Ron Paul questions Richard Holbrooke on innocent war casualties

Event: House Foreign Relations Committee Hearing
Date: 5/5/2009


Ron Paul: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome, Mr. Ambassador. I have a couple of concerns I want to express. The main concern I have is I was hoping to see maybe a change in our foreign policy from the last administration. But, of course, we see just more of the same; more nation building, more policing of the world, more involvement and it just seems like we never learn from our past mistakes.

We don’t learn from what kind of trouble the Soviets got into and yet we continue to do the same thing, and even in your last statement, it’s a grandiose goal that we want to work for a vibrant, modern democracy. Wow, what a dream. But think of how we are doing this. I mean, we label everybody that opposes what we’re doing; we call them Taliban, and all of a sudden, they are many, many thousands of Pashtuns that are right smack in the middle of getting killed by our bombs and then we wonder why they object to our policies over there.

This to me means that we’re into this for a long haul. It’s going to cost a lot of money and it’s going to cost a lot of lives, and if the members of Congress had ever realized what Iraq would end up costing us in the number of deaths, in the number of dollars, now, trillion dollars, they would have been a little more hesitant.

They admit that even now, “well maybe we shouldn’t have”, but who knows what this is going to end up costing in terms of lives and the odds of it working are so slim. This is what my great concern is, you know, in 1999, Sharif was the prime minister and we were supportive of a military coup and Musharraf comes in and we support him. So now, it’s said that we will have relationship with Sharif, which everybody knows exactly what that means. It means that we’re involved in their elections. That is the way we’ve done it for so many years.

But, you know, the Pakistani papers reported as “US taps Sharif to be the next Pakistani Prime Minister”. Now, whether or not we literally can do that, I think that we can have a lot of influence. That’s what they believe in. How do you win the hearts and minds of these people if we’re seen as invaders, as occupiers, and here we are just doing nothing more than expanding our role, you know, in Pakistan and in Afghanistan.

I don’t see any end into it. But my particular question is this, it has to do with those Pashtuns that have been killed by our bombs. I mean, we’re bombing a sovereign country. Where did we get the authority to do that? Did the Pakistani government give us written permission, or did the Congress gave us written permission to expand the war and start bombing in Pakistan?

Why do we, as a Congress and as a people and as I represent not the executive branch, so casually and callously expand the war and say, “Well, today we have to do this. We’ll worry about it tomorrow.”

What about our national debt? We have a [huge] national debt facing us. We think nothing of $3.5 billion, which will turn out to be tens of billions of dollars after this.

So I’d like to know where you stand on this, the innocent killing of Pashtuns. Are they all Taliban or are there some innocent people being killed?

Richard Holbrooke: Congressman Paul, I did not say exactly what you imputed to me (*), but I have thought a long time about the issues you raised, and you mentioned Iraq. Afghanistan, Pakistan is not Iraq. The reason we are in this area, notwithstanding its immense difficulties, is because the people in this area attacked our country on September 11, 2001 and have stated flatly their intent to do it again.

They’ve done all the other things we mentioned earlier, and therefore it is not Iraq and it’s not Vietnam, despite the fact that many people say it is. It’s about defending our country. It is not easy. I agree with you. It’s not cheap and having seen wars on three continents, having been shot at for my country, I sure don’t feel comfortable in a situation where you ask brave, young American men and women, to risk their lives and sometimes pay the ultimate sacrifice.

However, the President of the United States reviewed everything in regard to this and he came to the conclusion, not that it’s the same policy, he spent the whole meeting today talking about differences and dozens of others, but it’s not the same policy but our goal has to be to defeat Al-Qaeda. You cannot let them take over an even larger terrain, move into other parts of the world, and then plan what they’re planning, in my view.

(*) Mr. Holbrooke actually said, “All of our efforts in Pakistan are geared toward creating the vibrant, modern, and democratic state that Pakistanis desire and U.S. policy envisions as a partner in advancing stability and development in a key region of the world.”

  • wanderer

    Not a single one of the 9/11 hijackers was Pakistani, they were mostly Saudi. Neither is Pakistan in the Middle East, it’s many thousands of miles away from Saudi Arabia, so Mr Holbrooke’s assertions that the hijackers came from Pakistan or from that “region” is a little perplexing and frankly leads to only more questions on what happened on 9/11. Or is Mr Holbrooke stating that they’re bomb any Muslim country whatsoever for whatever reason as long as he cries “9/11” from the top of his voice.

    Secondly the US has throughout the decades done more to mess around and impede democracy in Pakistan than almost any other nation it has interfered in. Whether that was General Zia Ul Haq in the early 80’s, (sponsoring a military regime at the cost of democracy), whether Benazir Bhutto who was always a puppet stooge of America’s (that and her thieving husband), and then we come to backing and keeping in power the military regime of Musharraf a man who came to power through a military coup. For years the Pakistani people lamented having this man in power and WANTED DEMOCRACY but America backed Musharraf all the way and kept him in power at the cost of democracy.

    America you’ve become drunk with the kings of the earth and committed a lot of wrong, but it’s the flat out lies which offend me the most. You don’t spread democracy because you know if you did these nations might elect leaders who won’t play your war games with you, and war is after all the most lucrative of businesses.

  • anon


  • Antony

    Holbrooke you lying peice of s**t!

  • dave

    Yeah., I caught that reference from Holbrooke for going to war for 911 again too. I would just like to bring to everyone’s attention a couple of groups of scholars, scientists, architects and engineers are calling for a re-opening of the investigation of how the WTC buildings really fell – what really caused them to collapse. Just do a search for AE911truth. Like some of the engineers may say “there is nothing political about the way a building falls”.
    I know the morning I saw them fall on TV I said to myself “that looks like controlled demolition” but I’m just a radical thinker anyway and not a scientist but have learned to not take any “official” story at face value… now I almost always figure that the bigger the story the more likely we don’t hear the truth on network TV – well maybe we get the truth sometimes but not the whole story or the whole truth. I’m curious about what this Swine Flue thing is really about? Even Sen. Paul says it’s blown out of proportion.
    Ya know, audit the Fed. is just a stepping stone to abolishing it and eventually the IRS – and why not? If you audited a company that jacked you around and found it to be full of deceit and fraud you’d want to see it and its affiliates canned…. wouldn’t you? Or how about give em another chance to see if they can bury us so deep into slavery we’ll forget who we really are?
    But I’m preaching to the choir. Any of you handing out flyers about HR1207? We are. Get them from Campaign for Liberty. And postcards from the 911truth organizations too – all of this stuff is just symptoms of the same disease ya know – it’s all related. How do they say that?? “Follow the money”


  • blakmira

    How many more years of mileage are these idiots going to get out of 9-11? I can’t even keep the ever-changing reasons for any of these wars straight any more — is it weapons of mass destruction? Democracy for the people? Or it’s now back to Revenge for 9-11?

    Answer the question, Holbrooke, you lying prick. What about the innocent civilians killed?

  • Michal

    So Holbrooke completely avoided the topic and the question and just kept on saying the usual bullshit about 9/11 and the danger USA is facing from those tribes… Unbelievable, how can anyone (voters) overlook such a sleaziness?

    • Ali

      I can’t add more than that!

      I can’t see any difference between this administration and Bush’s administration.

      GO DR.PAUL!