Editor’s Note: This is the first in WND’s planned series of one-on-one interviews with each candidate for the office of president. Today U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a Texas Republican with libertarian ideals, shares his plan for America’s future.
U.S. Rep. Paul
WND: In your 1988 presidential bid you called for the dismantling of the Border Patrol. Is that a position you would still adhere to today, have there been changes or was it a mistake back then?
Ron Paul: No. I do not call for that, and I do not recall calling for that. I’d have to have somebody show me exactly where that was said. I have no recollection of that and it’s certainly not my position, because I emphasize beefing up the Border Patrol.
WND: You’ve drawn distinctions between the Iraq involvement and in Afghanistan, yet your former aide, now running against you for the Texas congressional seat, claims it was like pulling teeth to get you to support the war in Afghanistan. Please set the record straight.
Ron Paul: That’s totally untrue. It’s not true. He’s a disgruntled former employee who needs to be fired.
WND: You suggest the nation would be better if it were left to the Democrats to investigate 9/11. Do you believe the Bush administration has anything or something to hide with regard to the terrorist attacks?
Ron Paul: No. I don’t think so much to hide about ulterior motives as much as, I think it’s very natural for any government to resist investigations because they want to hide ineptness, you know, there’s always mistakes. Bureaucracies are always inept. And I think that nobody wants to be investigated because it makes one look bad. Obviously if you have something as tragic as 9/11, somebody slipped up somewhere, and I think that’s the main problem with these investigations. Even though I’ve given some token support to the idea that we ought to really look into it and find the real truth, frankly another government investigation is not likely to reveal a whole lot of difference because government is sort of protective of itself, sometimes even party to party they do that.
WND: In general terms, what role do you believe Israel plays in the Middle East? Is it generally a positive role, or generally a negative role?
Ron Paul: I don’t know whether you should pick either one. I think they provide a balance of power there. I think unfortunately we get in their way, because they depend on us for money. They also depend on us for permission. We hinder Israel by not allowing them to do what is necessary for their own defense. If they thought they needed to take out somebody they have to get our permission. On the other side of that, I think they would play an even better role if we would allow them to negotiate with Syria and other countries, and there’s been some strong hints that they would like to do that. In many ways I think that they have a balance of power there. Nobody’s going to touch them. They don’t really need us. They have 200-300 nuclear weapons and nobody’s going to attack Israel. Israel would be even more secure if they didn’t depend on us so much. because they wouldn’t have to get our permission. There’s no way – Iraq and Iran they don’t even have – neither one has nuclear weapons. Iraq didn’t and Iran doesn’t, but even if they did, Israel’s going to take care of it. So I think they play an important role in the balance of power there but I think it would even be more powerful if they weren’t so dependant on us.
WND: You often cite George Washington’s warning to the U.S. to, quote, avoid foreign entanglements, end quote, but under that rule the U.S. probably would not have fought and defeated Hitler’s Germany, which never attacked the U.S. In your view is there ever a legitimate reason for the U.S. to invade a foreign nation to free an enslaved people or to save a nation from being invaded and assimilated by another?
Ron Paul: Well your question is inaccurate in the sense that Germany declared war against us. We didn’t declare against them. We didn’t go to war just on our own. They made the declaration, and we declared war against them the following day. The president actually has clear authority to pre-emptively act in defense of this country if a nation has attacked us or if there is an imminent attack. He doesn’t even have to ask the Congress to do that. But just to say for humanitarian reasons or for some other reasons for us to pre-emptively attack somebody, Iraq or Iran, no, I think it’s completely wrong. It’s unconstitutional, it’s immoral, it’s unwise. And when you don’t declare the war, you don’t win the war, so Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and probably the war that’s coming in Iran, I think these are way beyond the scope of what the Founding Fathers intended and I think that’s why we haven’t been winning wars much since World War II.
WND: Do you think a conflict in Iran is inevitable or en route?
Ron Paul: I think if our policies don’t change it’s about as inevitable as you can expect because we’re unwilling to talk to them and every week we’re passing more sanctions and rules and intimidations and accusations and provocations. I mean we’re surrounding Iran and there’s very, very little understanding of that history, the American people don’t know how we have been involved since 1953 in interfering with their government and it has hurt us and I think they’re moving quickly up there. We’re failing in Iraq and our government would like to have a distraction from that so they are blaming the Iranians. Not on our failures and not on our foolish policies, but they’re blaming the Iranians on this. And that’s why the war propaganda is building. I don’t think we’ll have an old-fashioned invasion but, you know when you put blockades around a country and people suffer from it and you try to starve people and humiliate them and take away their source of energy those are acts of war. Then if you start bombing them, others are going to come in. By that time maybe the Chinese will find out it’s in their interests to defend the Iranians, and who knows what kind of financial attacks they can place against us, against the dollar. Yes, I think our policies if not changed will end up with a war against Iran.
WND: If elected, what would your priorities be for the first 100 days?
Ron Paul: I think the first one would be in foreign policy. The announcements would be that our policies have changed, we’re going to be friends with people and we’re going to start backing away from entanglements in the internal affairs of other governments. I would back the Navy away from the coast of Iran, and invite them to have conversations with us, which actually our administration already has hinted, which I think is very good. I would suspend any effort by our CIA to overthrow the government and make sure they know that. If the Soviets had or the Russians had somebody in this country with a regime change idea about our government, every American would stand behind our government. Yet that’s our policy right now, regime change in Iran, and the probability of our CIA being involved is very, very great. The announcement would be that that no longer exists and we’re going to approach these things a lot differently. And I’d bring troops home out of Iraq, because Americans are dying for a cause that nobody understands. We went in there under false pretense. It had nothing to do with 9/11 and the sooner the American people realize that the better. But the other things depend on just how much you can get the Congress to agree. The president is not a dictator, he’s commander in chief and can do something with the military but when it comes to legislation or trying to solve the problems of a bankrupt Social Security system, whether he can modify the monetary policy, you have to work with Congress and change the law and get people to understand it and get people to agree. Same way with taxes. I want to get rid of the IRS but the president doesn’t have the authority to do that, so it’s working in a different manner with the Congress rather than always seeking more power in the executive branch. I would be anxious to be more partners with the Congress. They have responsibilities too. Presidents can’t go to war without the Congress, and Congress ought to know that and people ought to know that. There’s a lot of hard work trying to get the American people to understand what the Constitution says about separation of powers and why we have three branches of government.
WND: Describe your perspective on the status of the U.S. border, security and the position of those who are in the United States illegally. What should the government’s next step be?
Ron Paul: There they have a responsibility. We shouldn’t be sending our border guards to Iraq to train border guards in Iraq. I mean that’s pretty hard to understand. The people don’t understand it. Of course, I’d be bringing troops home so we’d have personnel and we’d have funds to use to beef up our borders, and that’s one way you can pay for it. Today you have no way of paying for anything because we’re in horrendous debt. So, we should stop the inflow, but I emphasize in a strong manner the idea of removing the benefits, no amnesty and changing the law so it’s very clear there’s no birthright citizenship and making sure there are no federal mandates on the states for free services, no free medicine, no free education, no bilingualism where we have to pay more money to teach kids in Spanish to illegal aliens to having food stamps and getting on our Social Security. You’ve got to get rid of the incentives and I think the whole process would change. Right now, there’s a much greater move on for the New World Order which incorporates the North American Union. I don’t think our current leaders in either the Republican Party or the Democrat Party care about borders any more, and I would be emphatic. Although the law was not changed in 2005, our president agreed with Mexico and Canada that they would work in that direction, that they would have a North American Union and I would make it very clear that that’s not my intent, and yet I would still want to be friends with our neighbors and trade with our neighbors and be peaceful and not get involved in their internal affairs. I certainly would change this whole attitude about the obliteration of our borders and working toward a North American Union.
WND: Would you support an amendment to the Constitution limiting marriage to one man and one woman?
Ron Paul: I tend to like the principle of the Constitution that our problems are dealt with by the states. I don’t want more power, I want to remove power from Washington. I don’t want it going from Washington and then to the United Nations, so …on the marriage amendment I want the states to deal with that. I think it’s a good system. I think federalism is the best way to do it. Those problems on marriage should be defined by the states.
WND: Please share with us your perspective on abortion, Roe v. Wade, and when the Constitution’s protections for life should apply.
Ron Paul: The Constitution now does not explicitly interfere with the states obligation to punish people who commit murder, and killing an innocent fetus is to me an act of violence and it should be permitted that states prohibit this. I want to repeal Roe v. Wade. It should have never been heard, and the federal government’s obligation is to make sure that nobody is ever forced to fund abortions, yet we’re doing that all the time. We fund hospitals that do abortions, we fund international programs that do abortions. We have to move away from that. The protection of life in most cases today, even in spite of our big problems, most acts of violence are still taken care of by the federal courts, and I don’t want to distinguish the killing of a fetus one minute before birth from the killing of a fetus one minute after birth, because if we don’t invite the federal government in when the teenager kills her baby as soon as the baby is born, they are arrested and they are charged for the crime by the state, and I think that’s the way the abortion issue should be handled.
WND: At what point do such agreements (the Security and Prosperity Partnership) with other nations actually endanger the sovereignty of the United States?
Ron Paul: It’s incremental. It sneaks up on us. When we joined the WTO I objected and they said it’s no big deal, they won’t force us to do anything. They try to reassure you. Yet to be an upstanding member of the WTO we have already changed our tax laws. We have gone to war under U.N. resolutions. As a matter of fact, this excuse of giving the president the authority to go to war and Congress ducking their responsibility, it was to give the president the authority to enforce U.N. resolutions, so it’s subtle but it’s there, and it’s not legal in the sense that they say a treaty is the law of the land so we join the U.N. and you have to do these things. But you cannot amend the Constitution with a treaty. I think it’s already happening. I think it’s going to get a lot worse. This Security and Prosperity Partnership is something most members of Congress are totally unaware of and when you tell them anything about it, they say that’s all conspiratorial and it’s not true and they don’t care. The American people are facing some serious problems because of the fact members of Congress aren’t alert to what’s happening.
WND: What is your belief about the terrorist threats U.S. citizens are facing without our own borders?
Ron Paul: It’s growing every day because we have refused to understand the motivation, and the motivation is occupation, and Robert Pape is the expert on this, and he just studied hundreds and hundreds of cases on how an individual could be motivated to such an extreme move as to commit suicide and the No. 1 reason behind – it’s not the only reason – but the No. 1 reason is occupation by a foreign power. Or even the perception of that. Our occupation of the holy land in Saudi Arabia, that motivated al-Qaida. They saw this as an affront to their religious beliefs and to the sovereignty of Saudi Arabia, so yes and now, since 9/11, although Wolfowitz thought this was great because now if we get bases in Iraq we can remove the incentive that existed that prompted the 9/11. He says boy this is good, now we can get our troops off Saudi Arabia terrority, because they don’t like us. He admitted what I am claiming. But what he doesn’t understand, and the world has to understand and the American people have to understand is that invading and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan and threatening Iran doesn’t help us at all. It makes it worse. So as long as we have troops all over the Middle East like this, you can expect that they will continue to attack us. But they’re quite content to kill our people in Iraq. They’re up to 3,600 now, and 25,000 wounded. They’re bleeding us financially. They’re bleeding us morally. They’re bleeding our morale in this country, and they’re loving it. If the American people ever came to a conclusion we actually fell into a trap. I think Osama bin Laden is quite delighted with our policies, and besides the Iranians like it too. We got rid of Iran’s two arch-enemies, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. So we have done a great favor for Ahmadenijad, because he doesn’t have his arch-enemies over there. So as long as that exists, we’d better be prepared because they will not let us rest.
WND: How would you like to direct the national discussion during the campaign?
Ron Paul: I direct it mostly around the Constitution, because all of us , liberals, conservatives, libertarians and Democrats, everybody should agree that without the rule of law there is nothing. We can have our disagreements, but we should not ever reject the idea of the rule of law. Our problem we have today is that courts take it upon themselves to legislate, we have allowed our executive branch to legislate through the administrative courts and through the writing of regulations. We have allowed the president to go to war, the Congress to reject their responsibilities, and then when they do write laws they don’t obey the Constitution. But I think what the American people want are members of our government to obey the rule of law. If they want to have No Child Left Behind, the federal government running our public schools, at least change the Constitution. There was a time when this country, they thought they were going to make the country a better place to live and they said nobody should drink alcohol. Well they went out and amended the Constitution. They had a lot of respect for the law. Today there is no respect for the law, the Constitution. That is what I’m going to do, is direct my attention to solving any and every problem. Of course my thesis is that the mess we have with its financial, monetary or foreign policy has all occurred because we have ignored the Constitution. If we decide we want to solve some of these problems, I venture to bet we can find most of the answers in the Constitution.”
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