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INTERVIEW An Anti-War Republican! An Interview with Congressman Ron Paul BY JAKE BERNSTEIN o ff the main hall at the Republican State Convention in Dallas last June, among all the booths pushing cherished right-wing causes _fro tort reform to gun ownership, one stood out in popularity. Stationed first as delegates stepped 4 the flooi; the Republican Liberty Caucus of Texas consistently held the largest crowds. The RLC represents the Libertarian wing of the Republican Party. Its standard bearer is U.S. Congressman Ron Paul. By the end of the convention, most delegates proudly sported a sticker that pro _ claimed, “I’m a Ron Paul Republican.” Paid, who once ran fr president as a Libertarian, has been ridiculed by opponents over the years for his role as an ideological gadfly. Challengers f o r his seat have accused him o f hold* positions so far out that they place him in outer space. Indeed many qf the planks particularly repellent to progressives that Republicans adopted for their Texas platform mirror Paul’ positions. They include abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, eliminating the Department of Education, prohibiting abortion, and doing away with most environmental kilt’s. Remarkably though, Paul’s principled stance also makes him and his true fidlowers natural allies on certain issues progressives hold dear. He has lobbied his fellow members to end the embargo of Cuba. Paul has also been a vocal leader fighting in Congress against a war in Iraq. In doing so lie has spoken truth to power with an honesty and courage progressives wish more Democratic leaders exhibited. Paul has also been a leader in warning the American public about the dangers of the police state the Bush administration is rapidly building what the ACLU has taken to calling our “surveillance society.” It’s a place where _five-count felon John Poindexter \(who escaped on personal bfformationfrom how we spend our money to where we go on the Internet. As an ever-growing number of Americans become concerned about the direction Republican leaders are taking the country, a coalition between left and right that extends from the halls of Congress to the Texas statehouse has begun to form on some of these issues. An example of this incipient movement is a libertarian rally scheduled in Austin at the University of Texas on February 17th. The two featured speakers are Congressman Paid and Texas ACLU Executive Director Will Harrell. The Texas Observer visited with Ron Paul at his district office in Freeport on the Gulf Coast in late December. We wanted to question Paul more closely on the areas where lie and progressives might coincide. Here are some of the results of that conversation. Texas Observer: Is it inevitable we will go to war with Iraq? Ron Paul: I would say the odds are 98 percent. Only a miracle will save us from committing this overt act of aggression. I think this will be a gift for Osama bin Laden. He will be the beneficiary of it. He hates Saddam Hussein. He has a better chance of getting one of his men [in power] after we cause a lot of disruption over there. And besides, his recruiting operation is going to get a real boost. We are going to prove to many Muslims around the world exactly what he has been telling them all along, that we are over there to dominate, to control, and to get the oil. I think we have fallen into that trap. TO: Why haven’t more people seen through this effort to link Hussein to the war on terrorism? RP: It seems that those who advise the president, those who control foreign policy, need another war for various reasons: whether it has to do with the oil or this principle that we are such good people that we know what is best; our views should dominate. I think they believe it almost like a religion. What has happened is that they have been able to control the propaganda. Even if there are some in Washington who have questioned thisand many of them did question itthe propaganda has been so powerful. All [Congress] had to do was look at the polls and say, “Oh, the polls show that we must do this.” I have told others, and 1 am convinced that if Bill Clinton was doing exactly what the president is doing today, I bet I wouldn’t be a lonely Republican. I bet I would have a lot of Republican supporters on my side…. But now it’s a Republican president, and he can do no wrong. TO: Has 9/11 changed how the U.S. should operate in the world? RP: I just think it has taken a foreign policy that was seriously flawed and given it more momentum. Now it’s just going further and faster and there is less resistance. TO: Will we have to wait for Castro to die _for the embargo to end? RP: I think the momentum is moving in our direction. But it would require overriding a veto. It is getting to be so 10 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 1/31/03