Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hypocrite Series: Rudy Giuliani vs. Ron Paul in the South Carolina Debate

One of the reasons I'm so disillusioned with American politics is because nobody seems to care what they say so long as it gets them either money or votes. Originally, I liked the idea of Giuliani winning the Republican nomination because I thought he might have a chance to win the general election. Given that I'm a smaller government style conservative, I wrongly thought Giuliani would be better than a larger government Democrat. Last night proved just how wrong I was, and I now ardently oppose Giuliani more than any candidate I've researched short of John Edwards. Let's look a little more at what happened last night.

Ron Paul was asked the following by one of the moderators:

Moderator: Congressman Paul, I believe you are the only man on stage who opposes the War in Iraq and would bring the troops home almost immediately sir. Are you out of step with your party? Is your party out of step with the world? If either of those is the case, why are you seeking its nomination?

In his answer, Paul explains how his position is traditional Republican and follows the will of the founders. Toward the end of that answer, he says this:

Paul: We shouldn't go to war so carelessly. When we do, the wars don't end.

Referring to interventionist policies, the moderator asks:

Moderator: And you don't think that changed after 9/11?

Paul answers:

Paul: No, non-intervention was a major contributing factor. Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been in the Middle East. I think Reagan was right. We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. Right now, we're building an embassy in Iraq that's bigger than the Vatican. We're building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if someone else did it to us.

Twisting Paul's words, the moderator follows up:

Moderator: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attacks, sir?

Paul responds and clarifies:

Paul: I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it. And they are delighted we're over there because Osama bin Laden has said, "I'm glad you're over on our sand because we can target you so much easier." They've already now since that time killed over 3,400 of our men, and I don't think it was necessary.

You'll notice Paul never said we invited the attack, but Giuliani jumps on the wording of the moderator:

Giuliani: That's an extraordinary statement. As someone who lived through the attack of September 11th 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 September 11th. And I would ask the Congressman to withdrawl that comment and tell us that he didn't mean that.

Most importantly, Giuliani lied to us right there. Immediately following the debate, he said the Saudi Royal Family (going from memory because I haven't found a clip or transcript...might have been someone else but whomever it was, they were from Saudi Arabia) said the same sort of thing. So, yes, he lied so he could grandstand. In fact, that comment to Hannity on the post-debate interview reinforces everything Paul said.

Paul responded this way:

Paul: I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they talk and teach about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the Shaw. Yes, there was blowback. The reaction to that was the taking of our hostages. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don't come here to attack us because we're rich and free. They attack us because we're over there. I mean, what would we think if other foreign countries were doing that to us.

So let's sum up. Paul says our behavior around the world can come back and bite us in the ass. Giuliani sees a chance for a sound-bite and twists Paul's words to make it sound like Paul was saying we deserved it. Paul then reinforces his point with Iran as an example showing how American interventionist policy results in problems for America around the world quite frequently.

Here are the facts:

  • We attempted to install our handpicked leader and government in Iran because of oil. They changed their government and took Americans hostage.

  • We financed and armed the mujahideen in Afghanistan against the USSR of whom bin Laden was a member, and we supported the Taliban's rise to power.

  • We supplied and supported Saddam Hussein in Iraq to counter the problem we created in Iran.

How can any reasonable person not believe our actions in the Middle East contributed to the hatred of America we see today? That doesn't mean the Americans killed on 9/11 deserved what they got. It just means that we (our government, the CIA, etc.) contributed to the climate necessary for 9/11 to happen. Giuliani's inability or unwillingness to grasp that simple concept concerns me, and I can't in good conscience support him as a candidate.

I have two problems with Paul's position in this area:

  1. We can't fix what we've done simply by pulling out of the Middle East. They will still hate us, and they will still want to kill us.

  2. His own statements demonstrate the success in Iraq. The terrorists like having a closer target, and as much as I don't like seeing soldiers die, I believe it's better for America if our military confronts the terrorists than if more buildings explode.

Regardless, though, I think returning to a position of non-intervention makes sense. Then if we feel we must intervene, we simply declare war, win the war, and move on.

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