Ron Paul is often the subject of much derision from the left — and deservedly so as he espouses crackpot economic theories that should be confined to books on the 19th century.

But yesterday, he announced an initiative that, I think, many on the left will (or should) deem worthwhile: a think-tank that will offer an academic alternative to the incessant Beltway Consensus drumbeat for military intervention.

A press release on his Facebook page heralded the foundation of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, declaring that “the neo-conservative era is dead.”

The ill-advised policies pushed by the neo-cons have everywhere led to chaos and destruction, and to a hatred of the United States and its people. Multi-trillion dollar wars have not made the world a safer place; they have only bankrupted our economic future. The Ron Paul Institute will provide the tools and the education to chart a new course with the understanding that only through a peaceful foreign policy can we hope for a prosperous tomorrow.

Founder and Chairman, and CEO Dr. Paul has invited the Institute’s board of advisors to speak at the conference, including Rep. Walter Jones, Jr. (NC), Rep. John Duncan, Jr. (TN), former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH), Judge Andrew Napolitano, Ambassador Faith Whittlesey, and Llewellyn Rockwell, Jr.

How could a proper progressive argue that this is anything but positive after the New York Times, that supposed bastion of forward thinking, ran an op-ed on the same day entitled “Bomb North Korea Now, Before It’s Too Late”?

Oh, and to preempt bleating about the North Korea situation being different, all diplomatic channels have not been exhausted. The Obama administration refuses to directly and openly engage North Korea without preconditions — a result, no doubt, of our militaristic tunnel vision.

President Obama himself has decried this sort of refusal to engage in diplomacy before.

“If the expectation is that we can only have direct negotiations when everything is settled ahead of time,” President Obama lectured Palestinians on Israeli settlements in March, “then there is no point for negotiations.”

That logic is typically pretty sound, although inappropriate when weighed against the need for a temporary cessation of ethnic cleansing to advance diplomacy (is that so much to ask?). But the principle somehow doesn’t apply to his own foreign policy.

I suspect that the Paul Institute would have no problem pointing out the hypocrisy.

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Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.