In a last-ditch effort to prevent the U.S. government’s wars from spreading, Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich joined forces to push for a comprehensive withdrawal of U.S. troops from Pakistan by year’s end. The House voted 372 to 38 against the resolution, but the debate served as yet another example of growing antiwar sentiment in Congress.
Congressman: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to yield 3 minutes to my good friend from Lake Jackson, Texas, Mr. Paul.
Mr. Speaker: The chair recognizes Mr. Paul for 3 minutes.
Ron Paul: I thank the gentlemen from California for yielding and I thank you both for bringing this rule to the floor. Even though it is a privilege resolution, a privilege resolution has to qualify under the law, and under the war-powers resolution this does qualify. The question is, is why are we doing it at this time? It seems like Pakistan is a minor problem compared to what’s going on in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq. But I think people have to realize that we go in to war differently these days. We don’t make declarations of war and the people get behind it. We slip into war, we fall into war, we get into these messes and it seems to me like it’s so much easier to get into these problems than getting out. We debate endlessly about getting out of Afghanistan. We debated for years about how and when it’s ever going to end in Iraq. And we bring this up now because this is an appropriate time. It’s escalating, the war is spreading and we’re trying to stop this, we’re trying to let the people know and let the Congress know that this war is getting bigger, it’s not getting smaller. A lot of people thought that with this administration the war would get smaller and we would end some of this. It has been said that we need to be here for national security reasons. I disagree with that. I think the fact that we’re in there makes me feel more threatened, because Pakistan is not about to attack us. And we talk about the few troops there and that they’re insignificant, and they say, “Don’t worry about it, it’s not real”. But that’s the way we started in Vietnam. People were training soldiers and before you know it, we lost 60,000 people. But you know, in this day and age with the type of wars that we fight, occupation with combat troops is not exactly how we get involved. And I believe, the way I read the war-powers resolution, that it does involve attacks on countries with bombs. And this is what we’re doing; we’re attacking this country. The people of Pakistan don’t like it. The number of drone attacks in Pakistan now is double the number that it was under the Bush administration. So it is escalating. There have been 14 Al-Qaida leaders killed by these drone attacks. But there were also 687 civilians killed. So, therefore, the efficiency of this isn’t all that good. Now there are reports coming out that these drones don’t always come back, and a lot of times they crash and a lot of times we have to go out and find them. So there is a lot of activity going on. There’s another reason we bring this up at this time; it’s financial. We can’t afford to expand war. We can’t afford the wars we have already; we can’t afford to take care of our people at home. This costs money. And since we see this as an escalation and more provocation and a greater danger to us because people are going to get upset – people don’t like this – there has actually already been a court ruling in Pakistan that says that we should stop the bombing.
Mr. Speaker: The gentleman is recognized for an additional two minutes.
Ron Paul: I thank the gentleman for yielding. But the finances are certainly important. We in the Congress, because we’re slipping into this war, we have just recently granted 7.5 billion dollars of aide to Pakistan. And what do they do with this money? Well, it’s supposed to not be military, it’s supposed to help rebuild their country, help their infrastructure. Well, we needed a couple of dollars here for our infrastructure. But they can take that money, it’s a bit fungible, it goes into their intelligence. Their intelligence observations are been used by the Taliban, and we’re fighting the Taliban. So it’s totally inconsistent that we’re on both sides of so many wars and what’s going on. The Mujahedeen were your allies when we were fighting the occupation of the Soviets. It’s occupation that is the issue. And we were on their side and the Soviets were run out. But now that same group are called the Taliban now. The Taliban, we have to remember, had nothing to do with 9-11. It was the Al-Qaida, not the Taliban. The Taliban are people who are unified with one issue, one concern they have: foreign occupation, or foreign bombings of those countries. We need to make sure the American people know what’s going on and that there are, sometimes, revelations that we don’t hear about. Too often our government is involved in secret wars. There were secret bombings of Cambodia back in the 1960s. And here we are, slipping and sliding once more into the escalation of this war which, unfortunately, is going to cost us a lot of money. It’s going to cost a lot of lives, a lot of innocent lives. And unfortunately, I wished I could believe that we’re going to be more secure for this. I think we’re going to be less secure because of this activity and we will finally, someday, have to meet up to the question of why do they want to come here to kill us. Do they want to do it because of their religion? Do they want to do it because we are rich and because we are free? No. They want to come here because we occupy their territory.
Mr. Speaker: The gentleman’s time has expired.
Dennis Kucinich: I want to introduce on the record, with unanimous consent, a gallop poll that revealed that 59% of Pakistanis view the U.S. as the biggest threat. And that 67% of Pakistanis polled were opposed to U.S. military operations in their country. Thank you. Now, Mr. Speaker, putting our troops inside the borders of Afghanistan, if we’re not putting them in a hostile environment with those poll results, I don’t know what would be hostile. I yield 3 minutes to Mr. Paul of Texas, who is a co-sponsor of this resolution and I want to express to him my gratitude for his patriotism.
Ron Paul: I thank the gentlemen for yielding. I ask your consent to revise and extend my remark.
Mr. Speaker: Without objection.
Ron Paul: First off, I would like to address the subject about hostilities. It is true there are no armies facing each other, shooting and killing each other, no tanks. It is not those conventional type of hostilities. But we don’t live in a conventional era and we don’t fight conventional wars. But there are a lot of hostile actions going on. In looking and checking to find out if anybody has been killed, the reports that I found say that anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 Pakistanis have been killed. Now that sounds like it’s rather hostile. And that comes not from our invasion with troops, but we’ve invaded them with our predators, with our drone missiles and we drop bombs and we aim at targets, always at the bad people. But to the best to my knowledge, from the information I get, 14 Al-Qaida leaders have been killed and the rest have been civilians and who knows exactly what their sentiments would be. Maybe a lot of them are defending their own country, maybe they see that they don’t like foreign occupiers. But there is a lot of hostile action going on and a lot of people are dying. And the gentleman from Ohio is quite correct. If you check with the people of Pakistan, they don’t want us there. They don’t want bombs dropped on them. How would we react in this country if all of a sudden there was a drone missile that landed on one of our cities and even 1 or 2 or 3 Americans were killed? We would be outraged. And we’d want to know about it. And here we do it constantly. Where the real secrecy is … I complain that we don’t know enough about it, we give up our prerogatives, we allow the presidents to do what they want, and then we just capitulate and give them the money and do whatever.
But I argue that we don’t know enough, we don’t assume our responsibility. The American people don’t know about it until we get deep into these quagmires and into these messes. Bu what about in Pakistan? There’s a lot of conniving going on there, because I’m sure their leaders are quite satisfied with us going in there because we bribe them. We in the Congress just passed a bill that promises them 7.5 billion dollars. So that’s how they stay in power. It’s also how they can help the Taliban who’s fighting us. The whole thing is such a mess. But the people … if you ask the people of Pakistan, they’re not going to support this. And the argument is that we have to support this because our generals want us to, because this is our mission. But what is our mission? Our mission ought to be to defend this country, preserve liberty and show people what a free society looks like. We shouldn’t be trying to tell other people how to live with bombs and threats. We give them two options: we tell them, “Do it our way”, and if they do we give them a lot of money. If they don’t do it our way, we start bombing them. But we don’t achieve anything, that’s my contention. We just go on and on. My big beef is the overall policy. I know we’re talking about the technicalities, we’re talking about Afghanistan and Pakistan. But we don’t solve any of these technical problems until we deal with the subject of what kind of a foreign policy … are we supposed to be the policeman of the world or are we supposed to be in nation building or are we supposed to bankrupt our people, are we supposed to do infrastructure building all around the world and neglect all of our? It’s coming to an end because this country is bankrupt and we’re going to have to change our policy, whether we like it or not.
Congressman: I would like to yield to Mr. Paul of Texas three minutes. Mr. Paul.
Mr. Speaker: The gentleman from Texas is recognized.
Ron Paul: I thank the gentlemen for yielding. I want to talk a little bit more about our policy, because I said before that I think it’s the policy that gets us into these predicaments. And that if you deal with this as a strictly technical, tactical problem that we have to face and how to rectify our problems, I don’t think it will occur. I think we have to deal in the overall policy. In many ways, we follow a schizophrenic type of foreign policy, because one time they’re our best friends and then later on they become our worst enemies. This was true with Saddam Hussein. In the 1980s he was our friend and we took care of him and we encouraged him and supported his war. And then, of course, that changed. But even right before 9-11, the Taliban were still receiving money from us. And now they receive money from us indirectly; the Taliban gets money from the Pakistanis, or at least information, as has been reported. But they literally get some of our money in the process, because in order for us to move equipment through Afghanistan, literally, they end up getting American dollars doing this. So here we are going into Pakistan and one of the arguments to go into Pakistan is that we have to go after the Taliban, that they’re over there and they’re organizing and they want to kill the American soldiers in Afghanistan. So this means that now they are our arch enemies. But the Taliban, especially in the 1980s, weren’t called the Taliban but they were called the Mujahedeen and it was a precursor. But they were our best friends along with Osama Bin Laden, and we were allies with them because we supported the principle that it was wrong for the Soviets to be occupying Afghanistan. But now the tables have turned and now we’re the occupiers and now the very people that used to help us are now shooting and killing us. And now it’s been revealed just recently with this release of information, that they actually have some stinger missiles, and in the last month or so, three of our helicopters have been shot down. So where does this all end? One thing about the reports in the newspaper, I think if they change the definition or the use of one term, I think it would change everybody’s attitude. If people came around to believing that the Taliban are people who aren’t dedicated towards coming over here to kill us, like some of the Al-Qaida are, but the Taliban are only interested in getting rid of the occupiers of their country. So we call them militants. So we go in and we raid and shoot and kill them and bomb them, and then we say, “Ah ha, we killed 37 militants today”. What if we report this always like we did in the 1980s… what if we always reported …
Mr. Speaker: The gentleman’s time has expired.
Ron Paul: May I have one more minute?
Dennis Kucinich: I yield to the gentleman another min.
Mr. Speaker: The gentleman from Texas is recognized for one min.
Ron Paul: What if it was always reported that freedom fighters were killed, as it was when they were our friends and our allies. The whole thing would change. But no, we call them militants and we call them insurgents. But they were formerly our allies and our so called friends. So this is just a reflection on the ridiculousness of our endless policy off intervention and how so often our allies and our friends turn against us and how our money, taxpayers money, so often is used against us. I think this is a perfect example, we’d like to stop it, that’s why we brought this resolution up. We don’t want to see this war spread and we want the American people to know about it and we want this Congress to know about it because foreign policy isn’t even written in the Constitution. The responsibility of how we run our foreign affairs is with the U.S. Congress. When we go to war, it should be a Congressional function, not an executive function. And someday we may get there. But right now today we have to do our very best to let people know about the shortcomings of the policy we’re following in Pakistan.
Mr. Speaker: The gentleman’s time is expired. The gentlewoman from Florida.