May 19, 2007

Paulistas: He Didn't Say 3, He Said 2+1

I've written two columns this week dealing with Ron Paul, so naturally I've heard from a lot of his fans. The common theme: Ron Paul did not say that America invited 9/11, and he was right, because America invited 9/11. Consider paleocon blogger Daniel Larison:

Note that the whole language of “inviting” was Goler’s. Paul ignored the drift of the tendentious, leading question and tried to provide a substantive answer about the negative consequences of policy instead.
Larison seems to think that saying that American policies invited 9/11 is somehow different from saying that America invited 9/11. How does that work? Elected officials of the American government, representing the American people, do things that invite a terrorist attack. If that isn't America inviting 9/11, what would be? Paul's non-response when asked if he's objecting to "bad American policies" suggests that he has no real answer.

In a sense, of course, almost anyone who has thought about it thinks that American invited 9/11 through bad policy. The difference is that most people see it as more or less a passive invitation: Our intelligence protocols were inadequate to the task of counterterrorism, or we bred anti-Americanism by aquiescing to an illiberal status quo in the Middle East. Non-interventionists think we actively invited 9/11 by having any involvement at all in the Middle East. There are many reasons why this is wrongheaded, all of them worth arguing about. But it's hard to have an argument in good faith with people who deny that their own words mean what they quite plainly do mean.

UPDATE: In the comments, Greg proposes a distinction between America and the American government. It's not a bad answer (though it would be silly to assume that this distinction is obvious without an explicit definition of terms), but it doesn't account for the breadth of what some of Paul's defenders are claiming -- note Larison's reference to "the American people or the country as a whole or even the government."

Posted by John Tabin at May 19, 2007 06:41 PM


Posted by: WTF at May 19, 2007 06:48 PM

It's simple really.

The American Government is not the same thing as America.

The separation of state and society is one of the pillars of Western civilization. Paul said it in the exchange with Hannity after the show, clarifying that the American people haven't done anything, but the foreign policy pursued by our leaders over the past 50 years have had many unintended consequences. I think that's undenialable.

You can argue that things might have been worse otherwise had they pursued different policies, but there's no way to know for sure. Ron thinks we should have taken a different track and the sooner we start the better. I agree with him.

Posted by: Greg at May 19, 2007 07:13 PM

I would have agreed with Paul if he had said "CIA extracurricular activities" instead of "America." But he very plainly did not.

Posted by: NightFire at May 19, 2007 08:46 PM

The American policies that sparked 9/11 were our lack of response to WTC I, Somalia, the Cole, and the Embassies. Paul is very non subtlely implying that it is the existence and support of Israel. As if Israel's extermination would do anything but embolden them. Remember this is a crowd that goes bonkers over cartoons and is trying, and in many cases succeeding to institute Sharia law in the West.

I personally believe that Jimmy Carter's idiocy and pacifism in the wake of the 1979 Iran hostiage crisis was the single biggest mistake made in our long simmering war with fundamentalist Muslims whether Sunni or Shiite. It is no accident that these hostages were released the DAY Reagan took office. It is little known but true that Carter was desperately trying to negotiate a release (by giving the Iranians all kinds of incentives) before the innaugeration of Reagan but didn't have time. Memoirs by Revolutionary guards indicated that they thought the hostage crisis would only take two or three days. Little did they know they had a Jimmy Carter to deal with. Reagan should have laid the Becca Valley to waste after the marine barracks bombing but the cold war was ending, the Soviet Union was imploding and he didn't want to rock that particular boat. The original mistake was allowing the oil embargo. That was almost as much an act of war as what the Iranians did. After a week of it Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab oil producing states should have been bombed. The embargo would have immediately ended, and it only did end when Kissinger told them that to continue would be an act of war.

It seems to me we have a choice. Either fight back now with the force necessary to remove the terrorist regimes in Iran, and Syria, and severely curtail Saudi Arabia's mischief making in the world, or be faced with a world where eventually millions of Westerners will suffer or die because of the West's refusal to defend our civilization.


Posted by: lee at May 20, 2007 06:05 AM