Skip to comments.It's OK If Ron Paul Is Right
Posted on 05/18/2007 8:13:13 AM PDT by traviskicks
Quixotic presidential candidate Ron Paul landed himself in a bit of hot water - make that a boiling cauldron - for remarks he made in last week's GOP debate suggesting that America's containment of Saddam Hussein led to 9/11.
Responding to a question about whether Paul was blaming America for the 9/11 attacks, he stated: "They don't come here to attack us because we're rich and we're free. They come and they attack us because we're over there."
Mayor Giuliani interjected in high dudgeon sending the crowd, and later conservative pundits, to their feet. But what Ron Paul said is, in fact, utterly uncontroversial and utterly true. Nowhere did Paul suggest ala Ward Churchill that the U.S. deserved to be attacked, he merely sought to explain the motives of those who attacked us. His explanation was certainly incomplete and a bit ham-handed, but it was not inaccurate or blatantly false.
In fact, if Ron Paul was "blaming the victim" as Mayor Giuliani indignantly implied, then he is in the company of such notorious America-haters as the current President of the United States, the former Assistant Secretary of Defense, the editorial boards of the Weekly Standard and Wall Street Journal, and many, many conservative pundits and intellectuals.
Cause & Effect
In a now famous November 6, 2003 address, President Bush explicitly linked U.S. policy with the rise of Islamic terrorism:
"Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe -- because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export."
This "accommodation" takes many forms, from the generous subsidies to the Mubarak regime in Egypt to the protection of the Saudi "royal" family and other Gulf potentates, first from Saddam Hussein and now from Iran.
In fact, the entire neoconservative argument for "regional transformation" rests on the notion that the prevailing political order in the Middle East - a political order sustained by American patronage and protection - has nurtured the conditions for bin Ladenism and must therefore be overturned.
Paul Wolfowitz - hardly a blame-America-firster - defended the removal of Saddam Hussein explicitly on the grounds that it would assuage one of bin Laden's grievances. In an interview with Vanity Fair the former Assistant Defense Secretary said that U.S. forces stationed in Saudi Arabia had "been a source of enormous difficulty for a friendly government. It's been a huge recruiting device for al Qaeda. In fact if you look at bin Laden, one of his principle grievances was the presence of so-called crusader forces on the holy land, Mecca and Medina."
Wolfowitz was correct, of course. In a 1998 fatwa signaling his jihad against America and the West and in interviews, bin Laden cited the stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia (necessary for containing Saddam) and the supposed depredations visited upon Iraq by the U.S. through sanctions and the no-fly-zones among his principle grievances. More significantly, America's support for "infidel" regimes led bin Laden to conclude that only by striking the "far enemy" (the U.S.) could he sufficiently weaken American support for the "near enemy" regimes of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, making them easier targets. This initially put him at odds with his number two, Ayman al Zawahiri, who wanted to focus the jihadist firepower on Middle Eastern governments.
On a more transactional level, American support for anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan is widely understood as have playing an instrumental role in the formation of al Qaeda. Pakistan's intelligence service routed American arms and Saudi money to radical forces in Afghanistan to beat back the Soviet invasion. The beneficiaries of this covert subsidy included Osama bin Laden and many of the "Arab Afghans" volunteers who would later form the nucleus of al Qaeda.
Lastly, opinion polls in the Middle East routinely portray a region bristling against American policies and influence (though not, it should be noted, with unrestrained hostility for Americans as a people). Throw in radical Islamic teachings, which reinforce the need to cleanse "holy soil" of any infidel influence, and you have the toxic stew from which al Qaeda sips.
Different analysts weight these two factors - radical theology and nationalistic umbrage - differently. I've argued earlier that this interpretative divide is largely fictitious, that radical Islam is both a reaction to American policies and an expression of Islamic fundamentalism. But it is simply counter-factual to suggest that America's Middle East policy has played no role whatsoever in the terrorist threat we're now confronting.
So why was Paul savaged?
I believe it's because many conservatives, especially since 9/11, have become increasingly unwilling to internalize the simple maxim that government actions have consequences - many of them unintended, some of them negative. Conservatives are rightly skeptical of grand government initiatives aimed at curing various domestic ills. Yet some have become convinced that the same bureaucrats who cannot balance the budget will nonetheless be able to deftly manage the political outcomes of nations half a world away. The tendency is so acute that it led the libertarian blogger Jim Henley to wryly observe that for some "Hayek stops at the water's edge."
Furthermore, understanding why bin Laden struck at America is not the same as excusing the murderers of 9/11 anymore than observing that Hitler desired Lebensraum excuses his invasion of Poland. Knowing your enemy is the all-important first step to defeating him.
Indeed, Paul has done the debate a fundamental service by raising the complex issues of cost and benefit when it comes to America's Middle East policy. You can argue, as former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski did, that a few "stirred up Muslims" was worth the price of driving a defeated Soviet Union out of Afghanistan. You can also argue, as the Bush administration has done, that 9/11 was not a serious enough event to merit a substantial rethinking of our relationship with Saudi Arabia. You can even claim that more, not less, intervention in the Middle East is what is required to bring about needed change.
What you cannot seriously argue is that the world is a "consequence free" zone in which U.S. actions can never catalyze harmful reactions.
American policy cannot be held hostage to the umbrage of religious fanatics, but we should pursue our policies with the clear-eyed understanding that government is a blunt instrument and that bureaucrats in Washington are not all-knowing sages capable of fine-tuning events and people in far away countries to precisely accord with our interests.
Indeed, beneath his awkward syntax, Ron Paul was making a serious point: that less intervention in the Middle East would ultimately improve American security. If Mayor Giuliani disagrees, he should at least explain why.
And for those who argue Ron Paul is not ‘Conservative’, I suggest reading the following:
Scandals are a Symptom, Not a Cause
They come to attack us because we are free to choose to stand in their way of their murderous ideologys goals.
Excellent find. Thanks.
There’s more to being Conservative than advocating limited government. Ron Paul’s take on borders, foreign affairs, personal freedom, and the use of power place him in the Libertarian camp
This is not to say we should cower idly for fear of offending people, or surrender our mantle of world superpower. But perhaps we should be more cognizant of the fact that actions have unintended consequences, and that defending our vital interests in the world is a bit like using one finger to plug a dam with many holes.
Which means giving up any and all support of Israel. There were Islamic terrorists attacking us long before we were in Iraq. No thanks, we don't give into the terrorists. Besides, they do hate us for simply not being Muslims. Once they finished the Jews, we would be next anyways.
Problem is he is not right on the WOT, far from it. You all Paulettes spamming FR with threads is not going to help Pau lone bit but hurt him even more.
Then why are muzzies attacking Thais, Balinese Indonesians (Hindu), Sudanese, Nigerians, etc, etc, etc???? US and Israel has nothing to do with them. It is estimated that muzzies are involved in 45 conflicts with non muzzies. Non of them involve US or Israel. So what is the story????
There are non-Muslims in Peru, Norway, South Africa, Mongolia, and Australia. Why don't Muslims fly planes into buildings and pursue jihad against these nations?
Male Bovine Fecal Effluvia. The Jihadists would have attacked us because of our culture and our freedom regardless if we were in Saudi or not. They hate us because of who we are.
Ron Paul said that it was because of American interventionism that we were attacked. I'm not buying it.
What about the first WTC attack? What about the Marines that were killed in the early 1980s in Beirut? Were we in Saudi back then?
What about the hostages the Iranians took in 1979? It's true you can argue this was in reaction to the Shah and his policies and that we were supporting him, but I don't think by any stretch this is the complete answer to the question.
It comes from the same place as their hatred for all other infidels. The Quran.
Human history since 622 has been distorted and disfigured by Islam's hatred for non-Islamics: Jews, Armenians, Hindus, apostate muslims, the Danish, etc. It's simply incorrect to state that Islamic hate must have been due to something America did.
Muslims will kill their own daughters due to a perceived slight to their Ird - why should we expect there to be a rational cause for their hatred for the US?
You’ve hit the nail on the head and those that don’t believe that are in for a rude awakening.
I believe the reason is because we are infidels and that is the only reason, maybe I am wrong, however history shows otherwise.
Do you understand that Ron Paul is a defeatist who wants to surrender us in the war on terror? How can you support such a person?!
This will make it simple for you. Islam's pecking order of hatred:
2. Anyone who supports Jews
Hope that clears it up for you.
So, you think that it's conservative to be against personal freedom?!
"If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberalsif we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is." --Ronald Reagan
This is a silly argument to have.
Ron Paul is right and wrong at the same time. He is right because Bin Ladin's fatwas do list our presence in the Middle East as the causes for his jihad. But to say that is the reason for 9/11 misses the bigger picture.
With the Soviet Union (which Bin Ladin considered the stronger of the super powers) defeated by his mujahadeen, the time is right to strike the weaker. (That would be us) Why? Because, as Bin Ladin sees it, we have the attention span of a gnat, desire our sensual pleasures over our own safety, and will not fight to preserve our civilization. Our withdrawal from Somalia convinced him of that.
Now, if you want to insist that Paul is right, I won't argue with you. But, if that is Paul's understanding of Bin Ladin and 9/11, I don't want him anywhere near the presidency because I worry about his critical thinking skills. He can't see the forest for the trees.
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