Rand Paul: America Partly To Blame For Pearl Harbor, World War II

At the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin this weekend highlighted a video of Rand Paul speaking in 2012 about sanctions on Iran. In it, Paul disparages the notion of use of force, and for some reason claims the United States was partly to blame for World War II!

“There are times when sanctions have made it worse. I mean, there are times .. leading up to World War II we cut off trade with Japan. That probably caused Japan to react angrily. We also had a blockade on Germany after World War I, which may have encouraged them … some of their anger.”

Rubin spoke with David David Adesnik of the American Enterprise Institute about Paul’s remarks:

After viewing the video, he tells Right Turn, “Blaming the U.S. for Pearl Harbor is a long-standing isolationist habit that reflects tremendous historical illiteracy. Sen. Paul is very poorly informed if he thinks U.S. sanctions ‘probably caused Japan to react angrily.’” He explains, “The U.S. cut off oil supplies to Japan in August 1941, long after Japan had launched its atrocity-laden war against China in 1937. The evidence is conclusive that Japan was determined to dominate all of East Asia. Believing that the U.S. would not stand by passively if it overran Thailand, Singapore, Malaya and the East Indies, Japan launched its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.”

With regard to the Senator’s comments about Germany, Adesnik declared them “so eccentric that it’s hard to be sure what he’s even talking about.” He goes on to point out the obvious, which is that we should be proud of our actions in Europe before and during the war, regardless of whether or not they antagonized the Nazis.

Senator Paul at the time of the video and in remarks since, referred to a nuclear Iran as “not a good idea”, which is true, in much the same way that sticking one’s hand in a wood chipper is a “not a good idea”.

Equally as troubling is his explanation of the rationale for sanctions being “doing something is better than doing nothing.” A colleague objects to Paul’s “straw man” and remarks “is this how we think about national security now?” Good question. Another good question is whether or not the first consideration in pursuing American interests and security is whether or not an enemy or “rogue” nation may become annoyed with us.

Rubin says that “these comments, his bizarre take on historical events and his current opposition to sanctions (in accord with President Obama) raise troubling issues regarding his true beliefs and the degree to which his father’s radical libertarian ideas have rubbed off on him.”

Indeed the issues are raised. And going into 2016, Obamaesque waffling on treading lightly or Ron Paul-like isolationism are not attributes anyone in this party should be looking for in a candidate. Answers to those issues, therefore, should be top priority for Senator Paul.

*Updated with partial transcription of relevant portion for those without audio. 10:43 AM.

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