We have become Rome. And like Rome, those who are under our influence appreciate our wealth and power while despising our presence on their soil. Our founding fathers understood this all too well as part of the British Empire. Empires must protect their interests and have always done so at the expense of those outside the circles of the elite. In our own case, soldiers of King George, ostensibly on the continent to “keep the peace,” were forcibly housed by the local populace against their will. After our independence the wisdom of the forefathers prevailed and this particular thorn was addressed as the third amendment to our Constitution.
But we have forgotten human nature as we have become “global.” When in Iraq, I sensed a genuine appreciation from Iraqis that we had rid them of vile Saddam. However, some of our practices could not help but inspire resentment against us. Soldiers of all nations will take measures to keep from being killed, but could anyone imagine what Americans would think if foreign military vehicles patrolled our streets to “keep the peace” while signs on the rear of each vehicle warned “Stay back 100 meters or you will be shot?” I vividly recall the faces of two Iraqis in a pickup truck who took a wrong turn and came head to head with our humvee – their hands shot into the air while only the professionalism of our gunner kept his finger off the trigger of the M249 machinegun aimed at their chests. I have come to wonder, were our forefathers enamored by the crown’s attempt to “keep the peace” after looking down the wrong end of a Brown Bess musket?
On another day in the more distant past, I remember as a young officer feeling quite martial on a REFORGER (Return of Forces to Germany) exercise while setting in an idling AH-1S Cobra gunship waiting for the call to come forward and engage the mock enemy. The problem was, we were setting in the backyard of a German house, complete with wild-eyed children and glaring parents as our rotor blades assaulted their garden and ears. At the time, the Germans feared the Soviets more than they resented our intrusion upon their homeland. Would we put up with something similar - perhaps a helicopter with a Canadian or Japanese or Mexican flag on the side? Can we expect anyone in any country to be happy with our troops on their soil?
As I write this, we have over 30,000 American soldiers and airman in Korea. Are the South Koreans, with a GDP of almost $900 billion, really so inept that they can’t defend themselves from the tin-horn dictator to the north? Nevertheless, our forces have been “keeping the peace” on the Korean peninsula for over 63 years. I wasn’t even born when this started and there is no end in sight to this “peacekeeping.”
When I was first mobilized as a citizen soldier in 2003, I , like most Americans, felt we had to do something about the wicked dictator of Iraq. But I was without vision. I did not see what now seems the logical outcome of a pre-emptive strike against the forces of this blustery man and his, though evil, respected regime in the Middle East. I am glad he and his sons are gone, but we now have a new foreign problem at least as difficult as the Korean issue.
While in Iraq, I had the honor to accompany the Iraqi Commandos in operations against the terrorists and wrote about it upon my return (An Iraqi Answer for Terrorists: A Day with the Commandos in Tallafar, 14 Oct 05, RealClearPolitics.com). I lauded the Iraqis for their attempts at solving their own problems. But at the same time, I must admit that sometimes coalition forces actually hampered the Iraqi Commandos in their combat actions. Again, soldiers will always protect their own, but at one point an American commander actually kicked the commandos out of the area of operations. This commander had lost soldiers in the operation and I can understand his reasoning; but what would an American Major General (the same rank as the Commando’s ranking officer) do and think if, while on American soil, a foreign lieutenant colonel told him to get out of the area? Isn’t this the height of arrogance on our part? I think most would agree that arrogance, though unintended, is not a good thing, especially in foreign policy.
So what has all this got to do with Ron Paul and why this veteran will vote for him? Simply put, I believe his wisdom and vision concerning America and the world is in line with the timeless ideas of our founding fathers. I attended a Ron Paul town hall meeting once while I was mobilized (he is my congressman) and was a little miffed at his opposition to what he called our “undeclared war” in Iraq. But I understand now how shallow my perspective was at the time. Dr. Paul’s take on the matter was that Congress has the responsibility to declare war and shouldn’t have passed a resolution so full of legalese that any legislator could later say that he or she wasn’t really responsible for the outcome. I listened as Dr. Paul quoted the founders during his address – now their warning to “avoid foreign entanglements” rings especially true in retrospect. Ron Paul understands these implications and says our troops need to come home to America; to defend American soil, and not be spread around the world maintaining some new global empire.
Dr. Paul isn’t polished. He is not charismatic. His voice can be shrill. Does he have some seemingly weird ideas? Sure. But he speaks the truth. He knows the Constitution, he knows the intent of our founders, and his voting record shows his devotion to both. Unlike any of the others running for the office of Commander-in-Chief with thoughts of global imperial power, I trust the vision and wisdom of Ron Paul. The oath I swore as a cadet at the Air Force Academy included “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
I know a president named Ron Paul will do the same.