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FROM THE MOYERS FILES: Bill Moyers talks with Representative Ron Paul on NOW with Bill Moyers, October 4, 2002

MOYERS: With us now from the House of Representatives is Ron Paul, Republican from Texas. Thank you sire for joining us.

Have you heard anything this week that would give you second thoughts about opposing a war in Iraq?

CONGRESSMAN RON PAUL: 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 two months. It's interesting, we have been seriously taking 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 12 years. When Secretary Powell was before our committee, he was very clear to us that Saddam Hussein's military is very, very weak and much weaker than it was when he was defeated 12 years ago.

And that sort of goes by everybody, and they keep talking about presumptions.

Maybe someday he's going to get something, and maybe someday he's going to do this, and he might build a weapon, and he is trying to get these things.

MOYERS: Have you seen or heard anything from the CIA, the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House to suggest that Saddam Hussein is planning an attack on the United States?

RON PAUL: 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 even shoot down one of our airplanes in twelve years. And his army is one-third of what it was twelve years ago. So it's pretty vague accusations. So, you know, this fiction that he's Hitler and he's about to take over the Middle East is... I think it's a stretch.

MOYERS: Let's take for a moment the administration at its word and admit that it... That President Bush and others really believe there's a potential threat if he gets serious weapons of mass destruction.

What should we do about that if we really thought he was getting weapons of mass destruction?

RON PAUL: 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, the various presidents had to deal with the Soviets. They had 50,000 nuclear warheads, 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 ought to be able to handle this guy that has... There's no evidence that he has these weapons, and that there's no imminent threat, and he hasn't 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.

MOYERS: So...

RON PAUL: And we won The Cold War.

MOYERS: Why are so many members of Congress lining up to want to go to war?

RON PAUL: On our side, a lot of Republicans will come to me and they'll tell me that, you know, their mail is running strongly against the war, but you know, "I just can't go against my president." And I'm uncomfortable about that.

I mean, I know President Bush, and he's from our state, and you know a lot about politics and you know how that works.

And I don't like that, but I still have an obligation to my own beliefs, my own convictions, my promises into 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...

MOYERS: The Democratic...

RON PAUL: Democrats are... Yes, they're split.

Now, the best allies I have now for trying to avoid a war comes from a little more liberal Democrats, which is sort of ironic maybe in a conservative Republican. So there's more allies from there.

But leadership on the Republican side... And that's mixed.

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 don't like to admit it, I really think that Israel and our support for Israel has an influence in our overall policy.

MOYERS: Do you think... 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...

RON PAUL: You know, that's an interesting question. I think they want to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and I can't blame them.

When Israel went in and took out that nuclear reactor in the early 1980s, actually I was one of the very few Republicans that supported it. It's in their interest to deal with it.

No, I think... I don't think it's so much that Israel wants us to do their work for them; it's that we don't allow them to do their work for themselves, because even 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.

MOYERS: 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 that I had well over a thousand positive letters of support, and probably six or eight negative.

So I would say they strongly support my position...

MOYERS: You've been...

RON PAUL: ...Do whatever you can to avoid the war.

MOYERS: You've been consistent in your conservative positions. You oppose abortion, you like low taxes, you want us back on the gold standard. What is your philosophical basis for opposing a war with Iraq?

RON PAUL: Well, you know, the long historic definition of the... It's actually a Christian definition of the "Just War" influences me. It has to be defensive, it has to be declared by the proper authorities, and you have to be willing to win the war.

Prompts me to look at what the founders said, and they want us to declare the war, the responsibility is on the House and the Senate to make the declaration, and that we should win it.

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 Persian Gulf War did, we didn't finish it. We had a humiliating defeat in Vietnam. Korea, we still occupy Korea for 50 years.

Besides, I think it's human nature to really prefer peace over war, and I think people will go to war when they know it's necessary.

But I think if 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.

MOYERS: I was in the Johnson White House when we pushed through the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that Johnson used as a means of going to war without officially declaring war. Are we seeing something like that here?

RON PAUL: I think it's very similar because I see this as not assuming responsibility by the Congress, but that Congress transferring this authority to wage the war and giving it to the president.

So it doesn't tell the president to go to war, but it's certainly granting him this authority to use force, to go to war when and if he feels like it. So I would say it's very similar and it may well have consequences similar to, maybe not quite so bad, but could be even worse.

MOYERS: Congressman, what do you think of the President's new policy of preemptive first strike?

RON PAUL: I think that is serious. In the committee today as we were marking up the bill, those pushing the resolution worked real hard to say this has nothing to do do with preemptive strikes.

And I made a statement, I think I said, "This is what it's all about, is to establish and institutionalize the preemptive strikes, although we have done that off and on in minor degrees over the years. This one is much more open and much more declared and a much bigger issue." And that's what this is all about, a preemptive strike.

I think that is so dangerous 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... It has already started, because the Russians now say, "Aha! Ah, 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 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... What if China declares that, you know, that they've just been attacked by some terrorists 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 preemptive 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, "You know, 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.

And I think redoing this policy has changed things a lot and that's probably the thing we should fear the most.

MOYERS: Congressman, on September 10, 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?

RON PAUL: No. I guess in bits and pieces, and I qualify that by saying I wouldn't guess to ask them, you know, I probably... In these couple days of opening debate and plus my amendment, I probably had twelve to fifteen minutes total.

And those questions wouldn't have been answered because they're more complicated. And I would not... Once again, you know, I indicated that 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.

MOYERS: So this debate in your judgment has been designed to reach a preconceived conclusion.

RON PAUL: Well, the most important characteristic was don't mess with the language. Don't have a real debate but sort of rubber stamp it.

Give its people a chance to get stuff off their chest so they feel they've 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.

MOYERS: I know you have to get back to your work there Congressman, Ron Paul. Thank you very much for this time.

RON PAUL: Thank you very much. Nice to be with you.

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