Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul is a libertarian and member the House of Representatives from Texas. Known for frequently invoking the names of the nation’s founding fathers in his appeals for a limited and Constitutional federal government, Paul has been dubbed “Dr. No” for his refusal to vote for any legislation he considers to be in violation of the Constitution of the United States. As a strong proponent of free markets and the elimination of institutions such as the Federal Reserve and an opponent of the Iraq war and the war on drugs, Paul has attracted across-the-board support, from bleeding heart liberals to strict conservatives to conspiracy theorists. After a campaign event October 26 at Iowa State University, Ames Progressive contributor Joshua Rains spoke briefly to Paul.
Joshua Rains: What are your views on “Don’t ask, don’t tell?” 1
Ron Paul: The words I have no offense with. The way they implement it, I don’t like it because I don’t want to throw people off because of their sexual orientation from the military. But I want to apply “Don’t ask, don’t tell” to everybody. I don’t want to hear about anybody’s sexual activities, whether they’re heterosexual or homosexual. I just don’t want to deal with that, but I don’t want to put people out of the military. So in a way, “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has some appeal to me, but I don’t like the way they implement it.
JR: Have you heard back from Giuliani on the reading list? 2
RP: (Laughs) No, he hasn’t responded and I don’t think he will.
1. “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” implemented in Congress’s 1994 Defense Authorization Act, is a United States military policy prohibiting those who “demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts” from serving. The Washington Post this May reported on a letter sent by about 40 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to the House Armed Services Committee chairman claiming that 58 gay Arab linguists have been released from the military under the policy, raising questions about the policy’s legitimacy in the face of the nation’s international fight against radical Islamic terrorism.
At televised 2008 Democratic presidential candidate debates, all attendees have voiced support for the repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. But at a June 5 Republican debate in New Hampshire, moderator Wolf Blitzer of The Situation Room was met with silence when he said, “Is there anyone here who believes gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the United States military? If you do, speak up now.”
2. On May 15, at the second Republican presidential debate in Columbia, South Carolina, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani demanded a retraction from Paul for his contention that decades of United States interference in Middle Eastern affairs provided a provocation for the 9/11 hijackings and subsequent attacks.
Said Paul: “They attack us because we’ve been over there, we’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We’ve been in the Middle East. I think Reagan was right. We don’t understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics…” to which Giuliani replied, “That’s an extraordinary statement of someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11. I would ask the congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn’t really mean that.”
Instead, Paul assembled a recommended book list in defense of his position for Giuliani’s reading pleasure. The books:
Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson
Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism by Robert A. Pape
Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror by Michael Scheuer (formerly Anonymous)
The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission of Terrorist Attacks upon the United States