Many conservatives do not support GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul because of his pacifist and isolationist foreign policy. Paul has said the following:
“Far from defeating the enemy, our current polices provide incentive for more people to take up arms against us.”
“We have an empire. We can’t afford it.”
“Acting as the world’s policeman and nation-building weakens our country, puts our troops in harm’s way, and sends precious resources to other nations in the midst of an historic economic crisis.”
So the news that Paul has considerable support among members of America’s active-duty military is something of a cognitive dissonance.
Reservist Cpl. Jesse Thorsen, 28, is now in trouble with the U.S. Army for speaking at a Paul rally in Iowa, Jan. 3, 2012
Timothy Egan writes in the New York Times, Dec. 22, 2011:
Many of the service members returning from Iraq — where nearly 4,500 American lives were lost, 100,000 Iraqi civilians were killed and about 600,000 Christians were forced to flee the country with other refugees — are paying close attention to the campaign to decide who will be commander in chief. [...]
The men and women in uniform probably wouldn’t support [Ron Paul] this proponent of limited engagement. So goes the conventional wisdom, which holds that those in the military support a leader itching for a fight.
But in fact, Representative Ron Paul, the congressman who favors the most minimalist American combat role of any major presidential candidate and who said all of the above quotes, has more financial support from active duty members of the service than any other politician.
As of the last reporting date, at the end of September, Paul leads all candidates by far in donations from service members. This trend has been in place since 2008, when Paul ran for president with a similar stance: calling nonsense at hawk squawk from both parties.
This year, Paul has 10 times the individual donations — totaling $113,739 — from the military as does Mitt Romney. And he has a hundred times more than Newt Gingrich, who sat out the Vietnam War with college deferments and now promises he would strike foes at the slightest provocation.
What seems, at first blush, counterintuitive makes more sense upon further review. There’s a long tradition of military people being attracted to politicians with Paul’s strict interpretation of the Constitution.
Not even a full 1 percent of Americans are active-duty military. The troops have become props for politicians who shower them with fulsome praise, while dreaming up schemes to send them into harm’s way.
Yet, these soldiers, sailors, air men and women, and assorted boots on the ground know the cost — in trauma, in lives ruined, in friends lost, in good intentions gone bad — of going to war far more than the 99 percent not currently serving. Where they put their money in a campaign, paltry though it may be in comparison to the corporate lords who control a majority of our politicians, says a great deal.
And if the overwhelming service support for Ron Paul is any indication, the grunts of American foreign policy are gun-shy about further engagement in “useless wars,” to use Dr. Paul’s term.
“It’s not a good sign when the people doing the fighting are saying, ‘Why are we here?’” said Glen Massie, a Marine Corps veteran who lives in Des Moines, Iowa, and is supporting Paul for president. “They realize they’re being utilized for other purposes — nation building and being world’s policeman — and it’s not what they signed up for.”
Now that Obama has begun yet another war — this time against Iran — stretching our already over-stretched military even thinner, it is no wonder that our active-duty servicemen and women support Ron Paul.
Conservatives say we love and respect our soldiers. Maybe we should then listen to them and take another look at Ron Paul’s candidacy.