Christopher Preble’s discussion of Ron Paul and his supporters goes awry when he writes this:
At times, however, his remarks betray a degree of disinterest that undermines his message. Paul, for example, seems to imply that he would do nothing at all to try to halt or slow Iran’s nuclear program, when his focus should be on why the solutions proposed by the other leading candidates in the Republican presidential field are unlikely to solve the problem and would likely make it worse.
Paul doesn’t just say that he will do nothing with respect to Iran. Paul has spoken several times about the need for diplomatic engagement with Iran, which he considers to be preferable to increased sanctions and threats of war. It’s true that he doesn’t consider it the business of the United States government to discourage Iran from developing its nuclear program. His message is that the United States should mind our own business as much as possible and pursue a policy of peace and commerce. His statements on Iran don’t undermine his message–they are an important part of his message.
Most of his remarks are focused on the folly of sanctions and military action. He has repeatedly argued against treating Iran as if it were a greater threat than the USSR, and he tries to explain why the “problem” of Iran’s nuclear program is manageable and why deterrence would be effective against a nuclear-armed Iran. Part of this involves rejecting the hysterical exaggerations of the threat from Iran that his rivals indulge in all the time. This is why he has made a point of stating correctly that Iran has not made a decision to build a weapon, and it is why he attempts to put Iran’s desire for a nuclear capability in the context of a region filled with nuclear-weapons states.