City’s military parade tells of honorable men, but many imperiled by iffy causes

Veterans march in the 2011 Chattanooga military parade. (Photo Knights of Columbus)

On May 4 on a city avenue will appear a modest display of military might in the Armed Forces Day Parade, the 63rd such event that passes down Market Street from Martin Luther King Boulevard to Third Street.

The parade sponsored by a veterans council will include music from the Air National Guard band and high school bands, veterans groups, JROTC members, patriotic groups and others, making more than 50 entries. Military vehicles will roll by. Official people will include men and women who rank high in the five main military branches.

People who revel in such events will tell you the military has “fought for our freedoms.” This quote is common at such events and reflects the stirring sense of valor in their breast. Chattanoogans, indeed, have a sense of gratitude for military men’s and women’s service. Each veteran fought nobly, with great self-denial and love for country and duty. One hears repeated reference to those who died as having paid “the ultimate sacrifice,” a usage that is vaguely religious and sounds borrowed from the church of Rome.

Usually at such parades the honesty and virtue of any particular war are out of view. Amid the officiousness of the event and the general hoopla, any particular war matters little, and no one wants to be accused of having left any veteran out. At Armed Forces Day parades one focuses on the faithful duty of the soldier, his ostensible love of country, and the rightness of his service.

BUT BEFORE THE FIRST Humvee hums into view at the parade’s start and the first federal flag atop an 8X8 Army truck flutters into view, we want to consider the arguments against war made by a rare man in American politics, the highly principled U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.

You don’t hear about Dr. Paul in your printed newspaper nor from your establishment news and opinion outlets. He’s been deliberately excluded by people who are better than you and want to help you think through the issues. (Our friends at the local Ron Paul Facebook page pointed out Wednesday how a Washington Post graphic put Dr. Paul’s results in some primaries in the “other” category while it named Santorum and Gingerich, who have dropped out, and gave their tallies. Protests may have caused the graphic to be yanked.)

So, as we consider soldierly heroics and warfare, it’s time to let Dr. Paul speak for the interests of local economy, constitutional government and the Christian ideal of respect for others who may be different than ourselves. Neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama are noninterventionists as is Dr. Paul. They are pragamatists.

➤ Paul opposes warmaking based on lies. In 2007 Dr. Paul had choice words to describe the Iraq debacle and its cost in the price of blood and financial ruin.

“The catch-all phrase, ‘war on terrorism,” in all honesty, has no more meaning than if one wants to wage a war against criminal gangsterism. It’s deliberately vague and non-definable to justify and permit perpetual war anywhere, and under any circumstances. Don’t forget: the Iraqis and Saddam Hussein had absolutely nothing to do with any terrorist attack against us including that on 9/11.”

He went on to accuse what we call commercial government.

“Special interests and the demented philosophy of conquest have driven most wars throughout history. Rarely has the cause of liberty, as it was in our own revolution, been the driving force. In recent decades our policies have been driven by neo-conservative empire radicalism, profiteering in the military industrial complex, misplaced do-good internationalism, mercantilistic notions regarding the need to control natural resources, and blind loyalty to various governments in the Middle East.

“For all the misinformation given the American people to justify our invasion, such as our need for national security, enforcing UN resolutions, removing a dictator, establishing a democracy, protecting our oil, the argument has been reduced to this: If we leave now Iraq will be left in a mess — implying the implausible that if we stay it won’t be a mess.”

➤ Lawless bombings fought. Dr. Paul fought the feds’ war on Libya in 2011. “The American people have once again been suckered into an unconstitutional, undeclared, illegal, and unwise war. This is not a war in response to an attack on the United States. This is not a war against a regime that has threatened the United States. This is a preventative war. The president never claimed that any large-scale slaughter of civilians was taking place in Libya. Rather, the president has spent close to a billion dollars – so far – bombing a country because its government might at some point harm its civilians.” He pointed out that President Obama consulted Nato, the U.N., the Arab League about how to attack, but did not consult the federal legislature.

The war memorial in Soddy-Daisy has plenty of room for townsmen to add more plaques for people killed in foreign military misadventures of the federal government.

“This is a deeply flawed foreign policy that will only lead to escalation, blowback, and unintended consequences. Ultimately it is leading us to financial catastrophe,” he said April 1, 2011. He indicated that in overthrowing Gadhafi, the U.S. is assisting Libyan Islamists and Al Qaida.

Dr. Paul has been decried as an isolationist. But this claim is inaccurate, and is a fighting words. He favors neutrality over belligerence, trade over tariffs and wars, and respect for others as a Christian ideal.

➤ Handshakes over nukes. Dr. Paul proposed an alternative to the federal policy of mutually assured destruction with the Soviet Union, one he called mutually assured respect. “The policy of American domination of the world, as nation builder-in-chief and policeman of the world, has failed and must be abandoned – if not as a moral imperative, then certainly out of economic necessity.” Such a system of ideas “requires no money and no weapons industry, or other special interests demanding huge war profits or other advantages. This requires simply tolerance of others’ cultures and their social and religious values, and the giving up of all use of force to occupy or control other countries and their national resources. Many who disagree choose to grossly distort the basic principles shared by the world’s great religions: the Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, and the cause of peace. Religions all too often are distorted and used to justify the violence engaged in for arbitrary power.”

We highly recommend this three-minute speech Dr. Paul gave in 2009 about American warmaking. Watch the video or read the transcript at bottom.

Ron Paul’s famous “What if” speech

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Paul) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. PAUL. Madam Speaker, I have a few questions for my colleagues.

What if our foreign policy of the past century is deeply flawed and has not served our national security interests?

What if we wake up one day and realize that the terrorist threat is a predictable consequence of our meddling in the affairs of others and has nothing to do with us being free and prosperous?

What if propping up repressive regimes in the Middle East endangers both the United States and Israel?

What if occupying countries like Iraq and Afghanistan — and bombing Pakistan — is directly related to the hatred directed towards us?

What if some day it dawns on us that losing over 5,000 American military personnel in the Middle East since 9/11 is not a fair trade-off for the loss of nearly 3,000 American citizens — no matter how many Iraqi, Pakistani, and Afghan people are killed or displaced?

What if we finally decide that torture — even if called “enhanced interrogation techniques” — is self-destructive and produces no useful information and that contracting it out to a third world nation is just as evil?

What if it is finally realized that war and military spending is always destructive to the economy?

What if all wartime spending is paid for through the deceitful and evil process of inflating and borrowing?

What if we finally see that wartime conditions always undermine personal liberty?

What if conservatives, who preach small government, wake up and realize that our interventionist foreign policy provides the greatest incentive to expand the government?

What if conservatives understood once again that their only logical position is to reject military intervention and managing an empire throughout the world?

What if the American people woke up and understood the official reasons for going to war are almost always based on lies and promoted by war propaganda in order to serve special interests?

What if we, as a nation, came to realize that the quest for empire eventually destroys all great nations?

What if Obama has no intention of leaving Iraq?

What if a military draft is being planned for the wars that will spread if our foreign policy is not changed?

What if the American people learn the truth: that our foreign policy has nothing to do with national security and it never changes from one administration to the next?

What if war and preparation for war is a racket serving the special interests?

What if President Obama is completely wrong about Afghanistan and it turns out worse than Iraq and Vietnam put together?

What if Christianity actually teaches peace and not preventive wars of aggression?

What if diplomacy is found to be superior to bombs and bribes in protecting America?

What happens if my concerns are completely unfounded? Nothing.

But what happens if my concerns are justified and ignored? Nothing good. (Feb. 12, 2009)