Exposing Falsehoods and Revealing Truths
AMES, Iowa — Ron Paul isn’t backing down from his position that the U.S. has provoked terrorists through foreign military occupation and that officials tried to capitalize on Sept. 11 attacks.
“Think of what happened after 9/11, the minute before there was any assessment, there was glee in the administration because now we can invade Iraq, and so the war drums beat,” Paul said Thursday night before a packed room of more than 1,000 students and supporters. “That’s exactly what they’re doing now with Iran.”
Former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer responded to the “glee” charge by tweeting, “The man is nuts.”
The remarks came as Paul ramped up his efforts in Iowa, where the caucuses are less than a month away. As the field has fluctuated, Paul has gained steam here, polling near the top of the pack.
His libertarian ideals have struck a cord with many, but conservatives remain deeply wary of Paul’s foreign policy positions, including his assertion that the U.S. provoked the Sept. 11 attacks by maintaining military bases in foreign countries. Paul’s position as the lone dove in the GOP race has made him a foil for some of his hawkish Republican opponents.
“Extremists have taken over, and they’re the ones who run the foreign policy and have convinced us to go along with all these wars,” Paul said Wednesday night.
Paul said that claims Iran could be developing a nuclear weapon are just part of an effort to scare Americans into going to war again.
Paul said of the possibility that Iran has a nuclear weapon is “not true at all.” “It doesn’t mean they might not want a nuclear weapon.”
No other country, Paul said, is capable of attacking the United States.
“How many foreign countries can threaten us right now?” Paul asked sarcastically. “How many are likely to invade us or drop a bomb on us? I can’t imagine.”
Paul railed on the PATRIOT Act, a pet issue that he frequently brings up on the trail.
“The PATRIOT Act was written many, many years before 9/11,” Paul said. The attacks simply provided “an opportunity for some people to do what they wanted to do,” he said.
Paul again called for an end to all sanctions currently imposed on Cuba, which he has said only make Cubans dislike Americans.
Paul questioned the integrity of the American election process, evoking a line often used to describe a desire to promote democratic elections in the Middle East.
“I wish we could guarantee a democratic and honest election in this country as well,” Paul said. “The democratic process in this country has a long way to go.”
Though he has repeatedly waved off the notion of waging a third-party bid, Paul blamed the two-party system for what he said were problems with the American electoral system.
“People are tired of it now, they don’t trust it and they know something is wrong,” Paul said.
Paul has ramped up his tour of Iowa, trying to bolster his position in the polls that currently have him near the top of the pack. He also spoke to groups in Des Moines and Boone on Thursday.
Also among the civil liberties issues Paul raised was the “war on drugs,” which he brought up at the student event but did not raise before the small town crowd in Boone.
“A lot more people died from the consequences of the war on drugs than the drugs themselves,” Paul said.