Swords to Plowshares

A life in Wartime and a Future of Peace and Prosperity

mw. A brave and uncompromising book is presented by the US American Ron Paul*, “dedicated to a new generation seeking peace and rejecting the concept of inevitable war.” The doctor and long-standing Congressman turns to the people around the world, but especially to the people of his own country, the United States, whose governments, since he was a little boy, have been waging war and are waging war almost uninterruptedly. Based on his personal deep conviction, but also with a sound knowledge, he appeals to the readers and calls them up to resist the war. Born in 1935 in a US family with German roots, Ron Paul, as a boy, got an insight into the meaninglessness of war in which brothers fight against brothers and kill each other: “Even at the age of ten, when World War II ended, I was quite certain that war should be avoided if at all possible.” In his college days, during the Korean War, Ron Paul expected that he could be drafted to military service later  – it actually happened – and he decided to study medicine : “I knew that I wanted no part of the killing and believed that being in a position to save lives was more to my liking.” (p. 21) In the early sixties, Ron Paul became a doctor at the Air Force, but “certainly no hero,” as he recalls retrospectively; as “heroic” he characterises the world-famous boxer Muhammed Ali, whose arrest as a war service denier became known all over the world.

As an opponent of war in the congress

In the course of his long-standing mandates as a member of the Congress Ron Paul became an active and increasingly determined opponent of war. The fact that the US was always involved in conflicts at great financial and human cost “continued to strengthen my belief that a noninterventionist foreign policy is a necessity for a free society to exist and thrive. [...] With each year, starting with my first campaign 1973/74, through leaving the office in January of 2013, my conviction grew that most of the wars throughout our history should have been avoided.” (p. 50). He was repeatedly reminded that war is almost always carried out not for “humanitarian reasons” but because of “oil, power, military-industrial complex profits, etc.” (p. 111) for economic and power political reasons. In chapter X, “Central Bank influence on foreign policy,” Ron Paul also shows the fatal role of the FED, which since its founding in 1913 has not only financed the American wars, but also directly interacted with foreign policy. He comes to the conclusion: “A policy to achieve peace and prosperity will never be fully realized, so long as there is a central bank with secrecy power to issue, at will, a fiat currency and to engage in central economic planning by manipulating the market and interest rates and providing benefits to friends.” (p. 114)
Again and again he was denied access to influential congress committees on the grounds of Paul’s clear attitude to the US-led wars, but he “was after persistent, polite requests assigned to the Foreign Affairs Committee.” There, he endeavoured to counter the “the neocons obsession with remaking the Middle East” and the resulting war propaganda. (p. 53) During this time, he had to witness that President George W. Bush took the congress authorisation, given after 9/11, as a carte blanche “to pursue perpetual war anywhere in the world”: “The invasion, war, and occupation to transform Afghanistan, went far beyond the limited congressional authorization. These actions in Afghanistan were undertaken illegally without a declaration of war, in Iraq and in many other places.” (p. 54)

Man is peaceful by nature

Through his intense analysis of war and peace, the author is convinced that wars are not in the nature of man. On the contrary, humans are peaceful by nature, and the vast majority feels repulsed by “systematic slaughter of innocent victims in senseless wars as promoted by the few.” (p. 35) Wars between Christian nations stand in contrast to the peace message of Christ, but the mutual combating of Christian and Islamic groups is not inherent in these religions. The famous example of the spontaneous interruption of the battles for a joint Christmas celebration on the Christmas Eve of 1914 between British, French, Belgian, and German soldiers “demonstrates the age-old conflict between man’s natural peaceful inclinations and politicians obsessions with war.” (p. 36) Only through continuous propaganda and lies people are unhinged so far that they are willing to give their lives and pay for the wars. Ron Paul reminds the lies and hysteria in the run-up to the Gulf War (babies allegedly thrown out of their incubators) and later in the attack on Iraq (alleged weapons of mass destruction). Continuous campaigns of lies by proponents of war and armaments industry managers were supported by complacent media: “To keep propaganda alive after the hostilities had erupted, the jounalists ‘embedded’ themselves in the military and reported only, what was approved by our military and political leaders.”(p. 71)

Decentralised organisation and neutrality instead of state war policy

During his time as a Congressman, Ron Paul, as he reports, read the writings of many liberal and libertarian writers. In many passages of his book his conviction is expressed that the cause of the wars is given by the existence of the states. The aim of the states is not, as most people believed, to provide peace, freedom and security, but “governments use force, including war, to secure power and wealth for a privileged class at the expense of the rest of the people”. (p. 78) This was particularly true for the United States, whose warlike foreign policy, especially under the administration of the neoconservatives, had the sole purpose of establishing a world empire. (see Chapter VI The targeted US-global empire).
On the basis of his personal analysis of libertarian and liberal ideas, the author concludes that the decentralisation of states and the free trade is a prerequisite for a humane and equivalent coexistence of all people on this planet: “The granting to government of the immoral monopoly on the use of force has lasted too long [...]. It is time to end it. Our security and our prosperity will be better served by small units of government and the rules of free markets and property ownership”. (p. 222) Ron Paul’s rejection of the state is based on his experience with the US state dominated by moneyed interests and armament industries. Opposite to this is the model of the common good oriented state of law, whose legitimacy and task is the protection of the rights and freedom of all its citizens and the promotion of their common welfare and development. The “free market” doesn’t mean here globalised economic orders such as given by WTO or TTIP, but a truly free trade on par.
In chapter IV “The answer is: peace”, Ron Paul mentions the neutrality of Switzerland as a model for a prudent foreign policy: “Switzerland in the centre of Europe survived unscathed during the 20th century carnage of the two world wars – choosing a policy of neutrality. The US, in contrast – has constantly ignored the strong advice of our early leaders [the founding fathers of the United States; the author] – and frequently the voice of the people – to stay out of the internal affairs of other nations and to avoid entangling alliances.” From this, Paul draws the conclusion that there is no reason why the US should not operate a foreign policy closer to the Swiss model rather “than the model of the Roman Empire or even the Soviet Union.” (p. 62)

What is to be done?

Although the wars have become more and more destructive in the course of history, especially in the 20th and 21st centuries, Ron Paul remains with his good and hopeful concept of man: “And yet I believe that people can change and that many wars can be avoided in the future.” (p. 211) For this, the resistance of many people in the world is needed. Even in decentralised, local administrations, there may be individual power-hungry or a group of those against which we have to forearm ourselves. If constitutional restrictions on state power and elections fail to “keep evil people out of office,” then “people can go on strike and refuse to finance or fight in wars that have no legitimacy. For this to be fully effective, the people of the entire world must refuse to sanction the wars that have no legitimacy. All governments should be challenged  when  propaganda for war is initiated.” (p. 221)
Ron Paul leads the way as a philanthropic doctor and tireless fighter against the wars of the US governments of both political parties. It is the task and duty of all of us to continue his journey.    •

*    Ron Paul (born 20 August 1935 in Pennsylvania) is an American physician and politician. He is a member of the Republican Party, and was elected to the United States House of Representatives from 1976 to 2013 (with interruptions). Paul ran three times for the US presidential election, 1988 as a candidate for the Libertarian Party, and in 2008 and 2012 as a Republican Party candidate.