March 26, 2014

Defending Ron Paul on Crimea

By In Blogs, C.Jay Engel

Daniel McAdams smashes Students for Liberty’s Alexander McCobin for towing the neocon line on Crimea against Ron Paul:

How unfortunate that Alexander McCobin, president of Students for Liberty (SFL), decided to write an attack piece on Ron Paul’s non-interventionism while echoing neocon warmongering over the recent referendum held in Crimea. It seems quite a strange move for an organization founded to capitalize on Ron Paul’s groundbreaking 2008 run for the presidency, which brought in masses of young people electrified by Dr. Paul’s message of peace and prosperity.

Why would McCobin want to alienate rank and file Students for Liberty members, who overwhelmingly support Ron Paul? It’s not smart to alienate your base. No wonder his organization quickly took to Twitter to back down from his screed, explaining that, “This is just a statement by individuals — SFL doesn’t have an official stance on foreign policy.”

What is particularly ironic about McCobin’s lecture to Ron Paul on Crimea is that his bill of particulars is so riddled with analytical and factual errors that it actually argues quite eloquently for the opposite of what was intended. In other words his deeply flawed battle cry actually makes Dr. Paul’s case for non-interventionism. If you do not understand what is going on overseas, you should refrain from telling the people there what to do.

Justin Raimondo also took the time to challenge McCobin:

McCobin is wrong about South Ossetia: like the Crimeans, the Ossetians held a referendum and voted to separate from Georgia’s central government. In response, Georgia invaded the region, sending in its troops before the Russians ever got there. They bombarded Tsinskvali, capital of the rebel province, deliberately targeting civilians, killing and wounding hundreds. According to Human Rights Watch, Georgian artillery fired directly into basements – where civilians were sure to be hiding. As the BBC put it:

“The BBC has discovered evidence that Georgia may have committed war crimes in its attack on its breakaway region of South Ossetia in August. Eyewitnesses have described how its tanks fired directly into an apartment block, and how civilians were shot at as they tried to escape the fighting.”

McCobin hasn’t even bothered to do the most basic research: he’s simply swallowed the new cold war mythology whole. It’s easier that way.

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to
  • RA Jameson

    Whether McCobin is right or wrong on the logistics concerning Crimea’s secession, I fail to see how what he wrote qualifies as an “attack piece”. He wishes that Ron Paul would have denounced Putin’s move into Crimea. That is not an attack, that is a difference of opinion. And towing the neocon line? I missed that in his piece. He clearly does not want intervention or aggression by the US in the situation. It is like he joined a 3rd party, Rand’s party, that wants to publicly denounce Putin but avoid US military intervention. I am not sure how that position attacks Ron Paul and tows the neocon line. But maybe I am missing something.

    For the record, I am no defender of McCobin. I just think McAdams can be more accurate in his reporting of the issue. I sure hope that disagreeing with Ron Paul does not necessarily mean I am attacking him. I have said it before and I will say it again, he was categorically wrong in the way he handled the thing. Am I attacking him? I don’t think so. Did it cause me to respect him less? Most certainly.

    I think you know me well enough, my tribalism is not in the least concerned with Crimea or Ukraine. I am so woefully ignorant of those issues. I think smaller is better than bigger. I think secession should be used a whole lot more. But McAdams is wrong in trying to make it sound like McCobin is a young Charles Krauthammer.

    • cjayengel

      RE: “Towing the neocon line.” I think it is more like he interprets Putin’s actions as the neocons do as opposed to how the Paulians do. He is using their arguments. I wouldn’t overthink it or interpret that to mean that McCobin has gone neocon.

      • RA Jameson

        Thanks for clarifying. I am still not sure, though you are not obligated to defend him, why was this classified as an “attack piece”? Is disagreeing with Ron Paul, de facto, an attack? And if not, where did McCobin attack him? It is that kind of demagoguery that puts a wet blanket on the whole conversation.

        • cjayengel

          I’m not sure why he classified it that way. Perhaps because he is the President of the official source of Ron Paul’s foreign policy views and he considers it his job to watch for macro-disagreements? I think though that the reason for the melodrama actually goes deeper, way back to the Cato-Mises wars of the 70’s and the Koch “attacks” (I think the word is fitting here) against Rothbard. After all, SFL, like Cato, is under the Koch wing of the libertarian movement. So perhaps McAdams saw it in a bigger, more strategic context.

          I’m not defending the phrase, just seeking an answer. Although perhaps the phrase itself should be seen as a very small piece of an overall complete and detailed article.

        • cjayengel

          I have no idea why he classified it this way. Maybe it is because he sees it as his job as President of the official source of Ron Paul’s foreign policy views to watch out for macro-disagreements, that is disagreements on huge issues. Dramatic language, I think, is considered pretty standard for in the commentary world. Right or wrong.

          But perhaps this goes even deeper. Perhaps it harkens back to the old Cato-Mises war of the 70’s and the Koch’s “attack” (that word is surely justified here) against Murray Rothbard. After all, SFL, like Cato, is funded by and reflect the strategies of the Koch brothers. So perhaps President McAdams (of RPI) to President McCobin (of SFL) was more of a strategic, calculated battle cry. It’s the nature of the political “think tank” world. Justified or not. I’m not defending, just trying to seek an answer.

          But honestly its such a small phrase compared to the very detailed and complete article. So I didn’t give it much thought at all.

        • cjayengel

          Also, if it helps clarify anything, the wording indicated that it was an attack piece on non-interventionism, not Ron Paul. That is different.

          • RA Jameson

            Thanks C.Jay. If I may, McAdam’s piece is titled, “Did Students for Liberty Leader Really Attack Ron Paul?” The obvious answer to that question is “No”. But the reader would not come to that conclusion based on the tenor of his response to McCorbin. But rest assured, you are not on the hook for the titles McAdams gives his articles. Only yours. And your title also indicates that you are defending the man, and thus McCorbin was attacking the man. Just a bit confusing is all.

          • cjayengel

            Thanks. Also, “Ron Paul on Crimea” was meant to indicate that I was citing two sources that would defend Ron Paul’s understanding of the Crimean situation. I honestly didn’t think twice about McAdam’s polemic language. I read too many articles on politics, it desensitizes the brain:-) Sorry for the confusion

          • RA Jameson

            I hear that! It is so hard to read the greats and the current events and then write meaningful content on all of the above and NOT get some things mixed up.

            I can’t even comment on a post without confusing myself!