This week, my podcast conversation with Ron Paul centers on Iraq and U.S. foreign policy after reports that American-supplied weapons in Iraq have ended up in the hands of our enemies, and not for the first time.
Below are some highlights from our latest podcast.
Goyette: This isn’t the first time that American weapons have gone to America’s enemies. But now al Qaeda and its associates have pillaged armories in Iraq and helped themselves to weapons left there, so it is no stretch, I suppose, to conclude that eventually they’ll be used against us once again.
Paul: Yes, that seems to be what has happened so many times over the many decades. It certainly had an effect on what Obama planned to do in Syria, because it was found that the al Qaeda groups were getting hold of our weapons we were sending over there, and we had no idea who the good guys were versus the bad guys. It seems to me like our leadership, Republican or Democrat, never seem to learn anything. …
If you look at what’s happening in Iraq, in particular, that is such an example of failure, failure of management, but failure of theory, too. …
Why don’t we have as foreign policy . . . (one that is ) based more on trying to build friendships and trade and travel and recognition and yet so many people react to that and say, ‘Yeah, what are you going to do? Talk to these bad guys? They are horrible people. You can’t deal with them.” In previous recent history, we’ve dealt with guys like Stalin and Mao Tse Tung. And these guys were in many ways monsters, killed hundreds of thousands if not millions of their own people. Yet you know we ended up talking to them. But no, the neoconservatives and so many others in Washington think that it’s a sign of weakness. And yet I see the opposite. I see it as a sign of strength and confidence about who we are and what we are, and we can defend ourselves if necessary.
But what have we gained (from the Iraq war)? I think we have gained absolutely nothing. We lost 10,000 Americans. We have hundreds of thousands still seeking health care. We have a suicide epidemic. We have practically destroyed our civil liberties at home and sacrificed these because we are so frightened that if the government doesn’t take care of us, you know, al Qaeda is going to attack. Which is pure fiction. And if you look at results in Iraq, total failure. The country is in more chaos. As bad as Saddam Hussein was, you know, he treated Christians differently. There was less killing. He was ruthless and did a lot of bad things, but compared to what has happened since then, it’s just a total, total disaster.
So I would think the American people, if they decide we’ve gone in the wrong direction, are coming around to believing that we ought to stop the bleeding. The bleeding of our liberties and the literal bleeding of our treasury and the bleeding of our American military, and that means we need to talk about a foreign policy of noninterventionism. And as bad as it may seem today, I just think the tail end of 2013 gave us a hint that the American people might just be getting ready for a change in attitude and maybe the election this year might reflect those attitudes. Let’s hope so.
Goyette: That would be good news. It does seem that, for one reason or another, once the bunting and banners are brought out, the parades begin and the brass bands begin marching, that all rationality is replaced with chest-thumping. This was the case in America during the lead-up to the Iraq war in which many of these things we’ve described here on this podcast today were completely foreseeable.
Paul: Yeah. Foreseeable, predictable, we’ve gone through it before. But there was no desire to hear the truth.
(The U.S. sanctions before the war meant that) we were killing them. We were starving their kids. Even Madeleine Albright admitted 500,000 children probably had died due to our sanctions and our abuse. So it is really a tragedy. Many of us thought that maybe there was a wake-up call with Vietnam. You know the stupidity of that war and finally the knowledge of Daniel Ellsberg that it was all a concocted war, that maybe we would wise up. But, you know, after a while they were waiting. . . The neocons talked about it and said, you know, we can’t do much without a Pearl Harbor event. It doesn’t mean they planned the Pearl Harbor event, but boy, they took advantage of it. And the Pearl Harbor event they were waiting for was 9-11.
Not only did we not provide and deliver a system of government (in Iraq) that was supposed to be democratic and freedom and all these wonderful things, look at what it has done to us as a people, look at what it has done to our liberties. Look at what it’s done to our fourth amendment. It’s so tragic, and yet there’s still a lot of support out there for that policy. I still believe that it can change, and that’s what we should be concerned about, getting that change to come about.
Goyette: You mentioned Madeleine Albright and her excusing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent victims, primarily children. I don’t feel as though we should leave the topic of the Iraq debacle without talking about the explosive rate of deformities and birth defects that have been reported among newborns, especially around Fallujah, which is the center of our attention these days in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion. I don’t know whether it was depleted uranium or white phosphorous or other toxic pollutants, but it’s clear that something awful has happened there.
Paul: Well, it did. Because the first battle in ’03 was the first time our marines ever lost anything, so to speak. We always won all the military battles in Vietnam. We lost the war because of the whole nature of that war. People who defend their home land have an advantage. We lost that first battle, scrimmage, which was serious, and we lost a bunch of our personnel. Then we were determined, we had to go back in there. And that’s when it was argued that we used white phosphorous, and that much of this did cause birth damages and birth defects, and that they’re still suffering the consequences. It’s something that you’re not going to hear about on the evening news. It’s something our government will not investigate. …
One thing we can look at right now, it looks like we might be winning the PR fight to make Edward Snowden a credible person. I still don’t think it’s safe for him to come back and get a safe trial. …
No, we have to change the psychology, the nature and the philosophy of the American people to that of defending our liberties and understanding what our liberties are all about, and not believing we are the policemen of the world, and we need to give up on this whole concept of running a world empire.