Ron Paul once again roiled Republican presidential politics on the issue of foreign policy during last night’s debate, finishing second in the post-debate poll conducted by Fox News and first in the poll conducted by MSNBC.
Pointing out that U.S. foreign policy is the root cause of the anger and hatred that has engendered terrorism against the United States, including the 9/11 attacks, Paul suggested that America would be better off ending the U.S. government’s role as world policeman as wells its longtime policy of interventionism. He pointed to Vietnam as an example of where 60,000 American men died in a senseless war while today Americans are instead peacefully investing and trading with the Vietnamese despite their communist regime.
Paul’s point ignited an attack by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who indignantly announced that he had never heard such a theory in his life and asked Paul to retract it. Instead, Paul steadfastly stood his ground, pointing out that the CIA itself has pointed out the blowback that U.S. foreign policy has engendered. He cited the CIA’s installation of the shah of Iran in 1953 for producing the blowback that resulted in the taking of the U.S. hostages in Iran many years later.
In a post-debate interview, Giuliani clarified his point by reciting the official U.S. canard that was issued immediately after the 9/11 attacks — that the terrorists hate us for our freedom and values. Giuliani suggested that it was because of our freedom of religion and freedom for women.
When Paul mentioned Iran as an example of blowback from U.S. foreign policy, he was referring to the 1953 coup in which the CIA secretly and surreptitiously engineered the ouster of the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh, who had been selected Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. In his place, the CIA installed the shah of Iran, whose secret police proceeded to terrorize and torture the Iranian people for the next 25 years, with the ardent support of the U.S. government. As the Iranian people discovered the U.S. government’s role in all this, their anger and rage ultimately erupted in 1979 with the Iranian Revolution and the taking of the U.S. hostages.
Consider U.S. foreign policy toward Iraq:
- The U.S. support of Saddam Hussein.
- The U.S. furnishing of weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein and the correlative assistance provided by the U.S. in the use of such weaponry.
- The Persian Gulf intervention.
- The intentional destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage facilities, with full knowledge as to what effect such action would have on the long-term health of the Iraqi people.
- The more than 10 years of brutal sanctions, which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children from sickness and disease.
- The deadly no-fly zones, which had not been authorized by either the UN or the U.S. Congress, and whose enforcement entailed the firing of missiles and the dropping of bombs that killed even more Iraqis.
- U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright’s infamous statement to Sixty Minutes that reverberated throughout the Middle East that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children had been worth it.
- The invasion and occupation of Iraq, which has killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of more Iraqis.
- The torture and sex abuse of Iraqi men at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq, photographs and videos of which are still being kept hidden by U.S. officials because of their potential blowback.
- The periodic rapes and murders that some U.S. troops have committed against the Iraqi people during the occupation.
- The arbitrary and indiscriminate searches and seizures without warrants being conducted by U.S. troops.
- The indefinite detentions without trial of some 20,000 Iraqi men and women in overcrowded prisons.
How can anyone honestly believe that such actions would not engender horrible anger and rage throughout the Middle East and, indeed, throughout the world?
As Ron Paul emphasized in last night’s debate, imagine if some foreign power — such as China — had done these types of things to the United States. Wouldn’t Americans experience anger and rage?
Indeed, closer to home, suppose Venezuela imposed sanctions and no-fly zones on the Southeastern part of the United States and then sent in Venezuelan troops to wage the war on terrorism in Florida. After all, don’t forget that the U.S. government’s refusal to turn over accused terrorist Luis Posada Carriles to the Venezuelan government for trial is no different in principle from the Taliban’s refusal to turn Osama bin Laden over to the United States after the 9/11 attacks. In fact, Venezuela’s case is stronger than the Taliban’s because Venezuela, unlike Afghanistan, has an extradition agreement with the United States. Moreover, Venezuela, unlike Washington’s response to the Taliban regime, is ready and willing to offer evidence of Posada’s role in the terrorist bombing of a Cuban airliner, which took the lives of 73 innocent people, including the young members of a Cuban sports team.
What Ron Paul’s participation in the 2008 presidential race is accomplishing is this: It is making people such as Rudy Giuliani think about things they’ve never thought about before and causing them to view the U.S. government and its long-time paradigm of empire and interventionism in an entirely different way. It’s also why he is engendering considerable discomfort among people who have long believed that the federal government is a deity whose foreign policies are beyond reproach. Don’t be surprised to hear more calls for suppressing Paul’s participation in future debates, even while the critics continue to wax eloquent about how U.S. soldiers are killing and dying in Iraq for the sake of democracy.
In last night’s debate Rudy Giuliani made a mistake that is commonly made by those who view the federal government as a deity. Conflating the U.S. government and the American people, he suggested in the post-debate interview that Ron Paul was blaming America. Actually, Paul did no such thing. He blamed the U.S. government’s interventionist foreign policies for the morass in which our nation now finds itself. Like our Founding Fathers and the Framers, Paul understands that the federal government and the country are two separate and distinct groups, which in fact is precisely why the Bill of Rights expressly protects the country from the federal government.
Ron Paul’s answers in last night’s debate reflect how differently he approaches societal problems as compared to such politicians as Rudy Giuliani. Keep in mind that Ron Paul is, first and foremost, a physician. As a doctor, he is trained in diagnosing an ailment correctly because he knows that a correct prescription almost always depends on the right diagnosis. Equally important, he isn’t going to lie to a patient or feed him a false reality about the seriousness of his ailment. In order for the patient to make the correct decision as to whether to embark on a certain course of treatment, Paul knows that it is necessary that the patient confront the reality of his condition.
Therefore, during last night’s debate Ron Paul simply was doing what he has done for many years, both as a doctor and as a congressman. He was diagnosing what ails the American body politic and prescribed the radical treatment that is necessary to heal the patient. The patient can obviously go into denial, preferring to believe instead the lies and false realities of charlatans but deep down the patient always knows that ultimately reality will not enable him to escape the consequences of having done so.