Fans of Ron Paul, by now used to his airtime snubs in primary debates run by the mainstream media, were no doubt pleasantly surprised when their candidate’s unconventional foreign policy stance garnered a significant amount of time late in Thursday evening’s Iowa debate. Along the same lines, supporters of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum were treated to their choice’s spirited opposition to Paul, resulting in a net gain of more screen time for him as well, although Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) did get in a few jabs of her own.
“Asked by Fox News channel anchor Chris Wallace why Paul was ‘soft’ on Iran in his opposition to economic sanctions against the country, Paul told the debate audience that the threat from Iran was small when looked at through the lens of history,” read a The New American article, noting that Paul had “schooled” Santorum and Bachmann.
Paul said: “Just think of what we went through in the Cold War when I was in the Air Force, after I was drafted into the Air Force, all through the Sixties. We were standing up against the Soviets. They had like 30,000 nuclear weapons with intercontinental missiles. Just think of the agitation and the worry about a country that might get a nuclear weapon someday.”
The article reports that Santorum took offense with Paul’s stance, having himself authored a sanctions bill against Iran while serving as a Senator: “Iran is not Iceland, Ron. Iran is a country that has been at war with us since 1979. Iran is a country that has killed more American men and women in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan than the Iraqis and the Afghans have. The Iranians are the existential threat to the state of Israel.”
“The senator is wrong on his history,” Paul responded. “We’ve been at war in Iran for a lot longer than ’79. We started it in 1953 when we sent in a coup, installed the Shah, and the reaction — the blowback — came in 1979. It’s been going on and on because we just don’t mind our own business. That’s our problem.”
Bachmann later defended Santorum and, pointing out her position on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, said: “As President of the United States, I will do everything to make sure that Iran does not become a nuclear power.”
However, at least one person believes Paul came out on top of the rhetorical skirmish. Conservative commentator Jack Hunter thinks Ron Paul is “right on Iran,” writing: “Ron Paul is the only candidate that has pointed out that the last time America went to war with a supposed major threat in the Middle East over the possibility it was harboring terrorists and might have WMDs — every justification for that war turned out to be absolutely false.”