Tuesday, June 14, 2005

WHERE'S THIS GUY BEEN? Earlier today on the House floor, in a speech that called for US withdrawal from Iraq, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) seemed to be speaking his mind: He went off on a few nutty tangents. He got bogged down in a discussion of a "worldwide commodity standard of money."

But he also slammed the Bushies--and hard. In fact, the speech contained some of the harshest langauge we've heard from a sitting congressional Republican in the last couple years. Some excerpts:

There’s essentially no one, not even among the neo-con crowd, claiming that the Iraqi war is defensive in nature for America. Early on there was an attempt to do so, and it was successful to a large degree in convincing the American people that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was connected to al Qaeda. Now the justification for the war is completely different and far less impressive. If the current justification had been used to rally the American people and Congress from the beginning, the war would have been rejected...

So far the American people have not yet felt the true burden of the costs of this war. Even with 1,700 deaths and 13,000 wounded, only a small percentage of Americans have suffered directly--but their pain and suffering is growing and more noticeable every day. Taxes have not been raised to pay the bills for the current war, so annual deficits and national debt continue to grow. This helps delay the pain of paying the bills, but the consequences of this process are starting to be felt.

Direct tax increases, a more honest way to finance foreign interventionism, would serve to restrain those who so cavalierly take us to war. The borrowing authority of governments permit wars to be started and prolonged which otherwise would be resisted if the true cost were known to the people from the beginning.

Americans have an especially unique ability to finance our war efforts while minimizing the immediate effect. As the issuer of the world’s reserve currency, we are able to finance our extravagance through inflating our dollars. We have the special privilege of printing that which the world accepts as money in lieu of gold.

This is an invitation to economic disaster, permitting an ill-founded foreign policy that sets the stage for problems for years to come...Foreigners will not finance our excessive standard of living and our expensive war overseas indefinitely. It will end! What we do in the meantime to prepare for that day will make all the difference in the world for the future of freedom in this country...

Since we are not fighting the war to defend our homeland and we abuse so many of our professed principles, we face great difficulties in resolving the growing predicament in which we find ourselves. Our options are few, and admitting errors in judgment is not likely to occur. Moral forces are against us as we find ourselves imposing our will on a people six thousand miles from our shores.

How would the American people respond if a foreign country, with people of a different color, religion, and language imposed itself on us to make us conform to their notions of justice and goodness? None of us would sit idly by. This is why those who see themselves as defenders of their homeland and their way of life have the upper hand regardless of the shock and awe military power available to us. At this point our power works perversely. The stronger and more violent we are the greater the resistance becomes...

Parents of martyrs do not weep as the parents of our soldiers do; they believe the suicide bombers and their families are glorified. These religious beliefs cannot simply be changed during the war. The only thing we can do is remove the incentives we give to the religious leaders of the jihad by leaving them alone. Without our presence in the Middle East, whether on the Arabian Peninsula or in Iraq, the rallying cry for suicidal jihadists would ring hollow.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.