Saturday, May 19, 2007

9/11, Ron Paul

Rep. Ron Paul kicked up a dust storm last week during the South Carolina GOP primary debate. During the debate he argued that 9/11 and al Qaeda was a result of “blowback”. Blowback is term used at CIA for unintended consequences of covert action; Paul stretched the term to include broader American policy over the past 60 years. One policy mentioned was our containment of Iraq throughout the 90’s whereby we regularly bombed Iraqi targets.

Rudy Giuliani immediately seized on this statement for a cheap political score:

That's an extraordinary statement of someone who lived through the attack of Sept. 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don't think I've ever heard that before and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for Sept. 11.
I would ask the congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn't really mean that.

The only problem is that Ron Paul is largely correct. Containment of Iraq in the 1990’s is an ancillary reason for bin Laden, but illustrative of the policies he is at war with us over. Paul is exactly correct in describing AQ as an unintended consequence of our policies. The combat aircraft that we flew in order to enforce the Iraq’s southern no-fly zone, and contain Saddam, mostly flew out of bases in Saudi Arabia. The presence of American combat forces on the Saudi peninsula is/was Osama’s primary bone of contention, and a major source of anti-Americanism in the Muslim world. This is clear to anyone who takes the time to read bin Laden’s statements.

That Guiliani says “I don't think I've ever heard that before and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for Sept. 11” is an indictment against his candidacy for Commander in Chief of our nation. This directly contradicts Sun Tzu's maxim from The Art of War:

So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will win hundred times in hundred battles. If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you win one and lose the next. If you do not know yourself or your enemy, you will always lose.

Giuliani does not know our enemy.

Nevertheless talking heads and bloggers are having a field day over this. Some Republican Party officials are demanding Paul be barred from future debates. This is patently absurd. I can understand some of the outrage in response to Ron Paul’s comments. It implies that we had it coming; it is almost blaming the victim.

Such drawn implications should matter little, what should matter is the cold, dispassionate analysis of knowing your enemy. That we as a public, near six years after September 11th are still squabbling over such trite matters is an implication that we are dangerously behind the curve. Put simply--know your enemy to destroy him easier. It is evident that this does not matter to both our political parties.

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