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I yield to my friend, my colleague, a physician and Congressman, RON PAUL of Texas.
2009 Ron Paul 96:1
Mr. PAUL. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I want to express my appreciation for your getting this Special Order on this very important subject.
2009 Ron Paul 96:2
Of course, a lot of people in this country are asking, What should we do about Afghanistan? Its a pretty important question. It might be one of the most important questions that we are asking right now. And yet nobody seems to have an answer. I think the difficulty in finding an answer comes sometimes from not having fully understood why we got there. I just cant imagine this debate thats going on within our government today, the executive branch, the legislative branch, and with the people – can you imagine this going on during World War II? How many troops should we have? What is our exit strategy? Who is our enemy? How are we going to impose democracy? Its so far removed from what a traditional responsibility is of our government, which is to provide national security.
2009 Ron Paul 96:3
Now they have practically run out of excuses for why we are over in Afghanistan. The only one that is left that they seem to cling to is that we are there for national security; we want to fight the bad guys over there because we dont want to fight them over here. I will talk a little about that later; but, quite frankly, I think thats a fallacious argument and actually makes things a lot worse.
2009 Ron Paul 96:4
It just bewilders me about how we get trapped into these situations. I happen to believe that its because we get ourselves involved too carelessly, too easily and we dont follow the Constitution, because under the Constitution, youre supposed to declare the war, know who your enemy is, and know when you can declare victory and bring the troops home. And we did that up until and through World War II. But since then, that hasnt been the case.
2009 Ron Paul 96:5
I recall a book I read in the 1980s written by Barbara Tuchman. She wrote a book called the March of Folly, and she went back as far as Troy, all the way up through Vietnam and took very special interest in countries where they were almost obsessed or possessed with a policy, even though it was not in their interest, and the foolishness and the inability to change course. She died in 1989, but I keep thinking that if she had lived, she would probably write a history of our recent years, another march of folly.
2009 Ron Paul 96:6
Just think of what has happened since the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet system collapsed. It didnt take us long. Did we have any peace dividends? No. There were arguments for more military spending, we had more responsibility, we had to go and police the world. So it wasnt long after that, what were we doing? We were involved in the Persian Gulf war.
2009 Ron Paul 96:7
And then, following that, we had decades of bombing in Iraq which didnt please the Arabs and the Muslims of the world and certainly the Iraqis, but it had nothing to do with national security.
2009 Ron Paul 96:8
And then, of course, we continued and accelerated our support of the various puppet governments in the Middle East. In doing so, we actually went to the part of not only supporting the governments, but we started putting troops on their land. And when we had an air base in Saudi Arabia, that was rather offensive. If you understand the people over there, this is a violation of a deeply held religious view. It is considered their holy land; and foreigners, especially military foreigners, are seen as infidels. So if youre looking for a fight or a problem, just put troops on their land.
2009 Ron Paul 96:9
But also, as a result of the policy that we have had in the Middle East, we have been perceived as being anti- Palestinian. This has not set well either. Since that time, of course, we havent backed off one bit. We had the Persian Gulf war, and then we had 9/11.
2009 Ron Paul 96:10
We know that 9/11 changed everything. We had 15 individuals from Saudi Arabia, a few from Yemen and a few from Egypt, but, aha, this is an excuse that we have got to get the bad guys. So where are the bad guys? Well, Iraq, of course. Of course, they figured, well, we cant quite do that, lets go into Afghanistan. Of course, not one single Afghani did anything to us. They said, oh, no, the al Qaeda visited there.
2009 Ron Paul 96:11
But I just cant quite accept the fact that the individuals that were flying those airplanes got their training by going to these training camps in Afghanistan doing push-ups and being tough and strong. What did they do? Where was the planning? The planning was done in Spain and they were accepted there in legal bases. They were done in Germany; they were accepted there. As a matter of fact, they even came to this country with legal visas. And they were accepted by the countries.
2009 Ron Paul 96:12
And, no, no, we said, its the Taliban; its the people of Afghanistan, never questioning the fact that a few years back, back in 1989 when the Soviets were wrecking the place, we were allied with the people who were friends of Osama bin Laden, and we were over there trying to support him. So he then was a freedom fighter.
2009 Ron Paul 96:13
And the hypocrisy of all this and the schizophrenia of it all, they were on again and off again. No wonder we get ourselves into these difficulties. And it doesnt seem to ever lead up.
2009 Ron Paul 96:14
The one assessment that was made after Vietnam, and I think you can apply it here, is how do we get in and why do we get bogged down? And two individuals that were talking about this, East and West, Vietnam and the United States, they sort of came to the conclusion that we, the Americans, overestimated the ominous power of our military, we could conquer anybody and everybody. And we underestimated the tenacity of people who are defending their homeland, sort of like we were defending our homeland in the Revolutionary War, and the invaders and the occupiers were the Red Coats. Theres a big difference, and you can overcome all kinds of obstacles; but we have never seemed to have learned that. And unless we do, I dont think we can solve our problems.
2009 Ron Paul 96:15
Indeed, we have to realize that we are not the policemen of the world. We cannot nation-build. And Presidential candidates on both sides generally tell the people thats what they want, and the people say, keep our fingers crossed, hope its true. But then, once again, our policies continue down the road, and we never seem to have the energy to back off of this.
2009 Ron Paul 96:16
I emphasize, once again, that I think we could keep our eye on the target, emphasize what we should be doing if we went to war a lot more cautiously, if we have an enemy that we have to fight in our national defense and then there is a declaration of war.
Mr. KAGEN. Would the gentleman yield for a moment?
2009 Ron Paul 96:17
Mr. PAUL. I will yield.