Most fundamentally, U.S. foreign policy toward Iraq is flawed; it totally ignores history, and reflects a lack of understanding of long-time justifiable Arab distrust of the West. The Middle East has been savaged and ruled by outsiders for a thousand years, and U.N. quick-fixes will only aggravate the understandable resentment of those seen as foreign infidels by the Arabs.
Regardless of how we may judge the merits of each war or occupation over the past 1000 years, the Arab mind is deeply influenced by the history of Roman, European, and now American meddling. Even the current borders between Middle Eastern countries have been imposed and enforced by outsiders without regard to the history of the region. This is not to argue who is right or who is wrong in each dispute but to emphasize the long-standing nature of the conflicts in the region that prevents a solution coming from the West. Arabs see U.N. policy as U.S. policy, and believe it to be anti-Arab, something that U.S. bombs only re-enforce.
There is no direct national security interests for us to be in Iraq. We are not the policeman of the world, we can't afford it, and our interventionist efforts usually backfire. Our policy in this region has been designed more to promote the United Nations than to deal with any threat to our national security. Control of the region's huge oil reserves is a much more important factor than U.S. security.
The cost of such an involvement is very high, and dependent on the immoral use of force. It is argued that the Persian Gulf War was a "cheap" war because less than 200 American military personnel lost their lives. But I argue that even if only one life is needlessly lost, the cost is too high. The billions of dollars spent obviously is a major cost to the American taxpayer. And with an estimated 35,000 military personnel suffering from the Gulf War Syndrome, a final price has yet to be determined. And horribly, the "price" innocent Iraqi civilians pay is seemingly of no concern to our policy makers.
During the 60-day Persian Gulf War, more bombs were dropped on Iraq than all the bombs dropped on Germany in World War II. Yet instability remains and hatred of America increases. Many years of experience should demonstrate that further hostilities toward Iraq benefits Hussein as his people rally more strongly around him with each increase in sanctions.
Current American policy has fractured the weak alliance that was bought in the Persian Gulf War: Russia, France, China, Egypt and others have urged that no military force be used at all.
According to a recent Associated Press news story, Kuwait's leaders and citizens are opposed to US interference with Iraq; remember, this is the same nation we went to war for after Iraq invaded them six years ago. If the people most vulnerable to Iraqi aggression are not anxious to see military might used against Hussein, they are sending a strong message to us about the wisdom of using force at this time.
A popular conservative talk show host has suggested that the solution to the dilemma might be an alliance with Iran, for the purpose of destroying Iraq. This reflects the senselessness of foreign policy in the region. In the early 1980's, when Iraq was using poison gases against Iran, we were Iraq's allies. In essence, we subsidized the very weapons we now want to kill Hussein for possessing.
Our foreign policy is without sense or reason. We subsidize China to the tune of many billions of dollars, although their record on human rights is every bit as bad as Iraq. Not only that, but China probably represents the greatest threat to world peace of all the countries in the world. Further, we are currently bailing-out Indonesia, although it too, violates the civil liberties of their own people. The U.S. criticizes Iraq for the treatment of the Kurds; yet Turkey's policy is the same and we reward them with more American dollars. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have hardly been champions of civil liberties for minority religious groups or women, and yet we sacrificed American lives for them. The determining factor in all this seems to be who's controlling the oil. Human rights issues and provoked threats from Hussein seem to be nothing more than propaganda tools for the politicians.
The main goal of American policy appears to be to kill Hussein. If there was a clear understanding of this region, one would realize that this would probably lead to more chaos, more hatred toward America, and most likely cause a greater threat of terrorism here in the United States.
Policy toward Iraq is based on the special interests of powerful financial and oil interests. It is not designed to protect U.S. national security. It is instead a threat to our security because it may lead to war and loss of American lives, increase terrorism and certainly an additional expense for the US taxpayer. The hyped rhetoric coming from Washington which describes Hussein as the only evil monster with which we must deal in the world is a poor substitute for wise counsel.
A policy designed to protect American security and promote neutrality and friendship with all nations would go a long way toward removing the serious threat to peace in the Middle East.
Ron Paul represents the 14th District of Texas. His office may be contacted at 203 Cannon, Washington, DC 20515.