Thursday, March 8, 2007

Ron Paul on "Just War" Theory

from Ron Paul before the U.S. House of Representatives, 6/29/06. Hat tip to Connor.

"...Policy changes in wartime are difficult, for it is almost impossible for the administration to change course since so much emotional energy has been invested in the effort. That’s why Eisenhower ended the Korean War, and not Truman. That’s why Nixon ended the Vietnam War, and not LBJ. Even in the case of Vietnam the end was too slow and costly, as more then 30,000 military deaths came after Nixon’s election in 1968. It makes a lot more sense to avoid unnecessary wars than to overcome the politics involved in stopping them once started. I personally am convinced that many of our wars could be prevented by paying stricter attention to the method whereby our troops are committed to battle. I also am convinced that when Congress does not declare war, victory is unlikely.

The most important thing Congress can do to prevent needless and foolish wars is for every member to take seriously his or her oath to obey the Constitution. Wars should be entered into only after great deliberation and caution. Wars that are declared by Congress should reflect the support of the people, and the goal should be a quick and successful resolution.

Our undeclared wars over the past 65 years have dragged on without precise victories. We fight to spread American values, to enforce UN resolutions, and to slay supposed Hitlers. We forget that we once spread American values by persuasion and setting an example – not by bombs and preemptive invasions. Nowhere in the Constitution are we permitted to go to war on behalf of the United Nations at the sacrifice of our national sovereignty. We repeatedly use military force against former allies, thugs we helped empower – like Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden – even when they pose no danger to us...

How have the 2,500 plus deaths, and the 18,500 wounded, made us more free? What in the world does Iraq have to do with protecting our civil liberties here at home? What national security threat prompted American’s first pre-emptive war? How does our unilateral enforcement of UN resolutions enhance our freedoms?...

Some of the strongest supporters of the war declare that we are a Christian nation, yet use their religious beliefs to justify the war. They claim it is our Christian duty to remake the Middle East and attack the Muslim infidels. Evidently I have been reading from a different Bible. I remember something about “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

My beliefs aside, Christian teaching of nearly a thousand years reinforces the concept of “Just War Theory.” This Christian theory emphasizes six criteria needed to justify Christian participation in war. Briefly the six points are as follows:

War should be fought only in self-defense;
War should be undertaken only as a last resort;
A decision to enter war should be made only by a legitimate authority;
All military responses must be proportional to the threat;
There must be a reasonable chance of success; and
A public declaration notifying all parties concerned is required.
The war in Iraq fails to meet almost all of these requirements. This discrepancy has generated anger and division within the Christian community.

Some are angry because the war is being fought out of Christian duty, yet does not have uniform support from all Christians. Others are angry because they see Christianity as a religion as peace and forgiveness, not war and annihilation of enemies.

Constitutional and moral restraints on war should be strictly followed...

The solution to this mess is not complicated; but the changes needed are nearly impossible for political reasons. Sound free market economics, sound money, and a sensible foreign policy would all result from strict adherence to the Constitution. If the people desired it, and Congress was filled with responsible members, a smooth although challenging transition could be achieved. Since this is unlikely, we can only hope that the rule of law and the goal of liberty can be reestablished without chaos.

We must move quickly toward a more traditional American foreign policy of peace, friendship, and trade with all nations; entangling alliances with none. We must reject the notion that we can or should make the world safe for democracy. We must forget about being the world’s policeman. We should disengage from the unworkable and unforgiving task of nation building. We must reject the notion that our military should be used to protect natural resources, private investments, or serve the interest of any foreign government or the United Nations. Our military should be designed for one purpose: defending our national security. It’s time to come home now, before financial conditions or military weakness dictates it.

The major obstacle to a sensible foreign policy is the fiction about what patriotism means. Today patriotism has come to mean blind support for the government and its policies. In earlier times patriotism meant having the willingness and courage to challenge government policies regardless of popular perceptions.

Today we constantly hear innuendos and direct insults aimed at those who dare to challenge current foreign policy, no matter how flawed that policy may be. I would suggest it takes more courage to admit the truth, to admit mistakes, than to attack others as unpatriotic for disagreeing with the war in Iraq."

Read the entire talk here, and let me know what you think. Connor said that this article convinced his mom that the war in Iraq was wrong and that we should leave. Did it convince you?


Dan said...

I was against this war from the start. I saw through the bullcrap right from the beginning. I didn't forget Colin Powell's words in February 2001 when talking with Egypt's foreign minister, he said that Iraq was safely contained. But then again, I'm supposedly a loony liberal anti-war, terrorist loving leftist, oh and now faggot to boot.

Bored in Vernal said...

Don't worry, you're a good little Democrat.

Doc said...

I was already convinced the war was wrong. I am also convinced the the bloodbath and turmoil and large incidence of lost lives when we withdraw will also be upon our heads. I suppose this may just be the cost of our original foolishness going in in the first place. That hardly makes me feel any better about it though. It bothers me when people make withdrawal black or white. We leave, people die. We stay, Americans die. We do it halfheartedly Iraqis kill eachother and Americans die. We work for diplomacy, well there really isn't any leadership to get to sit down with one another because they already screwed up the whole constitution thing. The fact that Sunnis are killing Shia on religious pilgrimage kind of makes them sitting down an impossiblity anyway. I see no good answers, no clear less evil answers, just weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth and guilt in every direction.

Bored in Vernal said...

doc, I feel your anguish. That's why I think we really need to be there, working, working--just not fighting, and not with guns. Apologies in advance to everyone who thinks I am naive.

Anonymous said...

Checks should be made out and mailed to:

The Ron Paul 2008 PEC
837 W. Plantation Drive
Clute, TX 77531

Bored in Vernal said...

cute, very cute.

Connor said...

That's why I think we really need to be there, working, working--just not fighting, and not with guns

We only need to be there if we're invited. We're not. And even then, it's not a need. Our tax dollars to be used domestically, not to fix and bolster a foreign nation.

Pres. Benson put it best:

"There is one and only one legitimate goal of United Stats foreign policy. It is a narrow goal, a nationalistic goal: the preservation of our national independence. Nothing in the Constitution grants that the president shall have the privilege of offering himself as a world leader. He is our executive; he is on our payroll; he is supposed to put our best interests in front of those of other nations. Nothing in the Constitution nor in logic grants to the president of the United States or Congress the power to influence the political life of other countries, to ‘uplift’ their cultures, to bolster their economies, to feed their people, or even defend them against their enemies."


Eric Dondero said...

Ron Paul would surrender to the Islamo-Fascists faster than you could say "Allah Ahukbar."

Pathetic! Just two weeks ago a Radical Muslim gunned down 10 people in a suburban Salt Lake City shopping mall shouting "Allah Ahukbar." Made 4 of them line up in a Gift Store and shot each one in the back of the heads execution style as they begged for their lives.

Then a week later another Muslim Terrorist - Somalian Cabbie Immigrant - ran over two American college kids in Nashville with his SUV. He shouted at them "Hitler was Right."

And Ron Paul has the audacity to say that we don't face a threat from Islamo-Fascism???!!!

He can hide his head in the sand if he wants. But they are here, and they are out to kill us, plain and simple!

I will not be carted off to the gas chambers by Muslim Radicals bent on Jihad here in the United States.

Look at Europe. They are under a virtual ongoing rampage from the Muslim Radicals.

Gay people can't even walk the streets of Amsterdam any more without being beat up or spit on. Muslims are rioting all over France and Denmark protesting against Western Cultural values of openess and tolerance.

All Libertarians need to stand up and shout NOT IN OUR COUNTRY!!! Keep your intolerant, sex-hating, women-hating, culture out of our country.

It's a tragedy that Ron Paul is blind to this threat.

Eric Dondero, Fmr. Senior Aide
US Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX)

Bored in Vernal said...

Wow, Eric, former Sr. Aide to Congressman Paul--sounds like you have an ax to grind.
I am curious to know what policies you suggest that would keep intolerant cultures out of our country, and to stop crazy teenaged boys with juvenile records from going on shooting sprees.

Kullervo said...

Yeah, I didn't really need convincing. But this is good stuff nonetheless.

It's actually persuative instead of just more of the preaching-to-the-choir-type-stuff that we see from the demagogues on both sides these days.

journeygal said...

As one that self-labels as ignorant about politics, this piece did "convince" me in a way. Thanks for sharing. The quotes are because I don't need a lot of convincing that the war is wrong - but the reasons for that gut-instinct opinion are not very strong. That's why I don't like talking/debating about it much; I recognize that I don't do a very good job backing up my opinion. So reading this helps me with developing an educated, founded throught-process about these types of political issues.

So thanks for sharing and for the link! :-)

Kaycei said...

I thought Ron Paul made a good argument against the war in Iraq, however I did not agree with him completely.
I took some extra time to read Ron Paul's entire speech. He lost credibility with me in his first paragraph as he discussed how well the country is doing economically. The statment that resonated the strongest was: "Anyone can get free medical care at any emergency room in the country."
I guess I'm being a word-nazi, but the emergency room isn't free. Immediate medical care without handing money over.. maybe. But the hospital is going to send a bill, and then debt collectors and bad credit, etc. That's not free.
I could go through and nit-pick some more of his comments, but that would be too counter-productive, so I'll get to the point.
He had some good things to say about the War with Iraq. I did agree with his statements about how a politician can't say s/he made a mistake.
I don't agree with his overall foreign policy picture, most especially concerning the United Nations. Partly because I strongly agree with the concept of the UN, and I think the UN has no real power. I see it as pawn of the US, instead of the US being a pawn of the UN. The United States acts without the UN authority anyway. Besides, as for UN forces, the United States hardly provides anything. For January 2007, the US provided 360 out of 70,252 UN peacekeeping troops. (
I do think that "Our military should be designed for one purpose: defending our national security." However, I think we should help other nations, When they ask us to. During times of peace, the Army doesn't really have a lot to do anyway, except mow the law, rake the dirt and clean rifles. The military might as well do something worthwhile for others, plus get extra training incase the country does need to be defended. (I'm not talking about going to fight as mercenaries in other people's war, I'm referring to training missions and invited policing missions.)

Bored in Vernal said...

Hey! I didn't even notice the magic 8 ball! Sorry about that!