Arguments Against a War in Iraq
Congressman Ron Paul
U.S. House of Representatives
Sept. 4, 2002
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.
Thomas Jefferson once said:
"Never was so much false arithmetic employed on any subject
as that which has been employed to persuade nations that
it is in their interests to go to war."
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 6,000 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.
For some reason such an attack
makes me feel much less secure, while our country is made
Congress must consider the
fact that those with military experience advocate a "go
slow" policy, while those without military experience
are the ones demanding this war.
We cannot ignore the fact that
all of Iraq's neighbors oppose this attack, and our European
allies object as well.
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. We need no more
false arithmetic on our budget or false reasons for pursuing
this new adventure into preemptive war and worldwide nation-building.
Mr. Speaker, allow me to offer
another quote from Jefferson. Jefferson said: "No country
perhaps was ever so thoroughly against war as ours. These
dispositions pervade every description of its citizens,
whether in or out of office. We love and we value peace,
we know its blessings from experience."
We need this sentiment renewed
in this Congress in order to avoid a needless war that
offers us nothing but trouble. Congress must deal with
this serious matter of whether or not we go to war. I
believe it would be a mistake with the information that
is available to us today. I do not see any reason whatsoever
to take young men and young women and send them 6,000
miles to attack a country that has not committed any aggression
against this country. Many American now share my belief
that it would be a serious mistake.
First, there is a practical
reason to oppose a war in Iraq. Our military now has been
weakened over the last decade, and when we go into Iraq
we will clearly dilute our ability to defend our country.
We do not enhance our national defense by initiating this
war. Besides, it is impractical because of unintended
consequences which none of us know about. We do not know
exactly how long this will last. It could be a six-day
war, a six-month war, or six years or even longer.
There is a military reason
for not going to war. We ought to listen to the generals
and other military experts, including Colin Powell, Brent
Scowcroft, Anthony Zinni, and Norman Schwarzkopf, who
are now advising us NOT to go to war. Some have even cautioned
against the possibility of starting World War III. They
understand that our troops have been spread too thin around
the world, and it is dangerous from a purely military
standpoint to go to war today.
There is a constitutional argument
and a constitutional mistake that could be made. If we
once again go to war, as we have done on so many occasions
since World War II, without a clear declaration of war
by Congress, we blatantly violate the Constitution. I
fear we will once again go to war in a haphazard way,
by executive order, or even by begging permission from
the rotten, anti-American United Nations. This haphazard
approach, combined with a lack of clearly defined goal
for victory, makes it almost inevitable that true victory
will not come. So we should look at this from a constitutional
perspective. Congress should assume its responsibility,
because war is declared by Congress, not by a President
and not by a U.N.
This is a very important matter,
and I am delighted to hear that there will be congressional
hearings and discussion. I certainly believe we should
have a balanced approach. We have already had some hearings
in the other body, where we heard only one side of the
issue. If we want to have real hearings, we should have
a debate and hear evidence on both sides, rather than
just hearing pro-war interests arguing for war.
There are even good political
reasons for not initiating this conflict. War is not popular.
It may seem popular in the short run, when there appears
to be an immediate victory and everyone is gloating, but
war is not popular. People get killed, and body bags end
up coming back. War is very unpopular, and it is not the
politically smart thing to do.
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 countless diplomatic
reasons for not going. All the Arab nations near Iraq
object to and do not endorse our plans, and none of our
European allies are anxious for this to happen. So diplomatically
we make a serious mistake by doing this. I hope we have
second thoughts and are very cautious in what we do.
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.
Finally, there is a compelling
moral argument against war in Iraq. Military force is
justified only in self-defense; naked aggression is the
province of dictators and rogue states. This is the danger
of a new "preemptive first strike" doctrine. America is
the most moral nation on earth, founded on moral principles,
and we must apply moral principles when deciding to use