Who won the second Republican debate? Ron Paul, of course.
Unfortunately, he won it for Rudy Giuliani.
“I’m suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it,” said Paul, referring to the 9/11 attacks. “They are delighted that we’re over there because Osama bin Laden has said, ‘I am glad you’re over on our sand because we can target you so much easier.’ They have already now since that time killed 3,400 of our men, and I don’t think it was necessary.”
The former Mayor of New York was quick with a politically wise but intellectually dishonest riposte: “That’s an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I’ve heard that before, and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11. And I would ask the congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn’t really mean that.”
The Republican South Carolina audience burst into applause. This line not only made Giuliani the winner, it also saved him from an otherwise lackluster debate performance. Earlier, when asked about his left-of-center views on abortion, homosexual rights and gun-control, Giuliani had responded by trying to spook people with the idea of Hillary Clinton as president. He was playing to the absurdly premature notion that he is the only candidate who can “slay the Hildebeast.” Moderator Chris Wallace humiliated him by giving him “another thirty seconds to actually answer my question.”
But the scariest thing about Giuliani’s rebuttal of Paul is the idea that we could elect a president who does not understand that our actions in the world have consequences. It’s one thing to state that nothing we have done justifies the terrorists’ attacks on us. It is quite another to shout down all attempts to study our policies and how they have shaped the current situation.
Those who still view Iraq War as a successful effort in preventing terrorism often point to the words of Osama bin Laden and his henchmen — and rightfully so. President Bush likes to note that al Qaeda would be gleeful to see us leave Iraq in defeat, and this is true, if we take their words for it. His supporters also liberally quote al Qaeda’s praise for the Democrats’ victory last November. “The American people have put their feet on the right path by … realizing their president’s betrayal in supporting Israel,” said Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the (apparently now dead) leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. “So they voted for something reasonable in the last elections.”
Masri’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, went even further, stating that Democrats “aren’t the ones who won the midterm elections, nor are the Republicans the ones who lost. Rather, the Mujahideen — the Muslim Ummah’s vanguard in Afghanistan and Iraq — are the ones who won, and the American forces and their Crusader allies are the ones who lost.”
All of this stuff is fair game. Democrats were already considered weak on matters of national defense by the time Ronald Reagan came to office, and the party’s leaders continued to earn that reputation by preferring the Soviets to Reagan. It comes as little surprise that Sens. Ted Kennedy (Mass.) and John Tunney (Calif.) actually contacted the KGB for political help against Reagan.
But if we are going to take the terrorists’ rhetoric seriously when it shows a preference for Democrats, shouldn’t we also take them seriously when they talk about why they attacked us? This is what Ron Paul was trying to explain. It sounds like a reasonable proposition to have this discussion among those seeking to control the world’s greatest military and economic power.
One need not believe that the United States brought 9/11 upon itself — one need not even disagree with our Iraq policy — to see that yes, what we do in the world has some effect on the international environment. It doesn’t justify anything the terrorists have done, but it could have helped us to shape our response so that it was more effective. The world today is more dangerous than the one we faced on September 12, 2001, and this is partly due to our decision to destabilize Iraq. We now have to deal with their neighbors, a country run with religious extremists that is much closer to developing nuclear weapons than Iraq ever was.
Not only has our occupation of Iraq resulted in the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but it has also led to the elevation of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker — the woman he has said he would prefer to negotiate with over our current administration. We now have a vocal enemy abroad, and a Congressional majority which, instead of finding a real solution to our Iraq quagmire, prefers to engage in Election 2008 grandstanding with non-binding resolutions and empty threats of a cutoff of funds for the war. We now have a Congress that is trying to cut funds for missile defense less than a year after the North Koreans showed us that their missiles can hit our territory.
Giuliani had the most powerful statement of last week’s debate, but its effect was unintended. He was discussing appropriate methods of interrogating someone with knowledge of a terrorist attack. “I’ve seen what can happen when you make a mistake about this,” he said, “and I don’t want to see another 3,000 people dead in New York or any place else.”
Unfortunately, we’ve already seen another 3,000 dead — 3,400 to be precise. It’s called the Iraq War. Our political leaders sent those 3,400, and many others still living, into a war whose effect on domestic terrorism is at best questionable, and which has offered up our armed forces for terrorists’ target practice.
As long as we’re looking at what the terrorists say, we should at least be aware of al-Zawahiri’s most recent rant, in which he states that American withdrawal from Iraq “will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap. We ask Allah that they only get out of it after losing two or three hundred thousand killed.”
The way our leaders in Washington are handling matters, we could be headed in that direction.
David Freddoso is a political reporter for Evans and Novak Inside Report
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Andrew Stiles
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Kathlyn Ehl