Ron Paul: Dick Cheney is in the news again. He is charging that we are now less safe with the new administration than we were with the last. In some ways he may be right but for a lot different reasons than he thinks.
He’s claiming that the administration is not going to be tough enough on terrorists and not use tough interrogation techniques and therefore we are going to be vulnerable. Of course, Dick Cheney’s argument is that a lot of good information came out of the torture and that we should release all that information.
Of course, he knows that will never be released because it will be argued that it will expose our government to what we’ve been doing even more than this administration wants, so that’s not likely to happen.
But I do think that we’re less safe today, but I think we’re less safe because we haven’t changed our foreign policy. We still have a foreign policy of massive intervention over in the Middle East and as long as we continue with troops in Iraq, occupying and killing people in Afghanistan, and now spreading this war and chasing the Taliban over into Pakistan, there are going to be a lot of people involved that want to do us harm, so yes, I do feel less secure.
This argument on terrorism, I think, is very shortsighted. Cheney’s argument is that we did get a lot of good information. Possibly there was a little bit, but the whole question is could they have gotten that information without sacrificing our principles and the rule of law? Because there are other ways to get information.
Actually, there are ways of getting information without sacrificing our principles and still maintaining the rule of law. Matthew Alexander, an individual that was involved in 300 interrogations in Iraq, found out that it was absolutely unnecessary to use torture.
As a matter of fact, he refused to do it and he was more successful than those who used torture. So to say that we should torture because we might get some information, but it’s rather doubtful, that argument is very, very controversial, but it’s not controversial about whether it’s legal or illegal or not under international law. And besides, two wrongs never make a right.
But the important thing to realize is that our foreign policy has much more to do with our threats and the danger that we are in. Matthew Alexander argues the case that every time you torture somebody and it becomes known throughout the Muslim world, you create more terrorists. So it actually did a lot more harm than good by being exposed to what we’re doing.
So I argue the case, do I agree with Cheney? Yes, we are less safe, but it is because we continue the policies of the previous administration and the violence is escalating. The odds of us leaving Iraq are slim to none. We are building up troops by the tens of thousands in Afghanistan. There are generals now who are arguing the case that there’s not nearly enough. We have a new general taking over in Afghanistan, indicating the administration is not happy with the policies.
So if we want to be safer on the long term, we have to think much more seriously about a change of foreign policy. We are not going to be safer just because we have more torture and think that we’re going to get more information. It’s said that 50-some percent of the American people in this country endorse tough interrogation of terrorists.
Well, that’s a false statement. I mean, when you capture 100 people and one may be a terrorist and you start torturing all of them, the American people wouldn’t support that, and if they were ever offered the opportunity that you can get more information by persuasion in different techniques without sacrificing the rule of law and without resorting to torture, I think 100 percent of the American people would say, “Why would we torture and why would we take that risk and why would we build up more enemies in this manner?”
There is a lot to be said about a non-interventionist foreign policy, a policy designed under our Constitution, one that was advised by our founders, one that would cost us a lot less money.
Instead, whether it’s the Republican administration or the Democratic administration, onward continuously on the same policy, we never change our way. It’s time this country changes its ways. The policy that we run overseas is a major participant in the bankruptcy of this country and the sooner we wake up to this fact, the better for all of us.