In one of the early Republican debates in the 2008 election cycle, Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani sparred over the September 11th attacks and the role that U.S. foreign policy choices may have played in inciting the attacks:
On Iraq, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the Libertarian candidate for president in 1988, stood alone in railing against the decision to go to war, comparing it to a quagmire he said engulfed U.S. troops in Vietnam a generation ago. “We don’t go to war like we did in Vietnam and Korea, because the wars never end,” he said.
When Paul later suggested that terrorists attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, because of what he described as America’s 10-year campaign of bombing in Iraq, an angry Giuliani demanded that he retract the statement.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before, and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11,” Giuliani said.
Paul refused to give in, saying that terrorists react to the United States’ actions in the world. “If we ignore that, we ignore that at our risk,” Paul said.
Here’s video of that exchange from nearly three years ago:
That Giuliani-Paul exchange figured prominently in an ad that Trey Grayson ran several weeks ago in an effort to paint Rand Paul as a 9/11 truther.
Now, the battle has been joined again.
Today, Giuliani endorsed Trey Grayson, and issued this statement:
“Trey Grayson is the candidate in this race who will make the right decisions necessary to keep America safe and prevent more attacks on our homeland. He is not part of the ‘blame America first’ crowd that wants to bestow the rights of U.S. citizens on terrorists and point fingers at America for somehow causing 9/11,” Giuliani said.
He continued, “Kentucky needs a Senator who understands the threat posed by our enemies abroad. I witnessed firsthand the destruction and loss of life our enemies can cause. Like me, Trey Grayson knows we must stay on offense against terrorism, and he supports using all the essential tools we have in that fight, including monitoring the conversations and activities of suspected foreign terrorists as allowed by the Patriot Act. He is a fresh face that Republicans can trust to best represent their values – both on national security and fiscal responsibility – in Washington. Kentuckians could not elect a better Senator than Trey Grayson.”
Congressman Paul responded with a statement of his own:
The Neo-Con establishment is pulling out all the stops to beat Rand.
First, Dick Cheney endorsed his opponent. Next, Rick Santorum. And today, Mr. Big Government Republican himself is slithering into the race.
That’s right. Rudy Giuliani has stuck his beak into Rand’s race, endorsing his opponent and blaming Rand for being part of the “blame America” crowd. Disgusting.
Especially since Giuiliani is still committing the same willful distortion that he was guilty of three years ago:
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.
And Andrew Sullivan contends that Giuliani openly lied about what Paul said:
Giuliani, interestingly, openly lied about Ron Paul’s position on 9/11. Paul specifically did not make a statement, as Giuliani immediately claimed, that the U.S. invited 9/11. I rewound to double-check. It was the Fox questioner who ratcheted up the stakes on that question, not Paul. Paul demurred on a specific answer and switched the question to the general issue of blowback. As to who’s right, the answer is both. Bin Laden – still at large and operating within the territory of Pakistan, an alleged ally which Cheney recently visited – both justified the 9/11 attack on those grounds but has a theology that doesn’t require such a casus belli. But now he doesn’t even need the theology. We have, alas, made more terrorists by our bungling in Iraq than Bin Laden could have dreamed of just six years ago.
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.
Another Rudy-Ron battle ?
I know who I’m putting my money on.