At Tuesday's GOP debate in Tampa, Florida, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) was joined by other presidential candidates like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. The congressman from Texas said at the debate that by the U.S. blockading Iran, the country is committing an act of war.
The candidates were discussing the threat from Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz when Rep. Paul said, "We're blockading [Iran]. Can you imagine what we would do if somebody blockaded the Gulf of Mexico? That would be an act of war. So the act of war has already been committed and this is a retaliation. But besides, there's no interest whatsoever for Iran to close the Straits of Hormuz. I mean, they need it as much as we do. I mean, so you have to put that in a perspective. But this whole idea that we have to go to war because we've already committed an act by blockading the country, I agree with Newt (that "the American people have no interest in going to war anywhere.")"
The Washington Post's "The Fact Checker" measures the truthfulness of the stories presented in the media. The article uses a rating scale called "The Pinocchio Test". One "Pinocchio" being "Some shading of the facts. Selective telling of the truth. Some omissions and exaggerations, but no outright falsehoods," and four "Pinocchios" being "Whoppers." Fact Checker Glenn Kessler reviewed Rep. Paul's comments from the debate.
Kessler calls Paul's comments "curious" and points out that the United Sates hasn't had a blockade on a country since the Bosnian War in the 1990's. He says the U.S. isn't involved in a "literal" blockade of Iran, but rather, the U.S. has numerous sanctions on the country. Kessler says he believes the congressman is "equating these sanctions with blockades" and then goes on to say he found "no grounds" for Paul's characterizations in the definitions of the word "blockade". He seems to be a little picky. Obviously, Paul realizes what the U.S. is doing in regards to Iran.
Kessler says that experts disagree if these sanctions against Iran are actual "acts of war" but that most feel they are not. He notes that the United Nations does not include these type of sanctions as "acts of aggression". Rep. Paul made a good point when he asked how the U.S. would feel if this was about the Gulf of Mexico. Regardless of definitions, if the same sanctions were against the United States, it would feel like an act of war and we would likely retaliate.
Rep. Paul is a libertarian. His foreign policy views run deep and true. He feels that the United States doesn't need to play World Police. The media tries to find nefarious reasons for his views and they have succeeded to a point. The newsletter stories paint him as a racist and a bigot and he has had his share of backlash for suggesting that the country should stop financial support for Israel. Many voters, who like Ron Paul, won't actually vote for him because of his foreign policy beliefs. The comments at the debate illustrate his goals and the thought of simply "allowing" Iran to continue its nuclear program; and "leaving them alone" is a scary prospect.
Kessler wraps up by saying "we found no basis for Paul's conflation of the words 'blockade' and 'sanction.' One could forgive the congressman for choosing the wrong term in the heat of a debate, but the fact that he said 'blockading' twice suggests he chose his language deliberately." And, "overall, Paul mischaracterized and exaggerated the actions the U.S. has taken to dissuade Iran from continuing its nuclear program. A presidential candidate should be more careful about making such allegations about U.S. actions."
So, the congressman ended up with three "Pinocchios". "Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions." Now it's more clear why there is such a controversy over the neutrality of these "fact checker" websites.
Â© Margie Wilson-Mars 2012