*Correction: The first publishing of this article misstated the level of the U.S.’s military spending. That error has since been remedied.
If he is not elected to the office of president, Ron Paul’s “foreign policy” may prove to be the biggest missed opportunity our country has seen in a long while
But it is not he who will miss an opportunity: it is we. We Americans – who are so busy looking toward the future that we have never bothered learning about the past – will miss the opportunity to embrace a foreign policy that would bring our budget back from the brink of disaster, stop antagonizing nations around the world, and strengthen our sense of patriotism and our ability to defend ourselves.
We are a nation seemingly thirsty for war. We act as though we’d like to avoid it, but in reality, we are chomping at the bit to fight the Iranians, decimate the North Koreans, and keep poking a handful of other countries until they flare up and we can fight a “justified war.” Why else did we send warships into the Strait of Hormuz?
We worship our own global authority; sanctified by our battle hymns, assured of our Christian roots, certain that they are the “evil empire” and we are the “city on a hill” (oh, Reagan, what a horrid, dangerous use of scripture for political momentum!), we have built the world’s most expansive, most expensive military and we (drone) strike God’s holy rod of justice upon any who would oppose us. For our cause is righteous, and our actions are eternally and unequivocally good. So we think.
“What an exaggerator!” one may muse. But is this attitude not thoroughly pervasive in our nation? I don’t mean it is the attitude of 100% of the populace, but it surely seems to be the posture of our politicians. And among those who genuinely care about the country, I have too often found people who are well-intentioned, but who seem wholly unwilling to even question our military actions. Especially when there is a Republican Commander-In-Chief.
The solution is to be honest about our past, and once we’ve learned from it, to resolve to change our actions in the future.
The United States has fought justifiably in the past. The best example in the 20th century is World War II. Japan attacked us. So we entered the war – after Congress voted on a declaration of war.
But our nation has also been involved in many unsavory conflicts – engagements where our politicians used fear, propaganda, lies, hate, and twisted logic to keep the war machine rolling. Some examples…
1) Operation Ajax – In the early 1950s, Iran was a democratic, functioning nation. They had a parliament and a Prime Minister. The government began, in 1951, nationalizing the country’s oil production. Britain didn’t like this, since they had an interest in the private British company that had, up until this point, controlled all Iranian oil production. Britain mobilized for military action, and in the meantime enacted an embargo of Iranian oil. Winston Churchill then enjoined President Eisenhower to approve a joint operation of American and British agents (Operation Ajax) whose mission was to undermine the Iranian Prime Minister. They were successful; they overthrew the (democratically-elected, remember) Iranian Prime Minister and installed the Shah Pahlavi as the new dictator. So began a period of turmoil in Iran that has yet to be resolved.
2) Nicaragua – Between 1910 and 1912, the U.S. invaded Nicaragua, providing the military action and backing needed for a regime change. The reason for our involvement is generally considered to have been our desire to undermine European influence in the nation, particularly as the U.S. had decided to build the Panama Canal, and there was a possibility that Germany would attempt to build a canal through Nicaragua.
3) Iraq – In his book, “The Price of Loyalty,” Ron Suskind explains that the George W. Bush administration was eager to go to war with Iraq before 9/11 even happened. Even if Mr. Suskind is incorrect, the haste with which Iraq was connected to the war on terror is condemnation enough. Justifying a pre-emptive attack on Iraq, President Bush assured Americans that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that he could very easily give them to terrorists, who could then use them on Americans. This, as we know, turned out to be false. So we invaded Iraq and spent 8-1/2 years there, costing our economy around $3 trillion, according to some estimates. Now, it would be folly to argue that Saddam Hussein was a nice man or even a good ruler. But we went to war with him without a declaration of war, under false premises, and while we were entering a war in Afghanistan at the same time. Operation Iraqi Freedom contributed to our serious economic woes, and who can say whether it will leave the Iraqis better off in the end? If this one of our interventions turns out like so many others, it will leave the people still oppressed, just with a new oppressor.
4) Libya – In yet another foreign intervention that was none of our business, Obama spent over a billion dollars to launch missiles in hope of a regime change. He and other politicians wagered our tax dollars that the Arab Spring would be a good thing, and down Gaddafi went.
These stories are enough to warn us, alongside the words of Eisenhower (who ought to have heeded his own advice) to resist the pull of the military industrial complex. Yet, our defense/military spending accounts for 43% of global military spending. We spend more than the next 15 nations combined.
“War is never economically beneficial except for those in position to profit from war expenditures.” -Ron Paul
I love our country, and I love being an American.
I do not love everything that America does or that America has done. We are a country that was founded on the ideas of liberty and justice for all, but we have strayed far from these ideals – we have become oppressors. Our government oppresses its own citizens, and then meddles in affairs around the world that would be better off if we left them alone.
So I stand in strong opposition to President Obama’s pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, when he cries, “God damn America!”
May God help America. May God have mercy on Americans, and on every other tribe, nation, kindred, and tongue.
And may Americans have the courage to be honest about our past – the good and the bad – and resolve to treat one another and the citizens of the world with dignity, honesty, and decency.