Reply to a Doubting Infantry Veteran
by Walter Block
Recently by Walter Block: Ron Paul and the Election of 2012
Here is a letter sent to me by one of my readers. I quote it in full (very slightly edited for clarity, and to fill in abbreviations).
"I am curious about all this u2018veterans' support for Ron Paul. I am a 63-year-old veteran and belong to many vet organizations including one from the unit I served with. The unit I was with,1st Infantry, Black Lions, has a Yahoo-based site that we communicate with each other by common e-mails sent through that site. The flood of outrage that was expressed by Ron Paul’s statement that one of the u2018American citizens' who was recently killed by a drone was denied his right to a trial flooded my e-mail box. Honestly I have to agree with that outrage. Does Ron suggest that we should have risked our troops by sending them in to capture this terrorist so we could give him his Miranda rights and a u2018fair' trial? I just don’t see the support for Ron from any of the organizations I belong to. I can say this much, those organizations are by far mostly Republican supporters and I like some of Ron Paul’s ideas in other realms however I cannot support his mind set of the u2018Golden Rule' in combat situations. In war there is no sense of fair play. On ambush patrols we would ideally wait for the enemy to pass our ambush site and shoot them in the back wherein, if in their death throes they squeezed their triggers, it would not be in our direction. Do you have any statistics regarding support for Ron from other generations of veterans?"
I disagree with this reader almost entirely. To take the last point first, there is no doubt that active servicemen overwhelmingly support the Ron Paul candidacy. Whether this is due to the fact that he is the only one of the five candidates presently running who is not a chicken hawk (Gingrich, Obama, Romney, Santorum), or because active duty soldiers like his policies, I cannot say. But of that fact there can be no doubt. All you need do is google "military donations by candidate" or "military donations Ron Paul" or any other such combinations of words and you will see this for yourself. See, for example, the following: here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
As to their "right to a trial" I don't see why you place scare quotes around "American citizens." Does not that phrase mean something to members of the military such as yourself? According to our constitution, which you and the president are sworn to uphold, American citizens are not to be executed without a fair trial. Do you really oppose this?
Former Captain of the Air Force Ron Paul was widely denounced for his criticism of the way Obama handled the demise of Osama bin Laden. Yes, the Congressman from Texas wanted this murderer of the innocents to have a trial. We accorded this aspect of a civilized order to Nazis at the end of World War II. The Israelis dealt with Eichmann in that manner. Is Osama so much worse than these folk that he did not deserve to be heard in a court of law? We are presumably fighting for a civilized order, among other things. Well, laws, courts, trials, the presumption of innocence are all aspects of countries that are not out and out barbarians. Do you favor barbarism? As they say in the western movies, first we give Osama a fair trial, and then we hang him.
The whole defense about water boarding is that it will help us get information about our enemies. I don't necessarily advocate this practice for bin Laden, but, why oh why was he summarily executed, before what he knows could be wrung out of him? Does that strike you as somewhat anomalous? That Captain Paul (I like that title) could wonder out loud about this does not make him the wuss and sissy you imply that he is. You don't wonder about this?
You are totally confused about Ron Paul's position on terrorists such as Osama bin Laden. A constitutionalist (have you ever heard of that document? look up article I, Section 8, paragraph 11), Dr. Paul advocated the use of Letters of Marque and Reprisal. These are permissions or warrants or commissions for private individuals to engage in acts that would otherwise be considered murder, or piracy or theft (see on this here, here and especially here.) Does this sound to you as if the next president of the U.S. was advocating the use of Miranda rights abroad?
As to "fair play" in war, have you ever heard of the Geneva Conventions? This does not mean that the U.S. allows the enemy to win; that we do not shoot enemy soldiers in the back, contrary to the Marques of Queensbury rules. Mr. Paul's view on war is that we should rarely engage in it, only then in self defense, that such an act should be declared by Congress as stipulated in the Constitution, and that we should win it quickly.
Last but far from least, let us consider the "Golden Rule." According to it, one must do unto others as one would have them do unto us. If we rule out masochists who want you to beat them and therefore feel justified in beating you in accordance with this rule, this is a pretty good regulation for a civilized order. Of course, Ron Paul never ever in a million years meant this to be applied to warfare conditions as you more than imply. It would be grotesque for Ron Paul when he becomes Commander in Chief of the U.S. military, to order his soldiers to obey this rule during wartime when faced with the enemy. But, when not applied to wartime conditions, it is a very, very good rule. Since we would not want the Iranians to kill our women and children, we shouldn't kill theirs. Since we wouldn't want the Iraquis to set up military bases on our territory, we shouldn't set up any in theirs. Since we wouldn't want our citizens assassinated, we should not engage in such despicable acts ourselves. Since we wouldn't want foreign drones killing our residents, we shouldn't fly them over places like Pakistan.
I hope and trust you now see the candidacy of Ron Paul in at least a slightly different light. He is not at all "giving away the store." His is a counsel of peace, commercial relations with the rest of the world and prosperity. But, if anyone dare attack us, or even credibly threaten to do so, he will make every effort to protect us. He favors defense not offense. He offers the very common sense notion that the best way to protect us is not to send our soldiers all over the world, but rather to stay at home where they can engage in defense.
Dr. Block [send him mail] is a professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans, and a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He is the author of Defending the Undefendable and Labor Economics From A Free Market Perspective. His latest book is The Privatization of Roads and Highways.