In an extensive interview (click the play icon above, or download mp3 file) with host Eric Dubin on Liberty Rising Radio, Ron Paul says that people seeking to advance peace can learn much from looking to Switzerland.
He states that he likes Switzerland’s “very successful national defense,” and adds “there is no reason that we can’t use that as a starting point.” Paul explains:
… all through the twentieth century — a century of carnage and killing and murdering in the European theater especially, they were never invaded. So they had a strong national defense, but of course it was under a completely different philosophy than what most other countries have…. if we are seeking peace and prosperity, we ought to move in that direction.
Paul, who is the chairman of the Ron Paul Institute, explores the Swiss model in more detail in Swords into Plowshare, including providing this contrasting of the philosophies behind Swiss and US military and foreign policies:
Switzerland in the center of Europe survived unscathed during the 20th century carnage of two world wars — choosing a policy of neutrality. The US, in contrast, has constantly ignored the strong advice of our early leaders, and frequently the voice of the people, to stay out of the internal affairs of other nations and avoid entangling alliances. This combined with a supposed God-directed ‘Manifest Destiny,’ a neoconservative obsession with provoking wars, and an excessive spirit of nationalism and jingoism has led to our many wars throughout the world over the past 100 years.
The Swiss have not expressed this same attitude. Basically they stay at home while we march around the world looking for “monsters to destroy.”
Ron Paul addresses several other matters explored in detail his new book, including the role of propaganda in convincing people to support war, how President Woodrow Wilson helped move the US toward perpetual war, and the threat posed by US debt and currency debasement.
Eric Dubin: Welcome to Liberty Rising Radio. This is Eric Dubin and I am very pleased to have as my guest today Ron Paul. Dr. Ron Paul has written a new book called “Swords into Plowshares: A life in wartime and a future in peace and prosperity” The subtitle keys in with the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. Dr. Paul, it’s wonderful to speak to you again, it’s probably been about a little over a year since we spoke on Silver Doctor’s Weekly Medals and Markets round.
Ron Paul: Good to be back with you. Thank you.
Eric Dubin: I really enjoyed the book. One of the things that is wonderful about this book in particular is that you talk a bit about your evolution in terms of coming to understand non-interventionism and what it means and you reflect on a number of anecdotes in your life. You were quite young when World War II was undergoing. That formative experience in your life early on made you realize what war’s about as a child seeing that first hand. I wonder if you could share with our listeners some of the anecdotes that occurred in your life that made you understand what non-interventionism as a principle means and why it is important for our foreign policy establishment to go back to our roots.
Ron Paul: Yeah, I think that there’s an instinct in most of us that gets challenged by the establishment. That is that most people want peace and not war. War doesn’t make any sense. Yet, the war propaganda and the politicians want to change our minds. I think that even I was influenced by the establishment, but my instinct for peace was very, very strong. Then as the years went on as I describe in the book, it became a philosophic principle and I tried to understand it and was quite happy that I could find out that that was really our tradition. It wasn’t intended that we would have an Empire and the advice was sometimes much stronger than our early Presidents followed and that was that we should stay away from entangling alliances. We shouldn’t get into affairs of other nations. Trade with people was very good and this is how you prevent the wars and we have gone in a completely opposite direction in my lifetime if not for a longer period of time, especially in the last hundred years or so. I mean it really started with Woodrow Wilson and really got moving at that point where we were instructed to make the world safe for democracy and have this moral obligation and this was a whole thing that was argued from a moral viewpoint, that if you didn’t support it you were unpatriotic and you didn’t care about people and you were immoral therefore you had to join all war efforts. Putting that all together and feeling comfortable and the instinct that we all have I think was working very hard to make it consistent to the philosophy of non-intervention as I could, and honestly believing that if we truly care about peace and prosperity that’s the only way you can achieve it.
Eric Dubin: There is an old saying that when goods don’t sail and trade across borders, armies do.
Ron Paul: That’s very true and I think the good example, of course in my lifetime was what we saw what Nixon did against the consensus. Republicans should be friendly with Communist China. Really, the delicate diplomacy and the willingness to reach out to your enemies is really much more productive that just reaching out to some [inaudible]. That doesn’t accomplish as much. And I make the point in the book, when I was in high school we were fighting and killing each other with the Chinese and one of my teachers went in the Korean War and he never came back and yet there was a lot of criticism, Nixon actually had to go over there in secrecy, because there would have been so much complaints. Then before we knew it in spite of the fact that China still remained communist and they still have some problems, but the likelihood of us having an outright war with China is not that great, because there’s so many economic interests that we share. I just think we need more of that instead of trying to reverse some good trends. The Soviet Empire broke; there are certain groups now that would like to make Russia an enemy. We did that with Iraq and that ended up badly and, of course, I am very pleased with Obama trying to, at least, talk to the Iranians again and, of course, today as we speak we are seeing that the embassies are being opened again with Cuba. I think that these are good signs in the midst of a lot problems that we have throughout the world.
Eric Dubin: Yeah, the Republican Party traditionally had a core principle amongst many for a strong defense. I’d love to see that change to something along the lines of a smart defense. In the last election there was a bit of a pushback against the policies as represented by Obama, and a lot of Republicans were elected last year. It seems that there is more militancy in the Congress now versus before. Would you agree with that? What’s your take on the Republican Party now that you are on the outside looking in?
Ron Paul: I think they’re constantly going in the wrong direction, because they talk a good game when it comes to economics, yet when they get in they expand the government’s role in education and medical care. There is a lot of talk. Now, in foreign policy, they are little bit more blunt about you need a lot more defense spending, and I’d like to qualify that. I think the spending has very little to do with defense. I think that when we go over provoking people it undermines our defenses, it undermines our national security. We should separate defense spending from military spending. We are mainly involved in military and we spend more than the top fifteen other countries around the world. We are the biggest arms manufacturer and sales people throughout the world. So, this is big business, it’s the military-industrial complex and they are saying if you don’t vote [for military spending], you are not voting for a strong national defense. What I sort of like is a strong national defense, at least a very successful national defense like Switzerland. There is no reason we can’t use that as a starting point. Most people don’t even know who the President of Switzerland is. Yet all through the 20th century the carnage, the murdering, the killing in European theater, especially, they were never invaded. So, they have a strong national defense. Of course, that’s a completely different philosophy and what most other countries have and I don’t know why we can’t if we seek peace and prosperity, we ought to move in that direction. Right now, the Republicans are Keynesians, so often you hear Republicans criticizing ‘Oh these Democrats are Keynesians and they want a welfare state and they want to do this for the welfare people and prop up jobs and’ all this. At the same time, try to stop the manufacturing of weapons that will be built in almost all states, I think the F-35 is being built in 48 states. ‘You can’t stop that this is good for jobs’, it’s the Keynesian argument. So, this military spending is a rip-off and unfortunately the more money we spend, I think, the more vulnerable we get. At this age, it’s not likely going to lead with somebody landing and making a beach landing and invading our country, as much as we are going to undermine ourselves and destroying our civil liberties, at the same time for the destruction of our financial system and all the things that the more radicals would like to see happen to us. Actually we are doing it to ourselves and this is one reason why we do have to try to achieve a change in attitude among conservatives and Republicans that can actually back off of this and say ‘Maybe we don’t have to spend this much money.’ The whole principle of this presence in 150 countries and passing out foreign aid, the way I see it, although I argue that you have to try to compete intellectually with those who promote the others, I don’t think we are going to reverse our course until we totally bankrupt this country. We are on the verge of that, we are technically bankrupt. It’s just that there is still a lot of trust in us as a powerful nation and military nation, still some trust in our printing presses. But, eventually our system will collapse just as the Soviet system collapsed, because I don’t see Republicans and limited government people getting enough strength in Washington to reverse the trend. I think we still have to speak up though, because there is going to be a chance to talk about what the philosophy of government ought to be. We were given a reasonable decent chance with our Constitution, but there is not much left of that. I think there would be a climactic end to the current system that we have today.
Eric Dubin: It goes back to what Franklin had said after the Constitutional Convention. You can have a Republic, if you can keep it.
Ron Paul: Right now, it’s very very much of a Republic left.
Eric Dubin: Empires are definitely antithetical to the Republic.
Ron Paul: That’s for sure.
Eric Dubin: There are a lot of reasons for optimism frankly. You see that all the time when you go out and speak to groups and you see lots of people who are younger folk and are looking forward in their lives and recognizing that if the warfare state and the Empire is the mode of the social compact that we have in the United States, their opportunities for their own lives are diminished greatly. If you were to speak to someone who doesn’t really know much about your work, but has a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed enthusiasm about the future, what would you tell them, as far as why they should read your book? What is it that you would like to send as a message to the youth?
Ron Paul: Well, I would make sure that they know there’s a lot of books out there that I have read over the years and had to search for and I got interested in this and was inquisitive enough, but in the 50s and the 60s we didn’t have the Internet and the Libertarian free market movement wasn’t very strong and the FEE Foundation for economic education, Leonard Reed was very helpful to me. Today, though people have to realize that information is readily available and you can get it from many different think-tanks now that are now free market oriented. In mine I consider the token effort, but there are so many other things too, when you look at what Murray Rothbard wrote and even the older books, like “The Law” which is a very neat little book to read. But, in my attempt, three that come to mind quickly of course is my recent one dealing with peace and prosperity and non-intervention foreign policy, and then I have one on the Federal Reserve, because I think monetary policy is so key, if they didn’t have that they couldn’t steal wealth and finance and all these shenanigans. Then I have another book “Liberty Defined” where I go over many issues and talk about the liberty message and how the problems would be taken care of, if we didn’t have the system which we have today which is quite frankly satisfactory to most of the Democrats and Republicans, which is all intervention, intervening in our lives or the economy around the world. The two parties are very strong interventionists, that’s why I like to use the word non-intervention. Non-intervention in our lives, non-intervention overseas and non-intervention in the economy. Those three books are helpful, right now, of course, just recently the book “Swords into Plowshares” came out and I’m hoping that people will get interested in that book.
Eric Dubin: You’re a monetary historian and have spoken twice in our discussion so far about the fiat nature of our system and its ability to support the Empire that America is running now. I know that you and myself and many analysts that I know are looking forward into the future, the very near future in fact and see that there’s a lot of cracks in the system when it comes to the confidence that underpins the dollar and other fiat currencies and the overall debt burden that particularly we Western nations face. I am obviously asking you to speculate, because no one can know the future with clarity, but as you gaze into your crystal ball, do you see major changes happening in the near term, say two years out or sooner, when it comes to confidence in the dollar and the financial system?
Ron Paul: Yeah, that’s a tough one on the timing and the one thing that Austrian economics teaches is that you really don’t know the timing, because there is a subjective element to this, it’s a confidence factor and it has so much to do with politics per se and events that you can’t predict, trends that you can’t predict and I think you and I can agree on trends and will sort out whether it would be in six month or two years or five years. Yes, I think so. Because I look at it like they build on a large building, but there is no foundation under it and It eroded and just sort of standing there and if a wind comes along it’s going to come crashing down. Because we are definitely insolvent, we have an 18 trillion dollars national debt. I keep thinking it’s going on and on and maybe people will be blinded by this and can get away with it until it’s 36 trillion dollars. We don’t know. But one thing we do know is you can’t create wealth with debt and that’s what they’re trying to do. Yes, you can fool the people for a long while and dilute value by counterfeiting our currency. But eventually, the markets are smarter than the government and my guess is as far as timing goes I’ll be surprised if it goes more than two or three years, but I wouldn’t be even totally surprised if It happened within six month either.
Eric Dubin: Yeah, people are definitely waking up, the liberty movement is growing even thought the mainstream media basically does not deliver that message to average people outside of the Internet. I am kind of curious as to how big you think the liberty movement is in the United States. I mean I have never been able to wrap my hand around any estimate to how many people were aware and awake.
Ron Paul: Those who have looked at the Bible have said that they cannot be counted. Nobody knows, they are out there. There is a remnant and there is a remnant who remembers a time when we had policies that were much closer to a republic and the new members coming in to it, you can’t really go out and count them. I am so impressed and surprised and actually very pleased the time I go around the country and somebody will say ‘I heard you say this, so I went out and did this.’ They might be involved in a think tank, they might be doing publishing, they might be in a political office and I’ve never heard of them. So they are out there. So, philosophically, there are changes occurring and of course I believe strongly that the philosophy of the people has to change before the government changes, so if you put one or two or even a bunch in Washington, but the people are still 75% endorse welfare redistribution for various reasons both rich and poor, it doesn’t happen. So, I think what is going to happen is that the bankruptcy will come and then these ideas will have to be put in place and that’s where I am optimistic, this is where I get a lot of encouragement. I will be speaking at the Young Americans for Liberty annual conference in DC near the end of the month, and then there will be a lot of young people there and they will be enthusiastic and they are college kids, they are clean-cut kids. There was no such thing going on in the 50s and 60s when I was in school. If the ideas of liberty are alive and well and ideas have consequences, that’s where we are winning. If you look at Washington DC or if you look at the statistics out there about how many people are truly employed and how many people dropped out of the work force, they can be discouraging. As far as the ideological war going on and the competition going on, I say we are doing quite well.
Eric Dubin: I was wondering if you have had much experience in interacting with people who are traditionally described as progressives and I reflect in particular about Ralph Nader’s latest book “Unstoppable – the emerging left-right alliance to dismantle the corporate state”. Have you ever talked to Ralph Nader?
Ron Paul: Yeah, I stay in touch with him all the time, as a matter of fact I talked to Dennis Kucinich today. He was excited about the book and all and, of course, the progressives would disagree with us on the economic policies, but an honest person is easy to deal with, because if you agree with him on civil liberties and anti-war you have so much at stake, there is no reason why you can’t work with him and talk about how… because I think the goal is the same. Of course I don’t want government medicine, as a physician and a conscientious person I want everybody to have medical care; it’s just that I believe more in the market than I do in government. But there is no reason why we can’t talk to the progressives and I think that’s worthwhile, because if you want to build a coalition to oppose the war you really need as much help as you can get.
Eric Dubin: Your latest book is called “Swords into Plowshares: A life in wartime and a future of peace and prosperity.” That is now available this week, correct?
Ron Paul: Right. It’s up for sale now.
Eric Dubin: And you can find it at Ron Paul Institute website as well as on Amazon and bookstores.
Ron Paul: That’s right. I appreciate it very much.
Eric Dubin: Much appreciated speaking with you today and I highly recommend the book to everyone, particularly to people who haven’t yet come to really look in what is non-interventionism and the non-aggression principle with libertarian perspectives. Ron Paul talks a lot about history and his own development intellectually when it comes to understanding these ideas with lots of neat anecdotes that I mentioned at the front of this interview. I think that people will enjoy the book quite a bit, so I enjoyed it and highly recommend it.
Ron Paul: Thank you, good to be with you.
Eric Dubin: Thank you.
Thank you for listening to Liberty Rising Radio. If you’d like to find out our other podcasts go to the website thenewsdoctors.com. On the right side of the page you’ll see Liberty Rising’s link as well as my name Eric Dubin, to see other work that I do. Thanks again.
Part of this article was published by the Ron Paul Institute.