War has broken out between Hamas and Israel. What should the United States do about it? As usual, our greatest living American, Dr. Ron Paul, has the answer. We should do nothing. America should stay out of this troubled region altogether. Dr. Paul has been a source of wisdom on this topic for years.
In an article published in 2016, Dr. Paul argued that we shouldn’t send billions of dollars in military aid to Israel.
“Last week’s announcement of a record-breaking US aid package for Israel underscores how dangerously foolish and out-of-touch is our interventionist foreign policy. Over the next ten years, the US taxpayer will be forced to give Israel some $38 billion dollars in military aid. It is money we cannot afford going to a country that needs no assistance to maintain its status as the most powerful military in the Middle East.
All US foreign aid is immoral and counterproductive. As I have often said, it is money taken from poor people in the US and sent to rich people overseas. That is because US assistance money goes to foreign governments to hand out as they see fit. Often that assistance is stolen outright or it goes to the politically connected in the recipient country.
Just as bad is the fact that much of what we call “foreign aid” is actually welfare for the wealthy here at home. The aid package to Israel is a very good example. According to the agreement, this $38 billion will all go to US weapons manufacturers. So the real beneficiaries are not the American people and not even Israeli citizens. The real beneficiaries are the US military-industrial complex. Perhaps the money won’t even leave Washington – it may simply go across town, from the Fed to the Beltway bomb-makers.
While even US government aid to desperately poor countries should be opposed on moral and practical grounds, it is even harder to understand US aid to relatively rich countries. At a nominal per capita GDP of over $35,000, Israel is richer than Japan, Italy, and South Korea. Not long ago Business Insider published a report by the Institute for the Study of War showing that the Israel is the most powerful military force in the Middle East. We know they have hundreds of nuclear weapons, a sophisticated air force, drones, and even nuclear weapons-equipped submarines.
So why is the US giving a rich and incredibly well-armed country a record amount of military aid? Part of it is that the US government believes it can coerce Israel to do Washington’s bidding in the Middle East. History shows that this is a foolish pipe dream. If anything, US aid subsidizes Israeli human rights abuses in Gaza and elsewhere.
Another reason is a very powerful lobby in Washington, AIPAC, that pressures Members of Congress to focus on Israel’s interests instead of US interests. Members of Congress should look at our economy, with effectively zero interest rates, an anemic non-recovery from the 2008 crash, historically low participation in the workforce, and inflation eroding the value of the dollar and conclude that this might not be the best time to start handing out billions of dollars in foreign aid. Unfortunately, most Members of Congress find it impossible to say no to special interest groups like AIPAC.
Here’s a better aid package for Israel: free trade, travel, friendly relations, and no entangling alliances. Israel should be free to pursue its national interests and we should be free to pursue ours. If individual Americans feel compelled to provide assistance to Israel or any other country or cause overseas they should be allowed. But the rest of us should not be forced to do so. Trade, not aid.”
Dr Paul made clear the basis of his Middle East foreign policy in a speech to Congress in 2012:
“Mr. Speaker: I rise in opposition to HR 4133, the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, which unfortunately is another piece of one-sided and counter-productive foreign policy legislation. This bill’s real intent seems to be more saber-rattling against Iran and Syria, and it undermines US diplomatic efforts by making clear that the US is not an honest broker seeking peace for the Middle East.
The bill calls for the United States to significantly increase our provision of sophisticated weaponry to Israel, and states that it is to be US policy to “help Israel preserve its qualitative military edge” in the region.
While I absolutely believe that Israel – and any other nation – should be free to determine for itself what is necessary for its national security, I do not believe that those decisions should be underwritten by US taxpayers and backed up by the US military.
This bill states that it is the policy of the United States to “reaffirm the enduring commitment of the United States to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish state.” However, according to our Constitution the policy of the United States government should be to protect the security of the United States, not to guarantee the religious, ethnic, or cultural composition of a foreign country. In fact, our own Constitution prohibits the establishment of any particular religion in the US.
More than 20 years after the reason for NATO’s existence – the Warsaw Pact – has disappeared, this legislation seeks to find a new mission for that anachronistic alliance: the defense of Israel. Calling for “an expanded role for Israel within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), including an enhanced presence at NATO headquarters and exercises,” it reads like a dream for interventionists and the military industrial complex. As I have said many times, NATO should be disbanded not expanded.
This bill will not help the United States, it will not help Israel, and it will not help the Middle East. It will implicitly authorize much more US interventionism in the region at a time when we cannot afford the foreign commitments we already have. It more likely will lead to war against Syria, Iran, or both. I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill.”
Dr. Paul’s opposition to aid to Israel isn’t the product of hostility toward that country. It is part of his total commitment to a peaceful US foreign policy. He made an eloquent speech about this in 1999.
“Mr. Speaker, today I rise with gratitude to Edmund Burke and paraphrase words he first spoke 224 years ago this week. It is presently true that to restore liberty and dignity to a nation so great and distracted as ours is indeed a significant undertaking. For, judging of what we are by what we ought to be, I have persuaded myself that this body might accept this reasonable proposition.
The proposition is peace. Not peace through the medium of war, not peace to be hunted through the labyrinth of intricate and endless negotiations; not peace to arise out of universal discord, fomented from principle, in all parts of the earth; not peace to depend on juridical determination of perplexing questions, or the precise marking the shadowy boundaries of distant nations. It is simply peace, sought in its natural course and in its ordinary haunts.
Let other nations always keep the idea of their sovereign self-government associated with our republic and they will befriend us, and no force under heaven will be of power to tear them from our allegiance. But let it be once understood that our government may be one thing and their sovereignty another; that these two things exist without mutual regard one for the other – and the affinity will be gone, the friendship loosened and the alliance hastened to decay and dissolution. As long as we have the wisdom to keep this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the sacred temple consecrated to our common faith, wherever mankind worships freedom, they will turn their faces toward us. The more they multiply, the more friends we will have; the more ardently they love liberty, the more perfect will be our relations. Slavery they can find anywhere, as near to us as Cuba or as remote as China. But until we become lost to all feeling of our national interest and natural legacy, freedom and self-rule they can find in none but the American founding. These are precious commodities, and our nation alone was founded on them. This is the true currency which binds to us the commerce of nations and through them secures the wealth of the world. But deny others their national sovereignty and self-government, and you break that sole bond which originally made, and must still preserve, friendship among nations. Do not entertain so weak an imagination as that UN Charters and Security Councils, GATT and international laws, World Trade Organizations and General Assemblies are what promote commerce and friendship. Do not dream that NATO and peacekeeping forces are the things that can hold nations together. It is the spirit of community that gives nations their lives and efficacy. And it is the spirit of the Constitution of our Founders that can invigorate every nation of the world, even down to the minutest of these.
For is it not the same virtue which would do the thing for us here in these United States? Do you imagine then that it is the income tax that pays our revenue? That it is the annual vote of the Ways and Means Committee that provide us an army? Or that it is the court martial that inspires it with bravery and discipline? No! Surely, no! It is the private activity of citizens which gives government revenue, and it is the defense of our country that encourages young people to not only populate our army and navy, but also has infused them with a patriotism, without which our army will become a base rubble and our navy nothing but rotten timber.
All this, I know well enough, will sound wild and chimerical to the profane herd of those vulgar and mechanical politicians who have no place among us: a sort of people who think that nothing exists but what is gross and material, and who, therefore, far from being qualified to be directors of the great movement of this nation, are not fit to turn a wheel in the machinery of our government. But to men truly initiated and rightly taught these ruling and master principles, which in the opinion of such men as I have mentioned have no substantial existence, are in truth everything. Magnanimity in politics is often the truest wisdom, and a great nation and little minds go ill together.
If we are conscious of our situation, and work zealously to fill our places, as becomes the history of this great institution, we ought to auspicate all our public proceedings on Kosovo with the old warning of the Church, Sursum corda! We ought to elevate our minds to the greatness of that trust to which the order of Providence has called us. By averting to the dignity of this high calling, our forefathers turned a savage wilderness into a glorious nation, and have made the most extensive and the only honorable conquests, not by bombing and sabre-rattling, but by promoting the wealth, the liberty, and the peace of mankind. Let us gain our allies as we obtain our own liberty. Respect of self-government has made our nation all that it is. Peace and neutrality alone will make ours the republic that it can yet still be.”
The proper American foreign policy on the conflict between Israel and Palestine is neutrality. Dr. Paul wrote an outstanding statement about this in 2011:
“The Palestinian Authority’s recent announcement that it would seek UN recognition as an independent state dominated the news and the political debate in the United States last week, though in truth it should mean very little to us. Only a political class harboring the illusion it can run the world obsesses over the aspirations of a tiny population on a tiny piece of land thousands of miles away. Remember, the UN initiated this persistent conflict with its 1947 Partition Plan.
Unfortunately the debate is dominated by those who either support the Israeli side in the conflict, or those who support the Palestinian desire for statehood. We rarely seem to hear the view of those who support the US side and US interests. I am on that side. I believe that we can no longer police the world. We can no longer bribe the Israelis and Palestinians to continue an endless “peace process” that goes nowhere. It is not in our interest to hector the Palestinians or the Israelis, or to “export” democracy to the region but reject it when people vote the “wrong” way.
I have reservations about the Palestinian drive for UN recognition. Personally I wish the United States would de-recognize the United Nations. As most readers already know, in every Congress I introduce legislation to end our membership in that organization. The UN is a threat to our sovereignty– and as we are the main source of its income, it is a threat to our economic well-being. Increasingly over the past several years, we see the United Nations providing political and legal cover for the military aspirations of interventionists rather than serving as an international forum to preserve peace. Neoconservatives in the US have grown to love the United Nations as they co-opt the organization under the guise of endless “reform.” Under the sovereignty-destroying doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect,” adopted at the 2005 World Summit, the UN takes it upon itself to intervene in internal conflicts of its member states whenever it believes that human rights are being violated. Thus under “Responsibility to Protect,” the UN provides the green light for a kind of global no-knock raid on any sovereign country.
If asked, I would personally counsel the Palestinians to avoid the United Nations. UN membership and participation is no guarantee that sovereignty will be respected. We see what happens to UN members such as Iraq and Libya when those countries’ leaders fall out of favor with US administrations: under US and allied pressure a fig leaf resolution is adopted in the UN to facilitate devastating military intervention. When the UN gave NATO the green light to bomb Libya there was no genocide taking place. It was a purely preventative war. The result? Thousands dead, a destroyed country, and extremely dubious new leaders.
While I do not see UN membership as a particularly productive move for the Palestinian leadership, I do not believe the US should use its position in the UN Security Council to block their membership. I believe in self-determination of peoples and I recognize that peoples may wish to pursue statehood by different means. As we saw after the Cold War, numerous new states were born out of the ruins of the USSR as the various old Soviet Republics decided that smaller states were preferable to an enormous and oppressive multi-national conglomerate.
The real, pro-US solution to the problems in the Middle East is for us to end all foreign aid, stop arming foreign countries, encourage peaceful diplomatic resolutions to conflicts, and disengage militarily. In others words, follow Jefferson’s admonition: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”
Let’s heed Dr. Paul’s words of wisdom and do everything we can to remove the American military and political presence from the Middle East.