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- Welcome to NOW. The animals spirits are in a worldwide frenzy over the threat of war in Iraq that has sent stocks falling through the floor again. On Wall Street, there's talk that America's economy could remain stagnant for years. But the strange thing is that in Washington no one seems especially bothered by bad economic news. The talk in Washington is all "WAR WAR WAR."
- CHENEY (giving speech):
- We realize that wars are never won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy. We will take every step necessary to make sure our country is secure and we will prevail.
- The message is very clear: we have no time to lose and Saddam must be removed from office
- We are moving toward a strong resolution. And all of us and many others in Congress are united in our determination to confront an urgent threat to America.
- But before he takes out Saddam Hussein, the President wants a regime change in the United State Congress.
- The Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people.
- Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle took the President's attack as slanderous.
- You tell those who fought in Viet Nam and in World War II that they're not interested in the security of the American people. That is outrageous. Outrageous.
- But what the President said was nothing compared to the campaign launched against Democrats across the country by the Republican Party
questioning their opponents loyalty and trying to make the campaign all about patriotism.
- Advert Clips:
Do you believe this is free speech, burning the American flag? The flag our soldiers carry into battle, the flag our children pledge allegiance to
the flag our nation salutes
says not to deploying missile defense but now he's changed his tune
AGAIN. Says he's for the military
who's he kidding?
- The martial spirit has engulfed the mass media too. On the networks, viewers are being treated to a preview of the killing machines that could be used against Iraq.
this aircraft has got enough computers and enough "brains", I guess, that you can really focus on completing your mission
- But as the talk of war grows, the voices of dissent are growing too. 150,000 turned out in London last weekend to protest the impending war
- Protest footage:
one two three four
we don't want your oil war
- And in Washington, these demonstrators marched on Vice President Cheney's resident. Official Washington wasn't listening. Most everyone is falling into line. But there are a few lonely voices of dissent, like Ron Paul's, and he's not even a democrat.
- PAUL (clip):
- Mr. Speaker, I rise to urge the Congress to think twice before thrusting this nation into a war without merit; one fraught with danger of escalating into something no American will be pleased with.
- With us now, from the House of Representatives is Ron Paul, Republican from Texas. Thank you, sir, for joining us. Have you heard anything this week that would give you second thoughts about opposing a war against Iraq?
- No. And I keep listening carefully and read everything I can get. And, I see no new information. There's really nothing new not only in the last two months it's interesting that we've just been talking seriously about this for one month. But I don't think there's anything new in the last two months or two years. And, for that matter, maybe even twelve years.
When Secretary Powell was before our committee, he was very clear to us that Saddam's military is very, very weak and much weaker than it was when he was defeated twelve years ago. And, that sorta goes by everybody and they keep talking about presumptions: maybe someday he's going to get something and maybe someday he's going do this and he might build a weapon and he's trying to get these things
So, it's pretty vague, the accusations.
- Have you seen or heard anything from the CIA, the Pentagon, the State Department or the White House to suggest that Saddam Hussein is planning an attack on the United States?
- No, I see nothing imminent. He doesn't have an air force. He doesn't have a navy. He can't even shoot down
he didn't shoot one of our airplanes down in twelve years
and his army is 1/3 of what it was twelve years ago. So, you know, this fictions that he's Hitler and that he's about to take over the Middle East
I think it's a stretch.
- Let's take for a moment the Administration at its word and admit that it, that President Bush and others really believe that it's a potential threat that he can get serious weapon of mass destruction. What should we do about that if we really thought he was getting weapons of mass destruction?
- Well, I think that President Kennedy gave us a pretty good idea of what we should do. He had to deal with some tough times. As a matter of fact, there [is precedence he] had to deal with the Soviets. They had 50,000 nuclear warhead and they had tremendous power and they brought them 90 miles off our shore. And not once did we think that confrontation was a good idea. Matter of fact, we always stood strong, had a strong national defense, we worked on containment and we even negotiated.
So, I would say, if we were able to accomplish that with the Soviets, and we've been able to live with the Chinese and put up with so much danger in the world, we oughta be able to handle this guy that
there's no evidence that he has these weapons and that there's no evidence of that
and he hasnt committed an act of aggression. I would think that if we really wanted to, we could handle him the same way we handled the Soviets.
We "won the cold war".
- Why are so many members of Congress lining up to want to go to war?
- On our side, many Republicans will come to me and they'll tell me that, you know, that their mail is running strongly against the war. "But, you know, I just can't go against my President."
Now, I'm uncomfortable about that. I mean, I know President Bush and he's from our state and you know a bit about politics and you know how that works. And I don't like that but I still an obligation to my own beliefs, my own convictions, my promises and to the Constitution. So I have to do my best job in defending that position.
But there is a temptation to want to go along and feel good about being part of the party and not resist. And, I think it's interesting on the other side
- The Democrats?
the Democrats. Yeah, they're split. Now, the best allies I have now for trying to avoid a war comes from the more liberal Democrats. Which is sort of ironic, maybe, in a conservative Republican
so there's more allies from there [than from] leadership on the Republican side. And that
I think there's a lot of influence behind the scenes for this war dealing with oil interests (and this would influence both sides of the aisle) and, as much as people want to admit it, I really think that Israel and our support for Israel has an influence in our overall policy
- Do you think that, excuse me, do you think Israel wants us to take out Saddam Hussein so that Israel doesn't have to do it itself? Because Israel is threatened
- That's an interesting question. I think they want to get rid of Saddam Hussein and I can't blame them. And when Israel went in and took out that nuclear reactor in the early 1980s, actually I was one of the very few Republicans who supported it! It's in their interest to deal with it.
No, I don't think it's so much that Israel wants us to do their work for 'em, it's that we don't allow them to do their work for themselves.
Because, even the Persian Gulf War may well have been better fought by Israel and moderate Arabs
and they could have taken care of Saddam Hussein a lot better than we did. Because that war is still going on.
- What are you hearing from your district? Your conservative district has sent you back to Congress year after year. Are your constituents [prepared to go to war, do they want to go to war]?
- I would say I've had well over a thousand positive letters of support and probably six or eight negatives. So I would say they strongly support my position. "Do whatever you can to avoid the war!"
- You've been consistent in your conservative positions: you opposed abortion, you like low taxes, you want us back on the Gold Standard
what is your philosophical basis for opposing a war with Iraq?
- Well, you know the [ ] historic definition
it's actually a Christian definition
of the Just War influences me.
It has to be defensive
prompts me to look at what the founders said and they want us to declare the war. The responsibility's on the House and the Senate to make the declaration. And that we should win it.
It has to be declared by the proper authorities
and you have to be willing to win the war
Now, I get motivated by this because I'm old enough to remember World War II and all the other wars. And war is not good. And I know that since World War II, we haven't won any wars. So, the way we get into war is every bit as important as deciding whether or not to go to war.
And it seems like when we slip into war through the back door, we're less likely to win and the consequences seem to get out of control and the complications last a lot longer just like the Persian Gulf War did. We didn't finish it. We had a humiliating defeat in Viet Nam. Korea, we've still occupied Korea for fifty years.
And, besides, I think it's human nature to really prefer peace over war. I think people will go to war when they know it's necessary. But I think when it's not necessary, they're very tempted to vote for somebody who advocates peace and a little bit more reasoning than to jump and leap into a war that may lead to some very serious consequences.
- I was in the Johnson White House when we pushed through the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which President Johnson then used as a means of going to war in Viet Nam without officially declaring war. Are we seeing something like that here?
- I think it's very similar. Because I see this as not assuming responsibility by the Congress. [But then] the Congress transferring its authority to wage the war and giving it to the President. So, it doesnt tell the President to go to war but it's certainly granting him this authority to use force, to go to war, to win
if he feels like it. So, I would say that it's very similar and it may well have consequences similar to maybe not quite so bad but could be even worse.
what do you think about the President's new policy of pre-emptive first strikes?
- I think that is serious. In the committee today, as we were marking up this bill, those who were pushing the resolution worked real hard to say "This has nothing to do with pre-emptive strikes."
And I made a statement, I think I said: "This is what it's all about
is to establish and institutionalize the pre-emptive strikes."
Although, we have done that off and on, in minor degrees over the years, this one is much more open and more declared and a much bigger issue. And that's what this is all about a pre-emptive strike.
I think that is so dangerous. And not only to us as a people and to our Rule of Law and our Constitution, but I believe that it will come back to haunt us because it has already started
because the Russians now say: "Aha, what you're doing is nothing compared to what we want to do
we want to go into Georgia and because you say there's terrorists, and the Iraqis are possible terrorists, that's why we want to go into Georgia and we want you to approve it."
And that's why they're looking to maybe give in a little bit to us if we ignore what they do in Georgia.
But what if China declares that they've just been attacked by some terrorist from Taiwan? They may move on Taiwan in the midst of a crisis in Iraq. And look at the confusion and the chaos and the hatred that exists between India and Pakistan. They both have nuclear weapons. Now, if the pre-emptive strike becomes institutionalized not only for us but for the world, that means that the next time the Pakistanis might commit an act of terror against the Indians, or vice versa, the Indians might just say: "This is the reason we have to go ahead
and besides, the Great Moral Leaders of the World, the people who set the standards is America and this is what they do"
And they will take our quotes and use it. They could take our legislation and use it. So, yes
I think what we're doing here in re-doing this policy has really changed things a lot and that is probably the thing that we should fear the most.
- Congressman Paul, September 10th three weeks ago you read to the House of Representatives 35 questions you said should be answered by the Administration before action was taken on this resolution for a war against Iraq. Have any of those questions been answered?
I guess, in bits and pieces
and I qualify that by saying I wouldn't get to ask them. You know, I probably
these couple days of opening debate and plus my amendment
I've probably had 12-15 minutes total and those questions wouldn't have been answered because they're more complicated and I would not
I, once again, indicated they can best treat me by trying to ignore me. So, I wouldn't expect the Administration or the State Department to send me the answers.
- So, this debate, in your judgment, has been designed to reach a pre-conceived conclusion?
- Well, the most important characteristic was: "Don't mess with the language." And "Dont have a real debate but just sort of rubberstamp it"
"Give the people a chance to get stuff off their chests so that they feel like theyve been debating it, but don't really expect to change anything or have any input because it's so important to keep the Coalition together Republicans and Democrats, both in the House and the Senate, and the President because they have made their decision on what to do and they cannot afford to take any extra time and tinker with the Language."
- I know you have to get back to your work there, Congressman Ron Paul. Thank you for very much for this time.
- Thank you very much. Nice to be with you.