Ron Paul: No Reason To Ever Go To War

Ron Paul spoke with the Washington Post yesterday:

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul said today that he could see no possible reason to ever launch military action or initiate a war, vowing instead to battle efforts he said are undermining the individual liberties of people in America.

In an interview with’s PostTalk program, the Texas congressman said he could see “no reason” to justify military action if he were elected president. He compared the United States to a schoolyard bully and said the country has no reason to flex its muscles overseas.

“There’s nobody in this world that could possibly attack us today,” he said in the interview. “I mean, we could defend this country with a few good submarines. If anybody dared touch us we could wipe any country off of the face of the earth within hours. And here we are, so intimidated and so insecure and we’re acting like such bullies that we have to attack third-world nations that have no military and have no weapon.”

As I noted on Monday, foreign policy is probably the one area where Ron Paul and I part company. I agree with him on the Iraq War because it’s clear that we went into Iraq for unclear reasons and with no clear plan of how to either win the war or the peace, and it’s time to get out and let the Iraqis determine their own future. I opposed President Clinton’s interventions in the former Yugoslavia, and in Somalia. And, I agree that unprovoked military action against Iran over it’s nuclear program is both unwise and, in the end, probably unnecessary.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when military action is necessary.

Case in point: Afghanistan. The United States was attacked on September 11th by a terrorist organization with roots throughout the Middle East and funding sources equally as spread out. But it’s organizational and training headquarters were in Afghanistan, where it received protection and support from the Taliban-led government.  The American response to the September 11th attacks, given al Qaeda’s involvement, the fact that it wasn’t the first time they’d attacked American interests, and the shelter being provided by the Taliban, was entirely appropriate. In the past, all the United States had done in response to al Qaeda attacks was lob a few cruise missiles at what we thought might be their bases, and you can see where that got us. In the end, the only acceptable alternative was to invade the country and destroy as much of their operation as we could. And, quite frankly, we shouldn’t have had to wait until 3,000 people lay dead before that happened.

The suggestion that America’s national interests begin and end at America’s borders, which is something that libertarians have asserted for some time and which Paul clearly seems to state in his response to the Post, just strikes me as naive.  We don’t live in the world the Founding Fathers did, and we can’t pretend that anything that doesn’t strike the Atlantic seaboard isn’t a threat.

What about international shipping lanes ? The Panama Canal ? The world oil supply ?

None of these directly impact the territory of the United States, so one would assume that the isolationist response would be that we can safely ignore it. Well, I would’ve thought that we learned on December 7th, and again on September 11th, that doing that only leads to the world knocking on our door someday, with less than pleasant consequences.