Billions for defense, but not one cent for empire

Bruce Fein | Constitutional Lawyer

When it comes to deterring and preventing wars of aggression against the United States, no candidate for the presidency is more hawkish than Ron Paul.

His foreign policy would be an adaptation of the Founding Fathers’ creed saluted in the Constitution’s preamble: Billions for a common defense, but not one cent for extravagant preemptive wars seeking world domination, a risk-free existence, and a planet purged of tyranny and sin. He would not spend $120 billion annually to confront 50 members of al Qaida in Afghanistan with 100,000 troops when international terrorists can be captured or killed with special forces.

Ron Paul would close the hundreds of U.S. military bases abroad, redeploy weapons and soldiers now dedicated to defending foreigners and foreign countries to the U.S. to defend American sovereignty and Americans, and end our multiple treaty obligations that require us to wage war in defense of other nations. Our government shouldn’t send Americans abroad on quests to secure the liberty of foreigners.

As then-Secretary of State John Quincy Adams explained in a July 4, 1821 address to Congress:

Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will [America’s] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own …

Ron Paul’s foreign policy strategy is not isolationism. It is the timeless wisdom of the ages. Ecclesiastes 1:9 sermonizes, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” The development of weapons of mass destruction has not altered human nature. They have not changed political motivations, the lust for power, or the law of self-preservation. As always, nations have no permanent friends or enemies. They have only permanent interests.

Candidate Paul favors the collection of intelligence on potential adversaries, trade between the United States and other nations, and cultural exchanges and embassies abroad. Like President Thomas Jefferson, he would seek “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”

The 9/11 abominations would never have been perpetrated if the United States had practiced Paul’s strategy of non-entanglements. Contrary to mythology, 9/11’s savage murderers and their sympathizers were not infuriated by free elections, freedom of speech, or due process in the United States. They were provoked by the presence of U.S. military bases in the Middle East and by U.S. economic and military support for corrupt, oppressive, or bigoted despots in the region.

The cornerstone of peace and the common defense is deterrence. Ron Paul would embrace a retaliatory capability sufficient to destroy every living thing in any country complicit in an actual or imminent attack on the United States. He would deploy troops and weapons systems capable of foiling any acts of war targeting Americans on American soil.

Deterrence anchored to massive retaliation works. The Soviet Union flinched during the Cuban Missile Crisis. At present, no nation’s leaders — not even the semi-paranoid leaders of North Korea — would contemplate attacking Americans on American soil with weapons of mass destruction or otherwise.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, which the United States spawned by overthrowing Prime Minister Mohammad Mossedeq in 1953, is said by Paul’s detractors to be the one nation in the history of the world that would be impervious to deterrence if it acquired nuclear weapons because its rulers crave self-destruction. If there are greater foreign policy inanities preached by zealots for preemptive war, they do not readily come to mind. The Islamic Republic’s actions are driven by earthbound realities, just like the actions of other nations. It has negotiated the release of American hostages who were detained in Tehran, it has negotiated an end to a war of aggression initiated by Iraq, and it has negotiated an amicable resolution to a conflict that erupted after the U.S. Navy accidentally destroyed an Iranian civilian aircraft.

Ron Paul no more supports Iran’s development of nuclear weapons than he does the nuclear arsenals of Pakistan, India, or North Korea. But the best way to address the prospect of Iranian membership in the nuclear club is to renounce our current policy of regime change, promise annihilation of any country that employs nuclear weapons against the United States, and leave Israel free to do what it believes is necessary to defend itself. A war against Iran would be a $100 billion fool’s errand and would plant the seeds of blowback.

Bruce Fein is senior policy adviser to the Ron Paul 2012 presidential campaign.

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