Dr. Ron Paul..............
blueoval at 1SMARTISP.NET
Tue Feb 1 21:22:04 MST 2005
What If Our Foreign Policy and Domestic Anti-Terrorism Policy Are
by Rep. Ron Paul, MD
EDITOR'S NOTE: Rep. Paul delivered this address before the US
House of Representatives on January 26, 2005.
What would it take to change our policy to one more compatible
with a true republic s goal of peace, commerce, and friendship
with all nations?
America s policy of foreign intervention, while still debated in
the early 20th century, is today accepted as conventional wisdom
by both political parties. But what if the overall policy is a
colossal mistake, a major error in judgment? Not just bad judgment
regarding when and where to impose ourselves, but the entire
premise that we have a moral right to meddle in the affairs of
others? Think of the untold harm done by years of
fighting hundreds of thousands of American casualties, hundreds of
thousands of foreign civilian casualties, and unbelievable human
and economic costs. What if it was all needlessly borne by the
American people? If we do conclude that grave foreign policy
errors have been made, a very serious question must be asked: What
would it take to change our policy to one more compatible with a
true republic s goal of peace, commerce, and friendship with all
nations? Is it not possible that Washington s admonition to avoid
entangling alliances is sound advice even today?
In medicine mistakes are made man is fallible. Misdiagnoses are
made, incorrect treatments are given, and experimental trials of
medicines are advocated. A good physician understands the
imperfections in medical care, advises close follow-ups, and
double-checks the diagnosis, treatment, and medication.
Adjustments are made to ensure the best results. But what if a
doctor never checks the success or failure of a treatment, or
ignores bad results and assumes his omnipotence refusing to
concede that the initial course of treatment was a mistake? Let me
assure you, the results would not be good. Litigation and the loss
of reputation in the medical community place restraints on this
type of bullheaded behavior.
Sadly, though, when governments, politicians, and bureaucrats make
mistakes and refuse to reexamine them, there is little the victims
can do to correct things. Since the bully pulpit and the media
propaganda machine are instrumental in government cover-ups and
deception, the final truth emerges slowly, and only after much
suffering. The arrogance of some politicians, regulators, and
diplomats actually causes them to become even more aggressive and
more determined to prove themselves right, to prove their power is
not to be messed with by never admitting a mistake. Truly, power
The unwillingness to ever reconsider our policy of foreign
intervention, despite obvious failures and shortcomings over the
last 50 years, has brought great harm to our country and our
liberty. Historically, financial realities are the ultimate check
on nations bent on empire. Economic laws ultimately prevail over
bad judgment. But tragically, the greater the wealth of a country,
the longer the flawed policy lasts. We ll probably not be any
We are still a wealthy nation, and our currency is still trusted
by the world, yet we are vulnerable to some harsh realities about
our true wealth and the burden of our future commitments.
Overwhelming debt and the precarious nature of the dollar should
serve to restrain our determined leaders, yet they show little
concern for deficits. Rest assured, though, the limitations of our
endless foreign adventurism and spending will become apparent to
everyone at some point in time.
Since 9/11, a lot of energy and money have gone into efforts
ostensibly designed to make us safer. Many laws have been passed
and many dollars have been spent. Whether or not we re better off
is another question.
Today we occupy two countries in the Middle East. We have suffered
over 20,000 casualties, and caused possibly 100,000 civilian
casualties in Iraq. We have spent over $200 billion in these
occupations, as well as hundreds of billions of dollars here at
home hoping to be safer. We ve created the Department of Homeland
Security, passed the Patriot Act, and created a new super CIA
Our government now is permitted to monitor the Internet, to read
our mail, to search us without proper search warrants, to develop
a national ID card, and to investigate what people are reading in
libraries. Ironically, illegal aliens flow into our country and
qualify for driving licenses and welfare benefits with little
These issues are discussed, but nothing has been as highly visible
to us as the authoritarianism we accept at the airport. The
creation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has
intruded on the privacy of all airline travelers, and there is
little evidence that we are safer for it. Driven by fear, we have
succumbed to the age-old temptation to sacrifice liberty on the
pretense of obtaining security. Love of security, unfortunately,
all too often vanquishes love of liberty.
Unchecked fear of another 9/11-type attack constantly preoccupies
our leaders and most of our citizens, and drives the legislative
attack on our civil liberties. It s frightening to see us doing to
ourselves what even bin Laden never dreamed he could accomplish
with his suicide bombers.
We don t understand the difference between a vague threat of
terrorism and the danger of a guerilla war. One prompts us to
expand and nationalize domestic law enforcement while limiting the
freedoms of all Americans. The other deals with understanding
terrorists like bin Laden, who declared war against us in 1998.
Not understanding the difference makes it virtually impossible to
deal with the real threats. We are obsessed with passing new laws
to make our country safe from a terrorist attack. This confusion
about the cause of the 9/11 attacks, the fear they engendered, and
the willingness to sacrifice liberty prompts many to declare their
satisfaction with the inconveniences and even humiliation at our
nation s airports.
There are always those in government who are anxious to increase
its power and authority over the people. Strict adherence to
personal privacy annoys those who promote a centralized state.
It s no surprise to learn that many of the new laws passed in
the aftermath of 9/11 had been proposed long before that date. The
attacks merely provided an excuse to do many things previously
proposed by dedicated statists.
All too often government acts perversely, professing to advance
liberty while actually doing the opposite. Dozens of new bills
passed since 9/11 promise to protect our freedoms and our
security. In time we will realize there is little chance our
security will be enhanced or our liberties protected.
The powerful and intrusive TSA certainly will not solve our
problems. Without a full discussion, greater understanding, and
ultimately a change in the foreign policy that incites those who
declared war against us, no amount of pat-downs at airports will
suffice. Imagine the harm done, the staggering costs, and the loss
of liberty if the next 20 years pass and airplanes are never
employed by terrorists. Even if there is a possibility that
airplanes will be used to terrorize us, TSA s bullying will do
little to prevent it. Patting down old women and little kids in
airports cannot possibly make us safer!
TSA cannot protect us from another attack and it is not the
solution. It serves
only to make us all more obedient and complacent toward government
intrusions into our lives.
The airport mess has been compounded by other problems, which we
fail to recognize. Most assume the government has the greatest
responsibility for making private aircraft travel safe. But this
assumption only ignores mistakes made before 9/11, when the
government taught us to not resist, taught us that airline
personnel could not carry guns, and that the government would be
in charge of security. Airline owners became complacent and
dependent upon the government.
After 9/11 we moved in the wrong direction by allowing total
government control and a political takeover by the TSA which was
completely contrary to the proposition that private owners have
the ultimate responsibility to protect their customers.
Discrimination laws passed during the last 40 years ostensibly
fuel the Transportation Secretary s near obsession with avoiding
the appearance of discrimination toward young Muslim males.
Instead TSA seemingly targets white children and old women. We
have failed to recognize that a safety policy by a private airline
is quite a different thing from government agents blindly obeying
Governments do not have a right to use blanket discrimination,
such as that which led to incarceration of Japanese Americans in
World War II. However, local law-enforcement agencies should be
able to target their searches if the description of a suspect is
narrowed by sex, race, or religion.
We are dealing with an entirely different matter when it comes to
safety on airplanes. The federal government should not be involved
in local law enforcement, and has no right to discriminate.
Airlines, on the other hand, should be permitted to do whatever is
necessary to provide safety. Private firms long denied the
right should have a right to discriminate. Fine restaurants, for
example, can require that shoes and shirts be worn for service in
their establishments. The logic of this remaining property right
should permit more sensible security checks at airports. The
airlines should be responsible for the safety of their property,
and liable for it as well. This is not only the responsibility of
the airlines, but it is a civil right that has long been denied
them and other private companies.
The present situation requires the government to punish some by
targeting those individuals who clearly offer no threat. Any
airline that tries to make travel safer and happens to question a
larger number of young Muslim males than the government deems
appropriate can be assessed huge fines. To add insult to injury,
the fines collected from airlines are used for forced sensitivity
training of pilots who do their very best, under the
circumstances, to make flying safer by restricting the travel of
some individuals. We have embarked on a process that serves no
logical purpose. While airline safety suffers, personal liberty is
diminished and costs skyrocket.
If we re willing to consider a different foreign policy, we should
ask ourselves a few questions:
1. What if the policies of foreign intervention,
entangling alliances, policing the world, nation building, and
spreading our values through force are deeply flawed?
2. What if it is true that Saddam Hussein never had
weapons of mass destruction?
3. What if it is true that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin
Laden were never allies?
4. What if it is true that the overthrow of Saddam
Hussein did nothing to enhance our national security?
5. What if our current policy in the Middle East leads to
the overthrow of our client oil states in the region?
6. What if the American people really knew that more than
20,000 American troops have suffered serious casualties or died in
the Iraq war, and 9% of our forces already have been made
incapable of returning to battle?
7. What if it turns out there are many more guerrilla
fighters in Iraq than our government admits?
8. What if there really have been 100,000 civilian Iraqi
casualties, as some claim, and what is an acceptable price for
9. What if Rumsfeld is replaced for the wrong reasons,
and things become worse under a Defense Secretary who demands more
troops and an expansion of the war?
10. What if we discover that, when they do vote, the
overwhelming majority of Iraqis support Islamic (Sharia) law over
western secular law, and want our troops removed?
11. What if those who correctly warned of the disaster
awaiting us in Iraq are never asked for their opinion of what
should be done now?
12. What if the only solution for Iraq is to divide the
country into three separate regions, recognizing the principle of
self-determination while rejecting the artificial boundaries
created in 1918 by non-Iraqis?
13. What if it turns out radical Muslims don t hate us
for our freedoms, but rather for our policies in the Middle East
that directly affected Arabs and Muslims?
14. What if the invasion and occupation of Iraq actually
distracted from pursuing and capturing Osama bin Laden?
15. What if we discover that democracy can t be spread
with force of arms?
16. What if democracy is deeply flawed, and instead we
should be talking about liberty, property rights, free markets,
the rule of law, localized government, weak centralized
government, and self-determination promoted through persuasion,
17. What if Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda actually
welcomed our invasion and occupation of Arab/Muslim Iraq as proof
of their accusations against us, and it served as a magnificent
recruiting tool for them?
18. What if our policy greatly increased and prolonged
our vulnerability to terrorists and guerilla attacks both at home
19. What if the Pentagon, as reported by its Defense
Science Board, actually recognized the dangers of our policy
before the invasion, and their warnings were ignored or denied?
20. What if the argument that by fighting over there, we
won t have to fight here, is wrong, and the opposite is true?
21. What if we can never be safer by giving up some of
22. What if the principle of pre-emptive war is adopted
by Russia, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and others, justified
by current U.S. policy?
23. What if pre-emptive war and pre-emptive guilt stem
from the same flawed policy of authoritarianism, though we fail to
24. What if Pakistan is not a trustworthy ally, and turns
on us when conditions deteriorate?
25. What if plans are being laid to provoke Syria and/or
Iran into actions that would be used to justify a military
response and pre-emptive war against them?
26. What if our policy of democratization of the Middle
East fails, and ends up fueling a Russian-Chinese alliance that we
regret--an alliance not achieved even at the height of the Cold
27. What if the policy forbidding profiling at our
borders and airports is deeply flawed?
28. What if presuming the guilt of a suspected terrorist
without a trial leads to the total undermining of constitutional
protections for American citizens when arrested?
29. What if we discover the army is too small to continue
policies of pre-emption and nation-building? What if a military
draft is the only way to mobilize enough troops?
30. What if the stop-loss program is actually an
egregious violation of trust and a breach of contract between the
government and soldiers? What if it actually is a backdoor draft,
leading to unbridled cynicism and rebellion against a voluntary
army and generating support for a draft of both men and women?
Will lying to troops lead to rebellion and anger toward the
political leadership running the war?
31. What if the Pentagon s legal task-force opinion that
the President is not bound by international or federal law
regarding torture stands unchallenged, and sets a precedent which
ultimately harms Americans, while totally disregarding the moral,
practical, and legal arguments against such a policy?
32. What if the intelligence reform legislation--which
gives us bigger, more expensive bureaucracy--doesn't bolster our
security, and distracts us from the real problem of revamping our
interventionist foreign policy?
33. What if we suddenly discover we are the aggressors,
and we are losing an unwinnable guerrilla war?
34. What if we discover, too late, that we can't afford
this war--and that our policies have led to a dollar collapse,
rampant inflation, high interest rates, and a severe economic
Why do I believe these are such important questions? Because the
Number One function of the federal government--to provide for
national security--has been severely undermined. On 9/11 we had a
grand total of 14 aircraft in place to protect the entire US
mainland, all of which proved useless that day. We have an annual
DOD budget of over $400 billion, most of which is spent overseas
in over 100 different countries. On 9/11 our Air Force was better
positioned to protect Seoul, Tokyo, Berlin, and London than it was
to protect Washington D.C. and New York City.
Moreover, our ill-advised presence in the Middle East and our
decade-long bombing of Iraq served only to incite the suicidal
attacks of 9/11.
Before 9/11 our CIA ineptly pursued bin Laden, whom the Taliban
was protecting. At the same time, the Taliban was receiving
significant support from Pakistan--our "trusted ally" that
received millions of dollars from the United States. We allied
ourselves with both bin Laden and Hussein in the 1980s, only to
regret it in the 1990s. And it's safe to say we have used billions
of US taxpayer dollars in the last 50 years pursuing this
contradictory, irrational, foolish, costly, and very dangerous
Policing the world, spreading democracy by force, nation building,
and frequent bombing of countries that pose no threat to us--while
leaving the homeland and our borders unprotected--result from a
foreign policy that is contradictory and not in our
I hardly expect anyone in Washington to pay much attention to
these concerns. If I'm completely wrong in my criticisms, nothing
is lost except my time and energy expended in efforts to get
others to reconsider our foreign policy.
But the bigger question is:
What if I'm right, or even partially right, and we urgently need
to change course in our foreign policy for the sake of our
national and economic security, yet no one pays attention?
For that a price will be paid. Is it not worth talking about?
Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.
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