“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

An arc of crisis stretches along the shores of the Indian Ocean, with fragile social and political structures in a region of vital importance to us threatened with fragmentation. The resulting political chaos could well be filled by elements hostile to our values and sympathetic to our adversaries. – Zbigniew Brzezinski

Thirty-three years ago, President Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, described “an arc of crisis” in an area stretching from the Horn of Africa in the west to the Indian subcontinent in the east. Thirty-three years later, the region remains not only vital to U.S. interests, but also increasingly problematic. Though the specter of the Soviet Union and international communism no longer hangs over the region, there are a number of new challenges emerging which threaten to keep the region unstable for years to come. The most notable of these threats is the spread of radical Islam, whose antipathy for American values and interests was fully exposed to the world on the morning of September 11, 2001. Since that time, the U.S. has been actively engaging this threat on multiple fronts in the region, from a war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan to post-invasion counter-insurgency operations in Iraq. There is no question that the area remains an “Arc of Crisis” which demands U.S. attention. Consequently, the next president must be ready to actively engage the many threats emanating from this region not only for the sake of protecting American interests in the region, but also preserving relative peace and stability.

It should be obvious to those who understand America’s national security concerns that complete military disengagement from the region is not a viable option. The area is far too important for the U.S. to withdraw to the extent that Ron Paul desires. Unfortunately for Paul, there is such a thing as a “strategic ally.” Israel, one of only two democratic countries in the region (including Iraq) and said strategic ally, remains at the epicenter of regional conflict. Its neighbors continue to deny its right to exist, and it faces significant threats from Islamic extremist organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah. Not to mention an extremely hostile and aggressive theocratic regime in Tehran which will go nuclear soon without decisive action (personally, I’m praying that Israel goes ahead and takes out the nuclear program like they did in Iraq in the 80’s). At the very least, the U.S. should maintain a military presence in the region if for no other reason than to ensure the safety of Israel. While Israel is relatively powerful militarily, should it see another coordinated attack by multiple neighbors, it will likely require U.S. assistance. Ditto Iraq (only replace “powerful” with “weak” and “likely” with “definitely”).

Ron Paul is certain that radical Islamic terrorists commit acts of terror against America because “we are bombing them.” He argued in that recent debate that we have “declare[d] war on 1.2 billion Muslims and say that all Muslims are the same.” Of course, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Since the Bush administration, it has been very clear that our war is not with the entire global Muslim population. We are at war with militant, fundamentalist Islam. Its adherents do not hate and attack America because we are “prosperous” as Paul suggested. They attack us because we are infidels. They attack us because we do not practice Shari’a law. The ideals of democracy are anathema to them. They want to raise the Islamic flag over the White House and conquer the West, as one British cleric puts it. In case Representative Paul hasn’t noticed, the Muslim Brotherhood, the new de facto ruling party in Egypt, has effectively declared war on America. Tell me, Rep. Paul, how many people has the United States bombed in Egypt recently? How many fire missions was the United States running in the Middle East in 1993 when Ramzi Yousef first blew up the World Trade Center? How many bombing runs did the U.S. make in Saudi Arabia prior to 9/11, considering 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi?

If any more proof of Ron Paul’s foreign policy ineptitude is needed, this ad should suffice. This ad is a disgrace and an insult to the intelligence of the American people. The comparison between U.S. troops and Chinese troops is offensive to every man and woman to ever wear the uniform. There is a legitimate debate to be had about the current state of our involvement in Afghanistan and whether we should continue to nation or state-build in that country. But to compare our liberation of Iraq to a Chinese occupation of Texas is patently absurd. The United States has always fought on the side of liberty and has forsaken the atrocities associated with communism. Never mind the countless inaccurate suggestions contained in the ad, conveniently overlooking the foreign roots of most of the insurgents or the fact that we deposed a despot who was far worse for Iraqi citizens than American troops could ever be. There MUST be something wrong when The Daily Kos, of all publications, is endorsing an ad for a “Republican” candidate.

Keep in mind that this is the same guy who only voted for U.S. military action in Afghanistan because his staff threatened a mutiny, and it likely would have been political suicide. I wonder: how would an America under Ron Paul respond to a terrorist attack? Have a cup of tea and try to work out our differences? As much as I can’t believe that I’m saying this, I think Michele Bachmann perfectly summarized Paul’s foreign policy in that last debate: dangerous.

Kevin Reagan | George Washington University | Washington, DC | @O_JoseCanYouSee