influence that a “military industrial complex” can have on the domestic and foreign policies of America. This was even warned by President George Washington who, in his 1796 farewell address, warned Americans not to become “entangled” in foreign affairs. President John Quincy Adams, in a speech given in 1821, said that America should not be going around the world “in search of monsters to destroy”.
Fast forward to modern times and you see America supporting dictators and oppressive regimes, invading and attacking countries that never attacked it, and continuously meddling in countries all over the world based on imagined or exaggerated threats. This was never the intention of the founding fathers of this country. This is actually what they fought against. America simply needs to leave other countries alone.
This year, President Obama’s budget request includes $3.1 billion in security assistance to Israel. The Republicans and the Democrats want to fulfill a 10-year $30+ billion commitment to Israel to fund Israel’s security and defense systems. If Ron Paul was president, the commitment would be $0. America under Ron Paul, wouldn’t go out of its way to support or subvert Israel. Instead, Israel, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, etc. would all be free to do as they please. America’s foreign policies have proven detrimental to Arab and Muslim countries. But it has mysteriously proven advantageous for Israel. By ending its foreign interventions, America can allow these countries to recover from the imbalance of power that has prevailed for so long. Like the recent revolutions, people would discover a new ability where they can attempt to marginalize the extremists who run the show on all sides.
That would be American foreign policy under a President Ron Paul. But these are just ideas presented by a presidential candidate. If Muslims think these ideas make sense, then they should adopt them and make it part of their platform. They should seek out the millions of Americans who have embraced the Ron Paul message of no foreign intervention, and establish cooperation and coalitions with them. What makes the Ron Paul movement unique, is that its message will continue to spread long after the 2012 election. Ten years from now, there will be no movement that tries to follow the ideas of Romney or Santorum or even Obama. But there will be people still talking about Ron Paul’s ideas and how necessary it is for America. Maybe Muslims can be part of them.
Ramy Osman Writes from Northern Virginia.