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I hope the RP campaign does not mind some unsolicited advice.  I am so excited that someone with a serious chance of winning is running for President with a non-interventionist, libertarian message.  Ron Paul has the integrity to go with the message.

But Iran is so dangerous that Cong. Paul needs to avoid looking weak or naive.  So he needs to call a press conference similar to the famous “Giuliani’s Reading List”, with one or two foreign policy advisers at his sides.

Cong. Paul needs to say something like this:

“At the Ames debate, I was discussing the issue of Iran from the standpoint of needless wars.  Leaders in both parties seem wedded to the idol of militarism, attacking nations such as Iraq without a compelling interest.  Even President Obama has attacked Libya.  Former President Clinton attacked Serbia without provocation.  We have never done this before 1999.”

“Sanctions are war under international law.  They hurt innocents and seldom accomplish needed diplomatic goals.  Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright was actually quoted as saying the Iraqi sanctions to punish Saddam Hussein what allegedly killed half a million children was ‘worth it’.  This is outrageous.  Let’s not do that again.”

“Our support for the Shah, not only the 1953 coup, but the help given the Shah’s secret police by US and UK intelligence agencies, had blowback:  The revolution and the hatred the Iranians have for the US.  This is what happens when we do not mind our own business.”

“But Iran is dangerous.  The Islamic Republic must be watched closely.  And contrary to the assertion made by former Senator Santorum in the debate, Iran was not free after 1953 through 1979 – the Shah was a brutal tyrant who was complicit in human rights violations including torture and killing.  See this quote from an official at Amnesty International:

“Thirty years on, some of the worst abuses of the Shah’s time – torture, executions and the suppression of legitimate dissent – are still being replicated in Iran, despite the efforts of the country’s growing and valiant community of human rights defenders,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. “It is high time that Iranian authorities lived up to their obligations under international human rights law.”

But Senator Santorum’s solution is almost surely war.  I want to find a way to say to Iran:  We respect you as a nation and respect your sovereignty.  We will not try to overthrow your government.  But we need respect in return.  We regard the possession or manufacture of nuclear material or weapons to be a unfriendly act against the United States.  We cannot remove military action from the table but we will seek authority from Congress if a bomb is made in the manner of a declaration of war, if the need for war becomes necessary.  I voted to authorize military action against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan because our nation was attacked.  If Israel decides it needs to attack Iran, we will not attempt to stop her form doing that.  I am not afraid to use the military.  However, war need not be the first stop.  Too many of our men and women have died or been wounded due to wars that were unnecessary.  Wars where we should have minded our own business.  Even in Afghanistan, the war against the Taliban ended quickly and victoriously.  Then we could have adopted the constitutional authority of the letters of marque and reprisal to capture Osama bin Laden.  We would have saved trillions in borrowed money and prevented further losses to our liberty at home.”

“I am the only GOP candidate in this race, other than Gov. Perry, with a military record.  I also have the best record among servicemen and women for campaign contributions.”

I think this type of statement is consistent with positions Cong. Paul has taken without sounding weak.  It also exposes another misstatement Senator Santorum made in the debate (that Iran was free before 1979; AI implies that the Islamic Republic’s human rights record is marginally better than the Shah’s) and if the campaign can prove his assertion that Iran has killed more US soldiers than either the Iraqis or Afghans is false, that would be great to add.

It is possible Paul lost the Ames straw poll due to the Iran matter and in preparation for the next debate, he needs to try out various concepts to see if they will do what he wants to do without seeking weak and naive.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)


  1. Cheryl Laird says:


  2. Tom White says:

    I think the question was asked of Paul knowing the Libertarian response that would come. I have already spoken to that in the post debate wrap up I did. The Libertarian response is "It's none of our business". I agree that your thoughts would have been better received, somewhat. But foreign policy is the weakest link in the Libertarian viewpoint to most people. They consider Paul an isolationist, but that is not true. Nor is he really a non-interventionist. He is simply looking at the Federal Government's Role in the world and the role is purely defensive.

    But there are times when a good offense is the best defense. That is where a pure Libertarian would decline to act. Of all the countries that we fight, or will fight, Iran has the highest potential to end up as a major threat. And what has happened is that Iran has adopted out interventionist policy.

    Where we stick our nose in places we shouldn't, it is usually because Iran has already interfered. Everywhere in the Middle East, and they are spreading to other places like Cuba and South America.

    They are a dangerous country and we are already at war with them, technically.

    I believe most people already understand that Iran is a threat. Paul's "leave them be" response will only make the situation harder if and when the day comes that we will need to have a full scale war with them. Mostly because the roots of terrorism can and will be traced to Iran.

    The things we are doing right now are misguided attempts to keep Iran in a bottle hoping for an internal solution. As their influence and power grows, they are more of a direct threat. And the day will eventually come, if Iran is left unfettered, that they will attack the US or Israel.

    And if the day comes that Iran has a nuclear weapon, they will become another N. Korea. A rogue nation with insane leaders who will be allowed to do whatever they want to avoid their use of a nuclear weapon.

    Iran with a Nuke changes the balance of power and limits us in any response to aggression. Should a Nuclear armed Iran attack Israel, there would be little we can do. And if Israel falls to Iran, the entire Middle East will be directly controlled by them.

    I am afraid Ron Paul would either have to let that happen, or abandon his Libertarian philosophy.

    This is a gray area and Libertarians only do black and white.

    That question was a set up, I have no doubt. It was asked so that Ron Paul would be seen as crazy. And for all except his base, it worked. Most people who are not Libertarian do not understand Libertarians. And the part of Libertarian foreign policy that scares the heck out of everyone but Libertarians was exploited in the Iowa debate.

    Ron Paul gave his honest answer. He cannot and will not change his philosophy to get elected. This is, on some level, admirable. But he lost some support with this one question and, worse, sealed his followers to only those who subscribe to the Libertarian philosophy. His base will not grow because that single question managed to alienate anyone not already a Ron Paul supporter.

    So Paul is left with two choices. Either admit that sanctions and other pressures are necessary to prevent an all out war to stop Iran from obtaining a Nuke, which also means a preemptive strike is on the table, or stick by his statement that since everyone else has Nukes, what's wrong with Iran having them.

    The fatal flaw in his Libertarian view of Iran is that he assumes Iran (and all other countries) will also follow a Libertarian policy.

    That would be wonderful and we could probably end war for good if the whole world were Libertarian.

    But they are not. And I believe that despite a second place finish in Iowa, Ron Paul's candidacy for president is at the same place Tim Pawlenty found his after the straw poll.

    Ron Paul's strength (and Libertarian's strength) is on economic policy. If you noticed, Paul got absolutely no questions on the Fed and almost nothing he was asked played to his strengths. Instead, the questions in South Carolina and Iowa were designed to expose his weaknesses. Drugs and Foreign Policy. Paul hit a home run with the drug question in S.C., but the Iranian question did what the Drug question failed to do.

    Paul will not quit. Yet. But he will now start falling in the polls and eventually either drop out, or run on the Libertarian ticket. The latter choice would be catastrophic for America.

    Like it or not, this is now a 3 way race. Romney, Bachmann and Perry. And history is not on Bachmann's side.

    And I do see Perry leading Romney by the end of September (I think there are 3 debates in September). And Bachmann will move into a distant third. I love Michele, but she is not qualified to be president. And her prospects for a Veep choice are not good, either. She does not like being second chair to anyone and the parallels between McCain – Palin will be hard to overcome.

    Watch the Mainstream Media attack Perry. They want Romney because Obama can beat him. And Obama can easily defeat Bachmann as well, but perhaps not as easily as Romney.

  3. lizzieb_23 says:

    "Iran is not in breach of international law. There is no evidence that the country is building nuclear weapons" – Five former EU ambassadors to Iran.

    Multiple polls by US organizations found that the people of Iran did in fact vote for Ahmadinejad, and there was no election fraud.

  4. Sam Adams says:


    There is no reason to declare war on Iran because they make a bomb. If we are not a threat to Iran, Iran's bomb is not a threat to us. If they use it on us, well, that's a different story. But unless and until they do – hogwash.

    Israel is not the 51st State. They aren't even a territory. Their interests do not come before ours. If they start a war, that is their problem. They will be the ones in the wrong, not Iran. That has nothing to do with the U.S.A.

    Ron Paul should educate America about the devilish deeds done in other countries on their behalf, promptly declare the perpetrators of such atrocities to be war criminals, pledge to bring them to trial and see to it they are punished, and open up trade and dialog with all nations.

    We created Al-Qaida. We created the Islamic Republic of Iran. We created Saddam Hussein. Etc. etc.
    This madness must end.


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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