Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s attack on Congressman Ron Paul’s principled non-interventionist foreign policy provided one of the most substantive policy discussion during the FOX News Sioux City, Iowa debate, but you would hardly know it from the post-debate media coverage.
Fox News anchor Bret Baier set the stage for the discussion on Iran by stating that Congressman Paul “would be running left of Obama on the issue of Iran." Baier supported that proposition by noting that Ron Paul proposes removing economic sanctions against Iran, including the sanctions that Obama had imposed.
Congressman Paul replied by noting that the current anti-Iran propaganda reminded him of the lead-up to the Iraq war, a war he opposed because he discounted exaggerated claims that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. Observing that there is no evidence Iran is near to completing a nuclear weapon, Paul said "That’s how we got involved in the useless war in Iraq and lost so much in Iraq."
Ron Paul drove home his non-interventionist policy toward Iran and radical Islam by rejecting the claim that Islamic theology is founded upon killing non-Muslims, "To declare war on 1.2 billion Muslims and say all Muslims are the same, this is dangerous talk. Yeah, there are some radicals. But they don't come here to kill us because we're free and prosperous. Do they go to Switzerland and Sweden? I mean, that's absurd. If you think that's the reason, we have no chance of winning this. They come here and they explicitly explain it to us. The CIA has explained it to us. They said they come here and want to do us harm because we're bombing them."
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was quick to attack Ron Paul by claiming, "We have an avowed madman who uses that nuclear weapon to wipe nations off face of the earth.”
Bachmann bolstered her argument by claiming, “We have an IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] report that just recently came out that said literally Iran is within just months of being able to obtain that (a nuclear) weapon.” To which Ron Paul retorted, “There is no U.N. report that said that… They produced information that led you to believe that, but they have no evidence that there has been enrichment… It’s totally wrong, what you just said.”
A variety of news media sources, including CNN's "Truth Squad" fact checkers concluded that Paul — and not Bachmann — was factually correct and that as Paul said, the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency does not state that Iran is within months of having nuclear arms. The U.N. agency report does suggest that Iran conducted secret experiments whose sole purpose is the development of nuclear weapons, but did not put a time frame on when Iran might succeed in building a bomb, and it made no final conclusion on Tehran’s intent.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann serves on the House Intelligence Committee and should know what she is talking about when it comes to such a sensitive topic as Iran’s purported nuclear weapons program – yet she was strangely wrong about the IAEA report, an unclassified public document. Does she know something the IAEA doesn’t?
Determining the intentions behind Iran’s nuclear program and crafting a response to its bellicose pronouncements toward the U.S. and allies such as Israel, are among the greatest challenges facing the next President of the United States. Whether you agree with Ron Paul’s non-interventionist foreign policy or not, Republicans need a presidential nominee who will at least start formulating policy by getting the facts right on this important challenge. If Bachmann has information beyond the IAEA report she should work to get it unclassified, because even if you agree with her conclusions, as things stand now her credibility on national security has been damaged.