Rudy Giuliani Distorts Ron Paul’s Comments On Iraq

I’m not necessarily a supporter of Ron Paul’s views on foreign policy, and I didn’t watch last night’s debate, but I think it’s clear that Rudy Giuliani distorted Ron Paul’s comments about Iraq during last night’s debate:

On Iraq, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the Libertarian candidate for president in 1988, stood alone in railing against the decision to go to war, comparing it to a quagmire he said engulfed U.S. troops in Vietnam a generation ago. “We don’t go to war like we did in Vietnam and Korea, because the wars never end,” he said.

When Paul later suggested that terrorists attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, because of what he described as America’s 10-year campaign of bombing in Iraq, an angry Giuliani demanded that he retract the statement.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before, and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11,” Giuliani said.

As Jesse Walker points out, Giuliani’s comment that he’d never heard the blowback argument before is either an indication that he knows little about foreign policy, or that he just doesn’t pay attention to it. In either case, whether you agree with it or not, the fact remains that the presence of American troops in the Middle East, and specifically in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was cited by Osama bin Laden as one of the grievances against the United States. And it’s also true that America’s history of intervention in the Middle East — whether in Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — has, more often than not, been fraught with mis-steps that have led to the loss of American lives.

Did Paul really say that American foreign policy was to blame for 9/11 ? Personally, I don’t think so. What he said was that American foreign policy was a contributing factor to the formation of the forces that now seek to destroy us.

And Andrew Sullivan contends that Giuliani openly lied about what Paul said:

Giuliani, interestingly, openly lied about Ron Paul’s position on 9/11. Paul specifically did not make a statement, as Giuliani immediately claimed, that the U.S. invited 9/11. I rewound to double-check. It was the Fox questioner who ratcheted up the stakes on that question, not Paul. Paul demurred on a specific answer and switched the question to the general issue of blowback. As to who’s right, the answer is both. Bin Laden – still at large and operating within the territory of Pakistan, an alleged ally which Cheney recently visited – both justified the 9/11 attack on those grounds but has a theology that doesn’t require such a casus belli. But now he doesn’t even need the theology. We have, alas, made more terrorists by our bungling in Iraq than Bin Laden could have dreamed of just six years ago.

That, I think, is the point that Congressman Paul, somewhat inarticulately, was making last night. American intervention and adventure-ism in the Middle East, which has been marked mostly by a history of bungling and backing the wrong guy 9 times out of 10, has helped guys like bin Laden recruit from among the Arab masses.

Would al Qaeda still exist if we had acted differently ? Probably. bin Laden his ilk don’t need a justification for their murderous philosophy. But, because we’ve handed them one on a silver platter (and also because we’ve backed and propped up governments that have paid little respect to individual rights), it’s made it much easier for them to recruit followers from the Arab street.

But watch the video and judge for yourself: