Ron Paul on War & Peace
Republican Representative (TX-14); previously Libertarian for President
A: It was a very bad idea, and it wasn’t worth it. The al Qaeda wasn’t there then; they’re there now. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Had nothing to do with 9/11. There was no aggression. This decision on policy was made in 1998 because they called for the removal of Saddam Hussein. It wasn’t worth it, and it’s a sad story because we started that war and we should never be a country that starts war needlessly.
A: Well, they’re not going to. That is like saying “Iran is about to invade Mars.” They don’t have an army or navy or air force. And the Israelis have 300 nuclear weapons. Nobody would touch them. But if it were in our national security interests, Congress could say, “This is very, very important; we have to declare war.” Presidents don’t have the authority to go to war. You go to the Congress and find out if they want a war, and do the people want the war.
A: Well, I don’t know the individuals, but we know that their leadership--you read it in the papers on a daily basis--about the government of Israel encouraging Americans to go into Iran. I don’t think that’s top secret.
Q: That the government of Israel wants us to bomb Iran?
A: I don’t think there’s a doubt about that, that they’ve encouraged us to do that. And of course the neoconservatives have been anxious to do that for a long time.
A: Absolutely. Six hundred thousand Americans died in a senseless civil war. No, he shouldn’t have gone to war. He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic. I mean, it was that iron fist..
Q: We’d still have slavery.
A: Oh, come on. Slavery was phased out in every other country of the world. And the way I’m advising that it should have been done is do like the British empire did. You buy the slaves and release them. How much would that cost compared to killing 600,000 Americans and where the hatred lingered for 100 years? Every other major country in the world got rid of slavery without a civil war. I mean, that doesn’t sound too radical to me. That sounds like a pretty reasonable approach.
A: McCain was awfully confused about isolationism versus non-intervention. There is a big difference. Isolationism isn’t what I advocate. I advocate non-intervention, not getting involved in the internal affairs of other nations.
Q: Under what circumstances, if you were president, would you intervene outside the borders of the US in some sort of crisis around the world?
A: When Congress directed me to in the act of war. If our national security was threatened and we went through the proper procedures, Congress would say, “Our national security is involved, it is threatened and we have to act.” And Congress has that responsibility. The president is the commander in chief, and then he acts.
ROMNEY: You sit down with your attorneys and tell you what you have to do.
HUNTER: It depends on one thing: the president does not need that if the target is fleeting.
PAUL: Absolutely. This idea of going & talking to attorneys totally baffles me. Why don’t we just open up the Constitution & read it? You’re not allowed to go to war without a declaration of war. Now, as far as fleeting enemies go, yes, if there’s an imminent attack on us, we’d never had that happen in 220 years. The thought that the Iranians could pose an imminent attack on the US is preposterous. There’s no way.
HUNTER: Not an imminent attack a fleeting target.
PAUL: This is just continual war propaganda, preparing this nation to go to war and spread this war, not only in Iraq but into Iran, unconstitutionally. It’s a road to disaster if we don’t read the Constitution once in a while.
A: We indeed do have a problem, but if we go at this incorrectly, we are going to do more damage to ourselves than we are to our enemies. We have to understand the motives of those who come here & kill us. If we don’t understand that, we are not going to win this fight. They come here & kill us because we occupy their lands, and they rationally reason [that] we have to do something about it.
A: Well, one thing I would remember very clearly is the president doesn’t have the authority to go to war. He goes to the Congress.
Q: So what do you do?
A: He goes to the Congress and finds out if there’s any threat to our national security. And thinking back to the 1960s, when I was in the Air Force for five years, and there was a Cold War going on, and the Soviets had 40,000, and we stood them down, & we didn’t have to have a nuclear confrontation, I would say that we should go very cautiously. We should be talking to Iran right now. We shouldn’t be looking for the opportunity to attack them. They are at the present time, according to the IAEA, cooperating. I think that we ought to be talking about how to get along with some people that are deadly, like the Soviets and the Chinese and the many others. We don’t have to resort to war every single time there is a confrontation.
Since 1945, our country has been involved in over 70 active or covert foreign engagements. On numerous occasions we have provided weapons and funds to both sides in a conflict. It is not unusual for our so-called allies to turn on us and use these weapons against American troops. In recent decades we have been both allies and enemies of Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and the Islamists in Iran. And where has it gotten us?
The endless costs resulting from our foolish policies, in human lives, injuries, tax dollars, inflation, and deficits, will burden generations to come. For civilization to advance, we must reduce the number of wars fought.
First, all military (and covert paramilitary) personnel worldwide must refuse to initiate offensive wars beyond their borders This must become a matter of personal honor for every individual.
Second, the true nature of war must be laid bare, and the glorification must end. Instead of promoting war heroes with parades and medals for wars not fought in the true defense of our country, we should more honestly contemplate the real results of war: death, destruction, horrible wounds, civilian casualties, economic costs, and the loss of liberty at home.
The neoconservative belief that war is inherently patriotic, beneficial, manly, and necessary for human progress must be debunked. These war promoters never send themselves or their own children off to fight. Their hero, Machiavelli, must be buried once and for all.
PAUL: No. [Abandoning our tradition of] non-intervention was a major contributing factor. Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we’ve been over there; we’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years.
Q: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attack?
PAUL: I’m suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it.
GIULIANI: That’s an extraordinary statement, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I’ve heard that before, and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th. And I would ask the congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn’t really mean that.
PAUL: If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don’t come here to attack us because we’re rich and we’re free. They come and they attack us because we’re over there.
PAUL: I think the party has lost its way, because the conservative wing of the Republican Party always advocated a noninterventionist foreign policy. There’s a strong tradition of being anti-war in the Republican party. It is the constitutional position. It is the advice of the Founders to follow a non-interventionist foreign policy, and stay out of entangling alliances, be friends with countries, negotiate and talk with them and trade with them. Just think of the tremendous improvement in relationships with Vietnam. We lost 60,000 men [during the Vietnam war]. We came home in defeat. Now we go over there and invest in Vietnam. So there’s a lot of merit to the advice of the Founders and following the Constitution. And my argument is that we shouldn’t go to war so carelessly. When we do, the wars don’t end.
By demanding that Iran give up its uranium enrichment program, the US is unilaterally changing the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. UN inspectors have been in Iran for years, and International Atomic Energy Agency Director El Baradei has repeatedly reported that he can find no indication of diversion of nuclear materials to a military purpose.
As a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has the “inalienable right” to the “development, research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination.” Yet the US is demanding that Iran give up that right en though, after years of monitoring, Iran has never been found to have diverted nuclear material from peaceful to military use.
What have we learned from three years in Iraq? With plans now being laid for regime change in Iran, it appears we have learned nothing.
Congress is abuzz with plans to change the Iranian government. There is little resistance to the rising clamor for “democratizing” Iran, even though their current president is an elected leader. Although Iran is hardly a perfect democracy, its system is far superior to most of our Arab allies about which we never complain. It’s amazing how soon after being discredited over the charges levied against Saddam the neo-cons are willing to use the same arguments against Iran. It’s frightening to see how easily Congress, the media, and the people accept many of the same arguments against Iran that were used to justify invading Iraq.
Bin Laden’s claims are straightforward The US defiles Islam with military bases on holy land in Saudi Arabia, its initiation of war against Iraq, and its dollars and weapons being used against the Palestinians as the Palestinian territory shrinks and Israel’s occupation expands. There will be no peace for the next 50 years or longer if we refuse to believe why those who are attacking are doing it.
To dismiss terrorism as the result of Muslims hating us because we’re free is one of the greatest foreign-policy frauds ever perpetuated. Because the media and government have restated it so many times, the majority now accept it at face value. And the administration gets the political cover it needs to pursue a holy war for democracy against the infidels who hate us for our goodness.
No credible evidence has been produced that Iraq has or is close to having nuclear weapons. No evidence exists to show that Iraq harbors al Qaeda terrorists. Quite to the contrary, experts on this region recognize Hussein as an enemy of al Qaeda and a foe to Islamic fundamentalism. Many other nations pose much greater threats to world peace. Yet no one is clamoring for war against them.
Many American arms manufacturers, as well as other “Rambo” Americans, have an insatiable hunger to perpetually have a fearsome enemy. Therefore, on the surface, it always looks like we are about to go to war with the Soviets while, behind the scenes, we continue to fund the very enemy who “threatens” to invade our hemisphere.
Internationalism is enhanced by this war-monger policy, and individual liberty is diminished. The Constitution is forgotten, as is the traditional American foreign policy practiced for more than a hundred years of minding our own business and providing security for Americans.
It is bad enough to see the loss of liberty for which the Founding Fathers fought so valiantly, but to watch a foreign policy that has led to perpetual war for America presents a great danger to us all.
The bombing of Libya while sending arms to Iran--who has been much more involved in international terrorism--reveals the schizophrenic nature of our foreign policy.
Bombing a foreign capital, and killing innocent civilians is an act of war, not authorized by our Constitution.
The bombing can hardly be considered a success. Of the 18 F-111’s deployed, only 11 completed the mission.
A: I don’t even think they should have gone, so keeping them for 100 years, where’s the money going to come from? The country is in bankruptcy. When I listen to this argument, I find it rather silly, because they’re arguing technicalities of a policy. They agreed with going in; they agreed for staying, agreed for staying how many years? These are technicalities. We should be debating foreign policy, whether we should have interventionism or non-interventionism, whether we should be defending this country or whether we should be the policemen of the world, whether we should be running our empire or not, and how are going to have guns and butter? The ‘70s were horrible because we paid for the guns and butters of the ‘60s. Now we’re doing the same thing. Nobody even seems to care. The dollar is crashing, and you’re talking about these technicalities about who said what when?
A: I don’t blame the American people, but you have to understand what’s going on. I was defending my position [against GOP opponents] with George Bush’s position in the year 2000, when he didn’t want to get into nation-building, he didn’t want to police the world, he wanted a more humble foreign policy. In those two statements, you just heard it wasn’t really very humble. It was really a vicious attack on Muslims. And they say that, oh, no, it’s only the radicals, but they paint a picture where you have to attack the Muslim world and you blame the Muslim religion. And I don’t think that’s true whatsoever. And if we have a [military] presence in the Arab world and in the Muslim world, there are consequences. And I point it out to them, and they don’t listen to this, is how would we react if somebody did the same thing to us? The American people would be outraged.
ROMNEY: Ron, you need a thorough understanding of what radical jihad is, what the movement is, what its intent is, where it flows from.
GIULIANI: Ron’s analysis is really seriously flawed [about] the idea that the attack took place because of American foreign policy.
Q: What do you say to the criticism that you’re blaming the victim, the US, for the policies?
PAUL: Well, that’s not correct. Because I don’t blame the American people, and I don’t blame somebody who gets murdered for the murder. You have to look for the cause and the incentive and the motive. And the motive is that our foreign policy does aggravate a lot of people. I know there are radicals, and I know they will attack us, but if we don’t understand the motive, if we continue to believe they attack us because we’re free and prosperous, we can’t win this fight.
A: I have not voted to [restrict] the president on troop movements. So my thinking is if the president has some type of authority or he assumes it, I don’t want the solution to be by capping the number of troops or setting any type of troop movement. The solution there for me would be to remove the authority and defund it, not to micromanage troop movement. At least the thing that I follow on some of these votes in the Congress, when the Democrats come up with restricting troop movements or saying you have to move so many out by so many months, unless the bill is complex that is a basic premise I try to follow. I do not like to vote for, and have voted against, micromanaging troop movements.
A: I do. I definitely have a different point of view, because we weren’t justified in going over there. We did not declare the war. You might ask the question, why is it that I have a different view point on foreign policy? Because I adhere to the Constitution and the advice of the founders to stay out of the entangling alliances, the internal affairs of other nations.
A: Well, first off, Iraq is not Nazi Germany. And besides, I thought it was Hitler that caused World War II, not the American people who opposed going in. So it didn’t make any sense. And then he was awfully confused about isolationism versus non-intervention. There is a big difference. Isolationism isn’t what I advocate. I advocate non-intervention, not getting involved in the internal affairs of other nations, and not pretending a country like Iraq is equivalent to Nazi Germany. Iraq had no army, no navy, no WMD, had nothing to do with 9/11, so the comparison makes no sense.
A: Well, yes, we do disagree on this. I don’t believe we went to the war for the right reason. There were no weapons of mass destruction. It had nothing to do with 9/11. So we were there for the wrong reason and he doesn’t understand the motivations for why they want to come here. It’s not because we are wealthy and prosperous and free. They come here because we are in their country. And even if there is an improvement, which we all hope there is, we plan to keep 14 bases over there, a huge Naval base, and we have this huge embassy. We have a permanent plan to stay there and take over these $30 trillion worth of oil in that region. And the people in those countries know that and that’s why they are very angry. And to deny that is folly.
A: Probably not, but that should not be a reason. That’s an old theory. It’s mercantilistic. It’s neocolonialism that you have to maintain your supply routes and your natural resources. But I think there’s still a lot of those kind of people around. You know, we were told it was about oil and jobs when it first started in 1990, and this is just a continuation of that war.
A: The most important promise we keep is the oath to obey the Constitution. We just shouldn’t be going to all these wars. We shouldn’t have so many injured and in our hospitals because we shouldn’t go to war unless it’s declared. If it’s declared, we should go win it and get it over with. We went in under false pretense. There were no weapons of mass destruction There are still people who believe that Iraq had something to do with 9/11, yet 15 of the people were from Saudi Arabia. We need to live up to our principles so there are less injured veterans, but when they come home we better jolly well take care of them, and we’re not doing a very good job right now, because all the money’s going overseas. We’re broke. We got to do something about it. And we can’t perpetuate a welfare state AND police an empire without going bankrupt.
A: I get to my God through Christ. Christ, to me, is a Man of peace. He is for peace, He is not for war. He doesn’t justify preemptive war. I strongly believe that there is a Christian doctrine of just war. And I believe this nation has drifted from that. No matter what the rationales are, we have drifted from that, and it’s very, very dangerous, and I see in many ways being unchristian. Christ is for love, and forgiveness, and turning the other cheek for peace. And to justify what we do in the name of Christianity I think is very dangerous, and not part of what Christianity is all about. Christ came here for spiritual reasons, not secular war and boundaries and geography. And yet, we are now dedicating so much of our aggressive activity in the name of God, but God, he is the Prince of Peace. That is what I see from my God and through Christ. I vote for peace.
A: The people who say there will be a bloodbath are the ones who said it will be a cakewalk or it will be a slam dunk, and that it will be paid for by oil. Why believe them? They’ve been wrong on everything they’ve said. So why not ask the people who advised not to go into the region and into the war? The war has not gone well one bit.
PAUL: Yes, I would leave. I would leave completely. Why leave the troops in the region? The fact that we had troops in Saudi Arabia was one of the three reasons given for the attack on 9/11. So why leave them in the region? They don’t want our troops on the Arabian Peninsula. We have no need for our national security to have troops on the Arabian Peninsula.
Q: You’re basically saying that we should take our marching orders from Al Qaida? If they want us off the Arabian Peninsula, we should leave?
PAUL: No! I’m saying we should take our marching orders from our Constitution. We should not go to war without a declaration. We should not go to war when it’s an aggressive war. This is an aggressive invasion. We’ve committed the invasion of this war. And it’s illegal under international law. That’s where I take my marching orders, not from any enemy.
HUNTER: Let me just tell you what they’ve done. In Anbar Province, we were having 1,350 attacks a month last October. By the blood, sweat and tears of the US Marines out there, we pulled it down 80%. They’ve pulled down civilian casualties 74%. We’ve got 129 battalions in the Iraqi army that we’re training up. That’s the right way to win. It’s called victory. That’s how we leave Iraq.
Q: No matter how long it takes?
HUNTER: If you think we’re going to be there for a long time, you don’t understand the determination of the US Marines and the US Army. We’re going to turn it over.
HUCKABEE: We have to continue the surge, and let me explain why. When I was a little kid, if I went into a store with my mother, she had a simple rule for me: If I picked something off the shelf at the store and I broke it, I bought it. Well, what we did in Iraq, we essentially broke it. It’s our responsibility to do the best we can to try to fix it before we just turn away. whether or not we should have gone to Iraq is a discussion the historians can have, but we’re there. We bought it because we broke it.
PAUL: The American people didn’t go in. A few people advising this administration, a small number of people called the neoconservatives hijacked our foreign policy. They’re responsible, not the American people. They’re not responsible. We shouldn’t punish them.
PAUL: Just come home. We just marched in. We can just come back. We went in there illegally. We did not declare war. It’s lasting way too long. We didn’t declare war in Korea or Vietnam. The wars were never really ended. We lose those wars. We’re losing this one. We shouldn’t be there. We ought to just come home. The #1 reason it’s in our national self-interest & for our national security, think of our defenses now, how rundown they are. What is the morale of our military today when they’re sent over there for 12 months and then they’re kept for another three months? They come home and, with less than a year’s rest, they’re sent back again. Congress is currently trying to change the rules so we give these men an adequate rest. This war is not going well because the foreign policy is defective.
HUNTER: I’m tired of the Democrats and my colleague saying, “Come home.” It’s a race to see who could stampede for the exit the quickest.
At the same time, those individuals who predicted these disastrous things to happen if we leave Iraq are the same ones who said, “As soon as we go in, it will just be duck soup, it’ll be over in three months and it won’t cost us anything because the oil will pay for it.”
The individuals who predict [an Iraq] disaster, predicted the domino theory, in Vietnam. I served five years in the military in the ‘60s. When we left there, it was tough, yes. But now we trade with Vietnam. We can achieve much more in peace than we can ever achieve in these needless, unconstitutional, undeclared wars.
A: The sooner we come home, the better. If they declare there’s no progress in September, we should come home. It was a mistake to go, so it’s a mistake to stay. If we made the wrong diagnosis, we should change the treatment. The weapons weren’t there, and we went in under U.N. resolutions. And our national security was not threatened. We’re more threatened now by staying.
A: Well, we’ve had four years to do this and it hasn’t worked. The biggest incentive for them to take upon themselves the responsibility is just for us to leave. We don’t need to lose 100 men and women every month, more than 1,000 per year. And so you want it done. You want them to take over. You’ve got to give them an incentive. So I think we should immediately stop patrolling the streets. That’s a policeman’s job. It’s not the work of the Army. We’re not fighting a military battle. We’re in a different type of warfare right now. So the sooner we recognize that, the sooner we can make sure that no more Americans will die.
Q: Now you say we should pull our troops out?
A: In 2002, I offered an amendment to declare war, up or down. Nobody voted for the war. And my argument there was, if we want to go to war, the Congress should declare it. We don’t go to war like we did in Vietnam and Korea, because the wars never end. And I argued the case and made the point that it would be a quagmire if we go in.
A: You might ask the question, why are 70% of the American people now wanting us out of there? I tried very hard to solve this problem before we went to war by saying, “Declare war if you want to go to war. Go to war, fight it and win it, but don’t get into it for political reasons or to enforce U.N. resolutions or pretend the Iraqis were a national threat to us.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This war is a terrible tragedy, and it is time to bring it to an end. This is a straightforward bill to redeploy our military forces from Iraq and to end the war in Iraq. This bill does not walk away from the Iraqi people. It specifically continues diplomatic, social, economic, and reconstruction aid. Finally, this bill leaves all the decisions on the locations outside of Iraq to which our troops will be redeployed wholly in the hands of our military commanders.
Opponents support voting NO because:
This legislation embraces surrender and defeat. This legislation undermines our troops and the authority of the President as commander in chief. Opponents express concern about the effects of an ill-conceived military withdrawal, and about any legislation that places military decisions in the hands of politicians rather than the military commanders in the field. The enemy we face in Iraq view this bill as a sign of weakness. Now is not the time to signal retreat and surrender. It is absolutely essential that America, the last remaining superpower on earth, continue to be a voice for peace and a beacon for freedom in our shrinking world.
|Other candidates on War & Peace:
|Ron Paul on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader