The Pentagon is requesting 500 more US troops on the ground in Iraq, as the long-anticipated battle to retake Mosul from ISIS is expected to begin next month. That would bring the US troop level to around 6,400, with another probably 6,000 or so contractors. But if Mosul is actually liberated…what next? Victory…or civil war?
Ron Paul: Hello everybody, and thank you for tuning in to The Liberty Report. With me today is Daniel McAdams. Daniel, it’s good to see you.
Daniel McAdams: Good morning, Dr. Paul.
Ron Paul: Good. I’d like to talk a little bit about Iraq. The mission was accomplished a while ago, but it looks like they have a new mission or something. When we think about this mission accomplished, we do something, and there seems to be a victory. We took Fallujah back again, it’s back and forth, and it goes on and on, and now they’re putting more troops in there. The only way anybody could conceive of a mission being accomplished and endorse this policy, is somebody could be thriving on chaos, because chaos seems to be winning. But that’s probably a little bit of a stretch that anybody would do such a thing deliberately just to sell stuff.
Daniel McAdams: We’ve talked about it before, it’s hard to imagine, it’s hard for me to imagine, and I know you feel the same way. Do they do this on purpose, are they purposely messing this up because there’s a lot of money in messing things up; or they’re that incompetent, and that makes our case for non-interventionism. I go back and forth, I don’t know what the answer is.
Ron Paul: I generally don’t try and interpret and get in somebody’s brain and know what their motivations are, because sometimes they don’t even know, sometimes they just go from day to day. And you […] tyrannism and pragmatism, which is a philosophy in itself, is that way, and that gives them license to do whatever they want on whatever the occasion is, on economics and in foreign policy. That is why you have Democrats and Republicans endorsing, say, troops to Libya to get rid of Gaddafi, and at the same time, they can fight and fume over the results. I think that probably Bush really believed that remaking the Middle East was good, I don’t think he loses any sleep over the total failure of this. He might say, “Well, the Democrats didn’t follow through on what I was doing”, or something like that. But they rationalize it, and I think it’s very difficult for them to give up on it.
It’s hard for me to believe somebody sits down and plans such stupidity, I think they occasionally would want to have a victory. I think it’s philosophic failure, that’s what happened. We’ve endorsed a policy of intervention, we’re engaged in doing something they shouldn’t be doing, and we’re not quite able to do it. I think, as our conversation goes today, we’re not going to project well, it looks like this is another turn. Maybe we’ll have a mission accomplished finally.
Daniel McAdams: Backtracking a little bit to where we are now, at the end of Bush’s term, he was trying to negotiate a new Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq, and things that he wanted were total immunity from Iraqi law for all the American troops and contractors there, and these sorts of things. They were not able to agree to that, so as a result of that inability to agree, the U.S. had to pull its troops out I think by 2011. It was allowed to keep a certain level, and I think about 3,800 troops were allowed to be kept in there, and I think it’s slightly murky as to what their status is. But now we’ve seen, as this fight against ISIS ramps up since 2014, a continual process of more U.S. troops. The reason we’re talking about it today is that the Pentagon told the White House – they didn’t tell the Congress or anyone, they told the White House – , “We need at least 500 more troops”.
Ron Paul: I don’t think we’re capable of really challenging deep seated motivations, and even though you can try to dissect it, this troop number they bring up is important, because they do fudge those figures and they lie to us. But when you catch them in the net, they say, “Oh yes, that’s true”. It was accepted that there were 4,600 combat troops there now, and they’re going to put another 560 troops in there, to take it over 5,000 troops. But they said that already the 4,600 was wrong, because there’s approximately 1,500 military personnel in the embassy; you know that small little embassy, it just happens to be the biggest in the world. So that takes them up to 6,000, and that doesn’t count the contractors. Then you have contractors, and you suggested one time that it could equal number of contractors, but they don’t count them.
What they’re doing now, is they’re taking over airfields and rebuilding and all this, so they’re going to probably need more contractors. But the numbers are very, very high, and it’s steady. Although they were supposed to have been out of there in 2011 just within a couple of years, they started going back in, and it’s gradually escalating. The Iraqi government forces that we train, and I think it cost us a few bucks to train them, are real good when they’re practicing. But don’t show them an enemy, because then all of a sudden they lose their enthusiasm, because they think this is an artificial war. They’re not really engaged in fighting for anything, there are just arguments, and we get on one side, but they don’t have their heart in it. Yet, we’re saying, “Well, you do it, we can’t expose our soldiers to getting shot at”. And then we say, “Well, we are non-combatant”.
And I keep thinking, “They say that to reassure the American people that they don’t have troops on the ground, and that if you’re a non-combatant, they’re not going to get upset with us”, which is just a lot of nonsense. Whether we’re dropping bombs, or maybe especially if we’re dropping bombs and killing people, they’re going to get more upset because we’re not down there actually fighting them. Just remember, one of the major reasons of 9/11 was the constant bombing of Iraq. We’re back at that again, and now we have troops and we’re reinvading, and I don’t think the outcome looks too optimistic.
Daniel McAdams: As you pointed out, all those years of training the Iraqi army, and when ISIS did make a push in Iraq, they turned and ran away. I don’t know if it was as much cowardice or inability to fight. I think there were other problems, I think one of them is that the Iraqi army is multi-sectarian, you have a lot of Sunnis in there. And within ISIS you have a lot of Sunnis, including a lot of former Iraqi military people, Sunnis that the U.S. put in jail in places like Abu Ghraib when the U.S. took over. I think there are mixed loyalties between the Iraqi army and the ISIS forces, and that’s one of the reasons why the Iraqi army is not strong enough to retake Mosul, for example. They were supposed to have taken it back a year ago, I don’t think anybody thinks that they have the ability to take it back, hence us putting in new troops.
Ron Paul: The President, just within the last couple of days was at a NATO meeting in Poland, and engaging in that everlasting goal of getting involved in entangling alliances. As long as we can control the instruments of the entanglement, which is NATO, we’re sort of all for it. He was there, and he said that Al-Qaida was conquered and it was going well, because, he emphasized, of the recapture of Fallujah; that was a major victory. When it comes to specific territory, it looks like on paper they’re saying, “Hey, maybe they are really making progress”. But, within the last several weeks, the Al-Qaida bombed in Baghdad and 300 people were killed. So, I would say that bragging about the recapture of Fallujah, I imagine Fallujah is still a mess. How many times have the bombs fallen in there, how many times have we fought over Fallujah?
Even going into Mosul is going to be a mess, and there was this one thing about the airbase that they’re rebuilding, and we bombed and destroyed it. And they said, “We recaptured it.” And one person said, “Yes, but there’s nothing left”. But ,once again, we’re going to rebuild it, contractors are going to go to work, we’re going to spend money here at home. The real irony of this is, billions of dollars are being spent, and we buy stuff here at home, whether it’s an airplane or buying equipment or goods to rebuild these buildings, the GDP goes up, so they’re all, “Oh, our GDP is doing pretty good”, but the American people get poorer, and we just burn this money up, literally, by dropping bombs over in Iraq.
Daniel McAdams: Yes, the GDP goes up in one little tiny area of the U.S., called the beltway (the defense contractors and military contractors). But you’re right, we took Fallujah back, but what’s left of it, nothing. We’re taking back absolute ghost towns that will never be able to host a human population.
Ron Paul: Right, I would think that the big problem right now, strategically speaking, is we shouldn’t have been there, that was the mistake. I remember the years very well of all the killing going on in Vietnam, and finally it was admitted that we can’t win it. But the neo-cons would say, “Oh no, 500,000 troops weren’t enough to conquer this little country”, but they weren’t on the side of those who were defending their homeland. But I think our efforts in Iraq have been a total failure, we have lost, and this dribbling in and dribbling out and bombing and killing and pretending and spending more money, how many years has this being going on, since 2003. And we remember 2002 rather well, because that’s when the discussions were going on. Here it is, 13 years later, I mean, how long are they going to do this for, are they going to make it a 30 year war and try and break a record or something?
Ron Paul: Even though that many years have passed, does this feel a little bit like Vietnam to you, here you have this trickle of 500 more in, and they say they need a hundred more. It’s this trickle, trickle, and you know the train wreck called Mosul is right ahead. Does it seem that way?
Ron Paul: Today, when I was thinking about that very thing, what occurred to me was that it was like Vietnam, because the Viet Cong were able to come and attack and cause damage, and then the Americans would arrive and the helicopters would come in make it secure, and they would parachute in and get in. And the Viet Cong would go back, they’d hide in the jungle and they’d go back to their guerilla warfare. But we don’t have jungle in Iraq, but we also have the jungle of just the population. Right now, they don’t control Fallujah, but they will reorient themselves, they will organize again, and I think that’s what they do. They get pushed back again. It’s a guerilla warfare, and I think they retrench, like they did in Vietnam, but they don’t have a jungle to hide in. But it seems like they don’t get rid of it, matter of fact, this whole effort should have been easy: “This is open land, we can see and we can spot them and we can bomb them”.
But it looks like they’ve been very good at organizing, and I’m still convinced that the easiest way for the bad guys or the people who try to fight and kill us, they do it because they’re motivated, because we’re the outsiders. And then they fight among themselves, and I think I can’t and we can’t and shouldn’t do anything about that, they’re going to do that for a long time. They fight about who’s going to pick up the pieces, and they’re in a civil war, and all I can see is that we just make it much, much worse.
Daniel McAdams: There was an interesting article recently in POLITICO, it was written by a former military officer who had been in Iraq. He went and talked to the head of the Peshmerga up near Mosul, and the first thing he said was that ISIS has about 20,000 troops and there will be American casualties if this retaking happens. But what I found most interesting about this article and the interview of this Kurdish leader, is that he said a liberated Mosul, a Mosul liberated from ISIS, could actually be the spark of a whole new Iraqi civil war. Because once they retake it, the factions that are necessary to retake it, are at each other’s throats, and have been since the first civil war after our liberation of Iraq. So actually it could be rather than the beginning of the end, it could be the end of the beginning of a new conflict in Iraq all over again, where you have the multi-sectarian Iraqi army which is not strong enough to take it by itself, we have the Shia militias who have been pretty effective fighting ISIS, because they’re fighting Sunnis, and then you have the Kurds. Once these tree get rid of ISIS, they aren’t going to sit down and shake hands and have a tea party.
Ron Paul: The military plan here is to have the government forces coming from the west or the north, and the Kurds coming in the opposite direction. […] going to give the Kurds more weapons, so there will probably be American weapons on both sides. When Saudi Arabia comes along, we thought of making them pay for that, we just suffer the consequences. The Kurds have probably been protecting their oil money and this sort of thing, but we will provide weapons for them. Whether we admit it or not, there are weapons that are going to be in there. But the consequence, even if they have this success, just like you’re suggesting, so often things get worse rather than better, it’s just such an artificial situation.
Daniel McAdams: After our liberty of Iraq, Baghdad does not have the authority or the ability to manage the retaking of Mosul. There will be no central authority which you need in a military command structure, it’s all going to be hotchpotch with the U.S. troops somehow in the background. It seems like you’re putting troops in harm’s way for a very dubious exercise.
Ron Paul: Well, I’ve argued that the answer to this is, let them sort it out. If we had not been involved, maybe they would have sorted it out just out of necessity. The Kurds probably would have had a homeland, and the Sunnis probably would have carved out a place. They might have worked out, they might not have been as antagonistic towards each other if we had not been there. And it would be harder now, but I think this whole idea of separation, even with lose coalitions … it doesn’t mean they still couldn’t exists if they wanted to as a loose coalition, but it’s less likely now. But I think self-determination is it, if people can’t have self-determination, and if it’s imposed by other neighbors or outsiders or United Nations or NATO, all coming in here and deciding what is best. We remade the Middle East once, we did that after World War I, and it didn’t do so well, and we’ve been tinkering for a long time.
In this century, it’s all been about remaking the Middle East again, and their mission has not yet been accomplished.
Daniel McAdams: When people hear the arguments for non-interventionism, say, “What would you do then, how would you fix it?” But like libertarianism itself, non-interventionism is not a utopian philosophy. It recognizes that there will be bad things happening, things will not be perfect, but what we say is, there will be less bad than if we go in and try to do something. If anything, the last 16 years have been the perfect example of the intellectual appropriateness of this philosophy.
Ron Paul: They shouldn’t totally ignore what has happened over the centuries in Switzerland. They have various languages, various independent states, they don’t have a strong executive branch, they don’t have any foreign policy adventurism. They have not had to suffer World War I and World War II, nobody invaded Switzerland. It’s a rich country, you think maybe they would invade Switzerland, but it didn’t happen. But it wasn’t a uniform country, they had this cantons, and it reminds me of maybe what the founders would have liked to have seen happen in our country: independent states coming together voluntarily and share some things, like maybe a monetary system, and maybe some national defense. But this whole thing that you have all the authority gravitating in one place, if they expect that we can go in and establish a national authority in Iraq that can bring these factions together, I think they’re going to resent is.
I think they have been resenting us, and I think as time goes on, it’s going to get much worse. And the more tougher we get, the more radical Jihadist are formed, because they’re sick and tired of what we’re doing.
Daniel McAdams: If I can just put a plug for an article I put up on the Ron Paul Institute website today, because the question is, how did we get to this mess. Our old friend, James Jatras, put a great article about the central role that the media plays in being the government mouthpiece. It’s a depressing outline of how they operate, but James concludes, though, that the mainstream media is losing its hold on the population. And we’ve talked about this on the show before, the numbers are against them, it’s losing its hold. Alternative sites, and James actually mentions the Ron Paul Institute site among others, are taking people’s attention away from the mainstream media. So there’s a positive message. But still, looking in the past at how the media is literally the mouthpiece of the government, just like in the Soviet Union.
Ron Paul: I think that’s absolutely right, and I’ll just add on to this that the global war on terrorism is the vehicle that the media uses, because nobody can be against terrorism, or for terrorism. They have to be against it, and it galvanizes people, even though the odds of an American being killed by a terrorist attack in this country is miniscule compared to being struck by lightning. And yet, the global war on terror, and just think that’s why, once you see one person killed, you say, “Terrorism, terrorism, what’s going on?” and all the excitement, and we terrorize the American people, that’s what they do. But then they support a militant type of foreign policy, they’ll say, “Well, you know, we see this stuff, and they’re so dangerous, and they did this”, and it works into it.
But I think that anything that can promote the global war on terrorism, so in that way, I think there is a definite strategy of those who want to be involved and they want to promote this whole attitude of having an enemy to fight and promote the military-industrial complex. I think that’s very real, how it gets started and what are the motivations is a little more difficult. I think once we get to a stage like this, they can milk it. You always have to have an enemy. Just think, Daniel, how they always had to have an enemy. At first it was the Persian Gulf war, they had to build up an enemy for that first effort was over Kuwait, and then later on, they had to build Saddam Hussein up, and look at Gaddafi. They have to have an enemy, and they can do that as long as the global war on terrorism and people beg and plead that their civil liberties be sacrificed in order to win this global war on terrorism. And the media is only too happy to participate.
I see the only thing that can solve this is more information to the American people, get the people to understand what is going on, and why we live in fear, and why we don’t have to live in fear. I think that is the only thing that will solve it, and the principle behind it would be a foreign policy of non-interventionism, one that is based on a non-aggression principle, that is, we don’t do anything to other people that we wouldn’t put up with if they were doing it to us. That would go a long way to solve our problems.
I want to thank everybody for tuning in today to The Liberty Report, please come back soon.