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The Quagmire Of Afghanistan

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington D.C.

Mr. PAUL. Certainly, in the last 24 hours, we've had a lot of discussion about Afghanistan and whether or not we should send more troops. As a matter of fact, that debate has been going on for a long time. The whole debate about Afghanistan is something that makes me think that we are bogged down, considering the fact that it has been going on for 8 years.

This is not new for us. This is more or less the rule rather than the exception, and I believe this comes about because of the way we go to war. In the last 60-some years, we have never had a declaration of war, but we have been involved in plenty. We've been involved in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and the Iraq War, and now Afghanistan, and it looks like it's going to be Pakistan as well.

So I think the reason we get here is because we don't declare war and we slip into war, and then it becomes political. There are two sides. There is one side of the argument that says, Let's just come home. And the other side says, Fight it all out. And people say, No, you can't be an extremist on this. You have to have a balance. And the balance is chaotic. There's no way of measuring victory, and nobody wants to give up, claiming it would be humiliating to give up.

But just think of the tragedy of Vietnam, all those years and all those deaths and all that money spent. Eventually we left, and South Vietnam is now a unified country, but we still have troops in Korea, in Europe, and in Japan. And we are bankrupt. So some day we are going to have to wake up and look at the type of foreign policy that the Founders advised us to have, and that is nonintervention: don't get involved in the internal affairs of other nations, have free and open trade and accept friendship with other countries who offer it, and that we shouldn't be the policemen of the world and we shouldn't be telling other people what to do. We cannot be the policemen of the world and pay for all those bills because we are literally bankrupt.

In thinking about the dilemma that we have, I think back, even back in the 1960s when I was an Air Force flight surgeon for 5 years, and that was the first time I heard the term ``quagmire.'' And thinking about that for many, many years, that's all I can think about right now is to evaluate what we have. There are a few phrases that have been around for a long time, and I believe they more or less describe what is happening here. Quagmire. Certainly that is what we are doing. We are digging a hole for ourselves. ``Perpetual war for perpetual peace.'' We have all heard that term, and it sounds like we are in perpetual war. ``War is the health of the state.'' We all know the government size and sacrifice of civil liberties always occurs much more so in the midst of a war.

A book was written many years ago by one of the most, if not the most decorated soldier we ever had, Smedley Butler. He wrote a book called ``War is a Racket.'' And I have come to this belief that war literally is a racket for the people who push these wars, whether it's the military industrial complex or the special interests and the various factions, but it's never, it's never for the people.

Today it is said that we're over there to protect our national security to go into Afghanistan. Well, it's down to 100 al Qaedas in Afghanistan, and, quite frankly, the Afghan Government had nothing to do--they said they harbored the al Qaeda, and that is true, but do you think those 19 guys needed to do pushups in Afghanistan to come over here and do what they did? The real planning wasn't in Afghanistan. It was in Spain. It was in Germany. Where was the real training? The real training was in Florida. The training was in Florida, and the FBI had evidence at the time that they were being trained, and it's totally ignored. And yet we are concentrating, we are still back to 9/11, fear of nuclear war. We have to go in, scare the people.

Yet what is the motivation for individuals to become radical against us, whether it's in the Taliban or al Qaeda? There is one single factor that is the most influential in motivating somebody to commit suicide terrorism against anybody or us, and that is occupation by a foreign nation. And now, where have we occupied? We have occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. We are bombing Pakistan. But not only the literal occupation, but also, we have this threat on Pakistan.

So I would say it's time for us to reassess ourselves and look at a noninterventionist foreign policy.


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