Ron Paul, the outspoken libertarian congressman and Republican presidential candidate from Texas, disagreed with his fellow GOP hopefuls on the issue of Iranian nuclear weapons at the CBS/National Journal debate on Saturday.
While Paul refused to rule out the possibility of war with Iran, he insisted a war would not be worthwhile and that the president should go to Congress before launching any military action.
“The only way you would do that is you would have to go to the Congress,” he said. “We, as commander-in-chief, aren’t making the decision to go to war. The old fashioned way, the Constitution, you go to the Congress and find out if our national security is threatened and I’m afraid what’s going on right now is similar to the war propaganda that went on against Iraq.”
Paul went on to say that he considered the Iraq War a “tragedy.”
Both former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were far more hawkish in their assessments of the threat posed by Iranian nuclear weapons program. Romney said “crippling sanctions” should be put into effect. If those fail to halt the nation’s weapons progress, however, Romney said military action should be considered because the idea of a nuclear-armed Iran was “unacceptable.”
“We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon,” he said.
Gingrich said would adopt an “absolute strategic program comparable to what President Reagan, Pope John Paul II and Margaret Thatcher did to the Soviet Union” utilizing every “possible aspect short of war of breaking the [Iranian] regime and bringing it down.” He said the U.S. should also embrace covert operations “to block and disrupt the Iranian program, including taking out their scientists, including breaking up their systems, all of it covertly, all of it deniable.”
Should covert operations and other activities fail, Gingrich said that military action should be considered. “I agree with Governor Romney,” he said. “If in the end despite all of those things, the dictatorship persists, you have to take whatever steps are necessary to break the capacity to have a nuclear weapon.”