Much has been written this morning about the exchange between Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani during last night’s Presidential debate.
As I note over at The Liberty Papers, I think it’s fairly obvious that Giuliani distorted what Ron Paul said in order to make a quick and easy rhetorical point:
Did Paul really say that American foreign policy was to blame for 9/11 ? Personally, I don?t think so. What he said was that American foreign policy was a contributing factor to the formation of the forces that now seek to destroy us.
That, I think, is the point that Congressman Paul, somewhat inarticulately, was making last night. American intervention and adventure-ism in the Middle East, which has been marked mostly by a history of bungling and backing the wrong guy 9 times out of 10, has helped guys like bin Laden recruit from among the Arab masses.
Would al Qaeda still exist if we had acted differently ? Probably. bin Laden his ilk don?t need a justification for their murderous philosophy. But, because we?ve handed them one on a silver platter (and also because we?ve backed and propped up governments that have paid little respect to individual rights), it?s made it much easier for them to recruit followers from the Arab street.
Consider, for example, this excerpt from the debate:
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?
Perhaps Congressman Paul didn’t state the position as articulately as he should have, but it’s a legitimate question. The history of American foreign policy in the Middle East is a history of backing dictators like the Shah, propping up the Saudi Royal Family while ignoring their numerous and ongoing violations of human rights, and alternatively backing and then opposing Saddam Hussein when it suited our purposes.
Is it any wonder that there are Muslims who hate us ?
One comment to my post at The Liberty Papers put it nicely:
If we were to pull Thomas Jefferson through the time rift and drag him here, today. Put him on stage for the Republican ticket? what would the American people say after he explained that Ron Paul?s stance on our foreign policy is the same stance that the country was founded to have. And that ?terrorism? has been a constant factor throughout the world?s history.
While I don’t necessarily think that the foreign policy of 1801 can be applied to today’s world, I think that attitudes such as Giuliani’s — who seems to reject out of hand the very idea that the United States should not be the world’s policeman — are far more dangerous than they are productive. Which is one of the reasons I will neither support nor vote for him.