Ron Paul Misquoted Regarding Retaliation if Attacked


Ron Paul has come under criticism for a recent comment. I believe this started at Free Republic, but it is now being mentioned on several conservative blogs. The claim, based upon taking a portion of the response in the video above, is that Paul said, “A president has a responsibility to, uh, you know, retaliate against an attack. I don’t think there’s been a good example of a need to do that throughout our whole history.”

Viewing the actual video clearly shows that this misrepresents Paul’s view. The actual question dealt with first strikes, as opposed to retaliation, but Paul did stray from this specific question. Paul included his views that Congress should declare war as called for in the Constitution as opposed to the president deciding to attack. Paul went on from that point to speculate that theoretically a situation could arise where immediate retaliation would be necessary and it wouldn’t be possible to get a declaration of war from Congress. This is what Paul was speaking of when he said there was never an example of a need to retaliate. While there have clearly been attacks on the country which required a response, it was possible in each case for the president to go to Congress for a declaration of war. This also could have been done following the 9/11 attack.

There are many reasons to question whether Ron Paul should be president, but contrary to the claims being spread by conservatives this statement is not one of them.

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  1. 1
    Eric Dondero says:

    Ron, Ron Paul is a pacifist. He has a deeply held set of beliefs opposing violence for any reason. Thus, he’s hardcore Pro-Life, and his viciously opposed to the Death Penalty for any reason, including Child Killers.

    I’ve had numerous conversations with him about WWII and weather our intervention in that War was justified. He clearly stated “absolutely not,” and retreated into conspiracy land theories of how that “evil” FDR manipulated us into the War.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:


    I’m not surprised. Do you happen to have any links to his writings regarding WWII. I did stumble onto something a while back but it was before I was posting much on Paul and I didn’t keep the link. Conspiracy theories about FDR manipulating us into the war are quite common on the right. (Of course, as with many conspiracy theories, there is a grain of truth that FDR did seek to manipulate public opinion towards getting into the war, but the conspiracy theoriests take it much further.)

    He very well may be a pacifist nut, but with regards to this post you cannot make that argument from this statement as the right wing blogs are saying. The implication from the right wing blogs is that he said there has never been a situation where we had to retaliate against an attack at all, suggesting that he is ignoring Pearl Harbor. What he is really saying that there was never a situation where the president had to retaliate without first going to Congress for a declaration of war.

    What doesn’t come up here is whether Paul believes Pearl Harbor was a situation in which Congress should have declared war. The vast majority of opponents of the Iraq war agree that WWII was justified, and the majority agree that taking action against al Qaeda in Afghanistan was justified. Paul gets a lot of support from opponents of the Iraq war who don’t look beyond this at his other opinions. Basically, if you take a default position that the government is always wrong you are going to wind up being correct quite frequently.

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