Rand Paul, Pompeo, and the Koch Connection

Among the least convincing explanations ever: Sen. Rand Paul’s rationalization for changing his vote on the Pompeo nomination. When pressed, the Senator admits there were no real promises made, just a “general” sense that “we’re going to see less of these wars” after Mike Pompeo takes the helm of State. His fans were not impressed.

Adding annoyance to animadversion, it turned out that Sen. Paul’s vote wasn’t even the decisive one: two Democrats voted for Pompeo, and so his turnabout wasn’t just confusing to his base but also unnecessary.

On the other hand, the Senator made a point of insisting that the man at the head of our Department of State recognized what everyone but a few neocon dead-enders admit: that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a disastrous mistake. This point cannot be made often enough, and it does need to be emphasized – because people forget. Indeed, half the reporters running around Washington hadn’t reached puberty by the time George W. Bush launched what was supposed to be the Cakewalk War.

And while Rand’s libertarian critics and others may take him to task for waffling, his real enemies – and ours – understand the propaganda value of what he did around the Pompeo nomination. The Weekly Standard – I would argue the one publication most responsible for getting us into the Iraq war – ran a piece attacking Sen. Paul for “Randstanding,” a phrase they apparently hope to popularize. These unrepentant neocons argue that Pompeo’s hawkish views fall “within the mainstream of the Republican party,” but they don’t realize that the “mainstream” is flowing in a very different direction these days. Surely Rand’s insistence that the Secretary of State agree with his President’s view of the Iraq war was hardly a bridge too far for Pompeo to cross.

Rank-and-file libertarians may be perturbed by Sen. Paul’s decision to go with Pompeo, but the libertarians’ very own version of George Soros probably has a different reaction. Yes, Pompeo is an inhabitant of KochWorld: not for nothing was he known as “the congressman from Koch.” Which makes one wonder….

Charles Koch, who now calls himself a “classical liberal,” just gave a huge endowment to a foreign policy studies program that includes a comprehensive critique of interventionist policies. While some elements over at the Cato Institute have lately echoed the Russophobic nonsense that is de rigueur in Washington, historically the organizations of KochWorld have been hostile to the War Party. So maybe there’s something to Sen. Paul’s contention that Pompeo’s reign at State will coincide with a more pacific foreign policy. That fits in with rumors that the “America First” faction is back in the President’s good graces – but then again this remains to be seen.

So far, however, the skeptics are right: Rand got next to nothing for his vote, except the satisfaction of hearing himself talk – which may be all the satisfaction he requires.

Rue Britannia!

While I have no intention of taking a position here on the Alfie Evans case, which is roiling Britain and much of the rest of the world, I have to note that when the police start posting tweets like this something is very seriously wrong. I’ve long noted the authoritarian tendencies that have slowly but surely become dominant in Britain, but when they start handing out sentences of eight months in prison for giving a police camera the finger one has to wonder if our cousins on the wrong side of the Atlantic have completely lost it.

Down Mexico Way

Yes, nationalism is on the rise all around the world, including in Mexico, where the anti-Trump sentiment is high and so are Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s poll numbers. Obrador, the Hugo Chavez of Mexico, who openly admires Fidel Castro, is at 45 percent in the polls, far ahead of the other five or six candidates: the country will hold a presidential election on July 1.

Obrador is a veteran of the Mexican left, who ran for the presidency and lost out twice (in cliffhangers where the fragrance of fraud was particularly strong) and is hoping the third attempt will give him the victory. He has vowed to take on President Trump, defy the United States on immigration, put the poor first, and also promised to restore order in a country that often seems on the verge of a meltdown.

As the drug cartels begin to seriously challenge the Mexican state’s monopoly on the use of force, Obrador is advocating an amnesty for those in the drug trade. As he put it in the first of three presidential debates: “You can’t fight violence with violence.” Obrador is a “root causes” kind of guy, but how an increasingly intimidated populace will react to his proposal is not at all clear: the other candidates were quick to jump on the idea as evidence that the frontrunner wants to hand the country over to “criminals.”

Whether he’s making a serious proposal or just engaging in empty talk, this left-wing south of the border populist-nationalist is probably going to win – and will therefore become a prominent voice of international Anti-Trumpism, alongside Bill Kristol, Madonna, and the Democratic National Committee. In which case one wonders how long before we see some action at our southern border on a scale we haven’t witnessed since the days of Pancho Villa.


The big news this week is the summit of the two Koreas, a meeting this Friday between South Korean President Moon Jai-in and North Korean El Supremo Kim Jong-un. While the Western pundit class disdains Trump’s peace initiative (partly because they don’t understand that it didn’t originate with Trump), longtime Korea hand Tim Shorrock, who’s been covering the region for thirty-some years, has an analysis worth reading:

Since the first news emerged of Pompeo’s trip [to Pyongyang] and Kim’s concessions, the reporters who cover North Korea for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other mainstream outlets sought out their regular ‘expert’ sources from think tanks and previous administrations to pour cold water on the idea that North Korea has offered anything substantial to either South Korea or the United States. What emerged was another classic ‘Washington Consensus’ on a key foreign-policy issue, led by people who have often been wrong on Korea.”


And here’s why Peter van Buren is one of my favorite follows on Twitter.


You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of Antiwar.com, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].