Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

May 18, 2007

Explaining The Reaction To Ron Paul

by Doug Mataconis

At TCS Daily, Gregory Scoblete tries to understand why conservatives freaked out so much over Ron Paul’s remarks about the links between American foreign policy and September 11th:

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.

For me, this is what I agree with in the remarks that have aroused such controversy here and elsewhere.

It’s simply absurd to argue that the actions that the United States has taken in the Middle East — starting with things such as the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Iran in 1953 in favor of a hereditary monarch who tortured his opponents — have been without consequence. Justifiably or not, these actions have created a not insubstantial portion of the Arab/Muslim population that resents the United States and sees us as a force for evil rather than a force for good.

More recently, we went to war in Iraq for reasons that later turned out to be based on faulty intelligence and did so without a plan for what we would do there after we won. The result was the creation of chaos and the rise of an insurgency that is targeting the Iraqi people as much as it is targeting American soldiers. More importantly, whereas there was no evidence of a link between Iraq and al Qaeda prior to 2003, it is now fairly evidence that Iraq is one of al Qaeda’s primary sources of recruitment and the battlefield on which it has chosen to fight it’s next battle.

That, quite frankly, is our fault.

What’s ironic is that we’ve heard Ron Paul’s argument before, from the neocons who got us into this mess:

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.

And the chief architect of the Iraq War agreed:

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.”

The response of Bush and Wolfowitz to this reality, of course, was not to question the level of our entanglement in the Middle East, but to argue that we needed to engage in a new crusade to bring democracy and “freedom” to a part of the world that was barely out of the Industrial Age and had never experienced anything resembling the Renaissance or Enlightenment. And that’s how we got where we are today.

Do I know what the answers are ? No, I’ll admit I don’t. But I do know that repeating the same mistakes over and over again not only doesn’t accomplish anything, it’s the definition of stupidity.

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  • http://www.freshcutsalads.com chad

    Nice post. I agree: regardless of what your opinion is about what our foreign policy should be, it is ridiculous to be so “SHOCKED” when someone says that our policy might have had unexpected consequences.

    The whole point of a primary election is to let different polarizations of the party duke it out on the issues and let the voters decide where they want to take the party. When did it become sacrilege to suggest a new political strategy (i.e. something other than “911!!!!!!! TERROR!!!!”)

    -C

  • uhm

    This country needs to figure out what the answers are, reflecting never hurt anyone. We aren’t going to bring these people out of the dark ages. I’m hoping for a more realistic policy. The status quo has failed. Many conservatives say it is their religion. Then it should be destroyed. If not then lets quit, whacking the killer bees nest.

    We can try to avoid the killer bees nest and do surgical strikes (Ron Paul) or we can kill the whole nest. ________ would be the president to do that. Who will be our Adolf and bring extinction to the Islamic beast? Will it be Adolf Giuliani? “Giuliani’s law and lobbying clients have included Saudi Arabia, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., and chewing tobacco maker UST Inc.”
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070514/ap_on_el_pr/giuliani_s_business

    Will Giuliani turn Saudi Arabia into a vacant desert? I think not.

    No, what will happen is we will elect someone who goes to the UN and whines. Then blows up random countries, pissing the Islamic beast off even more. Our troops get caught up in poor policy again and end up wounded or dead. We all know the script. There isn’t a nickels worth of difference between the top tier candidates and Bush.

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=28074

    We let these people into our country and at the moment, trying to give them amnesty. The Europeans lack the will to defend themselves. Are we prepared to invade the EU and clean house? There are countries in it that have WMD’s they can’t fall into Islamic hands.

    Show me a presidential candidate that isn’t going to use the war on terror as a racket to steal from the treasury and is actually serious about destroying Islamic society, fighting for the West’s survival. There should be a draft. Our troops should not be punished for killing the enemy. The nations actions doesn’t match the rhetoric of this huge threat against Western Civilization. You’d think a nation having to face 1.2 Billion Islamo-Fascist (I guess that is the number) would not have it’s soldiers playing hide and go seek with Muslims they train in Iraq, getting shot at, as the Iraqi Government does nothing to stop the violence.

  • rob, Seattle

    What is scary, is when a leading candidate says “I’ve never heard that before”

    You, Guiliani, Oh Great 9-11 expert, have never heard our policies int he middle east were a contributing factor to the 9-11 attacks?

    Never? Of course you have…. everybody who is paying attention has. You just told a bald faced lie to the American public!

  • http://www.federalrepublic.net Adam

    I hate today’s popular GOP circles because they stick to the talking points so much it makes me sick. Whatever happened to intellectually honest thinking? I can’t even listen to Rush or Hannity anymore because they’re so apologist to the GOP and will cut anyone off who doesn’t agree with the talking points.

    Obviously, our interventionist policy in the Middle East makes an attack on Americans more plausible than a non-interventionist policy would. Is 9/11 a part of that? That’s for someone’s own conscience to decide. However, anybody who can’t see what other factors an interventionist policy brings to the table is blind.

  • joel

    We lost the moral high ground when we invaded Iraq and found no WMD. It showed the world how inept our intel agencies are. I used the argument many times that we gave Saddam so much time he hid the weapons so we couldn’t find them but when I reflect on that it only proves we were more wrong. If he had them he would have used them against our armed force as we advanced but he didn’t. “Well I used to say he didn’t because he knew we would retaliate with even greater WMD.” Ok, well wouldn’t he have used that same logic in contemplating using them on an American city? So what threat?
    In the end I believe we should never have been over there but had we found massed stockpiles of WMD and had used them on us I believe Europe and the rest of the world would have come around to supporting our efforts because it would have shown unequivocally that he had violated the UN resolution.
    Ron Paul had it right.

  • Gunnar

    Joel,

    A lot of people are basing a lot of opinions on the official story coming from the admin. People figure, if there were WMD, then the Bush admin would trumpet that, since they took such a beating over the idea that they weren’t there.

    However, consider this: Bush was running for re-election. From a political point of view, which position would you rather be in:

    1)WMD materials were there, and they were not recovered. We don’t know where they are. We were too late or too incompetent.

    2)Darn, we made a mistake, sorry, no WMD.

    If you were Kerry, consider that option 1 is far weaker for Bush. That Kerry was deperately trying to organize his campaign around option 1 shows that he knew. In fact, there was a big story during the campaign about how Bush let nuclear facilites be raided. Doesn’t anyone see the contradiciton? Why would our troops need to guard nuclear sites, if there was no threat. IOW, Bush had a strong political interest in “not finding anything, and saying they weren’t there”.

    People should be smart enough to see through this, and recognize that 500 tons of yellow cake uranium is a WMD.

    Besides, there are about 22 other reasons for this war, and a few more that are unstated.

  • http://www.furl.net/item.jsp?id=7437761 js290

    a few more that are unstated.

    Anybody who doesn’t understand that Iraq was US mob enforcing its dollar policy is either blindly “patriotic” or don’t know how the world of high finance operates (like the mob), or both. Iraq, Iran, and Syria’s threat to the USA isn’t WMDs, it’s their willingness to convert the oil currency to Euros. As weak as the dollar is now, it’d be that much worse if wasn’t the default reserve currency for the rest of the world who wants to buy oil. And, the muscle and enforcers (aka US Military) is going to ensure it stays that way.

    Ron Paul, being the only candidate that has any idea about econ and finance, has been the only one who has dared to even say something like this.

    http://www.furl.net/item.jsp?id=7437761
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umGpLGbWs9U
    http://www.warisaracket.com/

  • Gunnar

    >> Anybody who doesn’t understand that Iraq was US mob enforcing its dollar policy is either blindly “patriotic” or don’t know how the world of high finance operates

    That’s silly. If folks around the world stop trading in USD, the treasury can simply respond by sopping up the excess liquidity. Sure, it’s inconvenient, and does affect the economy, but it’s hardly an act of war, and certainly not a threat to US security. The strong dollar policy of the Clinton admin helped foreigners like China export more goods to the US, hurting US businesses. The bush admin have been deliberately allowing the USD to weaken, according to market forces, which is having the effect of helping the US economy.

  • joel

    Gunnar,

    Good points, however that still doesn’t answer the question about why Saddam didn’t use them against us. I was over there and flew over and around much of the whole country. There is so much excavation and disturbed ground from all the wars, WMD could have been buried anywhere but again back to the question of why he didn’t use them.
    As far as Bush trying to figure out which story to use against Kerry, that is what is frustrating people so much in that it is all about getting elected. Just speak the truth! To do otherwise only feeds the conspiracies.
    As the political and military leader Bush needed to keep the American people behind the war. As a leader he failed to do that.
    Now as far as the battle in Iraq I have come to realize that it can’t be won. Just strategically look at the numbers. There are a billion muslins around the world that are all now highly critical of us. With those kind of numbers all it takes is a small percentage of them to join the jihad and filter through the Iraq’s borders (Which we cannot control) and US troops cannot tell the difference between them and innocent Iraqis. As the troops struggle to fight this enemy they get more and more frustrated as they watch their comrades die with no real target to fight back against. Soon some crack and start killing innocents which only adds fire to the Jihad.
    Every great general in history knew when he had lost a battle and had sense enough to withdraw and regroup and rethink his strategy. To do otherwise and the soldiers see that they are dying in vain, that general rapidly loses the support of his men and even more so when he is giving orders from the rear. It doesn’t help when they know he didn’t spend time in the foxholes in his youth.
    No as far a Kerry spending time in the foxholes in his youth. Kerry by his own admission committed atrocities in Vietnam. He was an officer and a leader of men. He should have had the moral courage and leadership to stop it. Do I blame the man for cracking? No, but how could I vote for a man to hold the most powerful leadership position in the world?

    So, I feel I was wrong about the war and have to admit my mistake. AS I look around for a leader to replace Bush I have to go back in history and see who was making sounder judgments than I at the time. That man was Ron Paul. The more I think about the whole issue of congressional constitutional duty to declare war the more I think it is absolutely right. Had Congress voted to declare war instead of voting to give the option to Bush they couldn’t have backed out after it wasn’t politically unpopular and labeled it Bushes War thereby dividing the country and allowing the men and women in the foxholes to be forsaken.

  • Gunnar

    >> Good points, however that still doesn’t answer the question about why Saddam didn’t use them against us.

    First of all, there is significant evidence that WMD were moved to Syria. I also think that he sincerely believed that his bribes of UN members would be sufficient to stall the US long enough.

    Second of all, in that environment (constant UN inspections), he probably wouldn’t have weapons ready to deploy. Besides, using WMD in your own country would be insanely suicidal. His best bet was to lay low, and wait for the americans to leave, like they did the first time.

    >> [Politicians should] Just speak the truth!

    Sounds very naive.

    >> American people behind the war. As a leader he failed to do that.

    Actually, he didn’t. The senate just voted with big numbers.

    >> I have come to realize that it can’t be won

    That’s just plain false.

    >> Kerry by his own admission committed atrocities

    He lied.

    >> The more I think about the whole issue of congressional constitutional duty to declare war the more I think it is absolutely right. Had Congress voted to declare war

    I think you had better think harder. You’re deluding yourself if you think Congress didn’t declare war.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/10/20021002-2.html

  • joel

    I also think that he sincerely believed that his bribes of UN members would be sufficient to stall the US long enough.

    Well that is just the problem. I don’t have faith in these type statements “significant evidence that WMD were moved to Syria.” I remember the damning evidence Collin Powel presented to the UN.
    Either we have the absolute worst Intel or we are being lied to.

    “Besides, using WMD in your own country would be insanely suicidal. His best bet was to lay low, and wait for the americans to leave, like they did the first time.”

    I don’t think so. He had no problems using the nerve agents in northern Iraq against the Kurds.

    “>> [Politicians should] Just speak the truth!

    Sounds very naive.”

    Yes, true but even a politician can get by with only so many. Whether they were lies or misjudgements.

    “Actually, he didn’t. The senate just voted with big numbers.”

    I am not talking about funding. I am talking about rallying the American public. That is what matters. If you think the Republicans lost the last election for any other reason than the war in Iraq, Think again.

    “That’s just plain false.”

    I would have appreciated a little more reason as to why we haven’t lost.
    When I say we have lost that battle doesn’t mean the Troops are straggling back in disorder and defeat like Pickett’s men at Gettysburg. It means that the mission that the politicians have given the troops cannot be accomplished- establish a peaceful democracy in a country of three different groups that absolutely hate each other, that has thousands of foreign fighters randonly killing thousands of them to keep the hate going. We have the firepower in the country to leave the country a

  • joel

    Oops, accidently hit the submit button.

    But as I was saying… we could leave the country a smoking ruin with a lot of dead Iraqis.

    “I think you had better think harder. You’re deluding yourself if you think Congress didn’t declare war.”

    That unfortunately was not a declaration of war, only an authorization to have the option.
    A declaration of war would go like; “We the Congress hereby order the President of the United States as comander in chief to sent US armed forces into the country of iraq, distroy its army, kill or capture Saddam and secure his WMD.”
    Then when things didn’t go well you don’t have politicians saying “well if I would have known then what I know now…. or “I didn’t say he had to go to war, just that he could…”

  • Gunnar

    >> “I didn’t say he had to go to war, just that he could…”

    You underestimate the ability of the clintons to weasel. Were you alive in the 90s? You might think these are far fetched, but consider what she actually said. Here’s what she could say to your declaration of war:

    1) That was that congress, this is technically a new congress, and the authorization is automatically voided with the election

    2) Yea, “Into the country”, not the cities of Iraq.

    3) It depends on what is meant by the word “destroy”. We certainly didn’t mean what Bush seems to think it means.

    4) We meant any “Saddam”, not necessarily that nice dictator guy. We were hoping to have him over for dinner to meet Castro.

    5) ahh, we said “Secure his WMD”. There is no proof that the WMD you found were actually owned by Saddam Hussein himself.

    6) That couldn’t have come from Congress. We would have spell checked first. Those dastardly neocons must have replaced the bill we actually passed.

    7) This is a war, and we didn’t use the word “war”. We obviously meant that if the enemy fights back, to immediately return to the safety of US based barracks, like Ft Dix.

    8) ahh, we said “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. Duh, we meant any weapon that would destroy a catholic church service, certain pieces of music, or the state of Massachusetts. Ted really wanted that line in there.

  • joel

    I cannot argue with you on the abilities of the Clintons to weasel out of their own positions once they become unpopular. I full well remember Clinton bombing Iraq for four days (Operation Desert Fox)before and ending on the same day of the impeachment vote. I am under no illusion as to what adviser(Hillary) suggested that. In the end I think a solid vote for a declaration of war would have been harder to weasel out of. As it is I think she is having a hard time explaining her yes vote.
    Congress has changed but almost all the presidential candidates voted for the authorization for Bush to go to war. The Democrats believe in our foreign policies in the middle east just as much as the Republicans but are milking the war for their own politcal gain.

    I think where we Republicans are in serious error is the belief that we are at war with all Muslims of the world and not just a radical few, for if we are at war with them all, every American Mother and Father with their sons and daughters in tow needs to walk down to the military recruiting station and sign on the dotted line. It is going to take a lot of bodies to kill 1 billion Muslims. Nukes in places like India wouldn’t be a good idea or we will end up fighting 1 billion Hindu’s

  • coolscorpion

    PNAC: THE LITTLE RAD POLICY ENGINE THAT COULD
    If Kerrey’s gung ho ’99 overtures seem to chorus the militant anthems of the Project for a New American Century, you have a good ear. PNAC, you may recall, presents itself as an ultra-patriotic think tank and the strategy Vatican of neo-conservatism. PNAC members and alumni like Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Perle, Abrams, et al. now dominate White House decision-making and are the guiding force behind our current global adventurist spree.
    For the last five years PNAC members have openly advocated total US military and economic domination of land, space, and cyberspace to secure global hegemony and economic supremacy, all of which would speedily deliver — drum roll — “the New American Century!”
    PNAC has been the clearest voice promoting US control of the oil rich Middle East states; the loudest boosting military spending, full spectrum dominance, and space war tech; and the most wistful (in 2000) publicly lamenting that all its grand designs would take forever to realize without “some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”
    It’s becoming clear that we the people should pay heed to what these guys pray for, since they always seem to get their wish. One real concern, as readers of Robert Stinnett’s densely documented “Day of Deceit” (Free Press, 1999) may recall, is that the “old” Pearl Harbor was not exactly a grim godsend or even a surprise attack. Stinnett reprints the Navy intercepts and internal memos that prove FDR knew it was coming and deftly used the ensuing outrage against Japan to ship troops off to Europe. (At least until our troops took Baghdad, this ranked as the greatest political bank shot of our age.) FDR’s foreknowledge has in fact long been known to serious students of the era, and the PNAC fellowship, if nothing else, is a historically literate crew.
    Whatever this administration’s foreknowledge of 9/11 (and god knows they were warned eleven times), the issue with Kerrey is his ex post facto collusion with the PNAC crowd to pump the 9/11 terror to sell the conquest of Iraq.
    MARKETING MAYHEM
    Indeed to many 9/11 victim families in the Peaceful Tomorrows and Not in Our Name camp, Kerrey’s most disturbing employment was his zealous membership in the PNAC-dominated Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Better known in peace & justice circles as the Committee to Bomb Iraq, the CLI was a White House-anointed “advocacy group” founded in November 2002 to bolster faltering poll support for PNAC’s long planned Iraq war. Its mission according to its own website at the time: “The Committee for the Liberation of Iraq will engage in educational and advocacy efforts to mobilize U.S. and international support for policies aimed at ending the aggression of Saddam Hussein… [which] poses a clear and present danger to its neighbors, to the United States, and to free peoples throughout the world.”
    Although Saddam’s “clear and present danger” remained ominously unspecified, PNAC board fixture and CLI executive director Randy Scheunemann saw a more immediate threat arising here at home: “There’s going to be a huge need in the post-[2002] election vacuum to make sure that what happened in August [when support for unilateral Iraq intervention fell to 27% in the polls] doesn’t happen in November and December… Capitol Hill offices have been getting a lot of calls against [attacking Iraq] and not many for.”
    With public support tanking and Iraq war prep well underway, a huge PR campaign was called for and the CLI delivered. Chorusing White House canards about WMDs, mushroom clouds, UN futility, and Iraq/Al Qaeda collusion, CLI members and friends launched a media offensive that deluged news shows, op-ed pages, and high profile podia for three months. By March, deception prevailed, angst was restored, a majority believed Saddam had backed 9/11, and nearly 60% were ready for us to take him on alone.
    By any PR standard the campaign was audacious and a great success. Poli- sci and propaganda buffs will no doubt study its techniques for many years. But beyond its skillful mendacity, the nature of CLI’s membership teaches important lessons as well.
    GAMES OF MONOPOLY, WAR AND PNACKLE.

  • coolscorpion

    Remeber donot buy into the WMD’s,freedom of the Iraqi people,Sadam removed from power. Oh must I not forget the lastest; if you dont suport our troops over there, you are not a patriot, you are unamerican and so on!! Keep going Fraud{fox}News, your coverage of the 4th reich is beyond belief.

    Try telling the people the truth for once in your miserable exitstance. Like the trillion plus contracts for gas pipe lines pulled out of Afganistan. How in 2000 the United States was facing it worse finacial crisis ever and how it was tied in to the 90% destruction the poppy{in Afganistan} plants and the dollar being dumped in oil trading. What about CIA conection to AL-Queda and the Taliban and the destroying the wheat fields to replant the popy seeds.

    This may come to shock to some, however at this time their is the greatest poppy plant harvest ever and our stock market is soaring!

    Back to the chess pieces known as the PNAC boys.
    The real{chess}master behind them,is no other then the monster known as Z.Brzezinski. Any one who has not study and or read THE GRAND CHESS BOARD is in a rude awakening. How much clout does he possess? Hmm;TR/CFR/BILDERBERGERS!!

    You will find the Z. Brzezinski and H. Kissinger{the henchmen}are the rooks in the GRAND CHESSBOARD! Want proof? The dumbass bishop GW Bush called in MR.Kissenger to clean up the QUAGMIRE called 9/11. This is a documented FACT.

  • coolscorpion

    Remeber: In a time treachery and deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

    THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NEVER WITHSTAND CHRIST JESUS.
    America please wake up and elect RON PAUL!!

  • coolscorpion

    Please look into the matrix of evil, the destruction of the United States{by design}.
    Once you discover who the real power brokers are.
    I promise it will send chills up your spine. Or you can take high road and live in denial.
    Choose your path carefully!

  • coolscorpion

    Brzezinski Suggests False Flag Event Could Kick-Start Iran WarBrzezinski Suggests False Flag Event Could Kick-Start Iran War … calls for attacking Iran in the immediate aftermath of a ‘second 9/11′ – no matter who is …
    http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/february2007/060207falseflag.htm – 37k -

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