May 18, 2007

On the Rudy Giuliani vs. Ron Paul smackdown

I didn't like Rudy Giuliani's response to Ron Paul. There I said it.

Byron York recaps:

It all started when Paul was asked how September 11 changed American foreign policy. “Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us?” Paul answered. “They attack us because we’ve been over there; we’ve been bombing Iraq for ten years…”

Questioner Wendell Goler, of Fox News, asked, “Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attack, sir?”

“I’m suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it,” Paul said. “They don’t come here to attack us because we’re rich and we’re free. They come and they attack us because we’re over there.”

Ron Paul is not entirely wrong. It's true that bin Laden has said that "infidels in the land of Allah" motivated him to plan 9/11. And while I think the fact that we're rich and we're free does motivate young, easily manipulated men from parts of the world where seeing a woman's elbow is dirty and grudges from the 7th Century are commonly held, I understand Ron Paul's point that bin Laden likely doesn't care about our wealth and our freedom.

Rudy's response was this:

“That’s really an extraordinary statement. 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 11th.”

This is so weak. He doesn't offer an intellectual response to Paul, instead trying to shame him with outrage into taking back his comment. This is what Democrats do to end debate. They appeal to emotions and don't offer concrete rebuttals to arguments. I expect so much better from Rudy and the fact that my people are so excited about this lame response makes me worry for our side.

Rudy has to get off this "I was there on 9/11" stuff or risk having 9/11 be to his campaign as Vietnam was to John Kerry's. We know he was there, we all watched it on TV. And he did an amazing thing. He was brave when we needed bravery and stepped up to lead with amazing strength when we all felt weak and scared. The fact is, though, that Giuliani would make a great president even if 9/11 had never happened. He was a hero before that day anyway. NY was crumbling and he emerged to save it. The constant 9/11 mentions are only detracting from his case.

One possible answer to Ron Paul's comments is "who cares what they care about?" The US defended Kuwait, and that included keeping troops in Saudi Arabia and bombing Saddam when he got out of line. So. What. Would we do things differently to please bin Laden? Rudy could have said: Mr. Paul, if you are elected president [scoff], are you telling me you will conduct our foreign policy by following the demands of terrorists?

Conservatives can't be afraid to say that yes, there are reasons why we were attacked on 9/11. I've heard conservatives argue that the Albanians planning to bomb Ft. Dix was blowback for our role in the Balkans. I don't see them being denounced for this opinion. We're not going to arrange our foreign policy by examining which terrorists have what demands. America must do what is best for itself at any given time. Sometimes we'll make mistakes. Sometimes we'll have to choose to side with the lesser evil. All we can do is examine our decisions and learn from our choices. Argument over the future conduct of our country is good, stifling of said discussion by appealing to emotion over reason is just not.

Posted by Karol at May 18, 2007 12:05 PM | TrackBack
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Well said Karol.

Posted by: PAUL at May 18, 2007 01:15 PM

"This is so weak. He doesn't offer an intellectual response to Paul, instead trying to shame him with outrage into taking back his comment" ///// MY GOD... are you kidding!!!, you actually believe this needs any more response other then "YOU IDIOT PUAL" the statement by Paul which is a BLAME AMERICA thought process is insane and Rudy’s response was PERFECT.

Posted by: Lon at May 18, 2007 02:09 PM

you actually believe this needs any more response other then "YOU IDIOT PUAL"

Yes, I do believe that. It's a debate and "you idiot" is not an argument. Just because there are reasons that the terrorists hate us doesn't mean they're good reasons.

Posted by: Karol at May 18, 2007 02:21 PM

Rudy really shot himself in the foot on that one. I guess he doesn't like it when people try to talk about his "turf". Sheesh.

Paul's point was not "blame America", Lon. Paul was pointing to our involvement in the Middle East and the fact that Bin Laden has essentially said that's part of the reason, if not the entire reason, for his fatwa.

Posted by: Pokerwolf at May 18, 2007 03:10 PM

One reason I love blogging: somebody is sure to come along and say smartly what only occurred to me as a squiggle of questioning unease when Rudy actually said it.

He has a right to the outrage at the suggestion, however small, that 9/11 was justified, because that suggestion is indeed outrageous. But Karol's right that he needs to offer more than just outrage and "I was there," because only hard looks at foreign policy, including what is going to piss somebody off enough to attack like that and what we will do to protect ourselves if we follow through on the policy. I'm not going to back anybody who says we should stay out of the policy sewer of the Middle East just to keep our hides intact (one reason being that ultimately it *won't* keep our skins safe)--but I also need to know what our candidates propose to do to protect U.S. citizens while they pursue policy that potentially makes us the targets of hothead loons.

Posted by: Anwyn at May 18, 2007 03:27 PM

Well put Karol. I knew you were a Rudy fan, so I was wondering what your take was going to be.

Posted by: Joe at May 18, 2007 03:27 PM

I've heard an awful lot of conservatives claim that Paul claimed that 9/11 was "invited," and now Anwyn, you're saying Paul said 9/11 was "justified." How do you see that in what Paul said, either during or after the debate?

While I think Paul is a little short-sighted to consider only the last 50 years, he did not actually say we invited 9/11, or that it was justified. He merely said, and he is correct, that certain elements of our foreign policy have created anger in the Muslim world. Righteous anger? I personally say no, but they've caused anger nonetheless. The Muslim war against the West has been raging for 1400 years, and we're not helping by providing excuses to the rabid mullahs whose professions are based on fomenting anger among young, impressionable males seeking a purpose to life. I'm not talking about trade or other peaceful interaction, but the fact that young Muslim males see American soldiers, they believe the BS that we're there to destroy the Islamic way of life, and then they figure they have nothing to lose by planting IEDs or blowing themselves up. After all, what else can they do to alleviate their impoverished lives? I'll add that their lives in no small part are the fault of their leaders, who seize on the poverty and blame it on the West.

Why do we have any military presence in Saudi Arabia? Ever since Saddam was toppled, Saudi Arabia has had no neighbors which may aggress against it. Even I, who admits we've bungled Iraq but still were right to go in and topple Saddam, cannot justify our keeping any military in Saudi.

So I'm not blaming America, but I point out that, well, blowback happens: even the most well-intentioned behavior can be twisted by your enemies. Be careful what you do, lest you give someone an excuse.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 18, 2007 03:55 PM

There's a difference, Anwyn, between having a reason and having a reasonable justification.

Nothing justifies the September 11 attacks, but there were obviously reasons why they were carried out. Also: it wouldn't hurt to know what those reasons were. In the minds of many, understanding the thought process of the enemy somehow equals accepting it as one's own viewpoint. It doesn't.

Posted by: Michael at May 18, 2007 06:34 PM

From my experience, Karol is a reasonable person, and this is no exception.

To advance the agenda of the American people, we are sometimes required to do things that might piss people off. That includes keeping troops in other sovereign countries, sometimes against the will of native factions. Hey, it happens. But we shouldn't be surprised when those factions attempt retaliations against us. Does that mean we 'invited' 9/11? Of course not. But it would seem reasonable that the more we know about the motivations of our enemies, the better we can shape our military and foreign policies to avoid these types of entanglements.

We can't possibly please everyone and still make our way in the world, but we can minimize the negative effects through good intelligence on the ground and reasoned non-passionate debate in our administration.

I'm going to chalk up Guiliani's response to the massive hyperbole evident in every Presidential election I've been privleged to witness.

Oh, and Karol,

"He doesn't offer an intellectual response to Paul, instead trying to shame him with outrage into taking back his comment. This is what Democrats do to end debate."

isn't exactly bolstering your reasoned debate argument. Unless you're trying to be ironic.

Posted by: Jamie at May 19, 2007 12:09 AM

isn't exactly bolstering your reasoned debate argument. Unless you're trying to be ironic.

I'm not a presidential candidate. I'm a blogger, who needs reasoned debate! :-)

Posted by: Karol at May 19, 2007 02:48 PM

This is a great post.

Posted by: Joe Grossberg at May 19, 2007 02:57 PM

Great post!

Rudy's response was "good" in the sense that it made for a good sound bite. That makes it good for repetition in the media and such.

One other question--not having watched the debate--how long were the candidates given for responses? Working on the assumption that it was a rather short time (based on the size of the field) was there adequate time for an intellectual debate?

Posted by: jaws at May 19, 2007 08:39 PM

I`m so tired of reading the remarks of people who use terms like conservative, democrat, republican, liberal, libertarian, left, right, etc etc. and what these terms are supposed to represent and what these conservatives, liberals etc are supposed to believe-can`t we all see that these terms are created to instill dissent amongst people?-these labels keep us from our ultimate goal which i think we all can agree is finding the truth in any situation...yes , yes absolute truth is probably impossible to achieve, but attributing certain values, morals and ideals to certain "parties" is counterproductive-the sooner we see that the better off we will all be

Posted by: ed helmstetter at May 20, 2007 11:13 PM


And it's funny how the "truthers" never attack Ron Paul for blaming 9/11 on Al Qaeda, when it was so 'obviously' an inside job.

Posted by: BadBoyInASuit at May 21, 2007 02:55 AM

I happen to agree with you completely about Rudy's response. It amounted to vapid emotion.
The media loved it because Rudy was indignant. However, a candidate did respond to Ron Paul, and was ignored by the media. Tom Tancredo noted that the problem is that Islamists want to conquer us due to a theological imperative.

Regardingin Ron Paul's statement, it was silly. Stalin had many excuses for invading Eastern Europe. None were legitimate. However for the "America Firsters" and Dhimmi leftists any excuse is acceptable.

I feel like smacking Congressman Paul and hjis intentionally ignorant supporters with a copy of "Milestones" and forcing them to read chapter 4 so that they can understand that there is no such a thing as a "defensive Jihad" and that they want to conquer us.

Posted by: Ron Lewenberg at May 21, 2007 05:31 PM

It seems that Republicans are using the same tactics on each other as they have on the rest of us to stifle criticism, i.e. taking offence when none was meant, suggesting their patriotism is faulty, and blaming the USA. It makes for a very interesting time. If the republican party lises power, it will be because their inability to own up to mistakes and evasiveness has alienated the mainstream IMO.

Posted by: bryan at May 22, 2007 04:47 PM

Sigh; read this:,2933,274174,00.html

Please email me with responses with facts contra and I will humbly retract the following statement:

The people who applauded Rudy's nonobjective ill-informed "statement" and people likened to them will ruin America through their own double-think. And they will deserve everything they get.

Clearly RG has this doublethink to a tee; Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal suggested that the attacks were an indication that the United States "should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stand toward the Palestinian cause"

To which RG responded... wait I'm not gonna do all the hard work... do your research... RG HAS heard this before, so either he is lying or he has a bad memory or he is holding two contradictory beliefs at the same time:

As for RG being "brave" before and after 9-11; could someone please cite a valid reference to a major event around 9-11 that would support this?

Posted by: Cathal at May 22, 2007 08:16 PM

Last I checked, this country was founded as a republic, not an empire. Know your history, know that empire's by their nature result in animosity. Couple this with "The irrationality of Middle-Eastern politics" and that makes for the perfect storm. The Wolfowitz/Bush doctrine is empire wrapped in a facade of moral authority or "exceptionalism". How arrogant!

To borrow from Roman history, their will always be Pirates in the Mediterranean which result in a Lex Gambinia. It's when, not if. Power has a natural way of consolidating, especially when entrenched in the government.

Our founder's knew this. Not because they were ordained by god, but because they were students of history, they were renaissance men. Denounce empire. Stop watching Fox news or listening to NPR. At a critical juncture like this, we require nothing less than an ideologue, Ron Paul.

Posted by: James at May 23, 2007 09:42 AM

Let us keep bombing...yes! Dude, that is why they attacked us way before sept. 11th stupid asses...that was just the first time they were successful...pifft. That was the second attack on the are all little kids so you don't remember that. Serious, that is the only reason they have come after us...many have stated this over and over lame Rudy is.

Posted by: joaquinochoa at May 23, 2007 03:31 PM

"Cliff Notes" for Giuliani:

"His [bin Laden] rhetoric selectively draws from multiple sources -- Islam, history, and the region's political and economic malaise. He also stresses grievances against the United States widely shared in the Muslim world. He inveighed against the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam's holiest sites. He spoke of the suffering of the Iraqi people as a result of sanctions imposed after the Gulf War..."

-- 9/11 Commission Report, pages 48-49

"There are a lot of things that are different now [after the invasion of Iraq], and one that has gone by almost unnoticed -- but it's huge -- is that by complete mutual agreement between the US and the Saudi government we can now remove almost all of our forces from Saudi Arabia. Their presence there over the last 12 years has been a source of enormous difficulty for a friendly government. It's been a huge recruiting device for al-Qaeda. In fact if you look at bin Laden, one of his principle grievances was the presence of so- called crusader forces on the holy land, Mecca and Medina. I think just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going to open the door to other positive things."

-- Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Vanity Fair, May 2003

"One of the greatest dangers for Americans in deciding how to confront the Islamist threat lies in continuing to believe -- at the urging of senior U.S. leaders -- that Muslims hate and attack us for what we are and think, rather than for what we do. The Islamic world is not so offended by our democratic system of politics, guarantees of personal rights and civil liberties, and separation of church and state that it is willing to wage war against overwhelming odds in order to stop Americans from voting, speaking freely, and praying, or not, as they wish."

-- Michael Scheuer, Imperial Hubris, page 8

"We assume, moreover, that bin Laden and the Islamists hate us for our liberty, freedoms, and democracy -- not because they and many millions of Muslims believe U.S. foreign policy is an attack on Islam or because the U.S. military now has a ten-year record of smashing people and things in the Islamic world."

-- Michael Scheuer, Imperial Hubris, page 165

"The U.S. invasion of Iraq is Osama bin Laden's gift from America, one he has long and ardently desired, but never realistically expected."

-- Michael Scheuer, Imperial Hubris, page 213

"Although suicide terrorism is virtually always a response to foreign occupation, only some occupations lead to this result. Suicide terrorism is most likely when the occupying power's religion differs from the religion of the occupied, for three reasons. A conflict across a religious divide increases fears that the enemy will seek to transform the occupied society; makes demonization, and therefore killing, of enemy civilians easier; and makes it easier to use one's own religion to relabel suicides that would otherwise be taboo as martyrdom instead."

-- Robert A. Pape, Dying to Win, page 22

"An attempt to transform Muslim societies through regime change is likely to dramatically increase the threat we face. The root cause of suicide terrorism is foreign occupation and the threat that foreign military presence poses to the local community's way of life. ... Even if our intentions are good, anti-American terrorism would likely grow, and grow rapidly."

-- Robert A. Pape, Dying to Win, page 245

"The suicidal assassins of September 11, 2001 did not 'attack America,' as political leaders and news media in the United States have tried to maintain; they attacked American foreign policy. Employing the strategy of the weak, they killed innocent bystanders, whose innocence is, of course, no different from that of the civilians killed by American bombs in Iraq, Serbia, Afghanistan, and elsewhere."

-- Chalmers Johnson, Blowback, page XV

"The term 'blowback,' which officials of the Central Intelligence Agency first invented for their own internal use, is starting to circulate among students of international relations. It refers to the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people. What the daily press reports as the malign acts of 'terrorists' or 'drug lords' or 'rogue states' or 'illegal arms merchants' often turn out to be blowback from earlier American operations."

-- Chalmers Johnson, Blowback, page 8

Posted by: Scott at May 25, 2007 10:23 AM

Do any of you question the trustworthiness of the information we get from our government or media? If so, why would you expect the people in the Middle East would get more trustworthy information from their government or media outlets than we do?

We the people (of all nations) tend to believe what we read, hear and watch the most. Particularly if the information comes from someone we trust. In the US we are told they attacked us for no reason other than we are free and rich and they are crazy or insane. Because of this information and this information alone, many of our children are willing to give up their lives to defend our way of life.

Before 9/11 most people in the US gave little thought to the Middle East. We all shook our heads at those crazy people while we watched the news coverage about them killing each other, and how it has been going on for the last thousand years or so.

But now they have attacked us and thinking about them is inescapable. The question is; are we sure we know why they attacked us, or do we only know what we are supposed to believe? Are they sure they know why they attacked us, or are they only going on what they've been told too? Their willingness to give their lives to protect their way of life is no different than our willingness to portect ours.

So who is at fault, the people or the governments and media?

Posted by: Kulwick at May 31, 2007 12:52 PM
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