The Wages of Empire

Superpower or Superdebtor?

by Rep. Ron Paul, MD by Rep. Ron Paul, MD

Since the passage of the “Iraq Liberation Act” in 1998, the US government has spent more than 40 million taxpayer dollars on the Iraqi National Congress and its leader Ahmed Chalabi. As we now know, Chalabi in turn fed the US government lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda in the hope that the US would invade Iraq, overthrow Saddam Hussein, and put him in power. To hedge his bets, it appears he made a few deals with the Iranians, delivering US intelligence to that country. How’s that for gratitude? Now we see that the US has raided the house of Ahmed Chalabi and seized his papers and computers to see how much damage he may have caused the US with his Iranian dealings.

Round and round we go, and we never seem to learn. Regime change plans, whether by CIA operations or by preemptive war, almost always go badly. American intervention abroad — installing the Shah of Iran in the fifties, killing Diem in South Vietnam in the sixties, helping Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in the eighties, and propping up dictators in many Arab countries — has had serious repercussions for American interests including the loss of American life.

It is clear that interventionism leads to the perceived need for more interventionism, which leads to more conflict and to increased resentment and anti-Americanism. It is an endless cycle and the American taxpayer is always left holding the bill. This policy has huge dollar costs at home, which contributes to huge deficits, higher interest rates, inflation, and economic dislocations. War cannot raise the standard of living for the average American.

The day is fast approaching when we no longer will be able to afford this burden. For now foreign governments are willing to loan us the money needed to finance our current account deficit, and indirectly the cost of our worldwide military operations. But economic law eventually will limit our ability to live off others by credit creation. Eventually trust in the dollar will be diminished, if not destroyed. At that point it will become painfully obvious to even the most strident supporter of our interventionist foreign policy that the super-power has become a super-debtor, its power and influence greatly diminished, and its people much poorer and more vulnerable.

It is not too late to change course. The United States can again be viewed as the shining city on the hill and an example to other nations by re-embracing the kind of foreign and economic policies that made us wealthy and admired across the globe in the first place. This means less government, less taxation, and no foreign meddling. Regaining our economic security will go much further toward guaranteeing our national security in the future.

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