Originally Reviewed 9/10/2015 – revised on 3/19/2016
Swords into Plowshares; A Life in Wartime and a Future of Peace and Prosperity by Ron Paul
I remember thinking during 2008 that Ron Paul was the crazy old uncle of the party who didn’t have a chance to win, so I did not listen to him. By 2012, I knew just enough about him to think he was probably right and he got my vote in the primary. I still did not know much about who he is and why he does what he does.
Ron Paul is a principled man. That principle is the bedrock of Libertarianism – the Non Aggression Principle. This says that no one has the right to Agress against another person, meaning that no one has the right to use force or the threat of force to make someone else comply with their wishes. The NAP as stated on Mises.org: “an ethical stance which asserts that “aggression” is inherently illegitimate. “Aggression” is defined as the “initiation” of physical force against persons or property, the threat of such, or fraud upon persons or their property. In contrast to pacifism, the non-aggression principle does not preclude violent self-defense.”
I think most people would agree with that on the face of it, but it is the working out of that principle into the particulars of life, where people turn away from it. I doubt most people are ever aware of that idea, though it is embodied in the teachings of Christ. I am NOT saying that Jesus was a Libertarian; I am saying that the NAP is consistent with the teachings of Jesus. I believe that consistency is at the core of Ron Paul’s Principles.
So, this book is the expression of a peaceful man who is encouraging the reader to also pursue non-aggression by living a life and supporting policies that are consistent with this principle. Paul points out that the US has been at war almost constantly since WW2, though usually in small actions, via the CIA and other agencies if not the larger branches of the military.
Paul is concerned with more than the engagement of force, but the aftermath: The broken soldiers and lives of the families of the soldiers. He is always concerned with the causes of this engagement, in the lending of the Central Bank to the government that funds the wars by laying debt on all of us and our children. But along with this, we must ask, “Why do we in the public support these wars?”
I would never have read this book 5 years ago. The ideas in it are still unsettling. But as a Christian who agrees with the Non Aggression Principle, and is still trying to figure out what Jesus meant when he said “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” I found this book very helpful.