Ron Paul Rewind: ‘You’re Painting an Overly Optimistic Picture of Afghanistan Success’ (2004)

by | Apr 22, 2016

It was yet another in a periodic series of House International Relations Committee hearings where the “experts” were trotted out to tell us how incredibly well the US intervention in Afghanistan was going and that if only Congress would keep the money train at full throttle, one hundred flowers would bloom where US bombs planted the seeds. This date was 2004, a hearing titled “US Security Police in Afghanistan on the Eve of National Elections,” featuring Lieutenant General Walter L. Sharp, Director, Strategic Plans and Policy, The Joint Staff.

One by one, Members drank the Kool-Aid — things were going well, but we need more resources and our allies must pay up!

Ranking Member of the Committee, the late Tom Lantos, assured the Committee that as soon as elections were held, Afghanistan would turn the corner toward becoming a Switzerland in east Asia:

Next month, Afghanistan could be the scene of an unprecedented historic event; the spectacle of millions of Afghans, including millions of Afghan women, voting for the first time in a presidential election. There is no greater demonstration of the aspirations of the people of Afghanistan than the desire to vote.

Once again, Rep. Ron Paul rained on their parade. Things don’t look nearly as good as the “experts” claim, he told the Committee. The mission is not being accomplished and in fact is creeping. Nation-building is no recipe for success.

Said Rep. Paul:

Shortly after 9/11 we passed the resolution that gave the authority to the President to go into Afghanistan. And the mission then was stated fairly clearly: Go after the al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. I would suggest that our mission has changed and now there is mission creep and we are not even talking about what we went in there for. It was Osama bin Laden. Now we have occupation. Now we are involved with nation-building. And now we want to expand into making the world safe from drug dealers. Quite frankly, I think we are going down the long path which does not look very productive. A picture of Afghanistan has been painted, I think, overly optimistic. If you read the newspapers, what you are talking about does not even exist from the reports that I read about what is really going on.

General Sharp sharply disagreed with Dr. Paul’s assessment. Dr. Paul is just flat wrong, said the General. We are winning!:

So I think I paint a better picture than you do, sir. I believe that if you look at the progress that has been made in Afghanistan, look at any of the criteria as far as where the majority of the areas within the country—even by U.N. maps, which are very conservative—are ‘go’ versus ‘no go,’ the majority of the country is ‘go.’

That was 2004. Twelve years ago. Who was right? Let’s look at a CNN headline from just yesterday:

Analysis: Afghanistan must recognize Taliban are winning

Twelve years after Ron Paul warned about mission creep.

Watch Ron Paul at the Committee Hearing:


  • Daniel McAdams

    Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and co-Producer/co-Host, Ron Paul Liberty Report. Daniel served as the foreign affairs, civil liberties, and defense/intel policy advisor to U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, MD (R-Texas) from 2001 until Dr. Paul’s retirement at the end of 2012. From 1993-1999 he worked as a journalist based in Budapest, Hungary, and traveled through the former communist bloc as a human rights monitor and election observer.

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