|Montreal, November 10, 2001 / No 92|
by Ron Paul, M.D.
It breaks my heart to see what is happening to our country today. All Americans have grieved over the losses suffered on 9-11. The grief for those who lost loved ones is beyond description. These losses have precipitated unprecedented giving to help the families left behind. Unless one has suffered directly, it is difficult to fully comprehend the tragic and sudden loss of close friends and family.
There are some who, in addition to feeling this huge sense of personal loss that all Americans share, grieve for other serious and profound reasons. For instance, many thoughtful Americans are convinced that the tragedy of 9-11 was preventable. Since that might be true, this provokes a tragic sadness, especially for those who understand how the events of 9-11 needlessly came about.
The reason why this is so sad and should be thoroughly understood is that
so often the ones who suggest how our policies may have played a role in
evoking the attacks are demonized as unpatriotic and are harshly dismissed
as belonging to the "blame America crowd.''
Those who are so anxious to condemn do not realize that the policies of the American Government, designed by politicians and bureaucrats, are not always synonymous with American ideals. The country is not the same as the Government. The spirit of America is hardly something for which the Government holds a monopoly on defining. America's heart and soul is more embedded in our love of liberty, self-reliance, and tolerance than by our foreign policy, driven by powerful special interests with little regard for the Constitution.
Throughout our early history, a policy of minding our own business and avoiding entangling alliances, as George Washington admonished, was more representative of American ideals than those we have pursued for the past 50 years. Some sincere Americans have suggested that our modern interventionist policy set the stage for the attacks of 9-11, and for this, they are condemned as being unpatriotic.
This compounds the sadness and heartbreak that some Americans are feeling. Threats, loss of jobs, censorship and public mockery have been heaped upon those who have made this suggestion. Freedom of expression and thought, the bedrock of the American Republic, is now too often condemned as something viciously evil. This should cause freedom-loving Americans to weep from broken hearts. (...)
Trouble in the Middle East
We already hear of plans to install and guarantee the next government of Afghanistan. Getting bin Laden and his gang is one thing, nation-building is quite another. Some of our trouble in the Middle East started years ago when our CIA put the Shah in charge of Iran. It was 25 years before he was overthrown, and the hatred toward America continues to this day. Those who suffer from our intervention have long memories.
Our support for the less-than-ethical government of Saudi Arabia, with our troops occupying what most Muslims consider sacred land, is hardly the way to bring peace to the Middle East. A policy driven by our fear of losing control over the oil fields in the Middle East has not contributed to American Security. Too many powerful special interests drive our policy in this region, and this does little to help us preserve security for Americans here at home.
As we bomb Afghanistan, we continue to send foreign aid to feed the people suffering from the war. I strongly doubt if our food will get them to love us or even be our friends. There is no evidence that the starving receive the food. And too often it is revealed that it ends up in the hands of the military forces we are fighting. While we bomb Afghanistan and feed the victims, we lay plans to install the next government and pay for rebuilding the country. Quite possibly, the new faction we support will be no more trustworthy than the Taliban, to which we sent plenty of aid and weapons in the 1980s. That intervention in Afghanistan did not do much to win reliable friends in the region.
It just may be that Afghanistan would be best managed by several tribal factions, without any strong centralized government and without any outside influence, certainly not by the U.N. But then again, some claim that the proposed Western financed pipeline through northern Afghanistan can only happen after a strong centralized pro-Western government is put in place. (...)
I happen to believe that winning this battle against the current crop of terrorists is quite achievable in a relatively short period of time. But winning the war over the long term is a much different situation. This cannot be achieved without a better understanding of the enemy and the geopolitics that drive this war. Even if relative peace is achieved with a battle victory over Osama bin Laden and his followers, other terrorists will appear from all corners of the world for an indefinite period of time if we do not understand the issues.
Changing our current foreign policy with wise diplomacy is crucial if we are to really win the war and restore the sense of tranquility to our land that now seems to be so far in our distant past. Our widespread efforts at peacekeeping and nation-building will only contribute to the resentment that drives the fanatics. Devotion to internationalism and a one-world government only exacerbates regional rivalries. Denying that our economic interests drive so much of what the West does against the East impedes any efforts to diffuse the world crisis that already has a number of Americans demanding nuclear bombs to be used to achieve victory. A victory based on this type of aggressive policy would be a hollow victory indeed.
An excuse to attack our liberties and privacy
I would like to draw analogy between the drug war and the war against terrorism. In the last 30 years, we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on a failed war on drugs. This war has been used as an excuse to attack our liberties and privacy. It has been an excuse to undermine our financial privacy while promoting illegal searches and seizures with many innocent people losing their lives and property. Seizure and forfeiture have harmed a great number of innocent American citizens.
Another result of this unwise war has been the corruption of many law enforcement officials. It is well known that with the profit incentives so high, we are not even able to keep drugs out of our armed prisons. Making our whole society a prison would not bring success to this floundering war on drugs. Sinister motives of the profiteers and gangsters, along with prevailing public ignorance, keeps this futile war going.
Illegal and artificially high priced drugs drive the underworld to produce, sell and profit from this social depravity. Failure to recognize that drug addiction, like alcoholism, is a disease rather than a crime, encourage the drug warriors in efforts that have not and will not ever work. We learned the hard way about alcohol prohibition and crime, but we have not yet seriously considered it in the ongoing drug war.
Corruption associated with the drug dealers is endless. It has involved our police, the military, border guards and the judicial system. It has affected government policy and our own CIA. The artificially high profits from illegal drugs provide easy access to funds for rogue groups involved in fighting civil wars throughout the world.
Ironically, opium sales by the Taliban and artificially high prices helped to finance their war against us. In spite of the incongruity, we rewarded the Taliban this spring with a huge cash payment for promises to eradicate some poppy fields. Sure!
For the first 140 years of our history, we had essentially no Federal war on drugs, and far fewer problems with drug addiction and related crimes was a consequence. In the past 30 years, even with the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the drug war, little good has come of it. We have vacillated from efforts to stop the drugs at the source to severely punishing the users, yet nothing has improved.
This war has been behind most big government police powers of the last 30 years, with continual undermining of our civil liberties and personal privacy. Those who support the IRS's efforts to collect maximum revenues and root out the underground economy, have welcomed this intrusion, even if the drug underworld grows in size and influence.
The drug war encourages violence. Government violence against nonviolent users is notorious and has led to the unnecessary prison overpopulation. Innocent taxpayers are forced to pay for all this so-called justice. Our drug eradication project (using spraying) around the world, from Colombia to Afghanistan, breeds resentment because normal crops and good land can be severely damaged. Local populations perceive that the efforts and the profiteering remain somehow beneficial to our own agenda in these various countries.
Drug dealers and drug gangs are a consequence of our unwise approach to drug usage. Many innocent people are killed in the crossfire by the mob justice that this war generates. But just because the laws are unwise and have had unintended consequences, no excuses can ever be made for the monster who would kill and maim innocent people for illegal profits. But as the violent killers are removed from society, reconsideration of our drug laws ought to occur.
Understanding the policies that incite hatred
A similar approach should be applied to our war on those who would terrorize and kill our people for political reasons. If the drug laws, and the policies that incite hatred against the United States, are not clearly understood and, therefore, never changed, the number of drug criminals and terrorists will only multiply.
Although this unwise war on drugs generates criminal violence, the violence can never be tolerated. Even if repeal of drug laws would decrease the motivation for drug dealer violence, this can never be an excuse to condone the violence. In the short term, those who kill must be punished, imprisoned, or killed. Long term though, a better understanding of how drug laws have unintended consequences is required if we want to significantly improve the situation and actually reduce the great harms drugs are doing to our society.
The same is true in dealing with those who so passionately hate us that suicide becomes a just and noble cause in their effort to kill and terrorize us. Without some understanding of what has brought us to the brink of a worldwide conflict, and reconsideration of our policies around the globe, we will be no more successful in making our land secure and free than the drug war has been in removing drug violence from our cities and towns.
Without an understanding of why terrorism is directed towards the United States, we may well build a prison for ourselves with something called homeland security while doing nothing to combat the root causes of terrorism. Let us hope we figure this out soon.
We have promoted a foolish and very expensive domestic war on drugs for more than 30 years. It has done no good whatsoever. I doubt our Republic can survive a 30-year period of trying to figure out how to win this guerilla war against terrorism. Hopefully, we will all seek the answers in these trying times with an open mind and understanding.
|<< retour au sommaire||