Today we celebrate the 93rd anniversary of the end of The Great War. The June 1914 assassination of Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand began a series of events and triggered alliances that ultimately led to over 30 million people being killed, wounded, or gone missing in the conflict. Brutal new technological advances like machine guns and chemical warfare produced horrors never before thought of. Any romantic or heroic notion of war was supposed to have been crushed under the weight of those millions of corpses. In fact, when the Congress passed a resolution to honor veterans on November 11th in 1926, President Calvin Coolidge declared it "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day'."
Yet, almost a century after the world vowed ‘never again,’ humanity is still plagued by global armed conflict. Over seven thousand American service men and women have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Despite Obama’s promises to be a president of peace and improve our standing among the world, the full withdrawal from Iraq is only now, three years later, in progress, he got us involved in Libya and we remain indefinitely at war in Afghanistan. Yes, the job of the soldiers is to fight wars to defend our nation, but I feel the size and scope of today’s American military has far exceeded what it was envisioned for when our nation was born.
Let’s take a look at the oath all members of the armed forces have to take:
I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
The Constitution is (or was, anyway) the highest law of the land and the thing that made our country the unique beacon of liberty in the world it has been for so long. The Constitution says that the president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces but only Congress can declare war. Ideally, the president is supposed to be the defender of the Constitution and the land, and through the chain of command this should be reflected all the way down to the lowest privates. However, if the two things our soldiers swear to obey, the president and the Constitution stand opposed to each other, what happens then?
My point is I believe the military of the United States of America is being used for other purposes than defending just our land, sovereignty and sacred document. Congress was convinced to go into Iraq based on false information that the country had ties with Al-Qaeda and possessed secret caches of weapons of mass destruction. By the time the people learned there were no links to the terrorists behind 9/11 or WMD’s, we were already stuck occupying a nation in chaos.
We went into Afghanistan on the pretext of dismantling Al-Qaeda and making sure the nation would not be a safe harbor for terrorists any longer. If this was the true reason for going into war with Afghanistan, then the target should have been and still should be its neighbor, Pakistan, whose government or military may have had some role in funding the 9/11 attacks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmed_Omar_Saeed_Sheikh).
And does anyone really feel safer now that Qaddafi is dead and his regime out of power in Libya? I know I don’t. If anything, all we accomplished was destabilizing another region of the world, as evidenced by Al-Qaeda flags being seen flown around the country since the revolution (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/282353/benghazi-sea-al-qaeda-flags-john-rosenthal).
The point is, I think on this Veterans Day, we should think about how our brave soldiers are being deployed and what they are fighting and dying for. If not defending the nation and the Constitution, what other interests are being served? I do not believe it is right, or economically viable, to police the world and involve ourselves in any conflict in the world we choose to. It does not make us any safer here in America because of these wars. In fact, it makes people around the globe hate us more that we are constantly involving ourselves in these matters and the inflated defense budget is helping to bankrupt our nation to boot.
There is one presidential candidate that agrees with me, and since he’s a veteran as well, the only of the major candidates to have served his country, I think it’s appropriate I spend some time talking about him. Ron Paul has represented Texas in the US House of Representatives about 24 of the last 35 years, serving 12 terms off and on since 1976. Congressman Paul is a doctor as well, serving as flight surgeon during his time with the Air Force. He opened his own private practice when he and his family moved to Texas in the late 60’s and has practiced medicine intermittently since beginning his political career.
While in Congress, he has been nothing if not consistent. If you watch a video of him from his first campaign in 1988, he was saying pretty much the same things as he is now. He has been preaching to stop spending money and growing the government for at least that long. Meanwhile, the government has ballooned in size throughout the administrations of Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama. Both political parties have left a bigger government that spends more money than the previous one they inherited. The debt that is being accumulated through this unbridled spending, growing by 4 billion dollars a day, is one of the biggest challenges facing this nation. Only Ron Paul has a real plan (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-2Zs0-N1dA) to face this problem, cutting five government departments and a trillion dollars from the first year’s budget. His plan would balance the budget by the end of his first term.
What he is proposing seems radical, but if Dr. Paul is telling us his plan gives us the best chance to avoid the coming disaster of inflation through the devaluation of the dollar tied to the practice of continued money printing and mounting debt to satisfy new spending, then we should be listening. In the past, he has shown that his insight into problems and their consequences has been eerily prophetic.
On the eve of the Clinton impeachment, everyone wanted to know what the congressman thought about the Lewinski affair. When talking to reporters here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hJTisovvjc), Dr. Paul makes it clear that he was more interested in talking about the illegal actions of war undertaken by Slick Willy in bombing Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998 without Congressional approval. He told us then that it was an “illegal, Unconstitutional act of war,” that cost tax payers 200 million dollars. “They’re not a threat to our national security,” he said. He went on to warn that “our national security is more jeopardized by permitting this to happen because we’re liable to start a war, we’re liable to have our military men killed, we’re liable to have more attacks on us by terrorists.” This was a little less than three years before 9/11/2001.
Another instance of Ron’s uncanny knack for knowing what’s going to happen before anyone else did is his prediction that the housing bubble would burst five years before it actually happened (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KONpt9a6HrI). He told the House of Representatives in 2001 that the practice of printing more and more money does not create new money, and the great influx of this newly made money was adding artificially inflated value to the houses, and that the market will eventually correct itself and the housing market bubble will burst, leading to mass foreclosures. If anyone had listened to him then, we might have avoided millions being turned out of their homes and the ensuing recession from the presence of too many devalued dollars. When he said this he notes that the federal debt was growing at 120 billion dollars annually at that time. It has grown by over a trillion each of the past three years.
So, say he’s right. What is he saying now that we should be listening to? His plan is broad and involves many aspects of the government, including eliminating aid to foreign countries, getting out of international agreements like NAFTA that make it cheaper and easier for industry to leave and eliminating or merging many domestic departments and their programs. In the interest of brevity, and the fact that it’s Veterans Day, I want to focus today on his military policies.
Ron Paul recognizes that our vast defense spending over the past decade is one of the primary sources of this debt. Out of our 14 trillion dollar national debt, we have incurred 6 trillion of it between the years 2002 and 2010 and it is estimated that 4 trillion of that is due directly to our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The estimation of the hourly cost of the war is Afghanistan is 120 million dollars. When we talk about those unthinkable sums of money it doesn’t seem quite real, but keep in mind, it is real money, as real as the dollar is anyway, so someone is making a shit ton of money off these wars.
Ron Paul would get the troops out of Afghanistan quote “as soon as the boats could bring them back.” He would also close the huge permanent military bases, mostly in places like Germany and South Korea, but in 128 other countries all around the world as well. He would stop the practice of America being the world’s police and has said in the past that a lot of our problems stem from not minding our own business when it comes to world affairs. Out of all the cuts to this part of the budget though, he has promised not to cut a cent of the military budget that goes to veterans and health care for the soldiers.
The military under President Paul would serve to protect our nation and the Constitution from threats to our sovereignty at home and abroad but would not be built to occupy the world. He has said that America should not be helping other countries, in the form of foreign aid or military action, until we can take care of our own. Apparently, the troops like the idea of coming home, as Ron Paul has received more money from more veterans or active military personnel for the 2012 than any other candidate.
Ron Paul is a prophet pleading us to wake up. The current status quo cannot be maintained any longer. Our country was founded on the noblest of ideals, but our Constitution and way of life is in danger of existing only as a quirky experiment in future history books, or files, or IPads, or brain implants, or whatever.
Today’s date of 11/11/11 has been much talked about and much anticipated due to its infrequency of occurrence. I don’t read any significance into it, because our current calendar was begun on an arbitrary date hundreds of years after the fact. However, the times we are living in are times of great change. One date that I do not see as meaningless is December 21st 2012. The difference between these two dates is that the latter was predicted thousands of years ago based on astronomical calculations and coincides with a major galactic event. This day was predicted by the Mayans as the end of one age of man and the beginning of another. I do not think that there will be any sudden, cataclysmic natural or social upheaval upon midnight of this date, but I do think it is a date that will be remembered as the beginning of new golden era of humanity. And old Ron might just be the leader to take us into it.
*If you’re interested in the significance of December 21st 2012, then you’ll love my novel, which I will begin releasing serially on December 21st 2011.