By Katie Kieffer
May I have your attention please? Will the real Ron Paul please stand up? I repeat, will the real Ron Paul please stand up?
I keep hearing the same three rumors about Paul: He blames America for 9/11, he’s anti-Israel and he’s pro-Iran. So, who is the real Ron Paul?
Does he blame America for 9/11?
No, he’s very patriotic. Bob Schieffer recently interviewed Paul on CBS Face the Nation: “I wanna ask you some questions … and I wanna start with foreign policy because your statements over the years … suggest that you believe that 9/11 happened because of actions that the United States took. Is that correct?”
Paul answered: “Well, I think there is an influence. And that’s exactly what, you know, the 9/11 Commission said, that’s what the DOD has said and that’s also what the CIA has said and that’s what a lot of researchers have said. … America is you and I and we didn’t cause it, the average American didn’t cause it. … I’m saying [American foreign] policies have an affect but that’s a far cry from blaming America.”
Chalmers Johnson, CIA consultant from 1967–1973, concurs with Paul: ‘The suicidal assassins of September 11, 2001, did not “attack America,” as our political leaders and the news media like to maintain; they attacked American foreign policy.’
Johnson says the CIA coined the term “blowback” as “a metaphor for the unintended consequences of the US government’s international activities that have been kept secret from the American people.”
You might ask: Blowback? For what? Isn’t America “a beacon for freedom” as President George W. Bush said immediately after the 9/11 attacks? Certainly our Constitution is a beacon for freedom. Paul simply maintains that the unintended consequences of our current foreign policy are that we provoke violent retaliation while we accrue substantial debt and lose precious American lives.
The final 9/11 Commission Report validates Paul’s concern about blowback: ‘Defense Secretary William Cohen told us Bin Ladin’s training camps were primitive, built with “rope ladders”; General Shelton called them “jungle gym” camps. Neither thought them worthwhile targets for very expensive missiles. President Clinton and Berger also worried about the Economist’s point—that attacks that missed Bin Ladin could enhance his stature and win him new recruits. After the United States launched air attacks against Iraq at the end of 1998 and against Serbia in 1999, in each case provoking worldwide criticism, Deputy National Security Advisor James Steinberg added the argument that attacks in Afghanistan offered “little benefit, lots of blowback against [a] bomb-happy U.S.”’
Moreover, if Paul’s foreign policy is anti-America, why has he outpaced McCain, Romney and Gingrich in individual active military contributions? Timothy Egan writes in The New York Times: “Not even a full 1 percent of Americans are active-duty military. … Yet, these soldiers, sailors, air men and women, and assorted boots on the ground know the cost … of going to war far more than the 99 percent not currently serving. Where they put their money in a campaign … says a great deal.”
Is he anti-Israel?
Hardly. Paul wants to improve America’s foreign policy to suit Israel’s best interest.
Cato Institute research fellow Leon Hadar advised Paul on foreign policy during his 2008 campaign. He recently wrote in Israel’s news source Haaretz that Paul: “has a profound knowledge of Jewish history, admires Israel and follows its political and economic developments with great interest.”
Paul told NewsMax: ‘Stop and consider America’s policy: We give $3 billion a year to Israel in loans; and we give $12 billion or more in assistance to Israel’s self-declared enemies. Some of these are countries that say they will drive Israel into the sea. … Foreign aid does not help Israel. It is a net disadvantage. I say to them that “the borrower is servant to the lender” and America should never be the master of Israel and its fate. We should be her friend.’
He added: “In October, 1981, most of the world and most of the Congress voiced outrage over Israel’s attack on Iraq and their nuclear development. I was one of the few who defended her right to make her own decisions on foreign policy and to act in her own self-interest.”
Says Michael Scheuer, the former CIA chief who led the unit tracking Osama bin Laden: “until we accept that our support of the Saudi police state, our military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq and Yemen, our support for the Israelis – until we understand that those policies are the main recruitment tools for the enemy, we will never get a grip on the size, the durability and the potential of that enemy.”
Paul’s foreign policy positions and his call for neutrality toward Israel stem from his awareness of analyses from America’s most experienced terrorism-fighters like Scheuer. Ultimately, I believe Paul sees neutrality as the best route to prioritize America’s economic and security interests, prevent global “blowback” and respect Israel’s sovereignty.
Is he pro-Iran?
No. He is concerned that current U.S. foreign policies may aggravate Iran toward asymmetric vengeance, yielding blowback rather than security for America.
Paul’s preference for leveraging amicable neutrality and aggressive diplomacy tactics toward Iran is often construed as supporting Iran. He simply questions how realistic a nuclear bomb threat is from Iran. He told CBS, “Iran doesn’t have a bomb; there’s no proof, there’s no new information regardless of this recent [U.N.] report.”
Indeed, the U.N.’s report only relayed vague suspicions regarding Iran’s nuclear projects and an unclassified “Report on Military Power of Iran” from our own Department of Defense dated April 2010 conveys that Iran’s nuclear goals are defensive rather than aggressive in nature: “Iran’s principles of military strategy include deterrence, asymmetrical retaliation and attrition warfare. Iran’s nuclear program and its willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy.”
Paul also believes that “sanctions are the initial step to war” and we risk blowback by levying heavy sanctions on Iran based on our fear of their nuclear projects. Indeed, no sooner had the Obama administration prepared harsh economic sanctions than Iran retaliated by vowing to close the gateway for nearly one fifth of the world’s oil supply—the Strait of Hormuz.
Misconstruing Paul’s foreign policy views and leveling him with ad-hominem attacks is intellectually intolerant and nonstrategic if we want to defeat Obama’s socialist policies in 2012. For, the GOP nominee (whoever they are) will need the support of the independent voters who embrace Paul’s philosophy. Let’s follow Reagan’s example by setting rumors aside, focusing on our goal, and ceasing groundless attacks on one of our own. Now, will the real Ron Paul please stand up?