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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, I rise to talk a little bit about the appropriations that are going on, in particular, the appropriations for the very, very long war in Afghanistan. Nobody knows when it's going to end.

There's always a pretense. There's always a thought that tomorrow's going to be a better day. I was in the military in the sixties, and there was always this promise that we're just around the turn, and we're going to have peace and prosperity and have perfect results. Well, so far we have not had any perfect results in Afghanistan--there is a lot of unknown--and here we are appropriating even more money to continue this war.

When you talk about war power and the resolution on how we go to war, it becomes very complex today. It was originally intended to be very simple: you went to war when there was a declaration; and the people, through their Congressman, voted up or down on whether you should have a war. Today, we slip and slide and we fall into these traps. We go to war under the U.N. banner and NATO. We never know why we go to war and what the goals are and when the war is over. And they persist.

But there is one analysis made which bothers me a bit and, that is, even if there isn't a declaration of war, if some of the Members come along, as we have been for quite a few years, and say, you know, the Congress never really declared war, the argument they make is, well, as long as you fund a war, you give it credibility, and therefore you indirectly support the war.

Of course, the argument is not so much on how we go to war, but if we get into war, the whole thing is you can't vote against any money. Well, then you don't care about the troops. Oh, you're un-American. Don't do that. That carries the weight of the argument, and people shy away and say, no, I don't like the war, we shouldn't have done it, but I can't go against the troops.

Well, I've had a little experience in the last several years traveling the country and talking about issues like this and looking for support for a position which is quite a bit different than what we have followed here recently. Let me tell you, guess what, the troops give me strong support. They gave me a lot of support. It was huge. For anybody to argue that you don't want to send troops carelessly into no-win, endless wars, to think you're against the troops, it's nonsense.

When I was in the military--I was still in in '65, and that's when the escalation came in Vietnam--the last thing I was wanting to say is, oh, I want somebody in there that wants to expand the war. Why don't we go into Cambodia and Laos. No, I didn't want that. Troops don't want to go to war. I was in a Guard unit as well as Active Duty. People join the Guard and Reserves because they want to defend the country. They don't want to take six trips to the Middle East and endlessly see what's happening.

I get stories all the time about their buddies being killed, the loss of limbs. Then they say, well, we're fighting for freedom. Think about it seriously. How in the world does going over there and fighting in either Iraq or Afghanistan have anything to do with our freedom? Oh, we're fighting to defend our Constitution. Well, we never had a constitutional declaration of war. So that's all a facade. That's all to make people feel guilty that if you don't keep the war going--in Vietnam, it was we have to win, we have to win. So we lose 60,000 troops and we didn't win. So what does that mean?

After McNamara wrote his memoirs and was a bit apologetic about it, he was asked: Does this mean you're apologizing for the kind of war you're in in Vietnam? He said: No. What good is an apology if you don't change policy? That is the thing. If this is not doing well and not doing right, just to say either you're sorry, you're continuing it, we have to have victory and pretend there is a victory around the corner, I think we're fooling ourselves.

We shouldn't deceive ourselves. We should wake up. If we lived within the Constitution and lived within our means, believe me, we would not be in Afghanistan.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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