Paul made a logically perplexing argument that because sanctions are used in the form of a blockade during a "shooting war," sanctions should be construed as an act of war irrespective of whether two states are fighting one another.
"In principle, it’s not quite like a shooting war, but it is a war. I mean it is something that’s used in an active war, in the ultimate for blockade – but sanctions is the form of blockade," he said.
The former Texas Congressman argued further that sanctions levied by America have only lead to escalation in conflicts with other nations, but did not give any examples.
A 2007 study conducted by AEI scholar Ioana M. Petrescu found that sanctions implemented against a nation involved in a militarized dispute actually decrease the probability of future participation in another dispute by 9 percent.
Paul continued sanctions against nations such as Iran and Cuba only hurt the citizens of those nations, but leave their leaders unscathed.
While there is some evidence to suggest current sanctions against Iran and Cuba may not induce Raul Castro or the Ayatollah to end their international isolation, Marc Thiessen argues Burma's move towards democracy may be a case study for how sanctions can push nations towards a liberalized future after their dictators die.
He writes "the U.S. embargo in Cuba […] will not likely bring change to Cuba so long as the Castro brothers are alive. But the Burmese example shows that it will be a critical tool in shaping Cuba’s democratic transition once the Castros are dead and new leaders come to power who are determined to end Cuba’s isolation."
SOPHIE SHEVARDNADZE: Now, you yourself have called sanctions an "act of war," and unilateral sanctions are a common tool for the West to pressure other nations, so…The U.S. is at war with many countries, like Iran, Cuba – isn’t it?
RON PAUL: Well, if two countries get in war, one of the most important things that they do is that they put down blockade – they prevent trade so the various countries can’t get their raw products. So, in that sense, the economic sanctions is doing something that happens in wartime, and that is preventing a government from getting certain things that are needed for the war. So, this is the reason of course I’m opposed to this, because I think it’s wrong, and I keep thinking what's talked about here, in this country, when I was in office, is why don't we try to see it from the other perspective – how would we react if we couldn’t import something? What if China or Russia, or somebody came in and said: "You cannot import certain things, we’re going to prohibit you from trading?" The American people wouldn’t like that very much, and yet we too causally do that with others. But, in principle, it’s not quite like a shooting war, but it is a war. I mean it is something that’s used in an active war, in the ultimate for blockade – but sanctions is the form of blockade. Sanctions, "you can’t do this, you can’t do that," and I think it only leads to escalation, and the countries that had sanctions…The sanctions against Iran have been on air for a long time, and on Cuba – but the leaders never suffer. The people suffer, in both countries, so this is the reason I think that sanctions in principle are wrong.