Ron Paul
2002 Ron Paul Chapter 83

The Price Of War

5 September 2002

Home Page   Contents   Cached from Ron Paul’s Congressional website.
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2002 Ron Paul 83:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, Thomas Jefferson spoke for the founders and all our early Presidents when he stated, “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none, which is one of the essential principles of our government.”

2002 Ron Paul 83:2
The question is, whatever happened to this principle and should it be restored? We find the 20th century was wracked with war; peace was turned asunder and our liberties steadily eroded. Foreign alliances and meddling in the internal affairs of other nations became commonplace. On many occasions, involvement in military action occurred through U.N. resolutions or a Presidential executive order, despite the fact that the war power was explicitly placed in the hands of the Congress.

2002 Ron Paul 83:3
Since World War II, nearly 100,000 deaths and over a quarter million wounded, not counting the many thousands claimed to have been affected by Agent Orange and the Persian Gulf War Syndrome, have all occurred without a declaration of war and without a clearcut victory. The entire 20th century was indeed costly with over 600,000 killed in battle and an additional million wounded.

2002 Ron Paul 83:4
If liberty had been truly enhanced during that time, less could be said about the imperfections of the policy. The evidence, however, is clear that we as a people are less free and the prosperity we still enjoy may be more illusionary than many realize.

2002 Ron Paul 83:5
The innocent victims who have suffered at the hands of our militarism abroad are rarely considered by our government; yet, they may well be a major factor in this hatred now being directed toward America. It is not currently popular to question corporate or banking influence over the foreign policy that replaced that of Washington and Jefferson. Questioning foreign government influence on our policies, although known about for years, is not acceptable in the politically correct environment in which we live.

2002 Ron Paul 83:6
There is little doubt that our role in the world dramatically changed in the 20th century, inexorably evolving from that of strict noninterventionism to that of sole superpower with the assumption that we were destined to be the world’s policeman.

2002 Ron Paul 83:7
By the end of the 20th century, in fact, this occurred. We have totally forgotten that for well over 100 years we followed the advice of the founders by meticulously avoiding overseas conflict. Instead, we now find ourselves in charge of an American hegemony spread to the four corners of the Earth.

2002 Ron Paul 83:8
As the 21st century begins, there is not a country in the world that does not depend upon the U.S. for protections or fears her wrath if they refuse to do her bidding. As the 20th century progressed, American taxpayers were required to finance with great sacrifice financially and freedom-wise the buying of loyalty through foreign aid and intimidation of those others who did not cooperate.

2002 Ron Paul 83:9
The question, though, remains, has this change been beneficial to freedom and prosperity here at home and has it promoted peace and trade throughout the world? Those who justify our interventionist policies abroad argue that the violation of the rule of law is not a problem considering the benefits we receive from maintaining the American empire, but has this really taken into consideration the cost in lives lost, the damage to long-term prosperity as well as the dollar cost and freedoms we have lost?

2002 Ron Paul 83:10
What about the future? Has this policy of foreign intervention set the stage for radically changing America and the world in ways not yet seen? Were the founders completely off track because they lived in different times, or was the foreign policy they advised based on an essential principle of lasting value? Choosing the wrong answer to this question could very well be deadly to the grand experiment in liberty begun in 1776.

2002 Ron Paul 83:11
The transition from nonintervention to our current role as world arbiter in all conflicts was insidious and fortuitous. In the early part of the 20th century, the collapse of the British Empire left a vacuum which was steadily filled by a U.S. presence around the world. In the latter part of the century, the results of World War II and the collapse of the Soviet system propelled us into our current role.

2002 Ron Paul 83:12
Throughout most of the 20th century it was our competition with the Soviets that prompted our ever-expanded presence around the world. We are where we are today almost by default, but does that justify its being in our best interests?

2002 Ron Paul 83:13
Disregarding for the moment the moral and constitutional arguments against foreign intervention, a strong case can be made against it for other reasons. It is clear that one intervention begets another. The first problem is rarely solved and the new ones are created. Indeed, in foreign affairs a slippery slope does exist.

2002 Ron Paul 83:14
In recent years, we too often slipped into war through the back door with the purpose rarely defined or understood and the need for victory ignored. A restrained effort of intervention frequently explodes into something that we do not foresee. Policies end up doing the opposite of their intended purpose with unintended consequences resulting.

2002 Ron Paul 83:15
The result then is that the action taken turns out to be actually detrimental to our national security interest; yet no effort is made to challenge the fundamental principle behind our foreign policy. It is this failure to adhere to a set of principles that has allowed us to slip into this role and, if unchallenged, could well undo the liberties we all cherish.

2002 Ron Paul 83:16
Throughout history, there has always been a great temptation for rulers to spread their influence and pursue empire over liberty. Resisting this temptation to power rarely has been achieved. There always seems to be a natural inclination to yield to this historic human passion. Could it be that progress and civilization and promoting freedom require ignoring this impulse to control others, as the founders of this great Nation advised?

2002 Ron Paul 83:17
Historically, the driving force behind world domination is usually an effort to control wealth. The Europeans were searching for gold when they came to the Americas. Now it is our turn to seek control over the black gold which drives much of what we do today in foreign affairs.

2002 Ron Paul 83:18
Competing with a power like the Soviet Union prompted our involvement in areas of the world where the struggle for the balance of power was the sole motivating force. The foreign policy of the 20th century replaced the policy endorsed by our early Presidents and permitted our steadily growing involvement overseas in an effort to control the world’s commercial interests with a special emphasis on oil.

2002 Ron Paul 83:19
Our influence in the Middle East evolved out of concern for the newly created State of Israel in 1947 and to securing control over the flow of oil in that region. Israel’s needs and Arab oil have influenced our foreign policy for more than half a century. In the 1950s, the CIA installed the Shah in Iran. It was not until the hostage crisis of the late 1970s that the unintended consequence occurred. This generated the Iranian hatred of America and led to the takeover by the reactionary Khomeini and the Islamic fundamentalists and caused greater regional instability than we anticipated.

2002 Ron Paul 83:20
Our meddling in the internal affairs of Iran was of no benefit to us and set the stage for our failed policy in dealing with Iraq. We allied ourselves in the 1980s with Iraq in its war with Iran and assisted Saddam Hussein in his rise to power. As recent reports reconfirm, we did nothing to stop Hussein’s development of chemical and biological weapons and at least indirectly assisted in their development. Now, as a consequence of that needless intervention, we are planning a risky war to remove him from power; and as usual, the probable result of such an effort would be something that our government does not anticipate like a takeover by someone much worse. As bad as Hussein is, he is an enemy of the al- Qaeda and someone new well may be a close ally of the Islamic radicals.

2002 Ron Paul 83:21
Although our puppet dictatorship in Saudi Arabia has lasted for many decades, it is becoming shakier every day. The Saudi people are not exactly friendly towards us, and our military presence on their holy soil is greatly resented. This contributes to the radical fundamentalist hatred directed toward us. Another unfavorable consequence to America, such as a regime change not to our liking, could soon occur in Saudi Arabia. It is not merely a coincidence that 15 of the 9–11 terrorists are Saudis.

2002 Ron Paul 83:22
The Persian Gulf War fought, without a declaration of war, is in reality still going on. It looks like that 9–11 may well have been a battle in that war perpetrated by fanatical guerrillas. It indicates how seriously flawed our foreign policy is.

2002 Ron Paul 83:23
In the 1980s we got involved in the Soviet-Afghanistan war and actually sided with the forces of Osama bin Laden, helping him gain power. This obviously was an alliance of no benefit to the United States, and it has come back to haunt us.

2002 Ron Paul 83:24
Our policy for years was to encourage Saudi Arabia to oppose communism by financing and promoting Islamic fundamentalism. Surely the shortcomings of that policy are evident to everyone.

2002 Ron Paul 83:25
Clinton’s bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan on the eve of his indictment over Monica Lewinsky shattered a Taliban plan to expel Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan. Clinton’s bombing of Baghdad on the eve of his impeachment hardly won any converts to our cause or reassured the Muslim people of the Middle Eastern countries of a U.S. balanced policy. The continued bombing of Iraq over these past 12 years, along with the deadly sanctions, resulted in hundreds of thousands of needless Iraqi civilian deaths, has not been beneficial to our security and has been used as one of the excuses for recruiting the fanatics ready to sacrifice their lives and demonstrating their hatred toward us.

2002 Ron Paul 83:26
Essentially all Muslims see our policy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as being openly favorable toward Israel and in opposition to the Palestinians. It is for this reason they hold us responsible for Palestinian deaths since all the Israeli weapons are from the United States. Since the Palestinians do not even have an army, and most have to live in refugee camps, one should understand at least why the animosity builds, even if our pro-Israeli position can be explained.

2002 Ron Paul 83:27
There is no end in site. Since 9–11, our involvement in the Middle East and in Saudi Arabia has grown significantly. Though we can badger those countries whose leaders depend on us to keep them in power to stay loyal to the United States, the common people of the region become more alienated. Our cozy relationship with the Russians may not be as long-lasting as our current administration hopes. Considering the $40 billion trade deal recently made between Russia and Saddam Hussein, it is more than a bit ironic that we find the Russians now promoting free trade as a solution to a difficult situation while we are promoting war.

2002 Ron Paul 83:28
This continuous escalation of our involvement overseas has been widespread. We have been in Korea for more than 50 years. We have promised to never back away from the China-Taiwan conflict over territorial disputes. Fifty-seven years after World War II we still find our military spread throughout Europe and Asia. And now the debate ranges over whether our national security requires that we, for the first time, escalate this policy of intervention to include anticipatory self-defense and preemptive war.

2002 Ron Paul 83:29
If our interventions of the 20th century led to needless deaths and unwon wars and continuous unintended consequences, imagine what this new doctrine is about to unleash on the world. Our policy has prompted us to announce that our CIA will assassinate Saddam Hussein whenever it gets the chance, and that the government of Iraq is to be replaced. Evidence now has surfaced that the United Nations inspection teams in the 1990s definitely included American CIA agents who were collecting information on how to undermine the Iraqi government and continue with their routine bombing missions.

2002 Ron Paul 83:30
Why should there be a question of why Saddam Hussein might not readily accept U.N. inspectors without some type of assurances? Does anybody doubt that control of Iraqi oil supplies, second only to Saudi Arabia, is the real reason U.S. policy is belligerent toward Saddam Hussein? If it is merely to remove dictators around the world, this is the beginning of an endless task.

2002 Ron Paul 83:31
In the transition from the original American foreign policy of peace, trade and neutrality to that of world policemen, we have sacrificed our sovereignty to world government organizations such as the U.N., the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO. To further confuse and undermine our position, we currently have embarked on a policy of unilateralism within these world organizations. This means we accept the principle of globalized government when it pleases us, but when it does not, we should ignore it for our own interest’s sake.

2002 Ron Paul 83:32
Acting in our own interest is to be applauded, but what we are getting is not a good alternative to one-world government. We do not get our sovereignty back, yet we continue to subject ourselves to great potential financial burden and loss of liberty as we shift from a national government with constitutional protection of rights to an international government where our citizens’ rights are threatened by treaties we have not even ratified, like the Kyoto and the international criminal court treaties.

2002 Ron Paul 83:33
We cannot depend on controlling the world government at some later date, even if that seems to be what we are able to do now. The unilateralist approach of domination over the world’s leaders, and arbitrary ignoring of certain mandates, something we can do with impunity because of our intimidating power, serves only to further undermine our prestige and acceptability throughout the world. And this includes the Muslim countries as well as our European friends. This merely sets the stage for both our enemies and current friends to act in concert against our interest when the time comes. This is especially true if we become financially strapped and our dollar is sharply weakened and we are in a much more vulnerable bargaining position.

2002 Ron Paul 83:34
Unilateralism within a globalist approach to government is the worst of all choices. It ignores national sovereignty, dignifies one-world government, and places us in the position of demanding dictatorial powers over the world community. Demanding the right to set all policy and exclude ourselves from jurisdictional restraints sows the seeds of future discontent and hostility. The downside is we get all the bills, risk the lives of our people without cause, and make ourselves the target for every event that goes badly. We get blamed for the unintended consequences not foreseen and become the target of the terrorists that evolve from the radicalized fringes.

2002 Ron Paul 83:35
Long-term foreign interventionism does not serve our interest. Tinkering on the edges with current policy will not help. An announced policy of support for globalist government, assuming the financial and military role of world policemen, maintaining an American world empire while flaunting unilateralism, is a recipe for disaster. U.S. unilateralism is a far cry from the nonintervention that the Founders advised.

2002 Ron Paul 83:36
The term foreign policy does not exist in the Constitution. All members of the Federal Government have sworn to uphold the Constitution and should do only those things that are clearly authorized. Careful reading of the Constitution reveals Congress has a lot more responsibility than does the President in dealing with foreign affairs. The President is the Commanderin- Chief, but cannot declare war or finance military action without explicit congressional approval. A good starting point would be for all of us in the Congress to assume the responsibility given us to make sure the executive branch does not usurp any authority explicitly given to the Congress.

2002 Ron Paul 83:37
A proper foreign policy of nonintervention is built on friendship with other nations, free trade and maximum travel, maximizing the exchanges of goods and services and ideas. Nations that trade with each other are definitely less likely to fight against each other. Unnecessary bellicosity and jingoism is detrimental to peace and prosperity and incites unnecessary confrontation. And yet today that is about all we hear coming from the politicians and the media pundits who are so anxious for this war against Iraq.

2002 Ron Paul 83:38
Avoiding entangling alliances and meddling in the internal affairs of other nations is crucial, no matter how many special interests demand otherwise. The entangling alliances we should avoid include the complex alliances in the U.N., the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO. One-world government goals are anathema to the nonintervention and free trade. The temptation to settle disputes and install better governments abroad is fraught with great danger and many uncertainties.

2002 Ron Paul 83:39
Protecting our national sovereignty and guaranteeing constitutional protection of our citizens’ rights are crucial. Respecting the sovereignty of other nations, even when we are in disagreement with some of their policies, is also necessary. Changing others then becomes a job of persuasion and example, not force and intimidation, just as it is in trying to improve the personal behavior of our fellow citizens here at home.

2002 Ron Paul 83:40
Defending our country from outside attack is legitimate and is of the highest priority. Protecting individual liberties should be our goal. This does not mean, however, that our troops follow our citizens or their investments throughout the world.

2002 Ron Paul 83:41
While foreign visitors should be welcome, no tax-supported services should be provided. Citizenship should be given with caution and not automatically by merely stepping over a national boundary for the purpose of giving birth.

2002 Ron Paul 83:42
A successful and prosperous society comes from such a policy and is impossible without a sound free-market economy, one not controlled by a central bank. Avoiding trade wars, devaluations, inflations, deflations, and disruption of free trade with protectionist legislation are impossible under a system of international trade dependent on fluctuating fiat currencies controlled by world central banks and influenced by powerful financial interests. Instability in trade is one of the prime causes of creating conditions leading to war.

2002 Ron Paul 83:43
The basic moral principle underpinning a noninterventionist foreign policy is that of rejecting the initiation of force against others. It is based on nonviolence and friendship unless attacked, with determination for self-defense while avoiding confrontation, even when we disagree with the way other countries run their affairs. It simply means that we should mind our own business and not be influenced by the special interests that have an axe to grind or benefits to gain by controlling other foreign policy. Manipulating our country into conflicts that are none of our business and of no security interest provides no benefits to us, while exposing us to great risk financially and militarily.

2002 Ron Paul 83:44
Our troops would be brought home under such conditions, systematically and soon. Being in Europe and Japan for over 50 years is long enough. The failure of Vietnam resulted in no occupation and a more westernized country now doing business with the United States. There is no evidence that the military approach in Vietnam was superior to that of trade and friendship. The lack of trade and sanctions have not served us well in Cuba or in the Middle East. The mission for our Coast Guard would change if our foreign policy became noninterventionist. They, too, would come home, protect our coast, and stop being the enforcers of bureaucratic laws that either should not exist or should be a State function.

2002 Ron Paul 83:45
All foreign aid would be discontinued. Most evidence shows this money rarely helps the poor but instead solidifies power in the hands of dictators. There is no moral argument that can justify taxing poor people in this country to help rich people in poor countries. Much of the foreign aid, when spent, is channeled back to weapons manufacturers and other special interests in the United States who are the strong promoters of these foreign aid expenditures, yet it is all done in the name of humanitarian causes.

2002 Ron Paul 83:46
A foreign policy for peace and freedom would prompt us to give ample notice, and then we would promptly leave the international organizations that have entangled us for over a half a century. U.S. membership in world government was hardly what the Founders envisioned when writing the Constitution.

2002 Ron Paul 83:47
The principle of mark and reprisal would be revived, and specific problems, such as terrorist threats, would be dealt with on a contract basis, incorporating private resources to more accurately target our enemies and reduce the chances of needless and endless war. This would help prevent a continual expansion of a conflict into areas not relating to any immediate threat. By narrowing the target, there is less opportunity for special interests to manipulate our foreign policy to serve the financial needs of the oil and military weapons industries.

2002 Ron Paul 83:48
The Logan Act would be repealed, thus allowing maximum freedom of our citizens to volunteer to support their war of choice. This would help diminish the enthusiasm for wars the proponents have used to justify our world policies and diminish the perceived need for a military draft.

2002 Ron Paul 83:49
If we followed a constitutional policy of nonintervention, we would never have to entertain the aggressive notion of preemptive war based on speculation of what a country might do at some future date. Political pressure by other countries to alter our foreign policy for their benefit would never be a consideration. Commercial interests of our citizens investing overseas could not expect our armies to follow them and to protect their profits.

2002 Ron Paul 83:50
A noninterventionist foreign policy would not condone subsidies to our corporations through programs like the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. These programs guarantee against losses while the risk takers want our military to protect their investments from political threats. This current flawed policy removes the tough decisions of when to invest in foreign countries and diminishes the pressure on those particular countries to clean up their political acts in order to entice foreign capital to move into their country. Today’s foreign policy encourages bad investments. Ironically this is all done in the name of free trade and capitalism, but it does more to export jobs and businesses than promote free trade. Yet when it fails, capitalism and freedom are blamed.

2002 Ron Paul 83:51
A noninterventionist foreign policy would go a long way toward preventing 9/11 type attacks upon us. The Department of Homeland Security would be unnecessary and the military, along with less bureaucracy in our intelligence- gathering agencies, could instead provide the security the new department is supposed to provide. A renewed respect for gun ownership and responsibility for defending one’s property would provide additional protection against potential terrorists.

2002 Ron Paul 83:52
There are many reasons why a policy for peace is superior to a policy of war. The principle that we do not have the moral authority to forcibly change government in foreign lands just because we do not approve of their shortcomings should be our strongest argument. But rarely today is a moral argument in politics worth much.

2002 Ron Paul 83:53
The practical argument against it because of its record of failure should certainly prompt all thoughtful people to reconsider what we have been doing for the past many decades.

2002 Ron Paul 83:54
We should all be aware that war is a failure of relationships between foreign powers. Since this is such a serious matter, our American tradition as established by the founders made certain that the executive is subservient to the more democratically responsive legislative branch on the issue of war. Therefore, no war is ever to be the prerogative of a President through his unconstitutional use of executive orders, nor should it ever be something where the legal authority comes from an international body such as NATO or the United Nations. Up until 50 years ago, this had been the American tradition.

2002 Ron Paul 83:55
Nonintervention prevents the unexpected and unintended consequences that inevitably result from well-intended meddling in the affairs of others.

2002 Ron Paul 83:56
Countries like Switzerland and Sweden, who promote neutrality and nonintervention, have benefited for the most part by remaining secure and free of war over the centuries. Nonintervention consumes a lot less of the Nation’s wealth. With less wars, the higher the standard of living for all citizens. But this, of course, is not attractive to the military-industrial complex which enjoys a higher standard of living at the expense of the taxpayer when a policy of intervention and constant war preparation is carried out.

2002 Ron Paul 83:57
Wisdom, morality and the Constitution are very unlikely to invade the minds of the policymakers that control our foreign affairs. We have institutionalized foreign intervention over the past 100 years by the teachings of all our major universities and the propaganda that the media spews out. The powerful influence over our policy, both domestic and foreign, is not soon going to go away.

2002 Ron Paul 83:58
I am convinced, though, that eventually restraint in our interventions overseas will be guided by a more reasonable constitutional policy. Economic reality will dictate it. Although political pressure in times of severe economic downturn and domestic strife encourages planned distractions overseas, these adventures always cause economic harm due to the economic costs. When the particular country or empire involved overreaches, as we are currently doing, national bankruptcy and a severely weakened currency call the whole process to a halt.

2002 Ron Paul 83:59
The Soviet system, armed with an aggressive plan to spread its empire worldwide, collapsed, not because we attacked it militarily but for financial and economic reasons. They no longer could afford it and the resources and wealth that it drained finally turned the people against its authoritarian rule.

2002 Ron Paul 83:60
Maintaining an overseas empire is incompatible with the American tradition of liberty and prosperity. The financial drain and the antagonism that it causes with our enemies, and even our friends, will finally force the American people to reject the policy outright. There will be no choice. Gorbachev just walked away and Yeltsin walked in, with barely a ripple. A nonviolent revolution of unbelievable historic magnitude occurred and the Cold War ended. We are not immune from such a similar change.

2002 Ron Paul 83:61
This Soviet collapse ushered in the age of unparalleled American dominance over the entire world and along with it allowed the new expanded hot war between the West and the Muslim East. All the hostility directed toward the West built up over the centuries between the two factions is now directed toward the United States. We are now the only power capable of paying for and literally controlling the Middle East and its cherished wealth, and we have not hesitated. Iraq, with its oil and water and agricultural land, is a prime target of our desire to further expand our dominion. The battle is growing ever so tense with our acceptance and desire to control the Caspian Sea oil riches. But Russia, now licking its wounds and once again accumulating wealth, will not sit idly by and watch the American empire engulf this region. When time runs out for us, we can be sure Russia will once again be ready to fight for control of all those resources in countries adjacent to her borders. And expect the same from China and India. And who knows, maybe one day even Japan will return to the ancient art of using force to occupy the cherished territories in their region of the world.

2002 Ron Paul 83:62
The most we can hope for will be, once the errors of our ways are acknowledged and we can no longer afford our militarism, we will reestablish the moral principle that underpins the policy of “peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.” Our modern-day war hawks represent neither this American principle nor do they understand how the love of liberty drove the founders in their great battle against tyranny.

2002 Ron Paul 83:63
We must prepare for the day when our financial bankruptcy and the failure of our effort at world domination are apparent. The solution to such a crisis can be easily found in our Constitution and in our traditions. But ultimately, the love of liberty can only come from a change in the hearts and minds of the people and with an answered prayer for the blessings of divine intervention.

This chapter appeared in Ron Paul’s Congressional website at

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