Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column

November 20, 2000

Our Foolish War in the Middle East

The West has been at war with the Muslim world for over a thousand years. Following the British lead from the first half of this century, the United States has attempted to dominate the Middle East since World War II. The U.S. government has not hesitated to use its military might in the region, justifying its actions by claiming a right and need to protect "our" oil.
The result of our actions has been a growing resentment of America, for obvious reasons. Sadly, our policies make our soldiers across the globe more vulnerable. No one should be surprised by the terrible USS Cole tragedy. If the administration understood the history of the region, it would see the total folly of anchoring a war vessel in an enemy port. This lack of understanding of Middle Eastern history and religion, combined with our policy of aggression and empire building, has led to a dangerous interventionist attitude.
It is clear that we are not in the Middle East for national security reasons, but rather to protect powerful commercial interests. This assures we protect oil supplies for the West, and provides us with an excuse to keep the military industrial complex active.
To put this in a proper perspective, consider how Americans, especially Texans, would feel if the Gulf of Mexico were patrolled by warships of a foreign power. What if that same power proceeded to build air bases in Texas and Florida with our government's complicity to protect "their" oil? Imagine the rightful anger this would spark among most Americans! This anger would be directed at both the foreign occupiers of our territorial waters, and our own government for permitting it. Yet this is exactly what has been happening in the Persian Gulf region. For religious, historic, and sovereignty reasons, the Muslim people harbor great resentment toward us.
The USS Cole disaster was needless and preventable. The loss of this vessel and the tragic deaths of 17 Americans were a direct consequence of an interventionist policy. This policy has led to a lack of military readiness by spreading our forces too thin, increasing the danger to all Americans and our servicemen in that region in particular. It's positively amazing we do not have the ability to protect a $1 billion dollar vessel from a rubber raft, despite our $300 billion military budget. Our sentries on duty had rifles without bullets, and were prohibited from firing on any enemy targets. This policy is absurd if not insane. It is obvious that our navy lacks the military intelligence to warn and prevent such an event. It is incapable even of investigating the incident, since the FBI was brought in to try to figure out what happened. This further intrusion will only serve to increase the resentment of the people of Yemen and the Middle East toward all Americans.
Our policy in the Middle East cannot possibly be successful. It's obvious there will be an inevitable conflict between our support for the moderate Arabs- which antagonizes the Islamic fundamentalists in the region- and our special treatment for Israel. It is clear that powerful financial interests in this country want to use our military force to protect their commercial and oil interests in the region, while at the same time there always will be powerful U.S. political support for the State of Israel. The two sides never will be reconciled by our attempt to support both.
Our many failures in the last fifty years should prompt us to reassess our entire foreign policy of interventionism. We must end our efforts to police the world. Our failures in Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, and the Middle East, and our failures yet come to in Bosnia and Kosovo should alert all Americans to this great danger. Instead we continue to expand our military adventurism into more sovereign nations (this time it's the 30-year civil conflict in Columbia). Congress and the administration must understand that the greatest threat to our national security is our own bad policy.