Rep. Ron Paul / AntiWar.com – 2013-02-11 01:49:19
Beware the Consequences of Pre-Emptive War
Rep. Ron Paul / AntiWar.com
(February 10, 2013) — Last year more US troops died by suicide than died in combat in Afghanistan. More than 20 percent of military personnel deployed to combat will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some 32 percent of US soldiers reported depression after deployments. More than 20 percent of active-duty military are on potentially dangerous psychotropic drugs; many are on multiple types. Violent crime among active duty military members increased 31 percent between 2006-2011.
The statistics, compiled by the military last year, are as telling as they are disturbing. The Defense Department scrambles to implement new programs to better treat the symptoms. They implement new substance abuse and psychological counseling programs while they continue to prescribe more dangerous psychotropic drugs. Unfortunately, most often ignored are the real causes of these alarming statistics.
The sharp rise in military suicides, drug and alcohol abuse, and domestic and other violence, is the unintended consequence of a violent foreign policy — of an endless and indefinable “global war on terrorism.”
Particularly in the past decade or so, we have lived in a society increasingly marked by belief in the use of force as a first and only option. We have seen wars of preemption and aggression, everywhere from Iraq to Pakistan to Libya, Yemen, and elsewhere. We have seen an unprecedented increase in the use of drones to kill overseas, often resulting in civilian deaths, which we call “collateral damage.”
We have seen torture and assassination (even of American citizens) become official US policy. When asked by Senator Ron Wyden last week if the president has the right to assassinate American citizens on US soil, President Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, John Brennan, could not even give a straight answer.
The warning that “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword” goes not only for individuals but for entire societies. It is a warning to all of us. A country or a society that lives with the violence of pre-emptive war in fact self-destructs.
Let us not forget that this endless war is brought to us primarily by the neo-conservatives who dominate foreign policy in both political parties and who never cease agitating for US military deployments overseas. Of course with very few exceptions they have declined to serve in the military themselves.
These endless wars would not be possible, we should also remember, without the Federal Reserve printing the money out of thin air to finance our overseas empire. We are speeding toward national bankruptcy while at the same time turning the rest of the world against us with our aggressive foreign policy. Does anyone really believe this will make us safer and more secure?
Many who claim to support the military look the other way when the service-members return home broken in mind and body after years of deployments abroad. I served five years as a US military doctor in the difficult 1960s and even then saw some of this first-hand.
During the 1960s the consequence of an unwise prolonged war tragically resulted in violence in our streets, and even students being shot by our military at Kent State University.
The truth is, killing strangers in unconstitutional and senseless wars causes guilt to the participant no matter what kind of military indoctrination is attempted. Those afflicted may attempt to bury the pain in alcohol or drugs or other destructive behaviors, but we see that only leads to more problems. It may not be popular to point this out, but it goes against human nature to kill a fellow human being for retaliating against those who initiate a war of aggression on their soil.
Who cares most for those in military service, those who agitate for more of what is destroying their lives and weakening our national defense, or the many of us who are urging a foreign policy of non-intervention and peace? If we are to survive, we must beware the seen and unseen consequences of pre-emptive war.
US Action in Mali is Another Undeclared War
Rep. Ron Paul / AntiWar.com
(January 28, 2013) — President Obama last week began his second term by promising that “a decade of war is now ending.” As he spoke, the US military was rapidly working its way into another war, this time in the impoverished African country of Mali.
As far as we know, the US is only providing transport and intelligence assistance to France, which initiated the intervention then immediately called Washington for back-up and funding. However, even if US involvement is limited, and, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, US boots on the ground are not being considered “at this time,” this clearly is developing into another war. As usual, the mission is creeping.
Within the first week of French military action in Mali, the promise that it would be a quick operation to put down an Islamic rebel advance toward the capitol was broken. France announced that it would be forced to send in thousands of troops and would need to remain far longer than the few weeks it initially claimed would be necessary.
Media questions as to whether the US has Special Operations forces, drones, or CIA paramilitary units active in Mali are unanswered by the Administration. Congress has asked few questions and demanded few answers from the president. As usual, it was not even consulted. But where does the president get the authority to become a co-combatant in French operations in Mali, even if US troops are not yet overtly involved in the attack?
How did we get to Mali? Blowback and unintended consequences played key roles. When the president decided to use the US military to attack Libya in 2011, Congress was not consulted. The president claimed that UN and NATO authority for the use of US military force were sufficient and even superior to any kind of Congressional declaration.
Congress once again relinquished its authority, but also its oversight power, by remaining silent. That meant the difficult questions such as why is the action necessary, what would it entail, and what kind of unintended consequences might we see if the operation does not go exactly as planned, were neither asked nor answered.
When Gaddafi was overthrown in Libya, many fighters from Mali who had lived in Libya and been trained by Gaddafi’s military returned to their home country with sophisticated weapons and a new determination to continue their fight for independence for northern Mali.
Thus the France-initiated action against Libya in 2011 led to new violence and instability in Mali that France decided it must also address. Shortly after the French attack on Mali, rebels in Algeria attacked a BP gas facility in retaliation for their government’s decision to allow foreign military to fly over Algerian territory en route to Mali.
Thus the action in Mali to solve the crisis created by the prior action in Libya is turning into a new crisis in Algeria. This is the danger of interventionism and, as we saw in Vietnam more than four decades ago, it threatens to drag the US further into the conflict. And Congress is AWOL.
There is a reason why the framers of our Constitution placed the authority to declare war strictly with the Legislative Branch of government. They knew well that kings were all too willing to go to war without the consent of those who would do the killing and dying — and funding.
By placing that authority in Congress, the people’s branch of government, they intended to blunt the executive branch’s enthusiasm toward overseas adventurism. The consequences of this steady erosion of our system toward the unitary executive are dire.
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