Afghanistan War Powers Resolution

Floor Speech

By:  Ron Paul
Date: March 17, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PAUL. I thank the gentleman.

The question we are facing today is, should we leave Afghanistan? I think the answer is very clear, and it's not complicated. Of course we should, as soon as we can. This suggests that we can leave by the end of the year. If we don't, we'll be there for another decade, would be my prediction.

The American people are now with us. A group of us here in the Congress, a bipartisan group, for nearly a decade have been talking about this, arguing not to expand the war, not to be over there, not to be in nation building. And the American people didn't pay much attention. Now they are. The large majority of the American people now say it's time to get out of Afghanistan. It's a fruitless venture. Too much has been lost. The chance of winning, since we don't even know what we are going to win, doesn't exist. So they are tired of it. Financially, there's a good reason to come home as well.

Some argue we have to be there because if we leave under these circumstances we'll lose face; it will look embarrassing to leave. So how many more men and women have to die, how many more dollars have to be spent to save face? That is one of the worst arguments possible.

We are not there under legal conditions. This is a war. Who says it isn't a war? Everybody talks about the Afghan war. Was the war declared? Of course not. It wasn't declared. There was a resolution passed that said that the President at that time, under the emergency of 9/11, could go and deal with al Qaeda, those who brought upon the 9/11 bombings. But al Qaeda is not there anymore. So we are fighting the Taliban.

The Taliban used to be our allies at one time when the Soviets were there. The Taliban's main goal is to keep the foreign occupation out. They want foreigners out of their country. They are not al Qaeda. Yet most Americans--maybe less so now. But the argument here on the floor is we have got to go after al Qaeda. This is not a war against al Qaeda. If anything, it gives the incentive for al Qaeda to grow in numbers rather than dealing with them.

The money issue, we are talking about a lot of money. How much do we spend a year? Probably about $130 billion, up to $1 trillion now in this past decade.

Later on in the day, we are going to have two votes. We are going to have a vote on doing something sensible, making sense out of our foreign policy, bringing our troops home and saving hundreds of billions of dollars. Then we also will have a vote against NPR, to cut the funding of NPR. There is a serious question about whether that will even cut one penny. But at least the fiscal conservatives are going to be overwhelmingly in support of slashing NPR, and then go home and brag about how they are such great fiscal conservatives. And the very most they might save is $10 million, and that's their claim to fame for slashing the budget. At the same time, they won't consider for a minute cutting a real significant amount of money.

All empires end for fiscal reasons because they spread themselves too far around the world, and that's what we are facing. We are in the midst of a military conflict that is contributing to this inevitable crisis and it's financial. And you would think there would be a message there.

How did the Soviets come down? By doing the very same thing that we're doing: perpetual occupation of a country.

We don't need to be occupying Afghanistan or any other country. We don't even need to be considering going into Libya or anywhere else. Fortunately, I guess for those of us who would like to see less of this killing, we will have to quit because we won't be able to afford it.

The process that we are going through is following the War Powers Resolution. This is a proper procedure. It calls attention to how we slip into these wars.

I have always claimed that it's the way we get into the wars that is the problem. If we would be precise and only go to war with a declaration of war, with the people behind us, knowing who the enemy is, and fight, win, and get it over with, that would be more legitimate. They don't do it now because the American people wouldn't support it. Nobody is going to declare war against Afghanistan or Iraq or Libya.

We now have been so careless for the past 50 or 60 years that, as a Congress and especially as a House, we have reneged on our responsibilities. We have avoided our prerogatives of saying that we have the control. We have control of the purse. We have control of when we are supposed to go to war. Yet the wars continue. They never stop. And we are going to be completely brought down to our knees.

We can't change Afghanistan. The people who are bragging about these changes, even if you could, you are not supposed to. You don't have the moral authority. You don't have the constitutional authority.

Mr. PAUL. So I would say, the sooner, the better, we can come home. This process says come home. Under the law, it says you should start bringing troops home within 30 days. This allows up to the end of the year after this would be passed. But this needs to be done. A message needs to be sent. And some day we have to wake up and say, if you are a fiscal conservative, you ought to look at the waste.

This is military Keynesianism to believe that we should do this forever. So I would say this is the day to be on record and vote for this resolution.

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