Former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has backed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s Pentagon plan to slash the number of troops in the next five years, but says that what the country really needs is to "downsize" its foreign policy.
The Pentagon plans to cut the size of U.S. military forces to fewer than before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as well as to retire older weapons like the U-2 spy plane and the A-10 attack aircraft.
Paul, a former 12-term Texas congressman and founder of the group Campaign for Liberty, told "The Steve Malzberg Show"on Newsmax TV that's it's "a good idea.”
"You don't need hundreds of thousands of troops planning for the next war because nobody's going to invade us, nobody's going to attack us," Paul said Monday.
"What I really want is [President Barack Obama] to downsize the foreign policy, because if you stay involved in 140 countries . . . stirring up trouble, and you downsize the military, you run into a problem. So, it's our intervention that needs downsizing. But I certainly agree that in this day and age, we shouldn't be building all these weapons."
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Paul pointed out that the United States is unlikely to get into dogfights in the skies with other countries because they cannot match the far superior U.S. air power.
"The F-35 . . . they say it's to be the most advanced aircraft in the world . . . and they’re going to spend $400 billion on it. It's just a total fiasco. So, that kind of stuff they certainly could cut back on. But my suspicion is that the politics of even the F-35 means that they're not going to cut back.”
Paul said that if the United States stops being the world’s policeman, there will be no need to have a vast military buildup.
"Now, if you want to remain the policemen of the world, you can't cut back," he said.
"You probably won't even want to cut back as much as Hagel's talking about. A proper foreign policy would mean that we would have a strong national defense, but it would be quite a bit different. A lot of people equate military spending and national defense, and I don't. I believe very strongly in national defense. But I believe in a lot less military spending, and that's the big difference.”
Paul said the United States was right to stay out of Syria, saying that "we don’t need another war." He also thinks the crisis in Ukraine is none of our business.
"I've talked to people from the Ukraine and they are very much supportive for having let the Ukrainians deal with their problems," he said.
Paul said he was willing to campaign for his son, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, if the latter makes a run for the White House in 2016.
"I will if it doesn't hurt him," said Ron Paul, noting that his son is not sure whether he’s going to run. "But I’m sure he’s feeling his way on it.”
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