Ron Paul’s Economic-Foreign Policy

ECONOMIC POLICY

One common misconception about things is that foreign policy and economic policy are mutually exclusive, or, maybe more moderately stated, that they have little overlap.  A part of this blog entry will be concerned with trying to demonstrate how they do indeed overlap.  In short, we cannot talk about Ron Paul’s foreign policy without at least a light touch on his economic policy.

This connection is absolutely crucial.  For those of us who are concerned about having a strong military presence, like Dr. Paul is, we must think soundly about these matters.  Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters points out in this interview, that the basis to a strong military is not just “toys” but a strong economy.

The relationship of economic policy and foreign policy

Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., in the foreword to Ron Paul’s book A Foreign Policy of Freedom writes:

Ron Paul has always believed that foreign and domestic policy should be conducted according to the same principles. Government should be restrained from intervening at home or abroad because its actions fail to achieve their stated aims, create more harm than good, shrink the liberty of the people, and violate rights.[1]

I have heard many people say that they like everything about Ron Paul, especially his fiscal conservatism and proposed budget cuts.  Then comes the all-to-common line: “But I just think his foreign policy is crazy.”  What I have come to realize after reading and listening to a lot of Ron Paul’s thinking is that such a dichotomy is artificial and impossible to make.  

There are a number of economic issues that have a great deal to do with foreign policy.  Ron Paul mentions a few of them in one of his books:

It’s obvious that foreign intervention cannot be separated from economic concerns about deficits, inflation, and taxes. Currently we see a trend toward world government, globalism, managed trade, and an institutionalized world financial system based on purely fiat money. This system is controlled by the industrial-banking-political elite.[2]

Economic policy and foreign policy go very much together.  For Ron Paul, a policy of intervention, whether foreign or domestic is a flawed policy.  He said on the floor Congress on July 14th, 1982:

I am convinced the American people no longer endorse foreign adventurism and believe that our best interests are secured by a policy of armed neutrality.  This was the policy of our government from its founding until 1917.  It is only in the 20th Century that interventionism has been accepted as a foreign policy, with the obvious consequences of unprecedented world wars and the loss of enormous numbers of American lives on foreign soil. Our experiment with foreign policy interventionism has failed, just as our experience with domestic economic interventionism has failed.[3]

Most obviously, foreign policy relates to economic policy simply because it is a line item in our national budget.  What is more, it is a massive part of our national spending.

Government spending and national debt

It’s no secret, our national debt is out of control.  In his “Texas Straight Talk” on February 27 of this year, Ron Paul says: “Senator Jeff Sessions, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee has pointed out that our per capita government debt is already larger than Greece’s.  Per person, our government owes over $49,000 compared to $38,937 per Greek citizen.  Our debt has just reached 101% of our Gross Domestic Product.”

Yet, Congress plans to spend even more in 2013, and much of it on foreign wars…

Recently, Ron Paul in one of his weekly online updates said: “Our total spending on overseas adventurism and nation building equals more than the next 13 highest spending countries in the world combined.  Even if we were to slash our military budget by half, we would still be the world’s dominant military power by far.”

In this video Paul says that we have nearly 1000 locations of military presence across the globe!  Iran is completely surrounded by nearly 50 US bases![4]  Our national debt is up nearly 4 trillion dollars because of our expenditures in the Middle East region alone, Paul says (click here to get a feel for how much money that actually is).

But our international endeavors have a great effect on the spending of other nations too.  To put it crudely, we drag a great many nations into all international affairs, including our “preemptive” conflicts.  For example, following 9/11 Bush convinced eighteen other nations, including Britain, Russia, Germany, and France, to contribute troops to the campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan.[5]  The global cost for such campaigns is outrageous.

While the issue of our national budget is a popular topic in Washington today evidenced by the Tea Party movement which began in 2009, little is being done.  Little is being done, in large part, because there is an obsession with overseas projects.  No serious cuts are proposed for the fiscal year of 2013 either.  The budget calls for unprecedented spending and continued annual deficits exceeding $1 trillion…  Conservatives have rightly been alarmed.  However, many of those same conservatives complain that the budget still does not devote enough to overseas projects![6]

How much is enough?

We owe nearly 1 trillion dollars to the Chinese alone and several trillion more to other nations.  Paul says that we are in a worse condition right now than we were during the Depression, because today all our wealth is based on debt.  He says, “This is bigger than anything in the history of the world; never in history has a world economy been run on a total fiat currency…and has horrendous mal-investment that has to be liquidated.”  (Click here, beginning at 7:40.)

Budget Cuts

One article I read notes that the problems we are dealing with in our country and across the world are inherent to the structure of our economic policy, and Ron Paul discusses the issue some here.  If the problem is going to be fixed something drastic must be done.  Mere cuts into proposed increases will not suffice, which, strictly speaking, are not cuts.

Ron Paul is the only candidate proposing changes that are real cuts; he is the only candidate who has a plan to stop the irresponsible spending of our government.  His intention is to cut 1 trillion dollars from the budget immediately.  His commitment to budget cuts runs deep; He would not exempt himself from such cuts.  For example: “The federal workforce would be reduced by 10 percent, and the president’s pay would be cut from $400,000 to $39,336 — a level that the Paul document notes is ‘approximately equal to the median personal income of the American worker.’”[7]  Read this article to get a feel for some of his proposed cuts.

Really, the bottom line is that we must get back to a truly conservative view of the role of government.  Our problems cannot and will not be solved by more government or by simply printing more money out of thin air.  One of the great lies of the Depression Era in the U.S. was that FDR’s big government spending programs are what got us out of the Depression.  Nothing could be further from the truth:

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “History it written by the victors.”  There’s no better example of that than the enduring myth that Franklin Roosevelt got us out of the Great Depression.  After Herbert Hoover created the Great Recession by abandoning conservatism in 1929, FDR’s big-government policies transformed the Great Recession into the Great Depression and kept millions of Americans in need until we started mobilizing for World War II in 1939.  Recent scholarship makes a convincing case that big government is what kept the economy from recovering, but liberals contained enough channels of communication—in media and academia—that most voters never heard the truth about the Great Depression for more than fifty years.[8]

Some suggest that it was the war that got us out of The Great Depression in the 30’s and early 40’s.  The logic goes, then, we should keep going to war in order to stimulate the economy.  Ron Paul, suggests, in contrast to many others, that it was the fact that the people came home and the government cut taxes that enabled the economy to get rolling again, not the war.

The residual costs of overseas wars

There are all kinds of costs associated with the wars overseas that few people consider.  In the last decade, there have been nearly 8500 American troops killed in overseas wars.  Over 40,000 have been wounded, needing amputations and such.  Hundreds of thousands have come back begging for help to the veteran’s administration with brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  There is an epidemic of suicide going on right now among veterans because of the unparalleled amount of stress our vets are under; some say, more than ever before.  One in every five suicides is now by a veteran of foreign wars.  Most likely because the number of hours that our vets are spending overseas in nearly 10 times that of previous wars!

Veterans love Ron Paul.  They marched on the White House on President’s Day to show their support for him.  This video shows glimpses of that march with thousands of veterans shouting “President Paul!”  Our troops are tired of this American imperialistic, special-interest-motivated, foreign policy that is bankrupting our nation and leaving the lives of thousands of American families in ruins.

And one has to think of the damage done to many countries infrastructure and the costs associated with that.  America has little experience dealing infrastructure damage as the result of war, but we sure like to make others deal with it.  In 2008 an article was written entitled “Five Years of Occupation, Iraq Destroyed.”  That title says enough.  But here’s a quote from the article written by a first-hand observer: “Five years of occupation have destroyed Iraq as a country. Baghdad is today a collection of hostile Sunni and Shia ghettoes divided by high concrete walls.”[9]  America’s occupation of Iraq is largely responsible for such wreckage.

Such incalculable damage does not leave a favorable taste towards the U.S. in the mouths of many of these peoples.  Military experts have openly said that if Ron Paul were President we would have a lot more friends around the world.

One is led to think that the reason so many Americans like to go to war is because it’s not their sons and daughters or dads or uncles or pastors or classmates dying; it’s not their backyard getting blown to pieces; it’s not their local grocery store that is getting pumped full of concrete and rebar.  Would we be willing to wage these wars on our own turf?  Some counts have recorded upwards of 115,000 civilians that have been killed in the Iraq war alone!  And in the Iran-Iraq conflict from 1980-1988 in which the U.S. government was playing both sides (5:30), nearly 500,000 Iranians died.  One writer asserts that this war “set Iraq back at least fifty years in its development…”[10]  Such consequences are just the tip of the ice-berg.

War is one of the most horrific realities of our human existence.  Few of us can comprehend the devastation war exacts on a people and a nation, esp. when those wars are fought at home.

Currently, as far as I’m aware, we are bogged down in five major global conflicts.  And of course, if nothing changes, it is likely that we will go to war with Iran too.  Special-ops are believed to be in over 100 nations running covert operations like the highly publicized one in which Osama bin Laden was killed.[11]  One writer remarks:

To quote the words of Michel De Montaigne, we are “drunk with malice”.  We are addicted to war.  To violence.  To bloodshed.  To greed.  To hatred.  Our leaders believe that we can bludgeon the world into obedience.  There is no question that can be posed, no query submitted, to which Washington cannot answer with bombs, missiles, tanks, guns and mechanized death.[12]

The cost of all of this collectively is outrageous, and what is worse, few if any were even necessary.  And, in demonstration of our continuing move away from our founding documents, none were declared in a constitutional manner.

The psychological effects of debt

And what about the psychological effects of debt on our society? For those of you who have had debt hanging over your head or an unpaid bill looming on the horizon (which is most likely all of you), you are well aware of the effect if can have on every aspect of your life.  The negative effects of debt are well documented.  Many of us know people who have been through a divorce because of money issues and maybe some of us know someone who has committed suicide because of it.  Murder happens all the time because of money.  All sorts of health issues result from debt; no doubt that debt has put an even greater strain on our healthcare system.  I know from personal experience as do many others.  Anxiety has put me in the ER on at least one occasion.  The connection is real.  How much more then will the continual mounting of national debt (mostly because of overseas spending) continue to wreak havoc on our national conscience?

A tactic for greater control

Ron Paul shrewdly notes that there is a deep underlying motive behind much of our governments foreign policy—money and power.  He writes:

Of course, government has no incentive to discover the problems created by its wards because the wars themselves enhance the power of the government, bring in more revenue, provide a good excuse for bureaucratic expansion and violations of liberties, and keep the population whipped up in ta state of fear and thereby easier to control.[13]

He even suspects that the government has little desire to even win all the wars that pursues such as the war on communism, drugs, poverty or others.  The goal he suspects is only to make the problem worse. In making the problem worse the government has greater reason and excuse to grab at more power.[14]  I have heard him recently suggest that this is likely the goal of Obamacare—to bankrupt insurance companies so that the government will have to step in and take them over.  In Freedom and Federalism, Morley quotes Adolf Hitler as having said: “a powerful national government may encroach considerably upon the liberties of individuals as well as of the different States, and assume the responsibility for it, without weakening the Empire Idea, if only every citizen recognizes such measures as means for making his nation greater.”[15]  How many times have we heard the mantra: “We just need to do this to make our country more secure,” or “to promote what our ‘great nation’ has in other parts of the world…”  Such slogans can be a subtle form of dangerous nationalism of the same breed as what Adolf Hitler possessed…

What makes much of our overseas projects additionally absurd is the simple fact that there is virtually nobody in the world that could do us any kind of considerable damage if they were to attack us.  Our military is astronomically larger than that of almost every other nation on the globe.  In an October 11, 2007 interview with The Washington Post, Paul said,

“There’s nobody in this world that could possibly attack us today… we could defend this country with a few good submarines. If anybody dared touch us we could wipe any country off of the face of the earth within hours. And here we are, so intimidated and so insecure and we’re acting like such bullies that we have to attack third-world nations that have no military and have no weapons.”[16]

One could argue that The Patriot Act is an extension of this paranoia aroused by the government.  It was first signed into law by George W. Bush in October of 2001, largely in response to the attacks of 9/11.  What appeared to be a temporary arrangement was recently drawn out.  “On May 26, 2011, President Barack Obama signed a four-year extension of three key provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act: roving wiretaps, searches of business records (the “library records provision“), and conducting surveillance of “lone wolves” — individuals suspected of terrorist-related activities not linked to terrorist groups.”[17]  This Act has, in effect, nullified the 4th amendment; the government is feeding of the fear of the people.  Which of our personal liberties will be stolen next?  Will they march onto your property tomorrow and take your home because of some kind of suspicious activity or because you are doing something they don’t like?  When rights like those in the 4th amendment are thrown out, the door is flung wide open for all sorts of tyranny.

And we can’t forget Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) either.  This Act was just another attempt by the government to expand their power, this time through regulation of the internet.  Although it was taken off the floor in Congress, if something doesn’t change, you can put money on it that it will be reintroduced again and again and again until it gets through.

And what about The National Defense Authorization Act in 2012?  E.D. Kain, a contributor of Forbes writes:

The National Defense Authorization Act greatly expands the power and scope of the federal government to fight the War on Terror, including codifying into law the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without trial. Under the new law the US military has the power to carry out domestic anti-terrorism operations on US soil.[18]

Gordon Duff, senior editor of Veterans Today writes:

Every year we pass a National Defense Authorization Act.  Each year, it has something hidden in it, secret tax breaks for big party contributors, pork barrel projects but this year we have gone too far.  This year’s bill officially recreates the equivalent of the East German or North Korean police state here at home, as usual, “to protect us from terrorism.”[19]

The logical consequence of overseas intervention

As Duff said, “This year they have gone too far.”  That’s exactly the point.  Government doesn’t steal your liberty in one massive swoop.  They take it gradually through government expansion of power.  All of the various things mentioned above are just more evidence of it the government’s attempt to expand its power—all in the name of “fighting terrorism” and “national defense.” 

Sheldon S. Wolin, a political philosopher who has written extensively on political science and numerous essays on Augustine, Richard Hooker, David Hume, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Max Weber, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Mark and John Dewey, has sounded the warning regarding the absurd overseas projects of the American government.  Chris Hedges writes:

Wolin argues that a failure to dismantle our overextended imperial projects, coupled with the economic collapse, is likely to result in a full-blown inverted imperialism.  He said that without “radical and drastic remedies” the response to mounting discontent and social unrest will probably lead to greater state control and repression.  There will be, he warned, a huge “expansion of government power.”[20]

But this is the logical consequence of all our overseas intrusion or “intervention” into the affairs of other nations—it will inevitably lead to the intrusion of the affairs of the citizens of our own…  This is yet another reason why we have to push for the government to STOP its absurd foreign policy of intervention. 

Thomas Jefferson once said in his Inaugural address in 1801, “Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship with all nations—entangling alliances with none.”  Such a motto is the only solid path to a sound economy and a strong national security.  Ron Paul is the only candidate out there right now who takes the above issues seriously; he is the champion of our constitution and of our personal liberties.  Let’s put an end to this absurd overseas interventionism which is crippling our economy, the lives of thousands of Americans and other people groups, and is leading to global paranoia and stress.  If you have not already, support the message of liberty not only for Americans but for all peoples by voting for Ron Paul in 2012.


[1] Paul, A Foreign Policy of Freedom: Peace: Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship (Foundation for Rational Economics and Education, 2007), i.

[2] Paul, A Foreign Policy of Freedom, vi.

[3] Paul, A Foreign Policy of Freedom, 16.

[4] It is no wonder they feel pressured and antagonized by the U.S!  I will deal with Iran in detail in a later entry.

[5] Michael B. Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2011), 585.

[6] Quoted off a post on http://www.ronpaul.com/ on 2.21.12.

[8] Ken Blackwell and Ken Klukowski, Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservatism Can Save America (New York: Threshold, 2011), 65.

[10] Richard Downes, In Search of Iraq: Baghdad in Babylon (Boston: Gemma, 2009), 108.

[13] Paul, Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues that Affect Our Freedom (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2011), 287.

[14] Paul, Liberty Defined, 287-288.

[15] As quoted in Ron Paul, The Revolution: A Manifesto (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2008), 30.

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