'Have Nothing To Do With Conquest'

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This speech was delivered at the Ron Paul Revolution March in Washington, DC, on July 12, 2008.

"If there be one principle more deeply rooted in the mind of every American," Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1791, "it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest." We are here today because our bipartisan governing elite and its media apologists have turned Mr. Jefferson on his head to America’s detriment. Today’s leaders in both parties unrelentingly intervene in the affairs of other nations and regions, and, by all appearances, care not a damn about preserving America’s independence. These individuals aspire to be celebrated citizens of the world, believing that being an American citizen is a hum-drum affair best left to the rest of us who pay for their imperial aspirations and interventionist wars with our taxes and soldier-children.

When we celebrated Independence Day eight days ago, no party leader had the moral courage to tell Americans the truth, which is that in the last 50 years both parties have eviscerated our independence in regard to the single most important foreign policy issue — that is, the decision on whether or not to go to war.

  • Both parties, for example, have failed to move the United States to energy security since the first Arab-led oil embargo in 1973. Instead of freeing our economy from the Arab-held dagger that is pointed at its heart, American presidents — Democratic and Republican — have shamefully groveled, begging for more oil, from their energy-producing masters in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Muslim police states. The same presidents have so enormously overspent the public treasury that they have put America further in the thrall of the Arab tyrants who buy an ever-increasing portion of our debt.

  • Because of this cowardly leadership, Americans find they have lost control of the decision of whether to go to war. If anti-Saudi unrest in the kingdom’s Eastern Province ever severely curtails oil production, U.S. soldiers and Marines will automatically deploy to secure the Saudi police state and restore production.

  • And the reality of automatic war for oil goes beyond the Arab world. By 2012, the United States will receive 20-percent of its crude from Africa’s Niger Delta and Gulf of Guinea. If production in that region — which already is plagued by insurgent attacks — is ever significantly reduced, U.S. soldiers and Marines will be automatically deployed there to restore production. And if you think the insurgencies being fought today in Iraq and Afghanistan are nightmares, just wait until our men and women are fighting in the Niger Delta’s 27,000 square kilometers of swamp and forest.

We also have lost control of the peace-or-war decision because of our bipartisan elite’s decision to involve America almost inextricably in the unending and unendable war been Arabs and Israelis. Ignoring and even ridiculing the Founding Fathers’ explicit guidance to avoid involving the United States in other peoples’ wars, both parties have not only done so in the Middle East, but have blithely involved us in other peoples’ religious wars.

  • Can there be any better definition of an insane foreign policy than the one that today finds the United States not only being involved voluntarily in someone else’s war, but backing both of the major antagonists in that war — Israel and Saudi Arabia?

  • By being the main financier and unquestioning protector of Israel, and the only protector of the fundamentally anti-American Saudi state, Washington has created a situation in which America will be drawn into the next Arab-Israeli war, no matter what the wishes or interests of the American people.

Having thus all but negated the ability of the United States to abstain from wars over oil and wars between Arabs and Israelis, our political elite has completed this axis of doom for Americans by their limitless zeal for democracy crusading overseas, a perversion of what America stands for that can only lead to war and more war.

  • Our elite’s democracy-crusade in Iraq has destabilized the entire region, creating new threats to oil supplies and driving up their price. It has cost American taxpayers nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars, and killed 4,200 of their soldier-children and wounded 30,000 more. A few more such missions accomplished in the democracy-building realm will bankrupt our nation.

  • And the still-present threat of another democracy-imposing war against Iran — which is a more democratic state than any of Washington’s Islamofascist Arab state allies — would be a negative achievement of epic proportions. War on Iran would be disguised as a campaign to liberate Iranians, but in reality would be nothing more than war to protect Israel. Such a war, moreover, would unite the entire Muslim world — 1.4 billion Sunnis and Shia, if you are counting — in a jihad against the United States.

Our bipartisan governing elite, then, has brought Americans face-to-face with war at every turn: Wars over oil; wars over the religious conflicts of foreigners in which no genuine U.S. national interest at stake; and wars to impose secular democracy on people who will resist it to the death. This situation is surely the antithesis of what the Founders intended when they designed a constitutional system meant to limit the chance of an arbitrary government that inevitably leads to tyranny. The Founders knew — and Americans must relearn — that there is no better definition of tyranny than one that finds an entire nation led into war by the negligence, personal beliefs, or even whims of a single individual — be he or she a king, a dictator, or a popularly elected president.

Americans must begin to reestablish their control over the decision to go to war by removing from office an interventionist elite that is ready to destroy the American republic and replace it with an expanding American empire. The question, of course, is how to begin to draw back from the blank-check war commitments our leaders have given to foreigners? Let me suggest several ways.

  • We must accelerate conversion to alternative energies, expand nuclear power, and further exploit U.S. fossil fuel reserves. Nothing should be allowed to deter the ingenuity and initiative of Americans from gaining energy self-sufficiency. Demands for absolute protection for Arctic hares or shrimp-inhabited reefs, at the cost of dead Marines and soldiers, should be ignored. Beyond oil, America has no national interests in the Arab Peninsula region — save the freedom of navigation, which the U.S. Navy can ensure — and as our energy dependence ends, this will be clear. Self-sufficiency will allow America to stop protecting the Gulfs’ tyrannies which now cloud our economic destiny, export religious hatred for us, and make our advocacy of freedom appear to be pure and even spectacular hypocrisy. It also will end the current, cruel reality that sees some portion of the price U.S. parents pay at the pump flow from oil-rich Arabs to the Islamic insurgents who are their killing the soldier-children in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • We must stay out of other peoples’ wars, particularly their religious wars. America now stands as an abject loser in the Israel-Hizballah conflict; the Israel-Palestine war; and the economic strangling of HAMAS; indeed, America is in part losing to the Islamists because of its absolute backing of Israel and its blind-eye for the Saudis’ blatant and aggressive jihad-spreading. America must withdraw from this savagery. No important aspect of American life or security would be negatively impacted if Palestine or Israel or both disappeared tomorrow, and we are tied to the Saudi tyranny only because of the cowardice of U.S. politicians. Americans also must reject their political class’s patently absurd contention that U.S. and Israeli national security interests are identical. America is now shedding blood and treasure because our country’s Israel-first citizens and their journals — men like Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Norman Podhoretz, Victor Davis Hanson, James Woolsey, and such journals as the Weekly Standard, the National Review, Commentary, and the Wall Street Journal — provoked a hubristic war based on the idiot idea that a state could be created in Muslim Iraq that was not anti-Israeli. These men severely and permanently compromised Israel’s security from the moment the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began. Moreover, it is not a fixable situation because a potentially pro-Israel regime in Iraq exists only in the ahistorical and fervid imaginings of U.S. citizen Israel-firsters, who are, when all is said and done, Israel’s worst and most lethal enemies. The cost of unqualified U.S. support for Israel has heretofore been measured in the expenditure of dollars and political capital, and as such has been acquiesced in or ignored by Americans inured to their government’s prodigal waste of national assets. We now have transitioned into a situation where the cost of such support for Israel is being measured in the blood and lives of the children of American parents. That cost will quickly become obvious, abhorrent, and utterly unacceptable to those parents.

  • We must force the Congress to end its supine abdication to the Executive of its sole power to declare war by electing representatives pledged to restoring constitutionality — and therefore sanity — to our war-making process. Infamously, no Congress has declared war since December 8th, 1941, and yet we have repeatedly seen the American people dragged into wars because one man and his advisers have decided it is the right thing to do. Resolutions allowing the president to use military force offensively are cowardly acts that surrender constitutional prerogatives in a manner that allows senators and congressman to have it both ways: they can applaud the troops if the war goes well, or they can snipe at and undermine the president if a war goes belly up. Our post-war history is littered with failed wars that were initiated by the president and which divided Americans amongst themselves. Perhaps the restoration of the Founders’ intent on the issue of war-making will allow us both to win wars abroad and not wage them against each other at home.

  • Finally, and most important, we must stop trying to spread democracy abroad by military, financial, humanitarian, or political intervention. No young American should die for the insane goal of "giving the people of Iraq a possibility of embracing democracy," a phrase used ad infinitum by President Bush and other Western leaders. No small "r" republican government like ours has the right to spend the lives of its young in military crusades for such a patently unobtainable abstractions as giving liberty, justice, and democracy to foreigners. U.S. foreign policy must revert to what it was before the historical anomaly called the Cold War gave license to U.S. politicians to become democracy-mongering interventionists. Foreign policy defends who we are; it does not and cannot define who we are. Foreign policy need do only one thing: protect America so as to allow the domestic expansion of liberty, freedom, and equality of conditions. If no additional foreigner ever votes in an election, Americans would be no worse off. Washington’s efforts to build democracies abroad has a track record of making America less safe, not more safe, and, may I ask, is there a better definition of pure waste, than spending the lives of our Marines or soldiers so Mrs. Muhammad can vote in an Iraqi or Afghan election. The post-Cold War, democracy-crusading of U.S. administrations has impoverished us in treasure, blood, domestic political unity, and what has been called the "rightful influence of our republican example." We must return to the Founders’ goal for America, to be, "the well-wisher of freedom and independence for all" but "the champion and vindicator only of her own."

In closing, let me urge that none of us lose heart or fall prey to despair. Though the dangers that confront our republic are many and dire, the future of America, as always, is in the hands of Americans. All of those in attendance here today and the millions more listening or watching across this broad land know that the greatest danger America faces comes not from China, or from Russia, or from global warming, or from Islamic extremism, but rather it comes from the members of our own bipartisan governing elite.

  • There is not a nickel’s worth of difference between President Bush and former president Clinton; between Senator McCain and Senator Obama; between Speaker Pelosi and Mayor Giuliani, or between any of the foregoing and their pro-empire, Israel-first cheerleaders at the Council of Foreign Relations, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the America-Israel Political Action Committee. They are all rank and reckless interventionists, bent on involving America in other peoples’ wars and content to see our republic destroyed by their ego-building and democracy-crusading military adventures overseas.

The greatest danger to the republic lies in the imperial ambitions of these men and women; they are a mortal threat to the American people and all that they have built here in North America over the last 232 years. And no one, may I say, has done more to alert his countrymen to this danger than that soft-spoken gentleman from Texas, Dr. Ron Paul. In a campaign made luminous and memorable by this man’s personal integrity, intellectual honesty and consistency, unwavering allegiance to the Founders’ principles, and most of all, his limitless moral courage, Dr. Paul’s efforts have created space in the public square for me and many others to stand and support him in favoring the best foreign policy for America, the foreign policy of non-intervention. While there is much hard and lengthy work still to do, Dr. Paul has made a lasting start for all of us in the effort to reclaim our republic from the war-mongering hands of our interventionist elite. Dr. Paul, as another patriot-insurgent named Thomas Paine once wrote, has found that "tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered" but Dr. Paul has proven again and again that he is neither a summer soldier nor a sunshine patriot, but rather a man who knows "the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph" and who today, for his efforts against all odds, "deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

May God always bless Dr. Paul and may God also give us all the moral courage to carry on to success the campaign to destroy interventionism that he has so nobly begun. Let me close by expressing my deep appreciation for the chance to speak here today, and let me leave you with the words Thomas Paine used to describe what it takes to make a successful revolution. "I call not upon a few, but upon all," Paine wrote in December, 1776,

not on this state or that state, but on every state; up and help us; lay your shoulders to the wheel; better have too much force than too little, when so great an object is at stake. Let it be told to the future world that, in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, the city and country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and repulse it. Say not that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands; throw not the burden of the day upon Providence but "show your faith by your works," that God may bless you. It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you. The far and the near … the rich and the poor, will suffer or rejoice alike. The heart that feels not now, is dead; the blood of his children will curse his cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the whole, and made them happy. I love the man who can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and can grow brave from reflection. It is the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.

Paine closed this passage with words that could just as well have been spoken by Dr. Paul and which should be spoken by all of us:

I thank God that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it.

And the way out for America is, of course, the Founders’ strict non-interventionist foreign policy that Dr. Paul so bravely champions.

Michael Scheuer [send him mail] is the author of Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq and Imperial Hubris and Through Our Enemies’ Eyes. He recently resigned after 22 years at the CIA.

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