Recently by Thomas R. Eddlem: GOP Presidential Candidate Ron Paul
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) schooled former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on foreign policy issues in the August 11 GOP presidential debate in Ames, Iowa.
Asked by Fox News channel anchor Chris Wallace why Paul was "soft" on Iran in his opposition to economic sanctions against the country, Paul told the debate audience that the threat from Iran was small when looked at through the lens of history: "Just think of what we went through in the Cold War when I was in the Air Force, after I was drafted into the Air Force, all through the Sixties. We were standing up against the Soviets. They had like 30,000 nuclear weapons with intercontinental missiles. Just think of the agitation and the worry about a country that might get a nuclear weapon some day."
Paul concluded of sanctions: "That makes it much worse. Why would that be so strange if the Soviets and the Chinese had nuclear weapons, we tolerated the Soviets. We didn’t attack them. And they were a much greater danger. They were the greatest danger to us in our whole history. But you don’t go to war with them."
Paul also asked the audience to consider the nuclear issue from the perspective of the Iranian people:
Just think of how many nuclear weapons surround Iran. The Chinese are there. The Indians are there. The Pakistanis are there. The Israelis are there. The United States is there. All these countries … why wouldn’t it be natural if they might want a weapon? Internationally, they might be given more respect. Why should we write people off? In the Fifties, we at least talked to them. At least our leaders and Reagan talked to the Soviets. What’s so terribly bad about this? And countries you put sanctions on you are more likely to fight them. I say a policy of peace is free trade, stay out of their internal business, don’t get involved in these wars and just bring our troops home.
Paul’s statements did not sit well with neo-conservatives at the debate podium. Rick Santorum, who had authored a sanctions bill against Iran as a Senator, took particular umbrage at Paul’s analysis:
Iran is not Iceland, Ron. Iran is a country that has been at war with us since 1979. Iran is a country that has killed more American men and women in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan than the Iraqis and the Afghans have. The Iranians are the existential threat to the state of Israel.
While Santorum’s claim about more Americans being killed by Iranians in Iraq and Afghanistan than by the natives of those countries is patently false, Paul responded with a deeper historical analysis, noting:
The senator is wrong on his history. We’ve been at war in Iran for a lot longer than ’79. We started it in 1953 when we sent in a coup, installed the Shah, and the reaction the blowback came in 1979. It’s been going on and on because we just don’t mind our own business. That’s our problem.