Friday, February 20, 2009

'Ron Paul Told Us So' - Prior to the invasion of Iraq

"Mr. Speaker, I rise to urge the Congress to think twice before thrusting this nation into
a war without merit - one fraught with the danger of escalating into
something no American will be pleased with."
- Dr. Ron Paul, September 4 2002 in the House of Representatives

On October 10 & 11, 2002, the United States Congress overwhelmingly passed the Iraq War Resolution which authorized "the President to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to defend the national security of the US against the continuing threat posed by Iraq." Six months later, the US invaded Iraq, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Prior to the invasion, most American politicians and media uncritically echoed the Bush administration's casus belli -- most notably, that Saddam Hussein's regime possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), posed an imminent threat to the US, and was complicit in the attacks of 9/11. However, a few intrepid souls challenged these assertions throughout the march to war. In a hostile environment rife with militant hysteria, these people patiently exposed the flaws and falsehoods in the government's propaganda.

Adding his voice to this small chorus of dissenters, Ron Paul delivered a remarkable series of addresses in the House of Representatives. At a time when it was politically unpopular to do so, Dr. Paul persistently refuted the administration's case for war, while also warning his countrymen of the potentially dire consequences. Below, you will find excerpts from these speeches, with a few select quotations in

"One hundred years of intense government 'benevolence'
in the United States has brought us to the brink of economic collapse,
a domestic police state, and perpetual war overseas.And now our obsession
with conquering and occupying Iraq is about to unleash consequences that no one
can accurately foresee. The negative possibilities are unlimited and the benefits negligible."
- Dr. Ron Paul, November 14 2002 in the House of Representatives


Statement in Opposition to House Resolution on Iraq, December 19 2001


Before We Bomb Iraq..., February 26 2002
Why Initiate War with Iraq? March 20 2002
Inspection or Invasion in Iraq? June 24 2002
Arguments Against a War in Iraq, September 4 2002
Questions that Won't be Asked about Iraq, September 10 2002
Can We Afford this War? September 24 2002
Is Congress Relevant with Regards to War? October 3 2002
Statement Opposing the Use of Military Force in Iraq, October 8 2002
Unintended Consequences, November 14 2002

Another United Nations War? February 26 2003
The Myth of War Prosperity, March 4 2003


Statement in Opposition to House Resolution on Iraq, Dr. Ron Paul, December 19 2001
"Saddam Hussein is a ruthless dictator. The Iraqi people would no doubt be better off without him and his despotic rule. But the call in some quarters for the United States to intervene to change Iraq's government is a voice that offers little in the way of a real solution to our problems in the Middle East, many of which were caused by our interventionism in the first place."

"Mr. Speaker, House Joint Resolution 64 ... states that, 'The president is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.'
From all that we know at present, Iraq appears to have had no such role."

"The rationale for this legislation is suspect, not the least because it employs a revisionist view of recent Middle East history. This legislation brings up, as part of its indictment against Iraq, that Iraq attacked Iran some twenty years ago. What the legislation fails to mention is that at that time Iraq was an ally of the United States, and counted on technical and military support from the United States in its war on Iran."

"We must also consider the damage a military invasion of Iraq will do to our alliance in this fight against terrorism. An attack on Iraq could destroy that international coalition against terrorism ... Relations with our European allies would suffer should we continue down this path toward military conflict with Iraq."

"Mr. Speaker, I do not understand this push to seek out another country to bomb next. Media and various politicians and pundits seem to delight in predicting from week to week which country should be next on our bombing list. Is military action now the foreign policy of first resort for the United States?"

"[T]his legislation, even in its watered-down form, moves us closer to conflict with Iraq. This is not in our interest at this time ...
Invading Iraq, with the massive loss of life on both sides, would only forward bin Laden's hateful plan. I think we need to look at our priorities here. We are still seeking those most responsible for the attacks on the United States. Now hardly seems the time to go out in search of new battles."


Before We Bomb Iraq ...,
Dr. Ron Paul, February 26 2002
"[I]t is rarely pointed out that the CIA has found no evidence whatsoever that Iraq was involved in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Rarely do we hear that Iraq has never committed any aggression against the United States. No one in the media questions our aggression against Iraq for the past 12 years by continuous bombing and imposed sanctions responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children."

"The planned war against Iraq without a Declaration of War is illegal.
It is unwise because of many unforeseen consequences that are likely to result. It is immoral and unjust, because it has nothing to do with US security and because Iraq has not initiated aggression against us."

"We must understand that the American people become less secure when we risk a major conflict driven by commercial interests and not constitutionally authorized by Congress.
Victory under these circumstances is always elusive, and unintended consequences are inevitable."

Why Initiate War on Iraq?
Dr. Ron Paul, March 20 2002
"Iraq has not initiated aggression against the United States. Invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein, no matter how evil a dictator he may be, has nothing to do with our national security. Iraq does not have a single airplane in its air force and is a poverty-ridden third world nation, hardly a threat to U.S. security."

"[A] war against Iraq initiated by the United States cannot be morally justified. The argument that someday in the future Saddam Hussein might pose a threat to us means that any nation, any place in the world is subject to an American invasion without cause. This would be comparable to the impossibility of proving a negative."

"[I]nitiating a war against Iraq will surely antagonize all neighboring Arab and Muslim nations as well as the Russians, the Chinese, and the European Union, if not the whole world... There is no practical benefit for such action. Iraq could end up in even more dangerous hands like Iran."

[T]he cost of a war against Iraq would be prohibitive. We paid a heavy economic price for the Vietnam war in direct cost, debt and inflation. This coming war could be a lot more expensive. Our national debt is growing at a rate greater than $250 billion per year. This will certainly accelerate. The dollar cost will be the least of our concerns compared to the potential loss of innocent lives, both theirs and ours. The systematic attack on civil liberties that accompanies all wars cannot be ignored."

Inspection or Invasion in Iraq?
Dr. Ron Paul, June 24 2002
"[Former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, Scott Ritter] added that any U.S. invasion to remove Saddam from power would likely open the door to an anti-American fundamentalist Islamic regime in Iraq. That can hardly be viewed in a positive light here in the United States. Is a policy that replaces a bad regime with a worse regime the wisest course to follow?"

"Mr. Ritter told me that in his many dealings with Chalabi, he found him to be completely unreliable and untrustworthy. He added that neither he nor the approximately 100 Iraqi generals that the US is courting have any credibility inside Iraq, and any attempt to place them in power would be rejected in the strongest manner by the Iraqi people. Hundreds, if not thousands, of American military personnel would be required to occupy Iraq indefinitely if any American-installed regime is to remain in power. Again,
it appears we are creating a larger problem than we are attempting to solve."

Arguments Against a War in Iraq,
Dr. Ron Paul, September 4 2002
"Mr. Speaker, I rise to urge the Congress to think twice before thrusting this nation into a war without merit - one fraught with the danger of escalating into something no American will be pleased with."

"We have for months now heard plenty of false arithmetic and lame excuses for why we must pursue a preemptive war of aggression against an impoverished third world nation 6000 miles from our shores that doesn’t even possess a navy or air force, on the pretense that it must be done for national security reasons."

"If the military and diplomatic reasons for a policy of restraint make no sense to those who want a war, I advise they consider the $100 billion cost that will surely compound our serious budget and economic problems we face here at home."

There are economic reasons to avoid this war. We can do serious damage to our economy. It is estimated that this venture into Iraq may well cost over a hundred billion dollars. Our national debt right now is increasing at a rate of over $450 billion yearly, and we are talking about spending another hundred billion dollars on an adventure when we do not know what the outcome will be and how long it will last? What will happen to oil prices? What will happen to the recession that we are in? What will happen to the deficit? We must expect all kinds of economic ramifications."

"There are philosophical reasons for those who believe in limited government to oppose this war. 'War is the health of the state,' as the saying goes.
War necessarily means more power is given to the state. This additional power always results in a loss of liberty. Many of the worst government programs of the 20th century began during wartime 'emergencies' and were never abolished. War and big government go hand in hand, but we should be striving for peace and freedom."

Questions that Won't be Asked about Iraq,
Dr. Ron Paul, September 10 2002
"Is it not also true that we are willing to bomb Iraq now because we know it cannot retaliate - which just confirms that there is no real threat?"

"Is it not true that the intelligence community has been unable to develop a case tying Iraq to global terrorism at all, much less the attacks on the United States last year?"

"Was former CIA counter-terrorism chief Vincent Cannistraro wrong when he recently said there is no confirmed evidence of Iraq’s links to terrorism?"

Would an attack on Iraq not just confirm the Arab world's worst suspicions about the US, and isn't this what bin Laden wanted?"

"Are we prepared for possibly thousands of American casualties in a war against a country that does not have the capacity to attack the United States?"

Are we willing to bear the economic burden of a 100 billion dollar war against Iraq, with oil prices expected to skyrocket and further rattle an already shaky American economy? How about an estimated 30 years occupation of Iraq that some have deemed necessary to 'build democracy' there?"

"How can our declared goal of bringing democracy to Iraq be believable when we prop up dictators throughout the Middle East and support military tyrants like Musharaf in Pakistan, who overthrew a democratically-elected president?"

"Are you familiar with the 1994 Senate Hearings that revealed the U.S. knowingly supplied chemical and biological materials to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war and as late as 1992 - including after the alleged Iraqi gas attack on a Kurdish village?"

Did we not assist Saddam Hussein’s rise to power by supporting and encouraging his invasion of Iran? Is it honest to criticize Saddam now for his invasion of Iran, which at the time we actively supported?"

"Is it not true that since World War II Congress has not declared war and - not coincidentally - we have not since then had a clear-cut victory?"

Can We Afford this War? Dr. Ron Paul, September 24 2002
"Government spending in all areas is skyrocketing, much of it out of the control of the politicians, who show little concern. Yet we are expected to believe our government leaders who say that we are experiencing a recovery and that a return to grand prosperity is just around the corner. The absence of capital formation, savings, and corporate profits are totally ignored."

No credible evidence has been produced that Iraq has or is close to having nuclear weapons. No evidence exists to show that Iraq harbors al Qaeda terrorists. Quite to the contrary, experts on this region recognize Hussein as an enemy of the al Qaeda and a foe to Islamic fundamentalism."

"Our national debt is over $6 trillion and is increasing by nearly half a trillion dollars a year. Since Social Security funds are all placed in the general revenues and spent, and all funds are fungible, honest accounting, of which there has been a shortage lately, dictates that a $200 billion war must jeopardize Social Security funding. This is something the American people deserve to know."

"Since there are limits to borrowing and taxing, but no limits to the Fed printing money to cover our deficit, we can be assured this will occur. This guarantees that Social Security checks will never stop coming, but it also guarantees that the dollars that all retired people receive will buy less. We have already seen this happening in providing medical services. A cheap dollar; that is, an inflated dollar, is a sinister and deceitful way of cutting benefits."

Rest assured, a $200 billion hit on the economy will have economic consequences, and the elderly retirees on fixed incomes, and especially Social Security beneficiaries, will suffer the greatest burden of [this] policy, reflecting a belief that our country is so rich that it can afford both guns and butter. Remember, we have tried that before."

"The tragedy is that once the flaw in policy is discovered, it is too late to prevent the pain and suffering, and only finger pointing occurs. Now is the only time we can give serious attention to the true cost of assuming the burden of an endless task of being the world's policeman and starting wars that have nothing to do with defense or national security."

Is Congress Relevant with Regards to War? Dr. Ron Paul, October 3 2002
"The process by which we’ve entered wars over the past 57 years, and the inconclusive results of each war since that time, are obviously related to Congress’ abdication of its responsibility regarding war, given to it by Article I Section 8 of the Constitution."

"A declaration of war limits the presidential powers, narrows the focus, and implies a precise end point to the conflict. A declaration of war makes Congress assume the responsibilities directed by the Constitution for this very important decision, rather than assume that if the major decision is left to the President and a poor result occurs, it will be his fault, not that of Congress."

"Since Iraq doesn’t even have an Air Force or a Navy, is incapable of waging a war, and remains defenseless against the overwhelming powers of the United States and the British, it’s difficult to claim that we’re going into Iraq to restore peace.
History will eventually show that if we launch this attack the real victims will be the innocent Iraqi civilians who despise Saddam Hussein and are terrified of the coming bombs that will destroy their cities."

The greatest beneficiaries of the attack may well be Osama bin Ladin and the al Qaeda. Some in the media have already suggested that the al Qaeda may be encouraging the whole event. Unintended consequences will occur - what will come from this attack is still entirely unknown ... The attack, many believe, will confirm to the Arab world that indeed the Christian West has once again attacked the Muslim East, providing radical fundamentalists a tremendous boost for recruitment."

Statement Opposing the Use of Military Force in Iraq,
Dr. Ron Paul, October 8 2002
"I have come to the conclusion that I see no threat to our national security. There is no convincing evidence that Iraq is capable of threatening the security of this country, and, therefore, very little reason, if any, to pursue a war."

"But a very practical reason why I have a great deal of reservations has to do with the issue of no-win wars that we have been involved in for so long. Once we give up our responsibilities from here in the House and the Senate to make these decisions, ... we are more likely to have the wars last longer and not have resolution of the wars, such as we had in Korea and Vietnam. We ought to consider this very seriously."

"I must oppose this resolution, which regardless of what many have tried to claim will lead us into war with Iraq. This resolution is not a declaration of war, however, and that is an important point: this resolution transfers the Constitutionally-mandated Congressional authority to declare wars to the executive branch. This resolution tells the president that he alone has the authority to determine when, where, why, and how war will be declared. It merely asks the president to pay us a courtesy call a couple of days after the bombing starts to let us know what is going on.
This is exactly what our Founding Fathers cautioned against when crafting our form of government: most had just left behind a monarchy where the power to declare war rested in one individual. It is this they most wished to avoid."

"The 'no-fly zones' were never authorized by the United Nations, nor was their 12 year patrol by American and British fighter planes sanctioned by the United Nations... While one can only condemn any country firing on our pilots, isn’t the real argument whether we should continue to bomb Iraq relentlessly? Just since 1998, some 40,000 sorties have been flown over Iraq."

"According to the latest edition of the State Department’s Patterns of Global Terrorism, Iraq sponsors several minor Palestinian groups, the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). None of these carries out attacks against the United States. As a matter of fact, the MEK (an Iranian organization located in Iraq) has enjoyed broad Congressional support over the years. According to last year’s Patterns of Global Terrorism, Iraq has not been involved in terrorist activity against the West since 1993."

(A)ccording to UNSCOM’s chief weapons inspector, 90-95 percent of Iraq’s chemical and biological weapon capabilities were destroyed by 1998; those that remained have likely degraded in the intervening four years and are likely useless."

"A 1994 Senate Banking Committee hearing revealed some 74 shipments of deadly chemical and biological agents from the U.S. to Iraq in the 1980s ... These were sent while the United States was supporting Iraq covertly in its war against Iran. U.S. assistance to Iraq in that war also included covertly-delivered intelligence on Iranian troop movements and other assistance.
This is just another example of our policy of interventionism in affairs that do not concern us -- and how this interventionism nearly always ends up causing harm to the United States."

"The administration has claimed that some Al-Qaeda elements have been present in Northern Iraq. This is territory controlled by the Kurds – who are our allies – and is patrolled by U.S. and British fighter aircraft. Moreover, dozens of countries – including Iran and the United States – are said to have al-Qaeda members on their territory. Of other terrorists allegedly harbored by Iraq, all are affiliated with Palestinian causes and do not attack the United States."

Unintended Consequences, Dr. Ron Paul, November 14 2002
"Mr. Speaker, government efforts at benevolence always backfire. Inevitably, unintended consequences overwhelm the short-term and narrow benefits of authoritarian programs designed to make the economic system fair, the people morally better, and the world safe for democracy. One hundred years of intense government 'benevolence' in the United States has brought us to the brink of economic collapse, a domestic police state, and perpetual war overseas. And now our obsession with conquering and occupying Iraq is about to unleash consequences that no one can accurately foresee. The negative possibilities are unlimited and the benefits negligible."

"The best-case scenario would be a short war, limited to weeks and involving few American and Iraqi civilian casualties. This, in combination with a unified Iraqi welcome, the placing into power of a stable popular government that is long lasting, contributing to regional stability and prosperity, and free elections, just is what our planners are hoping for.
The odds of achieving this miraculous result are probably one in 10,000. More likely, the consequences will be severe and surprising and not what anyone planned for or intended. It will likely fall somewhere between the two extremes, but closer to the worst scenario than the best."

"There are numerous other possible consequences. Here are a few worth contemplating:

No local Iraqi or regional Arab support materializes. Instead of a spontaneous uprising as is hoped, the opposite occurs. The Iraqi citizens anxious to get rid of Hussein join in his defense, believing foreign occupation and control of their oil is far worse than living under the current dictator. Already we see that sanctions have done precisely that. Instead of blaming Saddam Hussein and his dictatorial regime for the suffering of the past decade, the Iraqi people blame the U.S.-led sanctions and the constant bombing by the U.S. and British. Hussein has increased his power and the people have suffered from the war against Iraq since 1991. There are a lot of reasons to believe this same reaction will occur with an escalation of our military attacks. Training dissidents like the Iraqi National Congress will prove no more reliable than the training and the military assistance we provided in the 70’s and the 80’s for Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein when they qualified as U.S. 'allies.'

Pre-emptive war against Iraq may well prompt traditional enemies in the regions to create new alliances, as the hatred for America comes to exceed age-old hatreds that caused regional conflicts. ... Antagonisms are bound to build, and our ability to finance the multiple military conflicts that are bound to come is self-limited.

Islamic fundamentalism in the entire region will get a shot in the arm once the invasion of Iraq begins, especially in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Turkey. Our placing the Shah in power in Iran in the 1950’s was a major reason that the Ayatollah eventually made it to power in the late 1970’s -- a delayed but nevertheless direct consequence of our policy.
Balance of power in this area of the world has always been delicate, and outside interference serves only to destabilize. There’s no evidence that our current efforts will lead to more stability.

Promoting democracy, as it’s said we’re doing, is a farce. If elections were to occur in most of the Arab countries today, Osama bin Laden and his key allies would win. Besides, it seems we adapt quite well to working with military dictators that have ousted elected leaders, as we do in Pakistan by rewarding their cooperation with huge subsidies and future promises.

Expect Israel to use the chaos to further promote their occupation and settlements in the Palestinian homeland and possibly even in Lebanon. Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons in a period of outright war will surely serve to intimidate her neighbors and intensify her efforts to further expand the Israeli homeland.

Anti-Americanism now sweeping the world will significantly increase once we launch our attack. Already we have seen elections swayed in Europe, Turkey, and Pakistan by those unfriendly to the United States. The attitude that the world’s 'King of the Hill' must be brought down will escalate, especially if the war goes poorly and does not end quickly with minimal civilian deaths.

Al Qaeda likely will get a real boost in membership once the war breaks out. Membership is already pervasive throughout the world without any centralized control. We should expect this to continue, with an explosion in membership and a negative impact around the world. Our attack will confirm to the doubters that bin Laden was right in assessing our desire to control the Middle Eastern resources and dictate policy to the entire region while giving support to Israel over the Palestinians.

Our very weak economy could easily collapse with the additional burden of a costly war. War is never a way to make the people of a country better off. It does not end recessions, and is much more likely to cause one or make one much worse. A significant war will cause revenues to decrease, taxes to increase, inflation to jump, encourage trade wars, and balloon the deficit. Oil prices will soar and the dollar will retreat ever further.

This war, if of any significant duration, in time will be seen as a Republican war plain and simple.
Along with a weak economy, it could easily usher in a 'regime change' here in the United States. The conditions may justify a change in leadership, but the return of control to the opposition party will allow them to use the opportunity to promote their domestic liberal agenda and socialize the entire economy."

The net result, regardless of the size and duration of the coming war, will be that the people of the United States will be less free and much poorer. The bigger the war, the greater will be the suffering."


Another United Nations War? Dr. Ron Paul, February 26 2003
"The first Persian Gulf War therefore was clearly a UN, political war fought within UN guidelines, not for U.S. security - and it was not fought through to victory. The bombings, sanctions, and harassment of the Iraqi people have never stopped. We are now about to resume the active fighting. Although this is referred to as the second Persian Gulf War, it’s merely a continuation of a war started long ago, and is likely to continue for a long time even after Saddam Hussein is removed from power."

"From my viewpoint the worst scenario would be for the United Nations to sanction this war, which may well occur if we offer enough U.S. taxpayer money and Iraqi oil to the reluctant countries. If that happens, we could be looking at another 58-year occupation, expanded Middle East chaos, or a dangerous spread of hostilities to all of Asia or even further."

"With regard to foreign affairs, the best advice comes from our Founders and the Constitution. It is better to promote peace and commerce with all nations, and exclude ourselves from the entangling, dangerous, complex, and unworkable alliances that come with our membership in the United Nations."

The Myth of War Prosperity, Dr. Ron Paul, March 4 2003
"The argument goes that when a country is at war, jobs are created and the economy grows. This is a myth. Many argue that World War II ended the Great Depression, which is another myth. Unemployment went down because many men were drafted, but national economic output went down during the war. Economic growth and a true end to the Depression did not occur until after World War II. So it is wrong to think there is an economic benefit arising from war."

During wartime, it is much more common to experience inflation because the money presses are running to fund military expenses. Also, during wartime, there is a bigger challenge to the currency of the warring nation, and already we see that the dollar has dropped 20 percent in the past year... [D]during wartime the country can expect that taxes will go up. ... And it is inevitable that deficits increase. And right now our deficits are exploding."

"There is no doubt that during wartime government expands in size and scope. And this of course is a great danger. And after war, the government rarely shrinks to its original size. It grows. It may shrink a little, but inevitably the size of the government grows because of war. This is a danger because when government gets bigger, the individual has to get smaller; therefore, it diminishes personal individual liberty."

So these are the costs that we cannot ignore. We have the cost of potential loss of life, but there are also tremendous economic costs that even the best economists cannot calculate closely."

"We went into Iraq without a declaration of war. We went there under the U.N., we are still there, and nobody knows how long we will be there. So there are many costs, some hidden and some overt. But the greatest threat, the greatest cost of war is the threat to individual liberty."