Former Texas Congressman and leading libertarian thinker Dr. Ron Paul has shared his views on President Trump's job as president after his first year in office, the situation in Syria and the renewed debate on gun control in the wake of the Florida school shooting.
Trump's Year in Office
Sputnik: Donald Trump has been in office for over a year. What is your general assessment of his job as president?
Ron Paul: Mediocre; probably not worse than the other options. But I don't think presidents really have much control. I think the deep state – the people behind the scenes and the shadow government, who control the monetary system, who control our foreign policy and the welfare state, and are connected to the media and the military-industrial complex. – I don't think the presidency is as important as it's made out to be. But everybody talks about it; it's a political thing, and they keep churning the issue and directing everybody to ask 'is Trump a good guy or a bad guy, and are we going to impeach him or what's going to happen', rather than [asking] what kind of philosophy do we have: why do we have this philosophy of welfare-warfare, spend money, run up debt and let the central bank print all that money.
They don't even talk about it; the major parties, including Trump, they sign even more controls on us when it comes to FISA courts and spying on us. In spite of the fact that government officials like the FBI and others actually spy on our own president, he supports this; he passes and signs bills on that. So that really raises questions about 'does the president really have much to say', and I think he has much less to say than a lot of people believe. I believe that if he had stuck to his guns and had a different relationship with Russia and started bringing troops home and not aggravating things, he wouldn't have been tolerated. Something would have happened.
Syria and America's Place in the World
Sputnik: Moving on to the Middle East, in your reports you've stated that with so many countries controlling territory in Syria, there's very little left for the Syrians. Do you think there's a good chance that government forces can regain control of the country?
Ron Paul: I do. I think there will always be a Syria. What it's going to look like is the big problem. At the moment, it's hard to predict and say that the people who have invaded — the Turks, the Israelis, the United States will leave. They're going to have to suffer a defeat somewhere along the way. That may occur soon –another defeat like Aleppo. That might make them think differently, but it's still a hotbed…
Sputnik: There's an ongoing campaign in the east of Demascus in Eastern Ghouta, with media portrayals of it in the West comparing the ongoing campaign to Srebrenica and what happened in Bosnia. Why do you think this is, and how is the situation being portrayed in the West? Do Americans know what's actually going on?
Ron Paul: I think this, indirectly, may be a subtle bit of good news…You know Aleppo was seen as a return of Syrian territory, and a lot of people moved back! Everybody said that 'it's Assad who wants to kill his people and gas his people,' and yet they all moved back after the fighting stopped. So maybe this is one of the last desperate stands [for the anti-Damascus forces], at least for the part of Syria where Assad is stronger…
Sputnik: The UN has been commenting on this to emphasize how bad things are in Syria, and particularly in Eastern Ghouta. But the situation was also really bad in Mosul in Iraq, with recent video footage showing the results of US airstrikes. Where do you think the UN was then?
Ron Paul: Probably cheering them on. We often have a foreign policy, especially in the last several decades, of being the dominant power. We pressure people; if they do what we tell 'em, we send them more money, since we can print the world currency. And if they don't do what we tell 'em, then we have to participate in a little aggression by bombing and doing these kinds of things. My argument from the day they started, back to 1998 – I argued don't mess around with sanctions on Iraq, it'll lead to war.
Someday, we'll go broke. I don't think that we all of a sudden will have a reasonable foreign policy. I think it's going to be financial. I believe it was the financing of the Soviet system that brought it down as much as anything; that's the way most authoritarian empires end, and I think that's the way our system is going to end. Who knows when that's going to happen, but we can't continue to do what we're doing.
We can't continue to run the world. Our deficit's exploding. I think the sentiment toward the United States has started to shift too; there was a time when we were welcome, and were on the side of trying to help people, but right now it's on the side of expanding our controls around the world.
Sputnik: On the subject of gun control: You've stated that those demanding that guns be taken away don't talk much about guns when it's government authorities who are the ones shooting innocent people. Why do you think that's happening?
Ron Paul: Because there are some people who believe that guns belong in the hands of the government. Those are the authoritarians. Those who believe in a free society [say] that the people should have the guns, and the government should fear the people.
This was an argument back in the days when they were [creating] our constitution, and of course [Thomas] Jefferson argued the case that the government shouldn't have the guns that are ruling and controlling the people. That doesn't mean that we don't have a national defense; it just means that the people deserve guns, because ultimately, the problem that has existed throughout history has always been the abuse by government in taking freedoms away from the people.
I think we see that happening now in our country. Every time there's an incident, certain groups want more regulation. But if they were consistent, if they found one of our policemen shooting somebody that may have been a petty criminal…they would never say 'Well, he overreacted, so what we have to do is take guns away from people'. No, they never even mention it…But if something like a school shooting occurs, they use that as an excuse where private guns aren't to be used. And of course my argument is that private security is superior to anything the government will offer us.
Sputnik: You've said that tragedies like the one that happened in Florida can't be prevented by banning guns. What measures do you see as the most effective in addressing this national issue?
Ron Paul: I think some of our problems occur because we don't have enough guns in the right place. It's more than just saying 'the guns are the problem, get rid of the guns and give them to the government,' because I don't think that's the solution…
I often mention a chemical plant next door to where I live: they have a lot of security, and it's not the government, it's not the police department; they have private security, and it does quite well. They're responsible, it's a very dangerous place, they don't want anyone in there.
So I think the more that's privatized, the better. Private schools don't have these problems. Home schooling obviously wouldn't have problems like this, and the smaller schools don't have problems because everybody knows everybody. Sometimes these movements towards gigantic school districts where there are thousands of kids in one school, where people don't know exactly what's going [on] sort of introduces these problems.
But I think we should talk about gun-free zones…where nobody is allowed to have a gun. I hate the idea of getting more guns, but quite frankly, if I was in charge of a very dangerous area or a private school and it was getting dangerous, a private owner has a right to use a gun. So yes, there are times when I think that teachers or some other school officials could have guns and be ready to deal with them.
The problem with my argument is that people will construe it as being 'oh well he doesn't care about the kids', but quite frankly, the kids still are getting killed, and when you look at what our government guns do, if you measure how many kids are dying in Yemen right now because we're allies of Saudi Arabia – why aren't we worried about that? Not only about the policemen who shoot badly, but what about our own government, that's in so many countries, with so many innocent people dying from our bombs and our interference in other peoples' lives in other countries? So I think that's involved in massively more killing than what's happening in the schools. That doesn't mean I'm not concerned about the schools, but they ought not be so inconsistent in what their arguments are.
You can find the complete audio from Dr. Paul's full interview with Sputnik below.