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Ryan McMaken

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US Sanctions Against Venezuela Will Hurt Americans

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After fifty years of imposing embargoes and other sanctions, the United States never managed to topple Cuba's communist regime. After forty years of the same in Iran, the US met with similar amounts of success. Ongoing sanctions against North Korea have not toppled to regime there. 

But, some people in Washington won't let decades of failure dissuade them.

Last week, Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) introduced new legislation to bar Americans from importing oil products from Venezuela. The Washington Examiner reports
[T]he Protecting Against Tyranny and Responsible Imports Act, or the PATRIA Act ... would target Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro after he stripped the country's democratically elected national assembly of its power and authority. According to the bill, the proposed ban on imports would last until the assembly's power is fully restored.

'The goal is to change the conduct, the character of the Venezuelan government under Maduro. I think the window is closing,' Coffman told the Washington Examiner. 'They are dependent upon the export of oil really to fund their government, and without that, they can't pay their security forces.'
Experience suggests there is little reason to believe that sanctions will cause the regime to give up in Venezuela. If the regime has less oil money with which to pay the military, the regime can always steal more from the average citizen to make up the difference. In other words, ordinary Venezuelans will suffer more in response to US sanctions.
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NATO Weakens As Old Alliances Break Down

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Last week, I suggested that since Turkey seems intent on starting a war with the Russians, NATO might be wise to dump Turkey, or face war with Russia over a part of the world that is not European. This suggestion came out of no special animosity for the Turkish state, but for the fact that I oppose NATO in its current form, and it’s obvious that Turkey is the soft underbelly of NATO that should be exploited accordingly. 

Little did I know at the time that Europe was already planning to informally announce that Turkey was pressing its luck with other NATO members. 

On Thursday, had I looked, I would have noticed that Benny Avni at the New York Post was suggesting that NATO is headed toward ending with a “whimper.” Avni asks: “[C]an anyone envision America — or anyone else in the alliance — rushing to Turkey’s aid in a military confrontation with Russia?”

Avni is pro-NATO, but he does seem to be observant, since The Daily Mail reported on Saturdaythat Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn had told Der Spiegel “NATO cannot allow itself to be pulled into a military escalation with Russia as a result of the recent tensions between Russia and Turkey.” 

Both the DM and the Washington Times report an unnamed German diplomat as saying “We are not going to pay the price for a war started by the Turks.”
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Ron Paul, Richard Cobden, and the Risks of Opposing War

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Since at least as early as the eighteen century, classical liberalism, and its modern variant libertarianism, have opposed warfare except in cases of obvious self-defense. We see this anti-war position clearly among the anti-federalists of eighteenth-century America (who opposed all standing armies) and more famously within George Washington’s Farewell Address. Thomas Jefferson frequently inveighed against war, although in moves typical for Jefferson, he acted against his own professed ideology on a number of occasions.

On the other side of the Atlantic, liberalism finally made significant gains in Britain with the rise of the Anti-Corn Law League in the late 1830s. The head of the league, a radical liberal named Richard Cobden, rose to prominence throughout the 1840s and is notable today for his active defense of laissez-faire capitalism as a member of the House of Commons, and also for his staunch anti-interventionism in foreign affairs.

For a time, his political star rose quickly, but by the time the Crimean War ended, Cobden, had been cast aside by both a ruling class and a public enthusiastic for both empire and war.
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