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Ron Paul's Dictator Fan Club

Ron Paul is back. Earlier this month, after retiring from Congress where he represented the 14th Congressional District in Texas as a Republican, he founded the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. It sounds like a nice little institute, but as James Kirchick shows in The Daily Beast, it's actually more like a dictator fan club.

Take a look at the advisory board. Some of Paul’s staff are respectable figures, but Flynt Leverett is there, too. So is his wife Hillary. This team has made careers as American shills for the theocratic Islamic Republic regime in Iran. Despite virtually all evidence to the contrary, both Leveretts claim Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fairly won Iran's fraudulent presidential election in 2008, a vote rigging which triggered the (so far) unsuccessful Green revolution. In June of 2009, they co-wrote a rude piece for Politico called “Ahmadinejad Won. Get Over It.”

They don’t just defend the odious Ahmadinejad. They defend the whole system. Iran, says Hillary, “is a country that actually delivers for women...We’re not saying that the Islamic Republic of Iran has built by any stretch a perfect system. And they don’t say that either. But what’s so important about what they are trying to do is that they’re not trying to build an Islamic state, like the Taliban or Saudi Arabia. They are trying to do something very different. They are trying to build an Islamic Republic.”

They collaborate even with those who outright stick up for repression. Flynt, for instance, has worked closely with Tehran University's Mohamed Marandi who defends the execution of political dissidents.

John Laughland is also on the advisory board. He is, as Kirchick notes, “a British writer who has never met a Central or Eastern European autocrat he didn’t like.” The man wrote a book called Travesty which lambastes the international war crimes tribunal that put Serbian tyrant Slobodan Milosevic on trial for crimes against humanity and genocide, a genocide which Laughland denies even happened. Ramsey Clark, who defended not only Milosevic but also Saddam Hussein and Rwandan mass murderers, wrote the book’s Foreword.

Mark Almond is another of Ron Paul's advisors. He's a fan of yet another dictator, the last one in Europe—Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus. “After the death of Slobodan Milosevic,” he wrote in The Guardian, “the west did not need to look far to find another bogeyman. Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus was on hand...Belarus is far from perfect, but it is a country where masses of ordinary people are getting on with life and getting a bit better off. That is why Lukashenko inspires fear and loathing in the thinktanks and foreign ministries of the west.”

This sort of nonsense is hardly any different from what useful idiots for communist slavery once peddled about the Soviet Union. No libertarian would ever have written such a thing about a creepjob like Lukashenko, but radical leftists have written variations on it thousands of times about despots all over the world.

Almond, of course, doesn't describe himself as a libertarian. Neither do Laughland or the Leveretts. But Ron Paul is supposedly libertarian, one of the best known in the country, and he hired them.

It’s one thing to be a provincial libertarian who doesn’t give a flying fork about the oppression of people outside America. It’s another thing entirely to defend foreign oppressors and genocidaires. This is not even in the same time zone as libertarianism, which principally concerns itself with human rights and individual liberty.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties have libertarian factions within them, but at the same time libertarians face hostility from their liberal and conservative wings. Paul's new institute perfectly encapsulates why. What we're seeing here, though, has nothing whatever to do with libertarianism. What we're seeing instead is yet more tired and worn-out anti-Americanism. Some on Paul’s board limit their opposition to the American government and its foreign policy rather than extending their hostility to the American people and culture, but if your opposition to Washington is so over-the-top that you prefer police states overseas to Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, what, exactly, differentiates you from the likes of Noam Chomsky?

“The sorts of things that horrify decent people,” writes Kirchick in his Daily Beast exposé, “do not horrify Ron Paul.”

That's for damn sure.

Libertarians have always had a public relations problem. The Big-L Libertarian Party looks as goofy as a Star Trek convention to average Americans. (I say this, by the way, as someone with libertarian instincts myself.) But not once since the word libertarian was coined has anyone so twisted its meaning or warped it beyond recognition.

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