Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column

December 31, 2001

Peace and Prosperity in 2002?

The events of September 11th, the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, and economic troubles at home all serve to make 2002 a year of great uncertainty for America. The President already has warned the nation that 2002 will be "a war year," and economic recovery in the near future seems unlikely. It is easy for us to lose sight of the primary responsibility of our government during troubled times, because we naturally are anxious to have Washington eradicate terrorism and "fix" the economy. Yet we should not forget that peace and prosperity are best secured by a government that secures liberty for its citizens. The best formula for securing liberty is limited government at home and a noninterventionist foreign policy abroad.

Nonintervention in the self-determination of the Afghan people should be our goal as that nation begins to rebuild its government. While we certainly were justified in our military actions against bin Laden and his network, we must not allow ourselves to engage in nation building in Afghanistan. Neither America nor the UN should seek to install a government, and we certainly should not allow ourselves to become involved in another endless UN "peacekeeping" operation similar to Kosovo. Our goal should be to get our troops out of the country as soon as possible and remain neutral toward the various factions still vying for power. The best solution may be for Afghanistan to break up into several countries based on ethnic and religious differences, with a Pashtun government in Kabul and the south and various mujahidin governments in the north. Regardless of the outcome, we must recognize that history teaches us time and again that we should not involve ourselves in the internal conflicts of foreign nations.

Prosperity at home can only be achieved if we do not allow government to engage in the kind of runaway spending that marked the final months of 2001. Congress allowed terrorism to serve as an excuse for billions in special interest spending that had little or nothing to do with September 11th or fighting terrorism. The fiscal year 2002 budget, already bloated with billions of dollars in unnecessary and counterproductive spending before September 11th, has become a grab bag for every group or industry seeking a handout. Several federal agencies and bureaucracies needlessly receive more funding than originally requested by President Bush. Dangerous foreign aid spending also grows next year, sending more of your tax dollars overseas to fund dubious regimes that often later become our enemies- the Taliban being a poignant example. Congress cannot continue to increase spending each year and expect tax revenues to keep pace. Deficit spending and tax increases will be the inevitable consequences. No reasonable person can argue that our current $2 trillion budget does not contain huge amounts of special interest spending that can and should be cut by Congress, especially when we are confronted with terrorist threats and an economic crisis.