Credit: David Carlyon/wikimediaCredit: David Carlyon/wikimediaDuring the State of the Union address last night Obama said the following:

We must fight the battles that need to be fought, not those that terrorists prefer from us – large-scale deployments that drain our strength and may ultimately feed extremism.

This doesn’t that much different from what has been said by the non-interventionist former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who has pointed out that American foreign policy and diplomacy might have something to do with why the U.S., and not another country which allows for freedom of religion and women’s rights, is one of the primary targets of Islamic extremists.

During the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 Paul’s differences with most of the rest of his party when it came to foreign policy were highlighted by an exchange with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Watch that exchange below:

The main difference between what the president said last night and what Paul has argued is that Obama’s statement is understandably less definitive. Obama drew a comparatively weak causal relationship between “large-scale deployments” and “extremism” by saying that the former “may” lead to the latter.

It is ironic that it is Obama, who has overseen years of what is perhaps the most unpopular war in American history as commander in chief, is the one warning of the risks of large military deployments abroad. Around 37,500 American troops are in Afghanistan.