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By KRUI News Reporter Emily Woodbury
In front of more than 800 students and local residents at the Iowa Memorial Union following the University of Iowa Homecoming parade, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul did not once mention education during his speech.
Instead, Paul, who seeking the Republican nomination for president of the U.S., appealed to the younger crowd by focusing on personal liberties and laws against drug use. Throughout his address, he said that the government’s focus on marijuana prosecution was wasteful and detrimental.
“Why shouldn’t you have free decision on what you eat, drink, smoke and put into your own body?” Paul said. “Right now, I really fear for the destruction of my liberty and your liberty from domestic threat today.”
Paul said that there are too many police break-ins without search warrants, and he described the story of an ex-marine who was gunned down in his home. These statements riled the crowd, possibly because the younger generation has a higher skepticism of law enforcement.
With young people’s focus on the Occupy Wall Street movement, Paul received a lot of positive feedback from university students for his attitude on bailing out the rich.
“If they got rich the wrong way and then they get bailed out the wrong way,” he said, “they deserve a lot of criticism.”
Paul also brought up campaign donations, a topic frustrating many occupy protesters and supports of the occupy movement. Paul wouldn’t say whom, but described a candidate topping the polls.
“We looked as his top three donations, and they all came from three big banking institutions,” Paul said, in apparent reference to Mitt Romney. According to OpenSecrets.org, his top three campaign contributors include Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse Group, and Morgan Stanley.
This remark drew a large “boo” from the crowd, and Paul laughed, presumably because he knew what a big concern this is currently.
Paul focused primarily on military and defense spending, saying he is for cutting military spending but not defense spending. He used Egypt as an example.
“Just think of all the billions of dollars we gave to Egypt to prop up and pretend that we had peace in the region, and then finally our pet dictator gets overthrown, and now its more dangerous there than ever.”
According to Reuters, the United States has supplied an average amount of $2 billion to Egypt a year since 1979, and a majority of the aid went to military spending in the country. Currently it is too soon to assess whether Egypt is in fact more dangerous now than before the Arab Spring.
Another overseas example Paul used to criticize past administrations was the instance of U.S. involvement in Iran.
“In 1953, we said no we don’t want you to have democracy, [since] you might keep all your oil,” Paul said. “We wanted to have our dictator in so we installed the Shah.”
In a Syracuse University Press publication Mohammad Mosaddeq and the 1953 Coup in Iran, authors cite that the United States did give support to Iran in 1953, with the goal of overthrowing the Mossadeq government through a coup d’état. A decade after the coup, Iran received over $1.2 billion in aid from the United States.
Paul objected to the cost of military spending and noted the international implications of U.S. involvement in foreign affairs. He discussed how bombing and forcing American ‘exceptionalism’ hurts relations with the people of foreign countries.
“We have no moral authority to force ourselves on other people, and we have no moral authority to accept this notion of pre-emptive war.”
Paul said removing American troops from foreign countries and bringing them back home would be one of his biggest priorities after entering the White House.
“I don’t even have to ask permission to move the troops around,” he said, referencing that he could bring the troops home from bases even without the permission of congress.
Paul also criticized the current United States government for occupying “900 bases,” while “building more.”
Paul said the right solution is to “open up some of those bases…let [the government] spend the money at home for awhile,” he said. “That would give us a bit of a boost.”
For University of Iowa undergrad, Christian Theisen, Paul’s stance on the military is one of his biggest draws. Several other students attending the rally also agreed with Paul’s stance on the troops and on the U.S. military spending.