The Republican presidential debates have been like a reality show. The big topics of discussion have been: President Obama, ObamaCare, jobs, the economy and Iran. On foreign policy, surprisingly, Iran has been the main issue. Forget about the fact that the US has spent or will spend several trillion dollars on Iraq with nothing to show for it except about 4,500 dead and more than 30,000 injured. Forget about the fact that we are pouring billions into Afghanistan and killing Afghans and Pakistanis left and right. Forget about the Arab Spring. The only topic of discussion seems to be inexplicably Iran.
One may ask why the subject of Iran is suddenly so important. All the Republican candidates, except for Ron Paul, are falling over each other in characterizing Iran as the new Nazi Germany and proclaiming that Iran is going to take over the world and they are most eager to join Israel in bombing it. Even Jon Huntsman who at first seemed to be sensible, said that his first order of business would be to go to Israel and to say to the Israeli leaders how we can join together in attacking Iran. Romney essentially said the same thing. Gingrich, on the other hand, thinks that bombing Iran will not achieve the intended goal. So, his policy would be “regime change.” Michelle Bachmann is, perhaps, the shrillest voice, declaring that Iran has threatened to wipe out Israel and that it has proclaimed that it intends to attack the US with nuclear bombs.
For anyone who has really studied this subject, all these pronouncements are simply hilarious. In the first place, there is absolutely not a shred of evidence that Iran is building nuclear bombs. The 2007 and 2011 US National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) both stated that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. But, if these NIEs are not to be believed, why are we spending hundreds of billions every year to support 16 US intelligence agencies? Certainly, one should ask Rick Perry to abolish the Department of Homeland Security too.
On the other side of the coin, the claims that Iran has made a threat to “wipe out Israel” and wants to attack the US are simply false. The former story was based on a mistranslation of a single phrase by Ahmadinejad in 2005. The latter threat has never happened. There is no record of Iran threatening to attack the US. So, Bachmann is simply talking nonsense.
The main impetus for the current paranoia about Iran seems to be the almost theatrical way that the Obama administration engineered the recent release of the IAEA report on Iran. The details of this report will be discussed in a future article. Suffice it to say, that for anyone who has actually read it, the following facts are evident: (a) there is very little that is new in it, (b) the documents on which the report was based are known to be forgeries, (c) almost all events referenced occurred before 2004, and (d) the only new story about a purported Russian nuclear engineer who advised Iran is completely false.
The only candidate who seems to have a full grasp of the issue is Ron Paul. His sensible approach to foreign policy is certainly refreshing. He is also the only one who grasps the enormity of the US financial situation and realizes that there is almost no possibility of solving the financial crisis in the US unless major cuts are made in the defense budget. The official US defense budget is about $650B. However, the real budget is probably more than a trillion. Unless the US curtails its appetite for world domination, there is no possibility of solving the financial crisis in this country. Even President Obama’s proposals seem like a Band-Aid.
It is unclear what Ron Paul’s chances are in getting the Republican nomination or winning the general election if he is nominated. It almost seems too optimistic to expect that the American people would have become so sensible as to elect someone who really attempts to stand on the Constitution and does not want to conquer the world. To expect that Republicans will actually nominate him is also problematic.
There are many questions about Ron Paul’s approach to the economy, monetary policy and social issues that are less than desirable. The Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman has strongly criticized Paul’s approach to monetary policy in a New York Times article. But, on foreign policy, Ron Paul has a refreshing and promising approach that would also go a long way to resolve the financial crisis in the US.