Why Rand Paul Associated Sanctions with War

America Should Rethink Its Approach to Iran


Rand Paul

Rand Paul helped cement his reputation as his father's son this week. The junior senator from Kentucky, son of libertarian-leaning GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, won headlines for halting a new round of sanctions against Iran coming out of the Senate, by objecting to a call for unanimous consent. He insisted that the sanctions bill include a sentence saying that nothing in the bill should be construed as declaring war or authorizing the use of force against Iran (or Syria, also targeted by part of the bill).

Rand Paul won much love from the staunchly anti-interventionist wing of Ron Paul's liberty coalition for his boldness. Previously, Rand's record on Iran had seemed spotty to many noninterventionist libertarians. When running for Senate in 2010, he said he didn't think it wise to totally rule out the possibility of using nukes on Iran if they attacked us with chemical or biological weapons. He was part of the unanimous Senate vote for a previous sanctions program in 2011, which he argued was aimed mostly at Iran's central bank, not its people.

While Sen. Paul annoys some noninterventionists by even granting he believes Iran is trying to get a nuke (such noninterventionists think that plays into a bellicose narrative best avoided if you value peace), he's also said he doesn't see our own national security in such great danger even if said nuke-getting happened. He's uncomfortable taking the line his father takes, which recognizes Iran's rational interest in having a nuke. This summer, while researching my book Ron's Paul's Revolution, I witnessed Sen. Paul trying to finesse such a statement from Ron Paul at the Ames, Iowa, GOP debate in August. Rand had been sent into the pressroom as a campaign spokesman afterward. He tried to say that Paul mostly meant that an Iran with nukes could be contained as the Soviet Union was. The almost lefty-sounding sense of empathy Ron applies to international relations is just too hot for any other Republican (or Democrat, really) to handle.

But Rand did take a stand on this sanctions bill, stressing that rushing toward war with Iran is a terrible idea. As he said before the Senate:

Many in this body cannot get boots on ground fast enough in a variety of places, from Syria to Libya to Iran. We don't just send boots to war. We send our young Americans to war. Our young men and women, our soldiers, deserve thoughtful debate….

My amendment is one sentence long. It states that nothing in this act is to be construed as a declaration of war or as an authorization of the use of force in Iran or Syria. I urge that we not begin a new war without a full debate, without a vote, without careful consideration of the ramifications of a third or even a fourth war in this past decade. I, therefore, respectively [sic] object.

By objecting, he held up the bill, unless Senate leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) can get 60 votes to override. It's unclear when or if that will happen.

The bill, S. 2101, would have merely been a few additions to an already generations-long tradition of Iran sanctions in American politics, dating back to the early days of the Khomeini regime and the hostage crisis (which had its roots in the U.S.'s own role in the 1953 overthrow of Iranian leader Mohammad Mossadegh). The additions include sanctioning any company or subsidiary of same even insuring vessels that the U.S. government says ship things Iran is using for wicked purposes; sanctioning international financial transaction companies that do business with Iranian banks; forcing U.S. companies to disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission if they conduct certain types of business with Iran or Iranian companies, and barring any Iranian student from studying anything energy related at all in the U.S., not just nuclear related.

Whether Reid succeeds in eventually pushing this new sanctions bill through or not (a version has already passed the House), we are still hip-deep in a complicated regimen of sanctions on Iran and have been for decades. Currently, we don't do business with Iranian banks and pressure our allies to do the same. The Treasury Department is making its own choices about imposing new sanctions this week. Reuters reports that "any foreign financial institution that does business with [certain targeted Iranian shipping firms]" will "risk losing its correspondent account access to the United States."

And if foreign nations or companies don't go along with our desire that they not do business in or with Iran in areas ranging from energy to munitions to shipping to banking, they can face denial of any U.S. credit or credit guarantees for exports to the "sanctioned entity." We might deny export licenses or refuse to export our military tech to them. Other possible penalties include prohibiting the entity from dealing in U.S. bonds or receiving U.S. deposits, and restrictions on imports from the defying country. As Michael Lavi explains in an interesting New York University honors thesis:

Sanctions such as these have caused banking transactions to becoming extremely difficult for Iran, as fewer options are available to the country to finance its trade. As for exports, Tupras (Turkey's largest industrial enterprise) cancelled all of its gasoline export contracts in October 2010 following pressure from the U.S. Even other OPEC countries like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have begun imposing sanctions, freezing bank accounts and blacklisting Iranian entities.

This year, Europe has also (mostly) vowed to stop buying Iranian oil by this summer, though we have had to face reality and give exemptions to some of our friends for their sin of buying Iranian oil. Turkey, China, India, and Japan, among others, have not vowed to quit Iranian oil, and given the fungibility of oil in the world market, Iran will certainly still be able to sell oil. Economist Gary Hufbauer estimates, though, that Iran might see its energy export earnings shrink by $24 billion, out of a $480 billion economy. An Iran that (unlike its foe the U.S.) was expected to have an actual budget surplus this year might rather end up with a deficit of 2 percent of its GDP. Iran's current debt is just 9 percent of its GDP—again, well ahead of the nations sanctioning it.

All this isolation has been bad for Iran, naturally, though not bad enough to break them to Western will. Iran was the only OPEC country whose oil production in 2009 was less than it was in 1979, and its foreign direct investment as a percentage of GDP is only 7 percent, as opposed to an OPEC average of 23 percent. Its oil and natural gas industry and refinery infrastructure is aging and requires a great deal of investment in order to stay modern and efficient.

Still, the Wall Street Journal guesses this week that the price hikes on the smaller amount of oil Iran will likely sell in the next year could net it as much money as it was making before more countries decided to halt or curtail buying oil from them. The high oil prices we currently suffer are likely one of the bitter fruits of our current sanction policy, and the uncertainty over possible conflict that could affect the Straits of Hormuz through which 20 percent of the world's oil flows.

The existing sanctions against Iran have been, as usual, harming the middle class and everyday citizens with high inflation and a lack of access to foreign goods and lack of ability to do overseas business. They're also hurting Western businesses who are or were trying to do business with Iranians. The Iranian government and Revolutionary Guard, meantime, manage to tough it out fine. As USA Today noted in November: "the Guards, with its network of shell companies, border outposts and foreign operations, is best positioned in Iran to dominate a sanctions economy, says Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council and author of…A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama's Diplomacy With Iran…'They are in control of most of the smuggling, and whoever is smuggling earns a profit,' Parsi says."

Meanwhile, as Declan McCullagh explains, Clinton-era Iran sanctions are still limiting Iranian citizens' ability to use modern software we in the West enjoy. That applies to Iranian dissidents as well as loyalists. 

Nothing in this new sanction bill, or any of its proposed tougher amendments from the likes of Iran superhawk Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), would be likely to change the fact that an obdurate Iran feeling pushed to the wall is not apt to crack and give us what we want—unless what we really want is either an end to the regime entirely by our action, or an excuse for war. Sanctions have a terrible record of achieving their policy goals, though a decent one of pushing all sides into such obdurate positions that war results.

Why even think of war? It is not a matter of national life and death whether Iran manages to get nukes—and there is still no solid evidence that it is trying to do so. Iran does, however, seem to enjoy tweaking the West about the possibility (and Western media seems intent on ginning up war fever reminiscent of the lead-up to the second Iraq war).

Israel more than outmatches Iran in nuclear weapons, missile capabilities, and even well-targeted and significant terror attacks (the most likely explanation for deaths of a handful of Iranian nuke scientists in the past few years). As Paul Pillar, a former national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia, explains at length in a recent Washington Monthly feature, "an Iran with a bomb would not be anywhere near as dangerous as most people assume, and a war to try to stop it from acquiring one would be less successful, and far more costly, than most people imagine." There is simply no good reason to assume they are suicidal madmen based on the regime's past behavior, and blowback to the West from Iran being attacked could be costly, lengthy, and murderous.

The respectable likes of Joe Lieberman want to codify that that the U.S. will not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons, that despite our decades of succeeding in keeping governments led by murderous madmen far worse than the Iranian mullahs—Stalin and Mao—from using them without war, a nuclear Iran cannot be merely contained. President Obama agrees with this absurd and dangerous proposition. As Robert Naiman put it at Huffington Post, "Lieberman et al want to lower the threshold for the United States to go to war, to a place indistinguishable from the status quo today."

Still, Reid insists, "There's nothing in the resolution that talks about war," explaining his objection to Paul's amendment

Except for the fact that trying to squeeze a nation's economy to death is a hostile act in and of itself. Any shooting war would be at best a short-term deterrent to what it is meant to accomplish (minus a complete regime overthrow and long term occupation), in pursuit of ending a threat that is likely less of a problem for the world than the war would be. The idea that even an Iran with nukes would become some regional menace is unlikely: The country's military spending is tiny and its equipment shoddy, compared to neighbors such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, and it is already fully surrounded by U.S. forces. What it could do with a nuke is ward off regime change forced from outside, likely the main reason Israel and the U.S. are so insistent that Iran not get one.

Rand Paul's move may have been an aggravating political game to Reid—who, in fighting off any amendments to the bill likely kept it from getting even worse and prevented various Republicans and Democrats from widening its reach. But it it would be a good thing for Congress to declare that it understands war with Iran (or Syria) is not something the U.S. has any good reason to pursue. Congress should also understand that the sanctions, like any eventual war, are themselves misguided, harmful, and unlikely to achieve a goal worth achieving.

For halting the new sanctions bill, at least for now, and for trying to force his colleagues (and through the media bullhorn a senator enjoys, all Americans) to think about war and sanctions, Rand Paul deserves our thanks. The American people, according to a new Reason/Rupe poll, are disturbingly ready for such a war: Forty-eight percent favor an attack to stop Iran from getting nukes, and 37 percent still support war even understanding it could lead to an Iraq-length conflict. And for making his stand in the face of a party, a government, and a nation unconcerned with halting the motion toward war, Rand Paul deserves not just thanks, but respect—a rare quality for a senator.

Senior Editor Brian Doherty is author of Radicals for Capitalism (PublicAffairs) and the forthcoming Ron Paul's Revolution (Broadside).

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  1. Off-topic commentary in 3...2...

    1. Trayvon Martin!

    2. Sorry, Brian. I think you're the last libertarian standing (in a good way) at Reason.
      To wit: "libertarian-leaning GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul..."

      "Leaning"? Yup.
      "Libertarian"? Nope.
      Not that there's anything...you know.

      1. Not that there will not be insane, partisan, drunken, chat-roomesque, off-topic commentary in 5...4...

        You know...

  2. If we are against nukes in the Middle East, why aren't we demanding Isreal dismantle its nukes and allow weapons inspectors access to the "research facility" in the Negev Desert?

    1. Meh. We've already seen all their shit before.

      1. We should. We sold it to them.

        Well, barring what they stole from teh French.

        1. Other way around, the French couldn't figure nukes out on their own and had to go to Israel for help.

          1. Win-win.

    2. We aren't against nukes in the Middle East, although we may claim that from time to time. We are against nukes in the hands of raving nutballs who are likely to use them on non-military targets. And while I am sure that if the Israelis used a nuke, the Western Press would be full of stories claiming it was targeted on an Islamic daycare center, everybody who has paid any attention to how Israel actually fights and who they are fighting knows that the crater would be a former legitimate military target.

      1. How Israel actually fights is no more civilized than its neighbors.

        If one treasures liberty, one does not think that there is something special about Israel.

        1. There are gradations, and a fantastically enormous quantity of them. Let's not pretend otherwise.

          1. There are [fantastically enormous] gradations

            LOL. Are you talking about complex, integrated concepts, or something else...something a drunk in a chat room could understand? Please be specific. I have a TSA-thwarted plane to catch, yet your commentary is ineffably riveting.

            1. I hear brain cancer is all the rage nowadays. How's that neurosis-inducing tumor coming, fuckstick?

              1. LOL

          2. You're talking to LibertyMike. The man who thinks Lincoln and Hitler are figuratively the same.

            1. OK, that's just cold.
              Funny...but cold.

            2. Both were mass murderers.

              The former inspired the latter and the latter said so in plain german.

              1. Whoa!

                1. OK, I'm just a fictitious TV character from the 80s, but...Abe Lincoln...the giant marble dude on the Mall who has his own shrine and shit...he caused the frikkin' Holocaust??!


                  1. Yeah and Hitler caused the genocide of the plains indians-

                    Read. Comprehend.

                    1. WHOA!

                  2. A Vampire Holocaust!!

        2. If one treasures liberty, one does not think that there is something special about Israel.

          Correlated, of course, is that one doesn't think that there is something particularly evil or barbaric about Israel either.

          1. But, the facts say otherwise.

            Israel has a history of perpetrating mass murder. How would you describe a nation state which has a propensity to engage in such?

            1. Mass murder? Like in Rwanada or in Sudan?Or are you relying on Pallywood exaggerations.

              1. No, let's look at history, starting with how Israel became a state.

                You have heard of the Irgun and the Stern gang? The King David Hotel massacre?

                Have you heard about the two Der Yassin massacres?

                1. How about the Baldat al-Shaikh massacre?

                  How about the Yehida massacre?

                  How about the Janta massacre?

                  1. How about Blossom?


                    1. Israel is a genocidal, mass murdering socialist cess pool.

                      Too bad it does not want Iran to get the bomb. Too fucking bad.

                    2. Sorry, dude. I'm just a fictitious TV character from the 80s, and blogs haven't even been invented yet! Are you, like, changing minds with your unique and timely public commentary?

                      O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in't!

                      Not bad for an 80s TV dude, what?

                  2. What I'm saying is that many of those "massacres" are often outright fabrications by the Pallywood media machine or exaggerations, a la the Jenin "massacre".

                    One can argue for the legitimacy of a Palestinian state or even the illegitimacy of a Zionist state without inventing atrocities, which Palestinian propaganda often does.

                2. Yes, I know the history of the Haganah.

                  See, it is silly to call some of those events "massacres". It cheapens actual genocide. For example, King David was an attack on a legitimate military target. Don't let the word "hotel" fool you, at the time it was being used as a military headquarters.

                  Der Yassin was ugly, but the extent of it has often been exaggerated. It was more about undisciplined irregular troops then anything premeditated.

                  1. No, the King david hotel massacre was just that - mass murder. You do realize that there scores of Brits who were killed?

                    How about the Western Kekaa villages massacre?

                    How about the Qana massacre of 1996?

                    The information is there. Don't be fooled by CIA/Mossad/neoconmen propaganda.

                    All of the massacres can not be explained away. That is why America and Israel are hated so much around the world.

                    1. Of course, you don't want to forget about the Nabatyaih slaughter of April 1996. The IRF was caught lying by Amnesty International.

                      How about the April, 1996 Sohmor massacre? The israelis targeted a civilian car with 8 passengers and killed all of them.

                      Given the propensity with which official Israeli accounts have been proven to be bald faced lies, why would any person give any weight to what the Israeli government says?

                      Furthermore, let's not forget all of the billions that have been confiscated from americans in order to give it to Israel?

                      Of course, all foreign aid is evil as the aid is stolen from people who actually make and produce something upon a voluntary consensual basis by IRS goons.

                      Which reminds me: I thought that the troops were "protecting our freedoms"-like all of the income one generates.

                      What a joke.

                    2. Dude, three score is like what? 36? That is horrible, but it ain't mass murder.

                    3. I meant to write, "there were scores".

                      Some accounts say 92 brits died.

                      Since when is 36 not mass murder?

                    4. The founders of the USA did the same to their British occupiers.

                3. How about Anakins massacre at the Jedi Temple?

          2. I think stealing people's land because they happen to be of the wrong ethnicity is pretty evil and barbaric.

            1. It's not technically stealing if there's no one left alive to claim it...

        3. "How Israel actually fights is no more civilized than its neighbors."

          Wow Mike.....just wow.

          1. Still drinking the kool-aid?

            Educate yourself.

            1. You, sir. are not a serious person at all.

            2. Yeah, like all those rockets Israel shoots randomly into Gaza and the West Bank, and all those homicide bombers they send into Palestinian territories to randomly kill civilians. I mean, they're like evil incarnate.

              1. Even my name "spirit of 1938" gets it right. I mean, like, can you say Kristallnacht? Those Jews were just on a rampage!

      2. "...who are likely to use them on non-military targets..."

        Is there any other way to use nukes?

        1. Well, I suppose you could nuke an aircraft carrier. Or a military installation in the middle of the desert or something.

          1. I guess that means Israel's enemies just have to make sure they surround their military targets with civilian housing and Israel won't attack.

            1. That's right.

          2. Why not use conventional weapons for that? A MOAB would have the same effect.

        2. I think the emphasis was more on the likely part of it.

      3. So basically Israel can do no wrong. Is that in Numbers or Deuteronomy, I can't remember.

        Also, it's pretty silly to speak of targeting a building with a nuke. They are the ultimate area effect weapon.

        1. 1) Tactical nuclear armaments.

          2) If they target shit in remote places, like one of the many we have here in the US, and the nuke isn't too powerful, you can avoid fucking up civilian areas.

          1. 1) still not small enough to hit a building only.

            2) you usually don't get to choose where your opponent places their military targets, do you?

            1. 1) Again, it depends on where the building is.

              2) But if they happen to be in remote areas, you're in luck.

          2. *installations

      4. Precisely. I'm rabidly anti-interventionist, and my belief is that we shouldn't care at all what happens in the Middle East, but trying to make it seem as though there is an equivalence between Israel and dirt pits like Saudi Arabia or Syria or Iran is pretty ridiculous.

        1. I'm rabidly anti-interventionist

          It's never a good thing to be "rabidly" anything.


          1. Will you be here all week?

          2. Are you rapidly against being rabidly anything?

        2. PS-
          rab?id (r b d). adj.
          1. Of or affected by rabies.
          2. Raging; uncontrollable:
          3. Extremely zealous or enthusiastic; fanatical

          1. Thanks. I never DID understand how those fucking dik-shuh-naryz worked.

            I was going for the third definition.

            1. I'm a raging, uncontrollable non-interventionist. Once I start not intervening, God help anyone who gets in my way.

        3. If you don't have a problem with our arming of one country in a region and denying other countries in that region the right to develop similar arms, you ain't an anti-interventionist.

          1. When did I ever say that I don't have a problem with arming Israel? Or, for that matter, that I give a fuck about how big Despot Number 5 of Shithole Number 9's armaments inventory is?

            1. "When did I ever say that I...give a fuck?"

              Any questions?

          2. If you don't have a problem with our arming of one country

            Uzis, and Galil and Tavor rifles and Merkava tanks are U.S. made?

            Ok, I'll give you the F-15I and the Desert Eagle...but still....

  3. Alternately, we've had sanctions on Cuba longer than I've been alive, and we never went to war against Cuba.

    Numerous CIA operations aside, that is.

    1. Hey, Michael Moore went there. Isn't that enough damage?

      1. His visit COULD probably be argued as a "war crime" before the Hague...

    2. That logic works so long as you accept the excuse of "it's not Iran's military that's against us, it's only the Revolutionary Guards."

    3. Ever heard of the Cuban Missile Crisis?

      1. Yes. Did we go to war against them? Not technically, no.

        1. If they had gotten missiles we would have.

          1. Which is still not actually going to war with them.

            1. Whoa.

          2. They did get missiles. We (or you)just didn't know. Still, we didn't go to war (Nonwithstanding that blockade) with them.

        2. Technically we (or you) did. I'm just saying. A naval blockade (Which is what that "quarantine" in effect was) is technically an act of war. Still, not technically, we didn't. This means you can be right even when you're wrong.

  4. The bill, S. 2101, would have merely been a few additions to an already generations-long tradition of Iran sanctions in American politics, dating back to the early days of the Khomeini regime and the hostage crisis (which had its roots in the U.S.'s own role in the 1953 overthrow of Iranian leader Mohammad Mossadegh).

    You dare have the temerity to suggest that American interference may have soured Iranian opinion of America?! The gall! The Pax Americana is what is best for the world!

    Now shut up before I have you indefinitely detained!

    1. A voluntary, natural, peaceful Pax Americana? Absolutely. HURRRRRRRRRR INVASION HURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR Pax Americana? Not at all.

  5. The next time there is a serious attack on the U.S. we should invade either Iran or Syria, wipe out their military and their ruling class, and then leave. When questioned we should reply something along the lines of "That is what happens when we get annoyed. Keep people from annoying us and it won't happen to you."

    We wouldn't be loved, but we aren't loved now. Everybody (that matters) in the world would understand the new policy, which has to be an improvement on pie-in-the-sky platitudes that nobody believes and which leave everybody nervously guessing what we are REALLY up to.

    Also, the aging Anti-War Left would collectively have a conniption, which is always fun to watch.

    1. Collective guilt: not just for the Left anymore!

      How's this for a policy: leave us alone and we leave you alone. It definitely gets rid of the guesswork, no?

      1. As much as I love the idea its unrealistic. Nations have always gone to war over 'interests' I just demand our interests willing to fight wars over be better than the ones we have now.

      2. The problem is that we need to establish that if we are NOT left alone, will we rapidly become unpleasant. Before Bush's response to 9/11 this was seriously in doubt, and the endless squabbling by Bush's political enemies certainly hasn't established it beyond reasonable doubt. Hence my suggestion.

        What I fear is that we will allow ourselves to be pushed until we really DO lose our collective temper. It won't be good for us, and it will be disaster for the Middle East.

        1. Personally, I blame Bill "The Thrill" Clinton's pussyfooting around as being the major contributing factor to Al Qaeda pulling off 9/11.

          -Barely a month into office and the World Trade center was bombed in '93.

          -Assassination attempt in Manila foiled at the last minute in '96.

          -1998 US Embassy bombing in Tanzania and Kenya leave about 300 dead.

          -USS Cole is damn near sunk in 2000 with 17 sailors dead.

          Al Qaeda just kept upping the ante and Slick Willy kept responding with bullshit penny-ante missile strikes that did little more than rearrange a few sand dunes. Now, I'm not saying that we needed to pull a Dubbya and invade everything with a turban but there has to be some kind of middle ground between Bill and Bush that lets us remind assholes why it's not smart to fuck with us.

    2. I have no issue with straight-up punitive expeditions. It's what we should have done in Afghanistan.

      1. He didn't say anything about punitive expeditions. Just randomly killing a bunch of people in countries we don't like.

        1. Yes he's fucking crazy in other words.

          Those countries will be far less stable if we go in and randomly kill. Pure ignorance in my opinion.

    3. Nuke the Moon. No one dies that way, and everyone will be scared to cross a muy loco nation like ours.

      Nuke the Moon.

      1. You beat me to it.

        Just go whole hog and nuke the goddamn moon.

        1. Seriously. Nuke the Moon. On the side facing us. Probably best to do it several times over a period of time during a full Moon, so that the largest number of people could see it.

          1. On the 4th of July!

    4. The next time there is a serious attack on the U.S. we should invade either Iran or Syria, wipe out their military and their ruling class, and then leave. When questioned we should reply something along the lines of "That is what happens when we get annoyed. Keep people from annoying us and it won't happen to you."

      And then all we have to do is wake up in the morning and look at ourselves in the mirror. Shouldn't be that hard after killing tens or hundreds of thousands of people?who may or may not have actually done anything to us?just to be left alone. Should it?

      But hey, morality is tough; attitudes better suited to a medieval Scottish border chieftain are easy.

      1. Its jsut silly empire nonsense.

      2. This idea that morality doesn't apply when doing big nation-state business has led to lots of dead people.

        1. The idea that civilian-murdering swine are entitled to be treated with kid gloves has killed one hell of a lot, too. If we had taken a good long look at Yasser Arafat and decided "This mook spent 1936-19454 inclusive with his tongue so far up germany's bum he should have tasted the bratwurst. Let's shoot him." we could have avoided a lot of grief.


          You may not believe it, but an Imperial America is what I'd like to avoid. We haven't the temperament to do it well. It's going to be an absolute hell on earth.

          1. The destruction of US opponents is sufficient.

            There is no other better deterrent. What you want is to intimidate people which is only going to cause them to hate us more. And you'll create pure anarchy.

          2. Right. Besides, we blew our best chance right after WWII.

          3. "We"????

            Yasser Arafat was NEVER a threat to the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Dude, take it to Haaretz.

            Ron Paul Republicans 2012!! We're taking it ALL back, Bitches!!

      3. Actually making us enraged will have horrifying results, on many levels. I fear that that is what the Islamic Idiots will do unless firmly dissuaded.

        I'm 50. I won't be eligible for the draft, and my politics aren't going to get me jailed for giving aid and comfort to the enemy. It won't matter to me on a personal level if we don't establish that the Middle East does NOT want to make us angry.

        It will matter to them, though. A lot.

        1. Regime change has failed horribly all over the Middle East already. What you're suggesting won't do shit.

        2. So since you're not eligible for the draft, have some politics that get other peoples kids killed. How nice of you.

  6. Hi everybody!

  7. The best alt-text you could come up with was "Rand Paul"
    This picture yells out "Mr. McSleepy Pants goes nap nap." or "Rand Paul, he hates sleep and war" or "Please gods be President one day"

  8. Why Rand Paul Associated Sanctions with War

    Because... sanctions are acts of war?

    We don't just send boots to war. We send our young Americans to war. Our young men and women, our soldiers, deserve thoughtful debate

    And they are yet to get a thoughtful debate instead of war...

  9. Behindertsein ist sch?n

  10. This really is an act of war, they are trying to force Iran to strike first militarily and thus justify themselves as the good guys. Iran is no threat, the excuses America is using to attack Iran are as ridiculous as the ones Germany used when they claimed Poland was the aggressor.

    1. So whatever happens you will be proven right. How convenient.

  11. The pacifist articles on this site never give a satisfying argument for their side and don't seem to understand the opposing side. For example, you aren't going to convince anyone by saying that sanctions are akin to war because the non-pacifists view that as just hippie semantics. Maybe if you're really so open-minded and harmonious you should try to see it from a non-hippie perspective.

    1. "Sanctions" are just a more semantically sophisticated version of a blockade. Which historically has been considered an act of war.

      1. Just what the Brits did in their great naval blockade in WWI resulting in the deaths of a great number of german civilians.

        Just what we did to Japan BEFORE Pearl harbor. The cut-off of oil, etc.

    2. I am sure that if China decided to choke America and strong arm other countries to stop doing business with it, you will be open minded enough to see their side of the story. More likely you will be pounding your chest shouting USA USA USA !

      1. This is supposed to a libertarian place-not a yeay rah rah place for socialistic mass murdering amerika.

        1. Libertarians have many points of disagreements, but being libertarian really does mean one is against waging wars in foreign nations.

          1. It also means recognizing that amerika is a bellicose socialist cess pool.

            It also means that if one is an american, one's loyalty is to liberty, not a nation state which now incarcerates more people than the Soviet gulag did.

            1. Name a Solzentitzen among the drug war POWs or shut the fuck up.

  12. Whoa.

    1. Well played, sir.

      1. I win?


  13. Glad to see the Jew haters are here instead of off causing actual harm somewhere.

    But to get on topic, I think the author is reading too much into Rand's motion. It looks procedural to me - he wants congress to play it's lawful role in authorizing war, or not.

    1. Right. But why would our government want to obey the constitution? They don't bother at home, so who cares about some foreigners?

  14. You anti-nuke, anti-interventionist, people are just as stoopid as the anti-gun nuts who think no one will do anything bad if only we have good thoughts and no guns. And piss on Israel for not just dying since just as soon as they were all dead no one in the middle east would have anyone to hate any longer and it would be all peaceful and happy. If people just let themselves be killed, all the genocides would just stop because they'd be *over*. After all, who's fussing about Burma any more? All the trouble makers are dead, and no one had to "intervene" to stop the killing either. Win-effing-win.

    Oh, and Rand Paul was right that sanctions are war, but no one wants to talk about something intelligent and interesting.


    1. So Rand was right about sanctions being acts of war, but agreeing with that makes us stupid anti-interventionist?

      I don't think a single person here has tried to claim that everything will be sunshine and rainbows if we leave people the fuck alone, but nice strawman. What we do argue is that it's not our place to put our dick into every country that we don't like.

      Make no mistake. Our going to war with Iran will have nothing to do with protecting Israel. No matter how much Sean Hannity tells you otherwise.

      1. If Israel launches a first strike that drags us into a war, does it still have nothing to do with Israel?

        I think we are interested in the middle-east because of oil, but Israel has managed to make itself our "champion" in the region. There are a lot of people here who think Israel's interests and ours are the same. I'd be more sympathetic if Israel wasn't trying to ethnic cleanse the West Bank.

        1. Well okay, there's one scenario where it would have something to do with Israel. But if they don't strike first? Then yeah, it really doesn't have anything to do with protecting them and has everything to do with ulterior motives.

          1. Since when is "have to get shot or raped *first*" a definition of self-defense that anyone on this board ascribes to.

        2. "I'd be more sympathetic if Israel wasn't trying to ethnic cleanse the West Bank."


          You honestly *believe* that if the mortars stopped falling on Israel that Israel would ethnically cleanse the West Bank?


      2. The people agreeing with Rand Paul or even talking about Rand Paul are few and far between in this comment thread.

        Sanctions *are* war and depend on violence, causing misery among the population, to force changes in foreign governments.

        And the fuss-fuss up stream about Israel having nukes is almost exactly like the anti-gun rhetoric that supposes that if we're just disarmed everything would be peaceful. Same with notions that we ought not have our enormous military.

  15. Oh, and Hitler used soap. SOAP!!!

    Maybe he brushed his teeth, too.

    You never know what you're gonna have to do without, just to make sure that you're not like Hitler.

    1. same question

    2. And he was a vegetarian! And he ate broccoli!

  16. Fuck neocon foreign policy. You geniuses have fucked up in foreign policy for far too long.

    You people are completely histerical. I'm only concerned with protecting the US, not in centrally planning democracies in other countries.

    1. *hysterical

      And sorry but millions of civilians die in war, whether we have good intentions or not. Look at some of the other recent articles here.

      1. NO! You Look at theM]!

  17. The reason many Americas want war with Iran is because of their death-cult "End Times", "Rapture", "Left Behind" Christian theology. They are being told in church and by every TV preachers that with Iran is not only desirable, it's also part of god's plan.
    I only learned what is referred to as Pre-Tribulation Dispensationalism was created in Scotland in the 1840s. Up to that point most Christians believe the Bible's book of The Revaluation referred to past events in Palestine, not some future war between Israel and Russia.

    1. Right. "Many Americans" are pre-millennial evangelical fundamentalists because ... you met one once, and then read about it on Wikipedia.

      "Many Americans" don't give a fuck about the bizarre brand of wacko exegetical method taught in the few remaining fringe Bible colleges. "Many Americans" want us to nuke Iran because a) gas prices are high, and they need someone to blame, and b) the Iranian president frequently says and does things that "many Americans" find annoying, often from a podium at Columbia University.

  18. Bin Laden was smart enough to know that next to our citizens our greatest strength is our economy. Just think back to WWII and how fast our country ramped up our war economy which contributed significantly to the defeat of the axis.

    Bin Laden knew that their would be a paradigm shift in the thinking of Americans that would result in the destruction of our vibrant economy through excessive military spending overseas and loss of internal freedoms.

    The Patriot Act was Bin Laden's dream when he conceived 9/11. American's have fallen into his trap. As a result of 9/11 America is following the Roman Empires road to ruin brought about my military expansionism among other things.

    There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and they can afford to wait a long time for America to self-destruct.

  19. This article leaves out that sanctions were an important part of Libya making amends and coming to the table in the post 9/11 era. Qaddaffi did in fact settle claims against him and make it off the terrorist list and a large part of the reason were sanctions. That's a better comparison than Cuba. This bill would prevent the Iranian government from laundering money through our stock markets through shell companies and foreign subsidiaries and strengthen the rule of law in this country. And in case anyone's wondering, Iran's annual budget that's devoted to terrorist activities is roughly $300 million dollars.

    1. Yeah, cause once he made it off the terrorist list he started treating his people with dignity and respect.

      1. Exactly. Sanctions are for the naive.

  20. It's unfortunate there's only one individual in the entire Senate who's trying to avoid war with Iran. Only one person who tries to stop the billions we're donating to Egyptian military until we get our US citizens back. Only one of a handful of Senators who have recommended a budget that would cut the deficit in 5 years... and he gets disrespected by everyone. Ron/Rand Paul 2012!!!

  21. Sanctions, sanctions, and more sanctions. What do they acheive? NOTHING! The same dirtbags remain in power. The ordinary people are the only ones who suffer. Advocates of sanction think it's a way to incite the citizens of these countries to rise up. Well they can't rise up because the government took their guns away!

  22. Sanctions are war!

    Except when Rand Paul is promoting and voting for them.

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