Wolf Blitzer: Joining us is Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. He’s joining us now from the Conservative Political Action Conference here in Washington.
Congressman Paul, thanks very much for joining us. Let’s talk about Egypt, a subject you know quiet a bit about. You’ve said a controversial remark. You said, “Egypt is the United States’ 30-year mistake.” What were you referring to?
Ron Paul: Well, we’ve invested a lot of money in Mubarak and I don’t think it was a good investment. It was stable for a while but it was building the resentment and the instability that finally burst out. So I would say that $70 billion dollars was not worth it and that unfortunately, many of those dollars ended up in Swiss bank accounts for his family. So I think it was a big mistake and we really don’t have the money to spare and I don’t think it does anything for our national security.
Wolf Blitzer: So if you had your way, the billion and a half dollars a year that the US provides Egypt in mostly military – about $1.3 billion, about another $200 million dollars on economic assistance. If you had your way, all of that would be gone immediately? Is that what you’re saying?
Ron Paul: Oh, yeah. I think so. I mean, I’m not a believer in foreign aide. And you know, I sort of like what Eisenhower did in 1956. I was a college student then. I’d remember the Korean War and when the British and the French were attacked by the Egyptians to take the Canal, and they went to Eisenhower. And Eisenhower said, “I don’t want anything to do with it!” So I think that was good advice and that’s probably the way we should have stayed that way, and we should do a lot less, a lot sooner, and not waste all these money because it tends to come back to haunt us.
It reminds me a little bit about propping up the Shah of Iran. Just look at that problem. Then we ended up with the Ayatollah. So they’re not good investments. I like the founder’s advice. You know, be friends with people and trade with people, and negotiate, and get along with them, but not to get involved in internal affairs and all these treaties, and border squabbles.
It’s not in our best interest but it will come to an end, mainly for economic reasons, and that’s what happened to the Soviet system. They didn’t end because they all of a sudden got a wisdom. They ended because they got bogged on in Afghanistan and they went bankrupt, and the whole system fell apart. And we can face a crisis just like that and we will have to pull back.
Wolf Blitzer: So what I hear you saying is the United States should simply walk away from Egypt right now and let the Egyptians do what they want. But in terms of maintaining this very tight military-to-military connection, the US should simply leave the Egyptians to the Egyptians. Is that your attitude?
Ron Paul: Sure. I think so. I mean, if we’d have a problem like that, we wouldn’t want foreigners in here to sort things out. We would say, “It’s our responsibility.” So I think that’s the problem, that we’ve been too much involved. So the sooner we get out of it, the better. I mean, right now, I’m sure our state department, our CIA is looking around for our next guy that we can support. Because most of them now have expressed, “Well, we can’t really give them democracy. They might elect the wrong person!”
See, we’re all for democracy as long as they pick the right person, and we’d just as soon prefer a dictator that would do our bidding and then we give them a lot of money. I’d like another option rather than just bombing people or giving them money. I would say, friendship and diplomacy is a much better way to go. I mean, this army was built by us and the military industrial complex loved it. They made a lot of money off that. But the army was there for all those 30 years was to protect Mubarak. It wasn’t for national defense purposes. So that’s our army, 450,000 troops that we, more or less…
Wolf Blitzer: I was just going to say, administration officials going back to Republican administration, whether Bush or Reagan, or Democratic administration, the current one, or Bill Clinton’s administration. They’ll argue, this military assistance to Egypt is a good investment in the United States because Egypt was an ally, a strategic partner and cooperative with US in the war on terror for example. So this was money well spent. That’s the argument we’ve heard now for 30 years.
Ron Paul: Oh, yeah. But I think our current events prove my point. It wasn’t well spent because it ended up in chaos and we don’t know who the next dictator is going to be, and it help contribute to our bankruptcy. So I would say it’s not well spent.
Wolf Blitzer: But if the next leader of Egypt, Congressman, is a democratically elected leader, popular, and doing all the right things, it wouldn’t necessarily be a dictator. Why do we have to assume the next leader of Egypt is going to be a dictator?
Ron Paul: That would be great but I personally believe that the odds of that happening are much better if we’re not there picking up and picking the individuals who spend our money on it. So I’m for that, I just don’t believe that the best way to do is get in there, and finance the military. The military right now, of course, is dependent on us, and the military is in charge so we really own the country right now through the military. And the people will not put up with this. Temporarily, maybe, but ultimately, the people will reject it. We need to think about these problems in terms of what if another country did that to us? The Democrats and Republicans, and Independents would all rebel against that, and that is what the American people don’t quite understand.
Wolf Blitzer: Well, in that part I think you got a good point, that the Egyptians don’t want any outside interference in their domestic affairs. They want to do what they need to do and at least today, they seem to be on that path, but it’s going to be a very, very, difficult path. Congressman, you’re at that CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. One quick political question before I let you go. Are you going to seek the Republican presidential nomination this year?
Ron Paul: I haven’t made up my mind and that’s a truthful answer, and I’m sort of glad nobody else has made up their mind either. So I feel like I have a couple more months to sort it all out. But thanks for asking.
Wolf Blitzer: You’ll make up your mind after the next two months?
Ron Paul: Yeah, I would think so. It would be necessary in the next several months of some sort. I don’t have a timetable.
Wolf Blitzer: And do you want to respond to Donald Trump who told that CPAC conference last night. Who told your supporters there that you don’t have a chance of getting elected. I think I’m paraphrasing what he said but he was brutally blunt in a Donald Trump kind of way.
Ron Paul: Yeah, you know, some people pointed out that – a lot of people said that but my view is when I ran for Congress and I was elected to Congress eleven times, and I had the same views, and some of my views are very libertarian, challenge the status quo of Republican. I had a very conservative bible belt Republican district and they said, “There’s no way you can win this election by basing everything on the Constitution. People aren’t interested in that anymore.” So winning eleven elections would sort of raise a question on whether or not that was an accurate statement.
Wolf Blitzer: You’ve been pretty impressive over the years and you were pretty impressive, I must say, in the run for the Republican nomination. Last time around, your supporters were probably among the most enthusiastic out there as I can personally testify. Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
Ron Paul: Thank you.