Ron Paul: U.S. involvement in foreign conflicts drains economy


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MUSCATINE — Jesse Shattuck is skeptical about Ron Paul's foreign-policy stances.

"I'm sort of iffy," the 19-year-old Coal Valley, Ill., native said as he stood in line to shake the Texas congressman's hand after he spoke at a town-hall meeting Tuesday afternoon. "If there was a genocide, would he intervene?"

On Tuesday, Iowa caucus contender Paul said American involvement overseas is not only unnecessary, it's a burden to the economy.

In a crowded hall overlooking the Mississippi River, he said the United States is involved in six conflicts, which violates the Constitution.

"We should only have a war if we can fight 'em and win 'em and get 'em over with," he said drawing huge cheers from the audience.

America's extensive overseas involvement has hindered the economy immensely, said Patrick Barron, a University of Iowa economist.

"I think the [U.S.] military establishment has grown tremendously, and I don't see that it's doing any good," he said, noting that if the U.S. pulled out its military presence overseas, billions of dollars would be saved and tensions worldwide would be quelled.

President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget requested $708.2 billion for the Defense Department.

"I'm very, very worried about our economy," Barron said. "Economically, this is a terrible state of affairs."

The United States has no reason to be as involved in foreign affairs as it once did, Barron said, since countries such as Japan, the Soviet Union, and Afghanistan are no longer a threat.

75-year-old presidential candidate Paul said the U.S.'s reputation as a "wealthy" country misleads the international community on the state of the nation's economy.

"The only thing we export on wholesale is money," he said.

Paul blamed massive spending and the trillions of dollars in American debt in the failing economy and said the government is not being productive about fixing it but instead borrowing more and more money.

"You can't correct the problem by doing the same thing," he said.

University of Iowa political-science Associate Professor Tim Hagle said Paul's stance is not cutting spending from the poor or the sick but rather cut from foreign aid.

But not everyone agrees with this stance, he said, because U.S. aid to other nations does have positive implications for the country, especially as a way to attempt to build relationships with allies.

"If we don't help these countries, they'll go elsewhere for aid," he said. "We don't want them to sell to Iran, for example."

Paul's remedy to fix the ailing economy is simple, he said.

"You can't keep printing money, and you can't keep running up debt," Paul said.

He said his plan is to minimize the country's focus on foreign policy and concentrate on concerns at home.

"My suggestion is this — we take care of our own," Paul said.

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