A Response to Criticisms of Ron Paul’s Stand on the War in Iraq


Michael T. Griffith


Revised on 1/1/2008


"If it weren't for Ron Paul’s stand on the Iraq War, I'd support him,"


I hear this statement frequently from my fellow conservatives.


As a retired Army vet, please allow me to tell you why I don’t think Ron Paul’s stand on the war in Iraq should be a problem.   We toppled Saddam Hussein.  We enabled the Iraqis to ratify a constitution and to elect a government.  We’ve done our part.  The rest is up to the Iraqis.  Now we're simply in the middle of a civil war.  With us out of the way, the Shiites and the Sunnis will come to an arrangement, one way or the other.


We’ve given the Iraqi Shiites more than enough time to get their act together.  Everyone agrees that sectarian violence in Iraq is likely to continue unless there’s political reconciliation between the Shiites and the Sunnis.  However, Shiite leaders, in and out of the government, have made it clear they have no intention of doing what needs to be done to reconcile and share power with the Sunnis.  And who can forget the fact that the Iraqi parliament decided to take a summer vacation this year rather than stay and pass the reconciliation legislation that they’d been promising us they’d pass (and that they still haven’t passed)?  The whole purpose of the surge was to give the Iraqis more time to bring about political reconciliation.  The surge began in early July.  Yet, incredibly, shortly thereafter the Iraqi parliament went on a two-month summer break, while our troops were out on the streets fighting and dying.


The Shiite-dominated government of Iraq has also proven itself to be horribly corrupt and brutal (see below).  The Sunni and Kurdish members of the government aren’t much better.  As just one example of this sad truth, we need only point to the fact that last year the Iraqi parliament voted unanimously to condemn Israel and to praise the terrorist group Hezbollah.  The Iraqi government continues to ignore the Iraqi constitution, which calls for local autonomy and a sharing of power.  Iraqi officials who have tried to expose government corruption have either been killed, fled the country, or had to seek U.S. protection (see below).


After billions of dollars and thousands of man hours of training, the Iraqi army as a whole is still unreliable when it comes to supporting American troops in their missions.  At times whole units still fail to show up for duty.  Iraqi troops seem to be able to perform missions they want to perform, but their efforts in supporting our forces continue to be inconsistent at best.  In some cases Iraqi soldiers have abandoned our troops during battle.  The Iraqi national police force, by all accounts, is a disgrace.  In some instances, Iraqi police have attacked our troops.  In countless cases, Iraqi citizens have stood back and said nothing as insurgents have planted roadside charges and other bombs to kill our troops.  Yes, many Iraqis are on our side, but quite a few are not.  A recent poll done in Iraq found that over 50 percent of Iraqis think it’s ok to kill American soldiers.


The Iraq War is costing us at least $10 billion a month.  We’re having to borrow tens of billions of dollars from foreign nations to pay for the war.  Already 2007 is now the deadliest year for our troops since the war began.  We’ve had more troops killed and wounded this year than in any previous year.  I say it’s time we brought our troops home and let the Iraqis determine their own future.


"If we leave Iraq, won’t the country become a safe haven for Al Qaeda?”


This is improbable.  The Shiites are not likely to tolerate the presence of a Sunni paramilitary group, which is what Al Qaeda is (in addition to being a terrorist organization).  Plus, everyone now admits that most of the violence in Iraq is being caused by sectarian fighting, not by Al Qaeda attacks.  Even General David Petraeus acknowledged this fact in his testimony before Congress in September.  Al Qaeda was not in Iraq until we entered the country.


"What will happen to the Iraqi government if we leave?"


Any Iraqi government that emerges is not going to be too much worse than the one that is in power right now.  No matter how many elections are held, the government is going to be run by Shiites because the Shiites outnumber the Sunnis by at least three to two.  Even with the Kurds in the north taking part in the election, the Shiites will still control the government.  The Kurds despise the Sunnis almost as much as the Shiites do.  It was the Sunnis who formed Saddam’s power base and who received preferential treatment from him.  It was the Sunnis who helped Saddam brutalize and oppress the Shiites and the Kurds.


The current Iraqi government is just about as corrupt and brutal toward opponents as some of the other rotten governments in the Middle East (see below).  For example, our own State Department has documented the fact that the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior has been operating death squads that have killed untold numbers of Sunnis.  When you invade a Muslim country that has a long tradition of violence and corruption, you're not going to get a government that's run by enlightened democrats.  Maybe we should have thought about that beforehand.


"But what if Al Qaeda follows us here if we leave."


If Al Qaeda tries to follow us here, we can fight them a lot more easily here than we can over there in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Over there they can easily blend in with the population.  As long as we’re in the Middle East, they will be able to periodically kill and injure our troops, as they’re doing now.  Over here they'd find it a lot harder to attack our troops or to stage other kinds of attacks.


In addition, with our troops gone, the terrorists will have a harder time attracting new recruits.  With our troops in the region, Al Qaeda and other groups are able to rail against “infidel invaders,” etc., etc.  Experts on terrorism tell us that groups like Al Qaeda would find it more difficult to gain new recruits if we had no troops in the region.  When we and the Israelis pulled out of Lebanon, the suicide attacks in Lebanon virtually ceased.


"If we leave, will we still be able to get oil from Iraq?"


Saddam Hussein was willing to sell us oil.  The current government of Iraq is likewise willing to sell us oil.  The odds are that any future Iraqi government would be willing to do the same.


“I don’t want to see our troops come home in defeat.”


They would not be coming home in defeat.  Our troops toppled Saddam in amazingly short time.  They enabled the Iraqi people to ratify a constitution.  And they enabled the Iraqis to elect their own government.  There would be no valid reason for anyone to say our troops were coming home in defeat.


Part of the problem is the Bush administration’s rhetoric that if we bring our troops home before the administration thinks we’ve achieved “victory,” then they’ll be coming home in defeat.  But, for one thing, the Bush people really can’t tell anyone what “victory” in Iraq will look like.  Does “victory” mean the absence of sectarian violence?  If so, that is a very unrealistic goal for the foreseeable future.  The Shiites and the Sunnis have been fighting each other off and on for hundreds of years.  They are currently locked in a civil war and will be battling each other for quite some time to come.  It would not be “defeat” to withdraw our troops from the middle of a sectarian civil war.  Does “victory” mean the absence of Al Qaeda in Iraq?  Well, Al Qaeda wasn’t even in Iraq until we toppled Saddam.  In any case, as mentioned above, it’s highly unlikely that the Shiites would tolerate the presence of a Sunni paramilitary group like Al Qaeda.  If anything, with us gone, the Sunnis would know that they would risk devastation by the Shiites if they allowed Al Qaeda to operate from Sunni areas.  Does “victory” mean the establishment of a pro-western Iraqi government?  This goal was questionable from the outset.  Would we call the current Iraqi government a pro-western government, when its parliament recently voted unanimously to praise the terrorist group Hezbollah, when the government has lied to us repeatedly, when it has stolen from us, when it has refused to honor our reasonable requests for reconciliation, when it has permitted (if not encouraged) the persecution of Iraqi Christians, when it has killed or forced into exile officials who have tried to expose government corruption, and when the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior has been running death squads that have killed thousands of Sunni Iraqis?


“How quickly would Ron Paul withdraw our troops from Iraq?”


Ron Paul has made it clear that he would only withdraw our troops from Iraq as quickly as was safely possible.  He has said he would consult with our military commanders to determine how soon our troops could be safely withdrawn.  He would change our strategy immediately, in order to get our troops out from the middle of the crossfire of sectarian fighting.  But he would ensure that the troop withdrawal from the country would be done in a safe manner.


Some Sobering Facts About the Iraqi Government


Here are some articles that should sober us up to the fact that we shouldn't spend another dime, or lose another life, or see another soldier wounded in Iraq.  The Iraqi government is not worth $10 billion a month, and it’s certainly not worth seeing more American soldiers killed or wounded. 



EXTRACT: "State Department investigators in Iraq have concluded that the government of Nouri al-Maliki is not capable of even rudimentary enforcement of anti-corruption laws. The investigators also say that corrupt civil servants with connections to the government are seen as untouchable, and that employees of Iraq's watchdog Commission on Public Integrity have been murdered in the line of duty." (September 2007)



EXTRACT: “Iraq's interior minister, Bayan Jabr, is a member of Iraq's biggest Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, which ran the Badr Brigade.”



EXTRACT: “. . . the Iraqi government and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which controls the Interior Ministry, for trying to suppress information about the number of dead. The piece notes this stunning fact: that Shiite death squads are killing more people than the insurgents.”



EXTRACT: "The Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has thwarted investigations into corruption at the top levels of his administration, including probes of his relatives, while nearly four dozen anti-corruption employees or their family members have been brutally murdered, the former top Iraqi corruption investigator told a House panel yesterday." (October 2007)



EXTRACT: "Iraq corruption costs billion: Among its more notable findings was a report on the loss of 14,000 weapons destined for Iraqi government use. Many of these are believed to have found their way into the hands of insurgent groups after the Pentagon lost track of them." (November 2006)



EXTRACT: "U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker told Congress last week that "massive corruption" and "a lot of theft going on" in Iraq's government-controlled oil industry is hampering the country's ability to govern itself." (July 2006)



Is Iraqi corruption classified?



Col. Dave Hunt says our Iraq strategy is flawed.  Although he doesn’t recommend a total withdrawal, he does recognize that our strategy is fundamentally flawed and that we need to get our troops out from the middle of the ongoing Iraqi civil war.





Articles on the persecution of Christians in Iraq.

EXTRACT: “. . . Iraqi Christians are being hunted, murdered and forced to flee -- persecuted on a biblical scale in Iraq's religious civil war. You'd have to be mad to hold a Christian service in Iraq today. . . .” (CBS News article, December 2, 2007) 




EXTRACT:  “. . . outgoing United Nations' human rights chief in Iraq, John Pace, revealed that hundreds of Iraqis are being tortured to death or summarily executed every month in Baghdad alone by the death squads working from the Ministry of Interior.”




EXTRACT:  “’Certainly, the Ministry of Interior is well-known to be responsible for this kind of summary execution and torture,’ Pace said, ‘and also the militias.’ Militias, such as the Badr Brigades, work within the Interior Ministry. The U.S. ambassador to Iraq has pushed the Shiites in power here to end the violence, but Bayan Jabr, a former commander in the Badr Brigades militia, is minister of the interior -- and he denies there is a problem.”