Who's the nutcase?Republican Congressman Ron Paul has been a lot of hot water lately. In a recent GOP presidential debate, Paul had the audacity to state that America's aggressive foreign policy over the last half century played a role in stirring up the hatred that inspired the 9/11 terrorists.
The official line is that the United States was a virgin victim; that terrorists threw darts at a board and randomly decided to direct their hatred at America for that reason.
Rep. Paul criticized this official line. His comments were based on the premise that actions have consequences.
My mom and dad taught me this when I was a kid. This doesn't seem exceedingly controversial.
But in post 9/11 America, it is controversial.
The tragic part is that innocent American civilians had to die because of the imperial foreign policy of their governments over the decades. But when Paul implied that the 'they hate because we're free' line is a self-delusional myth, it's nothing more than common sense. When he suggests that the 9/11 attack didn't come out of nowhere, it's common sense.
Paul simply pointed out the fact of human nature that if you hit someone, eventually they are going to hit back.
Blind US support for the Shah of Iran led to the Islamic Revolution. Blind US support for the Batista dictatorship led to Castro. Blind US support for the Venezulean oligarchy led to Chavez.
The US is not the first country's whose imperial policy is based on the self-interested rationalization of denying human nature. Most imperial policies throughout history have been based on the same premise. The US in Vietnam. The French in Algeria. The Brits in what became Israel. The Israelis in what will become Palestine.
The exact exchange during the debate was as follows:
MR. GOLER (moderator): Congressman, you don't think that changed with the 9/11 attacks, sir?
REP. (Ron) PAUL: What changed?
MR. GOLER: The non-interventionist policies.
REP. PAUL: No. Non-intervention was a major contributing factor. Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there; we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been in the Middle East -- I think Reagan was right.
We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. So right now we're building an embassy in Iraq that's bigger than the Vatican. We're building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us. (Applause.)
MR. GOLER: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attack, sir?
REP. PAUL: I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we're over there because Osama bin Laden has said, "I am glad you're over on our sand because we can target you so much easier." They have already now since that time -- (bell rings) -- have killed 3,400 of our men, and I don't think it was necessary.
[Giuliani jumps in]
MR. RUDY GIULIANI: Wendell, may I comment on that? That's really an extraordinary statement. That's an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don't think I've heard that before, and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th. (Applause, cheers.) And I would ask the congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn't really mean that. (Applause.)
MR. GOLER: Congressman?
REP. PAUL: I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem.
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. I mean, what would we think if we were -- if other foreign countries were doing that to us? [END]
Actions have consequences. You stick your nose where it doesn't belong and you risk getting slapped. Or worse.
I was taught this when i was in elementary school. But apparently, most Republican presidential candidates were not taught this.
Ironic for a group that bills itself the party of personal responsibility.
I've mentioned Rudy Giuliani's shameless fearmongering before but his gall here is breathtaking. Not once did Paul say that we invited 9/11 by attacking Iraq. This is impossible since Paul knows that 9/11 occured BEFORE Iraq.
Paul said that American foreign policy created the hatred that led to 9/11 and that the subsequent Iraq war is only furthering adding to that hatred.
Whether you agree or disagree with the opinion, this is what he actually said. Giuliani deceitfully twisted his words into something else.
I don't think Rudy was a terrible mayor of New York. Though there were some things that were appalling, such as police brutality, I think he did a fairly decent job of running a tough city to govern. I will give him his due as mayor. But I've never trusted him. And this is a great example why.
Giuliani claims that Paul is blaming the Iraq war for 9/11. This is not merely deceit. It's a bald-faced lie. Paul did not say that. He did not imply that. The record is there.
But it's a bald-faced lie that is consistent with the shameless, populist fearmongering Rudy's campaign has regularly employed. It's consistent with the shameless, populist fearmongering so many Bush sympathizers have regularly employed in the last several years.
Rudy's slime is based on the premise of people not paying attention to the details. Details like, oh I don't know, what Paul actually said. Details like Paul couldn't have said the Iraq war caused 9/11 because it happened after.
Rudy is counting on people hearing the words 9/11 and then shutting off their brains. The sad part is that it's a good gamble on his part. The sad part is that it may work. It may work in the future because it has worked in the past.
Giuliani is doing this because he is to the left of the party on most social issues. So he's compensating for that by being to the right of the president on so-called national security. I don't see how any can think that Rudy's ideas would make this nation more secure. But it's a gamble he has to take if he wants the nomination that he's proven he doesn't deserve.
Republicans reacted with fury to Paul's comments. The Michigan GOP chief Saul Anzius even wants to ban Paul from future Republican debates.
This is the party that lectures us on freedom and liberty (said breathlessly).
This is the party that lectures Iraqis on democracy and tolerance of difference.
Rather than letting rank and file Republicans pass judgement on the Congressman as in a normal democracy, Anzius and many other Republicans want to censor Rep. Paul. Rather than ignoring him or dismissing him as a nutjob, like a smart politician might do, Anzius wants to make Paul into a free speech martyr. I'm sure Paul's campaign is happy for the free attention.
In pandering to the religious right, former Massachussetts governor Mitt Romney said, "In France, for instance, I'm told that marriage is now frequently contracted in seven-year terms where either party may move on when their term is up. How shallow and how different from the Europe of the past."
Of course, this is patently false. But why should Giuliani be the only person who can refuse to let truth interfere with populist cheap shots.
It appears that Romney took his comment from the plot of a 2003 French romantic comedy.
So among the choices available to Republican voters, assuming Anzius doesn't intervene further, are:
a) a guy who takes his view of reality from the movies,
b) a guy who can't pay attention long enough to correctly quote his opponent
c) a guy (Sen. John McCain) who thinks the nightmare in Iraq is going swimmingly
d) a guy who says what that everyone should've learned in elementary school (actions have consequences)
According to conventional 'wisdom,' a, b and c are the front runners most likely to win the nomination while d is a whackjob.
I have a headache.