I was reading Rep. Ron Paul’s plan to restore his interpretation of constitutional law to the nation had he been elected president in 2008. He wants to massively curtail the federal bureaucracy, reduce or eliminate several cabinet departments, not just agencies, and slash spending on foreign interventions.
It is all a great start, in my book. Part of the plan is to begin “the orderly withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.” I was surprised to learn how pivotal that would be for Paul to carry out the rest of his agenda. He believes that he can divert 50 percent of the savings from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to offset reductions in entitlement programs, and the other half of the military savings would go to pay down the debt. Both would be politically difficult to manage, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
But before that could be done, troops would have to start coming home. It is an interesting thought experiment of what would happen.
Don’t beat me up too bad, but it is plausible (I stress “plausible”) more troops could have occupied Iraq and Afghanistan at the end of Paul’s first four years in the White House.
The foreign combattants in those countries might react to a planned withdraw with an escalation in the degree and tally of attacks. The purpose of the 9/11 attacks, as I understand it, was to lure American troops to the Middle East like how the Soviet Union lured into Afghanistan and subsequently into bankruptcy. If the number of attacks did increase and Paul continued course for withdraw, high-ranking generals and any Pentagon and CIA holdovers might threaten to resign out of protest for “cutting and running.” The families of killed soldiers would blanket the news and say that their husbands and sons had died in vain. I hope that Paul would stick to his principles, but he has yielded to political pressure even this past election cycle by agreeing to support Republican congressional incumbents in Texas. If he were elected with only a popular vote of around 40 percent, congressional opposition might be able to secure the two-thirds vote necessary to over ride any presidential vetoes.
Of course, if Paul were elected, other pro-liberty candidates would probably be in office to help. But how much support could he expect if he couldn’t keep his first priority and reduce the overseas empire. Even if a strict interpreter of the constitution like Paul were elected, I don’t know how much support he could expect from long-time government expansionists. The landslide election of Barrack Obama hasn’t won over any staunch Republicans even though he is carrying out George W. Bush’s nearly identical foreign policy. They have become more partisan.
I also suppose that Paul could refuse congresses demands to deploy more troops. Would the “champion of the constitution” defy the legislation of the House and the senate? I don’t know, but it would be an interesting constitutional test.Image Credit: Jayel Aheram, with Creative Commons license