Date of Interview: 12/9/2009
Dina Gusovsky: Obama administration officials, including General Stanley McChrystal and Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, are on Capitol Hill testifying, trying to convince lawmakers to accept and support Barack Obama’s Afghanistan strategy. But Congressman Ron Paul warns that these plans could result in a foreign policy disaster. He joins me today to discuss.
Dr. Paul, thank you so much for being here. So first of all, I want to get your take on the decision. Do you agree with Barack Obama sending 30,000 more troops over there?
Ron Paul: No, I radically oppose that idea. It’s foolish. It’s totally wasteful. He can’t win; he doesn’t even know what the goals are. We shouldn’t even make this attempt to occupy and nation-build in Afghanistan. So I think it’s a serious mistake. You know, eight years is long enough to figure out you’ve made a mistake. So I say you rather get out of there and come home before we spend a lot more and more people die.
Dina Gusovsky: But here’s the thing: there are close to about 70,000 troops on the ground. The troops are the ones that are asking for more troops on the ground. Barack Obama is the Commander in Chief, so what is he supposed to do then? Is he supposed to just ignore his troops? I mean, he’s in a really tight space here.
Ron Paul: Yeah, but I think his solution is impossible, too. Because if he could describe victory as total control of the country and total victory, he might need 300,000 troops. But nobody is going to give him 300,000 troops. So yeah, you’re radical if you want 300,000 [troops] to do what some military people think you should do, or if you want to leave, like I do. Those positions aren’t acceptable. They call those extreme viewpoints. But one is right and one is wrong. So what do they do? They do something in the middle. They just perpetuate the fraud, pretend they’re doing something holy, not accomplishing anything and just spending more lives and more money. So I see no chance whatsoever for this policy to be successful.
Dina Gusovsky: Well, it’s interesting because administration officials also mentioned shifting responsibility to the Afghans, trying to grow the Afghan army. How can they do this given the fact that there is ethnic conflict within this institution? You have the turnover rate. It took them 8 years to try to do it. How are they going to do it in 18 months? Is this realistic?
Ron Paul: No, it’s not realistic and they don’t understand the history, they don’t even understand the geography or the factions, the Pashtons and Tajiks and that whole issue there. I mean, there is civil strife there.
Dina Gusovsky: Some officials have said that there may be a civil war brewing within the Afghan Army itself.
Ron Paul: Yeah, I would say that is already going on and we’re just picking sides, and, you know, helping one side versus the other, which guarantees a civil war. But I think the overriding issue what motivates hatred towards us is the presence; our occupation. And it continues to spread, first Iraq and then Afghanistan and very much so in Pakistan. Of course our government just said, “Oh, we’re not going to send troops into Pakistan”. Probably under their breath they’ll say, “Unless it’s necessary”. But our bombs are dropped in Pakistan and people there are dying.
Dina Gusovsky: A country that’s considered an ally, that the United States and has not declared a war against, right?
Ron Paul: Yeah, that’s what they say. But even if we try to pretend that we get along with the government and send them money and they’re supposed to help us find all the bad guys, the people themselves don’t like us being there. Probably 90% of the people in Pakistan aren’t in favor of us doing anything that we’re doing. They’re sympathetic with the Taliban.
Dina Gusovsky: It’s interesting that you mentioned Pakistan because we do have to consider the other players, right, when it comes to Afghanistan – we have to think about Iran, Saudi Arabia, India. Is the Obama administration considering what other interests there may be as far as other nations, other factions are concerned? Did he leave this out of the strategy, or just perhaps out of his speech?
Ron Paul: No, I think his goals are the same as the goals of the previous administration, and that is total control of the region for various reasons. There is more than one reason. It could be oil and it could be promoting our goodness and these various excuses they have. But no, the foreign policy of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party is essentially the same, and they’re just pursuing it. And I think it’s regional, it’s not just one country. It wasn’t limited to getting Saddam Hussein, “because he was a bad guy so if we get rid of him everything is going to be okay”. One leads to the next and they are now going to put stronger sanctions on Iran next week. And that’s just going to further make the problems worse for us.
Dina Gusovsky: Here is something else that was glossed over a little bit; a very important issue: how are they going to pay for this? Because the numbers here are staggering. It’s something like one million dollars per soldier per year over there in Afghanistan. Barack Obama did make that link between national security and the economy. You seem to make a different link; one that contradicts a little bit.
Ron Paul: Yea, I mean when you commit that kind of money it just further weakens our own economy.
Dina Gusovsky: Where is the money, though? Where are they getting it?
Ron Paul: Out of thin air. It’s thin air money. And as long as people trust the dollar, you can create money like that. And the world still thinks the dollar is okay, people are still taking dollars and we’re still using them. But economic law says there is always a limit and we may be reaching that limit. And whether that limit is met in month or two, or a year or two, we will eventually be there unless we change our policies. You just can’t do this, otherwise why would Americans have to work? We could just run the printing presses and pass out money and pay our soldiers and buy off our enemies and do all these things. It doesn’t work that way. The laws of economics finally rule.
Dina Gusovsky: Speaking of money, you’ve been fighting your own battle here on the Hill for over 2 decades. I’m speaking, of course, about the Audit The Fed Bill. Where are now with that? Because as I understand, progress has been made as far as that bill goes.
Ron Paul: The bill was put in the form of an amendment and presented on the bank regulation bill and passed pretty easily. And it’s on a bill that is not a very good bill that I can’t support overall. But the amendment got put on there and it will be brought to the House floor this week and voted on. And it still would have to be passed in the Senate for it to become law.
Dina Gusovsky: What do you think a potential audit of the Fed would expose? Would people be shocked with what goes on in this institution behind closed doors?
Ron Paul: Well, the way the Federal Reserve is fighting to keep us from finding out what they’re doing, it sounds like we will be shocked. Otherwise, if they were doing nothing special and it was pretty benign, they would say, “Come look at these books, there is nothing here”.
Dina Gusovsky: Well, they’re saying, “This is going to ruin our independence”.
Ron Paul: Oh yeah, this is a bunch of talk. They want secrecy because they have so much power. I think you’d find out that we make deals with other governments and other banks. Just like we create the money that we need to fight a war out of thin air, he creates it out of thin air and makes a deal, extends a loan to a bank or central bank or a government and asks them to maybe buy our debt. Who knows what kind of deals they make. But that’s one thing they really don’t want us to know, is what kind of influence the Federal Reserve, who controls our money, has with other countries.
Dina Gusovsky: Well, speaking of influence, you’ve actually called for an end to the Fed. Do you think that will ever happen in your lifetime or my lifetime?
Ron Paul: Probably not. It would end essentially, though, if you have a runaway inflation and the dollar is destroyed. The people will say, how can we trust the Federal Reserve when they’re supposed to protect our dollar. And they claim that they do a pretty good job on maintaining employment and price stability. Well, they’ve lost 95% of the value of the dollar, and the unemployment rate is at 20%. So if you have runaway inflation and destroy the dollar, I think all credibility of the Fed will be gone. But in the meantime what I plan to do, as a matter of fact, I have already today introduced a bill that would legalize competing currencies, legalize the Constitution, legalize gold and silver to circulate next to our paper currency and not be punished for it. Today you’re punished if you use it, you’re committing a crime, you get taxed for gold and silver exchanges. So this way it could be a gradual transition, you don’t have to close the Fed down in one day. But if people get nervous and say, “Hey, maybe I ought to put my money in a bank that says they’ll back it up by gold”. So this would be an alternative to what we have.
Dina Gusovsky: Well, speaking of the Federal Reserve, it looks like Ben Bernanke will be confirmed for a second term in office as the of the Federal Reserve. You know, this is obviously controversial because he was the one in power when the financial bubble burst, when the real estate bubble burst. So many Americans are angered by these bank bailouts, by these CEO bonuses, are asking where is the oversight? And they’re looking to Ben Bernanke who’s probably going to keep his job. What do you make of all this?
Ron Paul: Have’s going to keep his job and he’s probably going to end up with more power. The very least…
Dina Gusovsky: How does that work? I mean, these two things are clashing, right? Americans are angry over what he did when he was in power, and so he’s getting rewarded by getting a second term.
Ron Paul: They’re very powerful and they have a lot of influence. The more amazing thing is how in the world did we ever get the audit bill as far along as we have. But they’re going to be still fighting that tooth and nail and I know the president doesn’t want it. So who knows, he might even veto some of these regulations in order to get this thing out. But no, that’s generally the way it works. But it’s more than just Bernanke. He might have been there when the bubble burst, but he wasn’t there when the bubble was building up. That was under Greenspan’s control of the Federal Reserve; he caused the bubble to be blown up so big. So it’s a system that is bad. This idea that a secret central bank can create money and monetize debt, buy all the government debt in order for us to do the things we shouldn’t be doing, that is the principle that is bad. So as bad as Bernanke may be, and as undeserving as he may be, the issue is much bigger than just Bernanke.
Dina Gusovsky: So he may be no different than anyone else? So is this an issue where regardless of foreign policy, economic policy, regardless of party, it’s pretty much going to be the same thing?
Ron Paul: Yeah, you know, if I thought just changing Bernanke, I should spend all my time on blasting Bernanke and arguing the case for somebody new. But they’re not going to put anybody in there that doesn’t endorse the same ideas.
Dina Gusovsky: Alright, thank you so much.
Ron Paul: Alright, thank you.