On Af-Pak: Stop 'Helping'

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While
much of the country’s attention is on other issues, a serious
situation is developing in Pakistan that threatens to plunge us
into another fruitless and bloody war. It is very frustrating to
see that many who were so vehemently against the wars of the last
administration have suddenly lost interest in foreign policy simply
because we were promised change.

Those still
paying attention know that nothing could be further from the truth.
Very little has changed, except perhaps rhetoric, but what does
that matter when the bombing missions are only getting deadlier?
Rather than drawing down violent military interventions into the
affairs of other countries, the new administration is escalating
the foreign policy of the previous administration.

In Pakistan
that entails the continuation and even escalation of military interventionism
just across the border with Afghanistan. The targets are believed
to be enclaves of Taliban militants; however, many innocent civilians
have been caught in the deadly crossfire, severely damaging our
image in the region. Many ordinary Afghanis and Pakistanis that
never had cause to take up arms against us are being provided with
motivation as family and friends are killed and maimed by our clumsy
and indiscriminate bombs. Is it worth it for us to be involved in
this way at such a high cost of blood, treasure and goodwill? Is
there anything to be gained by this policy?

We are helping
the Taliban and other enemies to actually gain numbers and strength,
while driving them down from the mountains in the border regions
deeper into Pakistan, where they have been making a menace of themselves.
As our bombings follow them, beleaguered villagers have little choice
but to leave their homes and join the swelling numbers of refugees
or take up arms and join the fight against us.

Nonetheless,
instead of recognizing the cascading unintended consequences of
trying to deal with Pakistan’s problems, all signs in Washington
point to further escalation. Both the House and Senate have newly
introduced bills to triple foreign aid to Pakistan, from $500 million
to $1.5 billion, with every indication that the leadership in Pakistan
is taking advantage of the situation with the Taliban to milk more
aid from the US taxpayer. We are broke. This is money we don’t
have, and it is an insult to the American people to run up the national
credit card for this type of military adventurism after many Americans
thought they were voting for peace.

The bottom
line is our involvement in Pakistan’s internal problems is
not making us safer. In fact, we are adding to the numbers of our
enemies and increasing the threats to our security here at home.
We are inciting the very terrorism and extremism we are trying to
stop. Every dollar we send, even if it is for humanitarian purposes,
frees up resources to make war and potentially prop up unpopular
leaders. The factions and politics of the Middle East are irrational
and dangerous. We play with fire when we meddle in their affairs,
and we isolate ourselves diplomatically by making more enemies than
friends. We need to bring our troops home, end all foreign aid,
and maintain a neutral stance on the world stage. It, in fact, is
the only foreign policy we can afford right now, and it would gain
us more friends and trading partners than our bombs ever could.
Besides, that’s what the Constitution permits and our founders
strongly advised.

May
14, 2009

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Dr. Ron
Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

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