Ron Paul: Sanctions on Iran are an Act of War

Venue: Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing
Date: 10/28/2009

Ron Paul: Mr. Chairman, thank you and I oppose this legislation [HR 2194: Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009]. I do not challenge the motivation of those who support this legislation, but I think it’s deeply flawed and I think it’s going to do a lot more harm than good. It reminds of all the talk that preceded us going into Iraq; all the wonderful things that could come by putting more pressure on a particular country starting first with sanctions. Sanctions are an act of war.

It was suggested that Venezuela may be going to send oil over there and that means intercepts on the high sea, but the best way for others to look at this to see my point is, how would we react if somebody closed down our oil imports. I mean, we would be pretty unhappy about that. To think that this is not a serious matter, I think it’s being rather naive.

First off, the Iranians have a right to enrich for peaceful purposes. They have never been found in violations of NPT treaty, not once. Our NIE report says they haven’t been working on weapons since 2003 and just because you disagree with it, you just can’t dismiss that report out of hand. So there is a lot of distortion on this information that we get.

When we went into Iraq, there were unintended consequences. There is still no stability there, but one thing for certain, is Iraq is a much closer ally of Iran right now. We drove the Iraqis into the hands of the Iranians and there has been an expression here that this is good […], but we still should be concerned about China. Well, if you’re concerned about China, this is the best thing in the world for China. They are motivated. They have already invested in Iran. The production of petroleum products has gone up significantly in Iran, so this is a big motivation for the Iranians to do exactly what you don’t want them to do.

Now, the theory is that if we really punish the people, take their gasoline from them and they’re going to get angry – and they will. They’re going to get angry at us. They’re not going to get angry at the Ayatollah. What you are doing is you’re deliberately undermining the dissidents there. They will lose all credibility and people when they attack from the outside as we were on 9/11… we come together, so all we do is we keep pounding on people like this and we ruin the dissenting views that are operating in that country.

So I just think this is all going to backfire and we need to think in terms of the principle of free trade. You know, the more you put on sanctions, the more likely you will be fighting with them. We put on sanctions and we knew we were destined, at least for a lot of us, we were destined to go to war in Iraq and this means that we are willing to take on armed conflict. But you know what? What I don’t understand is your willingness to sort of disrupt what the President is trying to do. I mean, the President is trying to negotiate and talk. He said he wanted to do it; he should be allowed to do this. This just, I think, disrupts what the President is trying to do.

Recently, the President spoke at the United Nations and under his pressure and leadership he had UN Resolution 1887 passed. He is working multilaterally to try to bring peace to that area by having a non-nuclear Middle East. So if that’s the administration’s position to have a non-nuclear Middle East, then why do we do this to disrupt some of the things that he is trying to do, and I just am disturbed by us not looking through and looking at the ramifications, looking at the unintended consequences and this pretense that we can just do this and everything is going to come out all right because I really believe in the long run we will suffer, the people will suffer, and there will not be more stability.

How can we get terrified of a threat from the Iranians? You know, they are a Third World nation, up until recently, they couldn’t even make their own gasoline. But because of our pressure so far, they’re getting quite capable of doing it. We’re driving them into the hands of the Chinese. They have our money. They can control us through the dollar and yet, we’re driving the Chinese into taking over just as we drove the Iraqis to become close allies of the Iranians. I think our policies are deeply flawed. I say your motivations are fine and dandy, but motivations aren’t the answer; we have to think of the consequences.