Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column

December 22, 1997

Monday, December 22, 1997
From Ron Paul's Weekly Column

Congress must bring American troops home

President pledges indefinite Bosnian involvement, despite reason and Constitution

While many Americans are observing Christmas this week, our troops in Bosnia found out last week that the present they are getting from the President is an indefinite stay in that war-torn region. Of course, taxpayers get to partake in the present; after all, we are footing the over-$7 billion bill.

What makes this latest announcement by the president unique is that he is finally coming clean with what many, including myself, have viewed as his real objective: to keep troops in Bosnia indefinitely, despite the constitutional and moral reasons against any involvement whatsoever.

For hundreds of years the Serbs and Croats have been fighting, trying to get the upper hand on the other. When the Communists took over the region more than 50 years ago, an artificial peace was set in place; a "peace" brought on by the heavy hand of tyranny. When the communist regime crumbled, the old enemies were allowed to once again take aim at each other, which they did with a horrific zeal.

It was in November 1995 when President Clinton ordered US troops into the region to police it and force everyone to get along. While there was, correctly, strong opposition to this foreign imperialism in the Congress and among the people, the President moved forward, promising that at the most, the troops would remain twelve months, and not a day longer, he promised. But in a sober address, he told the American people a few months later that the troops would need to remain in place until mid-1997, and no longer.

Like so many of his other promises, though, the promise to bring our troops back was conveniently forgotten 10 days after winning re-election in 1996. He announced the troops would have to remain in place until June 1998, more than eighteen months longer than he originally, categorically, promised.

The mission in Bosnia has been an unqualified failure by any standard save one. If the goal is to weaken domestic defense and inspire anti-American sentiment abroad by spreading US troops around the globe in pointless missions with high risk, then the goal has been reached. But if the goal was to bring peace, it has obviously not occurred. The hatred lives on, and skirmishes are part of daily life for the people in that region.

If the goal was to reign in the bad-guys, that has not happened simply because in a conflict hundreds of years old, there really is no way to say who is and is not "wrong" by any standard that has meaning. The Serbian leaders have committed atrocities, as have the Croatians. Can we dictate who is morally superior?

If the goal in the region has been to promote an image of helpful-Americans to all sides, then we have failed even at that. By aligning ourselves with the Muslim/ Croatian alliance, we have alienated the Serbs. Using our standard of justice, we have arrested Serbian "war criminals," but yet almost ignored the Croatians. How can the US claim to be "keeping the peace" when our troops have been used to take-over the television and radio stations which were pro-Serb?

US intervention is only heightening animosities between the sides, a far cry from the stated "mission."

This week the President declared he would keep the troops in Bosnia until there is a firm foundation for a lasting peace and no more violence. Talk about arrogance! How exactly will we do this? By force? Perhaps, for there is really no other way. But is that the proper role for our troops? Absolutely not.

This president, like so many of his predecessors, has engaged in reckless foreign adventurism with a complete disregard for the Constitution, the philosophy which founded this nation and the security of our nation. Our founding fathers opposed imperialism in all its forms, and rejected the notion of "foreign entanglements" except when the US was directly threatened.

To counter the threat of foreign policy being dictated by special interests, the Constitution gives Congress, not the president, power to engage our nation in war. Only after a congressional declaration of war is the president authorized to place troops in battle. Yet presidents of the later half of this century have felt no need to follow the Constitution as they have sent our troops into senseless battles without congressional approval; remember Vietnam?

Yet Congress refuses to act in opposition, for fear of being labeled the politically-deadly "anti-troop." Sadly, it is anything but "anti-troop" to want our soldiers out of harms way when the situation does not involve us. In fact, those who put our troops in the line of fire for the sake of modern imperialism are the ones who are "anti-troop." They are the ones who are getting our soldiers injured, maimed and killed. By removing our troops from the situation - or, better yet, not putting them there in the first place - we are protecting their lives.

Perhaps more importantly, we could better protect the security of our nation by bringing our soldiers home. With thousands of troops in Bosnia and other "hot-spots" of civil unrest around the world, our borders are less secure, our defense less than ideal.

Now the ball is squarely in the court of Congress, with the question being a simple one: Will we allow the President to permanently place US troops in harms way in a region where no US interests or security is threatened for the sake of playing the role of global cops? When Congress returns to session in January, we will doubtless have the opportunity to cut funding for this latest maneuver by the president. Until now Congress has merely acquiesced and let the president continue placing our soldiers in a perilous, ridiculous situation. But the time has come for Congress to act. We must reign in the president and bring our troops home before the situation deteriorates.

American involvement in Bosnia is a dangerous policy, which defies both logic and the Constitution. Our president may be eager for a war record, but getting it at the expense of endless involvement in Bosnia is a price which must not be borne by our soldiers' blood, or the taxpayers' money. The time has come to end this presidential charade, to call his bluff, and prove that this Congress is pro-troop and pro-Constitution.