GOP candidates blast Ron Paul over Iran policy. Is one side crazy?
After Thursday night's GOP candidate debate, a political analyst suggested the Ron Paul hands-off position toward Iran 'jumped the shark.' Mr. Paul says intervention is what's truly nuts. Here are their arguments.
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Michele Bachmann: The congresswoman from Minnesota seized an opportunity to fire her own shot at Paul. "I think I have never heard a more dangerous answer for American security than the one we just heard from Ron Paul.... And the reason why I would say that is because we know without a shadow of a doubt Iran will take a nuclear weapon, they will use it to wipe our ally Israel off the face of the map. And they've stated that they will use it against the United States of America."Skip to next paragraph
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She added, "Look no further than the Iranian constitution, which states unequivocally that their mission is to extend jihad across the world and eventually to set up a worldwide caliphate. We would be fools and knaves to ignore their purpose and their plan."
Paul: He offered a different take on the objectives of the Iranian regime and of the world's adherents of Islam in general. "To declare war on 1.2 billion Muslims and say all Muslims are the same, this is dangerous talk. Yeah, there are some radicals. But they don't come here to kill us because we're free and prosperous. Do they go to Switzerland and Sweden? I mean, that's absurd. If you think that is the reason, we have no chance of winning this. They come here and they explicitly explain it to us. The CIA has explained it to us. They said they come here and want to do us harm because we're bombing them."
He espoused a view of limited war powers for the executive branch, and of economic limits to American military engagement. "Why do we have to bomb so many countries? Why are we [having] 900 bases in 130 countries and we're totally bankrupt? How are you going to rebuild the military when we have no money?... We need a strong national defense ... and we need to only go to war with a declaration of war."
Bachmann: She took a rebuttal opportunity. Where Paul had talked about the danger of overreacting on Iran, she said it "would be that the greatest underreaction in world history if we have an avowed madman who uses that nuclear weapon to wipe nations off the face of the Earth and we have an IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] report that recently came out that said literally, Iran is within just months from being able to obtain that weapon."
Paul: He responded, saying the IAEA report did not contain hard evidence of an imminent nuclear weapon. Paul was booed, while later a CNN "truth squad" said Paul was factually correct on this point.
Because of the way the debate was structured, presidential contenders Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman Jr., and Rick Perry did not have an opportunity to weigh in on Iran. Mr. Gingrich has said he favors "regime change" in Iran, and that, if elected president, he could topple Iran's government within a year, but would use military force only as a last resort.
Mr. Huntsman has said the US and Israel will have to consider the military option to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, because economic sanctions won't be enough.
Governor Perry proposes to take "every economic and diplomatic effort" to stop Iran, and would have the military option "on the table." He lambasts Obama's Iran policy, but it's not clear how his would differ.