The GOP Field and Iran

Questions for the candidates:

(1) The United States has–since the Cold War era–maintained that any effort to shut down the Strait of Hormuz will be considered an act of war against the United States. Where do you stand on that, and what would your response be to such an effort by the Iranians or any other nation-state?

(2) Each of the last two Presidents–as well as most of the Republican candidates for President–have made it our policy that Iran must not be permitted to have nuclear weapons. The questions on this are severalfold:

(a) do you believe that such an outcome is feasible?
(b) to what extent should we engage the Iranians to ensure that this outcome is achieved?
(c) is war an acceptable step toward this outcome?
(d) given that we are not able to keep criminals from obtaining firearms in the United States, how would a conventional war prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons?
(e) would the cost of war justify any proposed benefit?

Questions for Ron Paul:

(1) Given that you are the most anti-war of any candidate in the field–to include the President–under what circumstances would you consider war as necessary?

(2) Even in peacetime, intelligence is a very necessary function of national security. Toward that end, what are your visions for intelligence policy? What does that look like domestically and in the foreign arena?

(3) Your opposition to the Patriot Act is well-documented. At the same time, what do you propose that would (a) allow us to gather the intel that we need, while (b) preserving fundamental liberties?

5 thoughts on “The GOP Field and Iran

  1. Good questions. Re: 2(d), nuclear weapons are far more difficult to produce or procure than firearms. This should be obvious.

    As for war, I’m generally hopeful that it won’t be necessary. But unless we are credibly able to threaten war (by which I mean limited airstrikes, as necessary to degrade nuclear development by some years), demands for further inspections are almost certain to be fruitless. Iran will only bend if the military option is seriously on the table.

    Further, the isolationist wing ought to consider that so long as man remains a fallen creature, war will be a part of history. A small war now may prevent a much larger war later. Iran as dominant regional hegemon, with nuclear weapons, in the always-volatile Middle East, with leaders under the influence of millenarian Shiite ideology, strikes me as VERY dangerous to peace. Big wars are worse than small ones, and the thing about America is that we do ultimately find ourselves dragged in once a war gets big enough. I’d rather Iran be stopped now than find ourselves dealing in five years with the consequences of a nuclear attack on Israel.

    Of course, Ron Paul’s followers think our mistake in World War II was getting involved at all, rather than failing to deal with Hitler in 1936 or 1938. What can one say to people who think the U.S. could do business with a Hitlerian Europe?

  2. @Craig M.
    Actually, it’s WWI that we should have never bothered with. There was no legitimate reason for us to bother ourselves in that killfest, and without our Federal Reserve it would not have happened.

    As for the “security over liberty” wing, I have yet to hear them provide one ounce of intellectual honesty about the fascist policies of the Wilson Administration, whose thugs harassed, beat, and jailed objectors to our war efforts, and killed a large number of Americans in a war in which we did not materially benefit.

    As for Iran, there is no threat that even resembles Hitler. They don’t even have the ability to provide gasoline to their own people; their economy is in complete shambles. But for oil exports, they have very little besides pistachios, dates, and rugs. Their inflation rate is nasty; their unemployment rate is horrible; most Iranians could care less about Islam. They trust the mullahs as far as they can throw them.

    Why won’t they have another revolution? They remember what happened last time they had one: they ended up with what they have now.

    Do Iranians support the nuclear efforts of their government? You bet. To most of them, it’s a national sovereignty issue. Pakistan has nukes. Russia–which invaded them once before–has nukes. India–not far from them–has nukes. Israel has nukes. Heck, North Korea–a country far less stable and farther off the reservation than Iran–has nukes.

    Iran isn’t going to bend on nukes. This is because they know that the U.S. cannot afford a war, nor will the American people support one. Moreover, the Iranians have enough skill–especially with electronic countermeasures–to take much of our technological advantage off the table. (Their hacking of our stealth drone is indeed quite obvious.) We have the military might to crush them, but the financial cost would far outweigh the benefit.

    While an air strike–or series of them–by the U.S. and/or Israel is an option, the Iranians are more than likely prepared for that. The Iraqis–in 1981–were largely wide open for a strike by the Israelis, but the Iranians have learned from that attack.

    The larger issue is the extent to which we respect national sovereignty. The Iranians have legitimate issues with the U.S. on that front. Two times in the last 60 years, we have undermined and/or overthrown Iranian governments, including one that was democratic. This is not a Democrat versus Republican thing, either: Mohammed Mossadegh was overthrown by a CIA operation engineered by the Eisenhower administration, whereas the Shah was undermined by the Carter administration.

    Obama–for all his faults–has acknowledged that dilemma with Iran, as has Ron Paul. Still, Obama hasn’t walked the talk, as he has meddled in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Somalia of late.

    Over here, we respect the rights of the citizen. This is why gun rights are a default, and life, liberty, and property are also the default. This makes it more difficult to keep guns out of the hands of bad guys, but we accept that as the price for allowing the good guys to have them.

    And so it is with national sovereignty. Stopping Iran from acquiring nukes is a windmill tilt. Air strikes won’t stop it from happening, but will only slow down the process. An overt war could stop it, but the cost is too high and everyone with at least a double-digit IQ knows it. Sanctions and trade embargoes have not worked, are not working, and will not work, as they only succeed in (a) hurting the very people we claim to support in their endeavor for freedom, and (b) creating third party entrepreneurial opportunities for businessmen in Europe who serve as middlemen between Iran and the U.S.

  3. I don’t necessarily disagree with you about WWI. Though I don’t necessarily agree. I’m ambivalent.

    I’m very pleased with the Iowa results, by the way. Paul’s high water mark in a dovish state is a disappointing third. More than 75% of the voters, and more than 90% of Republicans, voted against the isolationist position. I’m VERY pleased.

  4. @Craig M.
    I guess you’re also pleased that more than two thirds voted to help accelerate the American quest to become a banana republic: more bailouts of banksters, bailouts of Europe, bailouts of Fannie and Freddie, more deficit spending, more welfare for illegals, governmental control over everything from what size toilet you can have to what kind of light bulbs you can buy at your store.

    In actuality, Paul was quite a close third place, and did quite well. If anything, that split shows that Republican voters do not have a clear candidate in whom they can have confidence.

    Santorum? He couldn’t even win PA. When he was a Senator, he was a big spender who didn’t lift a finger to stop that orgy. This is why he was run out of town in 2006.

    Romney is all the more laughable, as he is but a Rockefeller Republican cross-dressing as a born-again conservative. His health care plan was the blueprint for Obamacare. Hope you enjoy that.

    If Santorum ogets the GOP nod, it will be 1996 (and 2008) all over again. Other than social issues–abortion and guns–there is no material difference between him and Obama. That difference was not enough to win for Bush in 1992, Dole in 1996, or McCain in 2008. Hope you are pleased with the 4 more years of Obama you are all but guaranteed to get.

    If Romney wins, it will be even worse. On social issues, his record is closer to Obama than to Santorum or Paul. On economic issues, he is Obama without a teleprompter. On health care, his plan is the statewide version of Obamacare.

    Republicans have yet to figure out that they have no chance of winning by marketing themselves as softer socialists than the Democrats.

  5. Santorum lost once, in 2006 – the worst year for Republicans in decades. Agree that spending must be seriously cut, but I think that reality is sinking in regardless. I’m very, very pleased that Paul’s best effort fell far short. His foreign policy views are poison and have been repudiated.

    I wonder what you think Paul would actually accomplish if he won. You realize Congress can override a veto, right? Paul has spent 30 years in Congress and accomplished nothing. Why do you think he’d be successful in passing legislation to eliminate cabinet departments, kill spending, etc.? Congress has the purse and the veto override, and Paul can’t convince Congress of anything.

    His value is in highlighting fiscal issues and drawing the attention of better leaders to those issues.

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