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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript


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CROWLEY: Joining me from the Super Tuesday state of Alaska congressman and presidential hopeful Ron Paul.

Congressman, thank you for joining us.

I want to start out on a couple of issues in foreign policy. where you differ the most from your Republican colleagues. The president will meet this week with the Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel. If you were the president and the prime minister sat down and said I want you to know that we are prepared to bomb Iran because we want to keep them from developing the aptitude for having nuclear weaponry, what would your response be?

PAUL: Well, first thing I'd like to stay out of their business. I'd like to let them do whatever they want. I don't want to interfere with what they need to do for their defense and I don't want to interfere with Israel when they want to have peace treaties.

But if I were forced to give my personal opinion about it, I would say, you know, doesn't make any sense to bomb a country that is no threat to anybody just because they might get a weapon and try to point out that containment worked pretty well with the Soviets and they had 30,000 and they were rather ruthless people killing millions and millions of their own people and we stood them down in the Cold War. So I'd try to calm it down a little bit. But, quite frankly, I don't think we should tell Israel what they should do or shouldn't do. CROWLEY: Speaker Gingrich is a -- former Speaker Gingrich as I think you may have just heard said he thinks the U.S. has been played for fools by Iran, that accused of president of doing nothing to try to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions if indeed they have them. As we know the president has tried to gather world opinion to force Iran to stop what nuclear development it's doing. We also know that he's been at the forefront of sanctions.

Do you think the president has failed to do anything about this or do you in general go along with what he's done?

PAUL: Well, no, I think he gets too much involved. I think sanctions gives the motivation for them to want to have a nuclear weapon. Everybody around them, we have 45 bases around them. We can demolish them within an hour, so -- and the worst thing sanctions do and the Republicans and the Democrats both support it, Republican -- the other Republican candidate, they just want war even more.

But the whole thing is is a lot of dissension in Iran and we should encourage it by not interfering. Once we get involved or threaten to bomb them, they -- it becomes nationalistic, everybody joins the Ayatollah and Ahmadinejad and so there's a blowback, unusual circumstances, you know, unintended consequences.

So, yes, our people whether Republican or Democrats are well intended but they don't realize how much damage they do by not accomplishing what they want and causing more harm to us.

So our military personnel right now are very adamant not to be involved in the bombing of Iran. It makes no sense whatsoever to our military personnel, to our CIA, nobody who's supposed to be in the know right now even though they're much more interventionist than I am say it makes no sense whatsoever to encourage or bomb Iran right now and that certainly would be my position.

CROWLEY: And may I ask you do you think the president was wrong to apologize for the accidental burning of the Koran in Afghanistan? The president said he did it to try to protect U.S. soldiers. As you heard the former speaker thinks it was a bad idea.

PAUL: Now, I don't think it's wrong but it's pretty much irrelevant. But I think the Republicans who are condemning it are a little over the top too. Because you know, in '08 some of our soldiers in Iraq took the Koran and used it for target practice, you know, just to humiliate the Muslims in that country. Ronald Reagan apologized in what is so terrible about that, it might calm things down.

I would -- I'm personally more apologetic for invading countries who never did anything to us and occupying, disrupting it, causing thousands of deaths of our own people and causing hundreds of thousands of refugees. This is the thing that I feel sad about.

What about the pictures of torture? Weren't they every bit as bad? I mean this, is what incites the hatred. This is what we have to try to understand but, you know, I thought McNamara was rather astute when they asked him after he wrote his memoirs about the mess he caused in Vietnam, because he had all these second thoughts and they said, well, don't you think you should apologize or you want to apologize, you know, to the American people and to the world. He said, what good is an apology. If you make mistakes and you see this and stir up enough trouble, why don't we change our policy? That's what he said. We should change our policy. So if we have a policy going on in the Middle East that is begging that we apologize now and then and others condemning it because they don't think we should apologize, I think we should reassess our foreign policy and that is what I think we are not doing. And that is why i am quite different than the other candidates and the president that American people I think are sick and tired of this war and the wars going on over there. We're going broke. We ran of a debt of $4 trillion in this last ten years fighting these wars that were not legitimate and that we were not attacked. They were not declared and the American people by a majority now want us out of there.

CROWLEY: Let me turn you to a domestic issue. I'm sure you know that tornadoes have hit a wide swath of states, particularly in the Midwest, about 10 states. The damage is enormous.

You have frequently been critical of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the federal money that is given to some of these home owners and those that are also -- other victims of storms like this. Is there a role for federal money in helping all of these citizens get their lives back together?

PAUL: Not really, because it's not authorized and there is no such thing as federal money. Federal money is just what they steal from the states and steal from you and me. So there is no federal money unless you say, well, they can print it and cause internal problems.

But to say you don't support federal money doesn't mean you don't care about people, because FEMA is inefficient. I've lived on the Gulf Coast and I got re-elected constantly by criticizing FEMA because of people who had to put up with FEMA after the hurricanes, had nothing but frustration and anger with them.

And to point out, well, they might give you a home, yes, they bought a lot of trailers for Katrina, you know, and it's just so wasteful, inefficient. But, you know, the Guard units and other things within the states certainly is there. The people who live in Tornado Alley just as I live in a hurricane alley, they should have insurance for doing this.

But under major emergency, natural disasters, if there is a need, you know, for some help such as the military to come in, that is not a tragic violation, but to say that any accident that happens in the country, send in FEMA, send in the money, the government has all this money, it's totally out of control and it's not efficient.

There's a much better way of doing this and helping it. The FEMA, I was constantly told by the people of my district, they just get in the way. They take over law enforcement. They take over and they hinder the voluntary group and they hinder the state organization, exactly opposite of what we should be doing.

CROWLEY: Texas Congressman Ron Paul, so far away from home in Alaska, good luck to you, sir, on Tuesday. Thanks for joining us.


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