I Thought Libya Was Already Liberated…

The use of the US military overseas seems to have become so commonplace that the Obama Administration can bomb a country with no Congressional input and very little media interest at all. Such was the case on Friday, when the US military killed some 49 people in a bombing run near Tripoli, Libya.

We had to bomb Libya, we are told, because Libya has become a hotbed of ISIS activity. The group has been moving training facilities into the country, taking advantage of the chaos. Ironically, it was five years ago this week that the “Arab Spring” uprising began in Libya — an uprising that was supported by US military force and led to the overthrow of the Libyan government and the murder of its leader, Gaddafi.

We were told that the US had to intervene to overthrow Gaddafi so that democracy and human rights could flourish; yet five years after the US-led intervention, no one would argue that the country is better off. Instead of bringing Libya democracy, US intervention brought Libya ISIS. So now, the US has to go back and bomb Libya some more to take care of ISIS.

Will this work? No. Logic tells us you cannot do more of what caused a problem and expect it to fix the problem.

As Middle East analyst Hillary Mann Leverett observed after Friday’s US attack on Libya, “the problem is, for each one of these targeted killings, what we have seen in the data that at least two more people sign up to join.”

The United States has made a habit of lecturing other countries about the need to follow the rule of law; yet this seems to be a matter of “do as we say, not as we do.” How else can we explain a US attack overseas with no Congressional input? Certainly there was no Congressional authorization for Friday’s bombing. The Administration claimed that its authority came from the 2001 authorization to use military force against al-Qaeda in retaliation for the attacks of 9/11. But ISIS did not even exist on 9/11. How can the 2001 authorization be twisted to include bombing Libya in 2016?

Libya has been in chaos since its 2011 “liberation,” but the country’s interim government strongly objected to Friday’s US bombing, claiming they were not consulted before the US attack. They called US air strikes a violation of Libya’s sovereignty and of international law.

They have a point. But the most important point we must learn from the destruction of Libya – and of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and so on – is that US interventionism has been a complete failure. Hundreds of thousands have been killed in the last 15 years, societies have been broken apart, economies have been destroyed, and property has been flattened. There are no success stories. The neocon plan to remake the Middle East has only succeeded in destroying the Middle East. As a consequence, we are far less safe than before the “war on terror” was launched. ISIS and other terrorist groups have expanded their territory and have even been able to attack in Europe and the US. Our currency has been debased to pay for the trillions of dollars spent in this no-win war. The connected elites have gotten rich while the middle class has gotten poorer.

Intervention has failed. It is time to stand up to the neocons and their liberal interventionist collaborators and say “no more!”

Copyright © 2016 by RonPaul Institute

Here’s What The Markets Are Telling Us…

Last week, U.S. stock markets tumbled yet again, leaving the Dow Jones index down almost 1,500 points for the year. In fact, most major world markets are in negative territory this year.

There are many Wall Street cheerleaders who are trying to say that this is just a technical correction, that the bottom is near, and that everything will be getting better soon. They are ignoring the real message the markets are trying to send: you cannot print your way to prosperity.

People throughout history have always sought to acquire wealth. Most of them understand that it takes hard work, sacrifice, savings, and investment. But many are always looking for that “get rich quick” scheme. Monetary cranks throughout history have thought that just printing more money would result in greater wealth and prosperity. Every time this was tried, it resulted in failure. Huge economic booms would be followed by even larger busts. But no matter how many times the cranks were debunked both in theory and practice, the same failed ideas kept coming back.

The intellectual descendants of those monetary cranks are now leading the world’s central banks, which is why the last decade has seen an explosion of money creation. And what do the central bankers have to show for it? Lackluster employment numbers that have not kept up with population growth, increasing economic inequality, a rising cost of living, and constant fear and uncertainty about what the future holds.

The past decade has been a lot like the 1920s, when prices wanted to drop but the Federal Reserve kept the price level steady through injections of easy money into the economy. The result in the 1920s was the Great Depression. But in the 1920s, prices were dropping because of increased production. More goods being produced meant lower prices, which the Fed then tried to prop up by printing money. Unlike the “Roaring 20s,” however, the economy isn’t quite as strong today. It’s more of a gasp than a roar.

Production today is barely above 2007 levels, while heavily-indebted households already hurt during the financial crisis don’t want to keep spending. The bad debts and malinvestments from the last Federal Reserve-induced boom were never liquidated; they were merely papered over with more easy money.

The underlying economic fundamentals remain weak, but the monetary cranks who run the Fed keep trying to pump more and more money into the system. They fail to realize that easy money is the cause, not the cure, of recessions and depressions. They didn’t realize that prices needed to drop in order to clear all the bad debt and malinvestments out of the system. Because they don’t realize that, we are on the verge of yet another financial crisis.

Don’t be confused by any stock market rallies over the next few months and think that the worst is over. Remember that after Black Tuesday in 1929, the Dow Jones rallied over the next year before it began slowly and steadily to sink again.

The central bankers will do everything they can to delay the inevitable. If they had allowed housing prices to fall in 2008 and hadn’t bailed out the big Wall Street banks, the economy would have corrected itself. Yes, it would have been a severe correction, but it would have been nothing compared to the inevitable correction that will present itself when the Fed runs out of easy money options.

The Fed may try to cut interest rates again, maybe even going negative; or it will do more quantitative easing, but that won’t work. Creating more money does not lead to economic growth and well-being. The more money the Federal Reserve creates, the more ordinary Americans will end up suffering.

© Copyright 2016 Ron Paul

Mandatory Depression Screening A Depressing Thought

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended mandatory depression screening for all Americans. The task force wants to force health insurance companies to pay for the screening. Basic economics, as well as the Obamacare disaster, should have shown this task force that government health insurance mandates harm Americans.

Government health insurance mandates raise the price of health insurance. Consumers will respond to this increase by either choosing to not carry health insurance or by reducing their consumption of other goods and services. Imposing new health insurance mandates will thus make consumers, many of whom are already suffering from Obamacare’s costly mandates, worse off by forcing them to deviate from their preferred consumption patterns.

Mandatory depression screening will not just raise insurance costs. In order to ensure that the screening mandate is being properly implemented, the government will need to create a database containing the results of the screenings. Those anti-gun politicians who want to forbid anyone labeled “mentally ill” from owning a firearm will no doubt want to use this database as a tool to deprive individuals of their Second Amendment rights.

If the preventive task force has its way, Americans could lose their Second Amendment, and possibly other, rights simply because they happened to undergo their mandatory depression screening when they were coping with a loved one’s passing or a divorce, or simply having a bad day. As anyone who has been mistakenly placed on the terrorist watch list can attest, it is very difficult to get off a government database even when the government clearly is in error. Thus, anyone mistakenly labeled as depressed will have to spend a great deal of time and money in what may be a futile attempt to get his rights back.

Mandatory depression screening will endanger people’s health by increasing the use of psychotropic drugs. These drugs often have dangerous side effects. Their use has even been linked to suicide. The fact that almost every mass shooter was on psychotropic drugs is another good reason to oppose any policy that will increase reliance on these medicines.

The Preventive Services Task Force’s mandatory depression screening mandate is based on the fallacy that diagnosing mental health problems is analogous to diagnosing cancer or diabetes. Even mental health professionals acknowledge that there is a great deal of subjectivity in mental health diagnosis.

Consider that until 1973, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. Today, some mental health professionals think that those who believe in limited government, free-market economics, or traditional values suffer from mental disorders. If mandatory depression screening becomes a reality, it is likely this mental health screening will be expanded to cover screening for other mental illnesses. This could result in anyone with an unpopular political belief or lifestyle choice being labeled as “mentally ill.”

Even if mandatory health screening could be implementing without increasing costs or threatening liberty, it would still be a bad idea. Government health care mandates undermine the basic principles of a free society. If it is legitimate for government to tell us what types of health care we must receive, then it is also legitimate for the government to tell us what to eat, when to exercise, and even how to raise our children.

To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, a tyranny imposed for our own good is the worst form of tyranny because it is a tyranny without limits. All who love liberty must therefore oppose mandatory depression screening, or any other health care mandate.

© Copyright 2016 Ron Paul

Is Congress Declaring War On ISIS… Or On You?

Passage of Senator Mitch McConnell’s authorization for war against ISIS will not only lead to perpetual US wars across the globe, it will also endanger our civil and economic liberties. The measure allows the president to place troops anywhere he determines ISIS is operating. Therefore, it could be used to justify using military force against United States citizens on U.S. territory. It may even be used to justify imposing martial law in America.

The President does not have to deploy the U.S. military to turn America into a militarized police state, however. He can use his unlimited authority to expand programs that turn local police forces into adjuncts of the U.S. military, and send them increasing amounts of military equipment. Using the threat of ISIS to justify increased police militarization will be enthusiastically supported by police unions, local officials, and, of course, politically-powerful defense contractors. The only opposition will come from citizens whose rights have been violated by a militarized police force that views the people as the enemy.

Even though there is no evidence that the government’s mass surveillance programs have prevented even a single terrorist attack, we are still continuously lectured about how we must sacrifice our liberty for security. The cries for the government to take more of our privacy will grow louder as the war party and its allies in the media continue to hype the threat of terrorism. A president armed with the authority to do whatever it takes to stop ISIS will no doubt heed these calls for new restrictions on our privacy.

Following last year’s mass shooting in California, President Obama called for restricting the Second Amendment rights of any American on the “terrorist watch list.” The president also used the attacks to expand the unconstitutional gun background check system via executive action. Can anyone doubt that President Obama — or a future anti-gun president — will use the absolute power to do whatever is necessary to stop terrorism as a justification for imposing new gun control measures? Using the war on ISIS to justify more gun control will be particularly attractive since even many pro-gun politicians will support gun control measures if they are marketed as part of the war on terror.

As the American economy faces continued stagnation, and as challenges to the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency mount, an increasingly authoritarian government will impose new restrictions on our economic activities and new limits on our financial privacy. In particular, our ability to move assets out of the country will be limited, and new reporting and other requirements will limit our ability to use cash without being treated as criminals or terrorists. Those who carry large amounts of cash will find themselves at increased risk of having the cash confiscated by government agents under civil asset forfeiture laws.

If Senator McConnell’s declaration of perpetual war passes, presidents could use the war on ISIS as a justification to impose new restrictions on our use of cash and our financial privacy via executive action. After all, they will say, the government needs to make sure cash is not being used to support ISIS.

The only way to protect both liberty and security is to stop trying to impose our will on other countries by military force. The resentment created by America’s militaristic foreign policy is ISIS’ most effective recruiting tool. Adopting a non-interventionist foreign policy that seeks peace and free trade with all would enable the government to counter legitimate threats to our safety without creating an authoritarian police state.

© Copyright 2016 Ron Paul

Congress Is Writing The President A Blank Check For War

While the Washington snowstorm dominated news coverage this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was operating behind the scenes to rush through the Senate what may be the most massive transfer of power from the Legislative to the Executive branch in our history. The senior Senator from Kentucky is scheming, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, to bypass normal Senate procedure to fast-track legislation to grant the president the authority to wage unlimited war for as long as he or his successors may wish.

The legislation makes the unconstitutional Iraq War authorization of 2002 look like a walk in the park. It will allow this president and future presidents to wage war against ISIS without restrictions on time, geographic scope, or the use of ground troops. It is a completely open-ended authorization for the president to use the military as he wishes for as long as he (or she) wishes. Even President Obama has expressed concern over how willing Congress is to hand him unlimited power to wage war.

President Obama has already far surpassed even his predecessor, George W. Bush, in taking the country to war without even the fig leaf of an authorization. In 2011, the president invaded Libya, overthrew its government, and oversaw the assassination of its leader, without even bothering to ask for Congressional approval. Instead of impeachment, which he deserved for the disastrous Libya invasion, Congress said nothing. House Republicans only managed to bring the subject up when they thought they might gain political points exploiting the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi.

It is becoming more clear that Washington plans to expand its war in the Middle East. Last week, the media reported that the U.S. military had taken over an air base in eastern Syria, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the U.S. would send in the 101st Airborne Division to retake Mosul in Iraq and to attack ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, Syria. Then on Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden said that if the upcoming peace talks in Geneva are not successful, the U.S. is prepared for a massive military intervention in Syria. Such an action would likely place the U.S. military face to face with the Russian military, whose assistance was requested by the Syrian government. In contrast, we must remember that the U.S. military is operating in Syria in violation of international law.

The prospects of such an escalation are not all that far-fetched. At the insistence of Saudi Arabia and with U.S. backing, the representatives of the Syrian opposition at the Geneva peace talks will include members of the Army of Islam, which has fought with al-Qaeda in Syria. Does anyone expect these kinds of people to compromise? Isn’t al-Qaeda supposed to be our enemy?

The purpose of the Legislative branch of our government is to restrict the Executive branch’s power. The Founders understood that an all-powerful king who could wage war at will was the greatest threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is why they created a people’s branch, the Congress, to prevent the emergence of an all-powerful autocrat to drag the country to endless war. Sadly, Congress is surrendering its power to declare war.

Let’s be clear: If Senate Majority Leader McConnell succeeds in passing this open-ended war authorization, the U.S. Constitution will be all but a dead letter.

© Copyright 2016 Ron Paul