CONSIDERING RON PAUL AND THE RISKS-REWARDS OF US MILITARY INTERVENTION
“The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one more such victory would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Roman camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with fresh men, not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war.” Plutarch
Plutarch’s observation, which is where the phrase a `Pyrrhic Victory’ comes from suggests that while a win (War Victory) is good, if not managed properly could be the undoing or collapse of a nation. Even in the best (for lack of better word) or most moralistic war, while the citizenry keeps its freedom it’s the State, the pilot fish (Corporations through huge government contracts) and the financiers of their excursions that make substantial gains. This group is ready to wage war again: gain territory and advantages, build weapons at a premium and of course finance it, but the citizenry is exhausted, depleted and emotionally, spiritually and physically bankrupt from the last victory (or defeat).
Ron Paul has been dismissed as naive and with outcries of `Appeaser’ or `Coward’ when he suggests the dangers of another war (Iran) and to verify (Reagan) intelligence carefully and to consider the risks before moving ahead. Critics who favor military intervention will highlight the `dangers’ of a nuclear Iran meanwhile not consider the full scope of risk to Individual Liberty (from bills like NDAA 2012) or the financial impact to an already dire US and global economic condition. Interventionists also don’t consider the motives and reward of the State, their corporate relationships and the banks who survive from one stimulus bill or appropriations bill to the next and look forward to the next big government excursion. In Reason Magazine, ‘Ron Paul Challenges Mindless Militarism’, Jacob Sullum writes, “This week the U.S. officially ended its war in Iraq, nearly nine years after launching it based on the false claim that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to us because he had weapons of mass destruction. The war, which replaced a brutal dictator with a corrupt, wobbly elected government that may not be able to defend Iraq’s borders or maintain peace in a country driven by sectarian violence, cost the U.S. $800 billion and nearly 4,500 American lives. More than 100,000 civilians were killed during the invasion and its aftermath.
The regime installed by the U.S. in Afghanistan to replace Al Qaeda’s Taliban allies is even weaker and more corrupt than the one in Iraq. Ten years after the invasion, we still have 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, and so far the war has cost about $500 billion, 1,800 American lives, and thousands of civilian casualties.”
The irony in Plutarch’s statement and warning was that they were conquered by a conqueror that later would make the same mistake. Are we too myopic and blind to the dangers of `Empire Building’? Has war like the automobile industry or `Green Technology’ become a `preferred’ industry that the government funnels money into? Washington, Jefferson, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Reagan warned of the proliferation of militaristic power rather than defense; a strong constitutionally based Defense is right they would have argued, but today if you utter a word questioning the wisdom of an aggressive military footprint and preemptive attacks you are drown out by rhetoric and name calling.
While the zeal of the Neo-Conservative GOP base is to be the `leader’ in managing world affairs and using military intervention as a tool for peace while contemplating a war with Iran and putting aside the blaring consequences of these policies the other obvious reality is that with over $15.13 Trillion in debt (more than our GDP), the USD is leveraged more than 40:1 and we can’t afford the current military footprint let alone expanding it further. Isn’t it time to talk sensibly about a well balanced strategy of Defense that is constitutionally based and fits within our budget? Can we learn lessons from Rome and Great Britain that while they achieved Empires for a time, they expanded beyond their ability to manage their affairs effectively and Individual Liberties were sacrificed in the process?
Woodrow Wilson wasn’t wrong because he was an `Appeaser’, he was wrong because he was an early `Empire Builder’ and a globalist which oversteps constitutional authority of Federal power. There was no sovereign threat to the US at the time of WW1 except possibly to the banks as they were financing the war, and that’s a harbinger on `Too big to fail’ and Moral Hazard.
Sullum concludes, “For 35 years Ron Paul has been speaking truths that the foreign policy mavens of both parties prefer to ignore: that the Constitution gives Congress alone the power to declare war, that unjustified interventions breed resentment that undermines our security, that there is a difference between military spending and defense spending, that foreign aid rewards autocrats and their cronies, and that economic sanctions are an “an act of war” that hurts people in the name of punishing the governments that oppress them. If there really is no room for these arguments in the Republican Party, that is the party’s fault, not Paul’s.”
Today, as we take a `full assessment’ of external and internal threats to our sovereignty we need to weigh the real threats to State sovereignty from terrorism and invasion from abroad, against fragilities of our financial house and the cost to Individual Liberty while tipping our hats to individuals like Ron Paul who are courageous in that they don’t back down but speak out against tyranny and the political marginalization of alternative views.
The real terror today is that the US Constitution with its separation of powers between the states and federal government and protection against the concentration of power into the hands of a few has become unfamiliar and even peculiar to most of our population who perceive it as `dangerous’ and a threat to their way of life. When you consider Pyrrhus’ warning, the irony is thick.
Christopher M. Mahon, Editor