MR. GOLER: Congressman Paul, I believe you are the only man on the stage who opposes the war in Iraq, who would bring the troops home as quickly as -- almost immediately, sir. Are you out of step with your party? Is your party out of step with the rest of the world? If either of those is the case, why are you seeking its nomination?
REP. PAUL: Well, I think the party has lost its way, because the conservative wing of the Republican Party always advocated a noninterventionist foreign policy.
Senator Robert Taft didn't even want to be in NATO. George Bush won the election in the year 2000 campaigning on a humble foreign policy -- no nation-building, no policing of the world. Republicans were elected to end the Korean War. The Republicans were elected to end the Vietnam War. There's a strong tradition of being anti-war in the Republican party. It is the constitutional position. It is the advice of the Founders to follow a non-interventionist foreign policy, stay out of entangling alliances, be friends with countries, negotiate and talk with them and trade with them.
Just think of the tremendous improvement -- relationships with Vietnam. We lost 60,000 men. We came home in defeat. Now we go over there and invest in Vietnam. So there's a lot of merit to the advice of the Founders and following the Constitution.
And my argument is that we shouldn't go to war so carelessly. (Bell rings.) When we do, the wars don't end.
MR. GOLER: Congressman, you don't think that changed with the 9/11 attacks, sir?
REP. PAUL: What changed?
MR. GOLER: The non-interventionist policies.
REP. PAUL: No. Non-intervention was a major contributing factor. Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there; we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been in the Middle East -- I think Reagan was right.
We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. So right now we're building an embassy in Iraq that's bigger than the Vatican. We're building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us. (Applause.)
MR. GOLER: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attack, sir?
REP. PAUL: I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we're over there because Osama bin Laden has said, "I am glad you're over on our sand because we can target you so much easier." They have already now since that time -- (bell rings) -- have killed 3,400 of our men, and I don't think it was necessary.
MR. GIULIANI: Wendell, may I comment on that? That's really an extraordinary statement. That's an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don't think I've heard that before, and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th. (Applause, cheers.)
And I would ask the congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn't really mean that. (Applause.)
MR. GOLER: Congressman?
REP. PAUL: I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem.
They don't come here to attack us because we're rich and we're free. They come and they attack us because we're over there. I mean, what would we think if we were -- if other foreign countries were doing that to us?
(The above transcript was printed on the New York Times web site)
Thank you, Congressman Paul. Thank you for reminding a roomful of post-9/11 Republicans about the traditional conservative foreign policy of non-intervention.
In an age where the rhetorical battles lines have been cast in terms of the antiwar left versus the pro-war right, it’s refreshing to hear a conservative remind fellow “conservatives” about their ideological roots.
Thank you for daring to mention the Founders' preference for steering clear of entangling alliances, as well as the long-forgotten Constitutional requirement that only Congress declare war.
Unfortunately, you were right when you pointed out the fact that the party has "lost its way." What's even more unfortunate is that they don't even want to acknowledge that fact. The Associated Press reported, in an article published on 5/16/2007 by Jim Davenport, that the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party is looking into having you barred from future Republican debates because of your exchange with Mr. Giuliani, and your "suggestion" that US foreign policy was a "major contributing factor" in the attacks on 9/11.
Traditional conservatives understand that you were not excusing the attacks, but highlighting the undeniable link between actions and consequences. Republicans understand well the actions have consequences argument when the issue is economic regulation. But when it comes to foreign policy, somehow the consequences disappear -- and any criticism is quickly branded with the "blame America first" label.
We saw in Mr. Giuliani's admonition how easily this reality is called upon when it serves another's cause. And we saw in the audience response how pervasive this reality has become within the ranks of the Republican base. (Although, it's interesting that the news cycles that followed never included the applause you received when you spoke about how we would react if another country was building bases here in America.)
Thank you for challenging the GOP (and the American people) to clearly articulate what the proper role of government should be. And thank you for having the courage of your convictions to vote consistently with your belief that that role is a constitutionally limited one. 9/11 didn't suddenly transform the Republic into a flawless and highly efficient machine, able to solve any problem with the stroke of a pen -- and a Presidential directive. Nor did 9/11 transform our system from a government of laws into a government of men, independently capable of balancing the need for security while simultaneously respecting hard-fought Constitutional protections.
Mr. Giuliani can be as disingenuous as he wants as he tries to smear your point of view while playing up his "I was mayor of New York City on 9/11" card, but those of us not afflicted with post-9/11 amnesia and a sudden conversion to the ranks of Big Government Conservatism know better.While I made I my mind to vote for you as soon as I heard that you were exploring the possibility of running, my support has only grown in the wake of your bold, refreshing, and (solitary) adherence to the cause of a Constitutionally limited federal government.