A fellow traveler is someone who supports a group – typically used pejoratively as a group adversarial to one’s society – without being a member; a fifth columnist takes active, but hidden, steps to undermine one’s society on behalf of a foreign adversary. (Neither term, of course, applies merely to people who like to vacation abroad in Italy, or watch English football, for example; both terms fit those who align themselves with those aligned against our own society.)
We find today a small but evident number of Americans who have become fellow travelers (and who may be fifth columnists) for Putin against America. Rand Paul is one such low and degraded man.
McCain sees Rand Paul clearly:
— #MarchForTruth (@MarchForTruth17) August 16, 2018
Dr. Bohdan Klid asks the right question about Paul in Why Does Senator Rand Paul Trust the Deepest State of All?:
In Russia, Paul is discussing NATO and other security issues with government officials of a country run by a former career KGB officer. Putin has spoken with pride of the seventy-year heritage of the Soviet secret services, which engaged in political killings, ran concentration camps for decades, and served as instruments of Stalin’s mass terror in the 1930s.
Under Putin, politically-motivated killings have once again flourished. In October 2006, the journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who wrote on Russian atrocities in Chechnya and was a fierce Putin critic, was gunned down. A month later, another fierce Putin critic, Alexander Litvinenko, a former FSB agent who sought asylum in Britain, was poisoned. Litvinenko co-wrote a book, Blowing Up Russia: Terror from Within, arguing that the 1999 apartment bombings in Russia were FSB operations. This topic has been the subject of further academic study, including by the late, highly respected scholar, Karen Dawisha, who in her book Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?, focused on the organized crime links and corruption associated with Putin’s rise to power. It is deeply ironic that Paul, who is suspicious of the US intelligence agencies, believing they are at the core of the “deep state,” seems willing to consider making concessions or appease the leaders and officials connected to the deepest of all “deep states.”
There are many of us, from libertarian families, who have had doubts about the Pauls even years ago, despite an inclination to hope the best in those who espoused any libertarian inclinations. See Appeasement Isn’t Peace.
In a story about a truly libertarian-oriented Republican (Justin Amash), Dave Weigel describes two kinds of libertarians:
Broadly speaking, modern libertarians fit into two schools of thought. One of them, socially liberal and supportive of open markets and borders, was represented by the D.C.-based Cato Institute, Reason magazine and 2016 Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson.
The other, often called “paleolibertarian,” was more nationalistic and often socially conservative; it was represented best by Ron Paul and the Alabama-based Ludwig von Mises Institute, named after the Austrian economist.
That’s very broad, candidly, and in fact, I would not call the ‘paleolibertarians’ libertarian at all. They’re simply conservatives, and many of them are conservatives who support Trump.
There never is, was, or will be a libertarian case for Trump. That some call themselves ‘libertarian’ while professing support for Trumpism doesn’t mean that there is a libertarian case for Trump; it means that some men will distort ordinary language on behalf of someone who distorts ordinary principles.
That Paul’s no true libertarian means little outside the libertarian tradition; that he’s supportive of Putin means far more, and worse, as a contemptible rejection of the broader democratic tradition of which libertarianism is merely one part.