Ron Paul dug a deeper hole for himself at the CNN Tea Party Debate. The issue, entirely predictable was: Middle East diplomacy.
What Ron Paul said
Representative Ron Paul (R-TX-14). Photo: US House of Representatives
In the last quarter of the CNN Tea Party Debate, Moderator Wolf Blitzer asked whether defense spending cuts were a safe way to balance the budget. When Ron Paul took his turn, he said that he would bring troops home from the “900 bases” in “130 countries” worldwide. Then he added:
The purpose of al Qaeda was to attack us, invite us over there, where they can target us. And they have been doing it. They have more attacks against us and the American interests per month than occurred in all the years before 9/11, but we’re there occupying their land. And if we think that we can do that and not have retaliation, we’re kidding ourselves.
Rick Santorum took exception to that. He asked Paul about this post on his Web site, quoting one Michael Scheurer as saying:
Our growing number of Islamist enemies are motivated to attack us because of what the U.S. government does in the Muslim world and not because of how Americans live and think here at home.
We should never forget those in our government who used the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history as an excuse to launch completely unrelated wars, to do unprecedented damage to Americans’ historic liberties, to run roughshod over the Constitution, and to betray the Founders’ vision by savaging some of our most deeply held values.
Santorum said that Presidential candidates ought not “parrot” rants from Osama bin Laden.
We were attacked, as Newt talked about, because we have a civilization that is antithetical to the civilization of the jihadists. And they want to kill us because of who we are and what we stand for. And we stand for American exceptionalism, we stand for freedom and opportunity for everybody around the world, and I am not ashamed to do that.
Actually, Santorum was too generous. Whatever the jihadists have, it is not a civilization. But Paul foolishly doubled down:
As long as this country follows that idea, we’re going to be under a lot of danger. This whole idea that the whole Muslim world is responsible for this, and they’re attacking us because we’re free and prosperous, that is just not true.Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda have been explicit — they have been explicit, and they wrote and said that we attacked America because you had bases on our holy land in Saudi Arabia, you do not give Palestinians fair treatment, and you have been bombing –
And the crowd cried:
And Paul said:
I didn’t say that. I’m trying to get you to understand what the motive was behind the bombing, at the same time we had been bombing and killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis for 10 years.
Here is the truth, and it will hurt.
Paul actually threatened his own country in the name of the New Baghdad Caliphate. And yes, he said it. Ayman al-Zawahiri didn’t say it last night. He wasn’t present. Ron Paul was, and did.
We have bases in Saudi Arabia because its king wants them there. Some evidence does suggest that this king, or members of his family, or another noble family, is playing a dangerous double game. But Ron Paul did not touch on that. Instead he blamed America first, last, and only.
The Palestinians have no claim, and never have. They came to the Land of Israel only after the Jews came, drained the swamp, and made the deserts bloom.
Saddam Hussein was dropping bombs on Kurdish cities and towns during that time, and committing other sins of statecraft too numerous to name. (And giving Osama bin Laden safe haven and a place to train.) More to the point: Ron Paul conflates actions before September 11, and actions afterward. Furthermore, when he says that “hundreds of thousands of Iraqis” have died at American hands, or even at allied hands, he is lying.
Why in Gehenna should Americans care about what a mass murderer says? Ron Paul might as well parrot the rant of the Unabomber as of Osama bin Laden.
Yet many still stubbornly refuse to look at motive or patterns when it comes to trying to prevent terrorism. Instead, they tell us that terrorists simply “hate our freedom.” This is childish—and dangerous.
Well, as long as Paul and his staff and allies follow that idea, they will lose votes. Your editor does look at motive, and finds a motive much older than the United States itself.
Fight and slay the infidels wheresoever ye find them. Seize them, besiege them, ambush them with every ambush. But if they repent, and follow Allah, and pay the poor-due, then let them go their way. Lo! Allah is Forgiving! Merciful!
Details on Iraqi deaths
Ron Paul casually accuses US forces of “bombing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis” without any facts. CNSNews got the facts. Here they are:
According to Iraq Body Count (IBC), a nongovernmental database of Iraqi civilian deaths based on media reports, official figures and other sources, between 102,000 and 112,000 Iraqi civilians have died from armed violence since the March 2003 invasion.
A peer-reviewed academic study of IBC figures for the March 2003-March 2008 period (when the database numbered 92,614) attributed 11,516 of those deaths to coalition forces. The study was published last February in the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine.
IBC recorded 630 “non-combatant Iraqi deaths resulting directly from actions involving U.S.-led coalition forces” in 2008, 80 in 2009, and 32 in 2010.
Thus a correlation of the figures in the PLoS Medicine study and IBC figures for 2008-10 indicate that around 12,260 Iraqi civilians were killed as a direct result of U.S.-led coalition actions, between the war’s start in March 2003 and the end of 2010.
In summary: Ron Paul owes the American people an apology. This is his worst gaffe yet. And with war about to break out again between Israel and Egypt, those gaffes will get worse still.
This is both a travesty and a tragedy. The travesty is that any Member of Congress is so ignorant of history. The tragedy is that Ron Paul has so many good ideas about domestic policy, and such a blind spot about foreign policy.