Ron Paul is “the best-known American propagandist for our enemies”, writes Dorothy Rabinowitz in a recent Wall Street Journal hit piece. To support the charge, she writes that Dr. Paul “assures audiences” that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 “took place only because of U.S. aggression and military actions”. It’s “True,” she writes, that “we’ve heard the assertions before”, but only “rarely have we heard in any American political figure such exclusive concern for, and appreciation of, the motives of those who attacked us”—and, she adds, he doesn’t care about the victims of the attacks.
The vindictive rhetoric aside, what is it, exactly, that Ron Paul is guilty of here? It is completely uncontroversial that the 9/11 attacks were a consequence of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. The 9/11 Commission Report, for instance, points out that Osama bin Laden “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, and he protested U.S. support of Israel.”
Notice that Rabinowitz doesn’t actually deny that the 9/11 attacks were motivated by such U.S. policies as these. Rather, Ron Paul’s sin is that he actually acknowledges this truth. The fact that other political figures choose to ignore or deny this fact hardly reflects poorly on Dr. Paul. Refusing to bury one’s head deeply up one’s arse, as Rabinowitz is so obviously willing to do, is hardly a character trait to be faulted.
From this position of willful ignorance, Rabinowitz then implores her readers that “a President Paul” would “be making decisions about the nation’s defense, national security, domestic policy and much else.” The conclusion one is supposed to draw is that anyone who could actually acknowledge the ugly truth that 9/11 was a consequence of U.S. foreign policy isn’t fit for office; only someone who is willing to delude him or herself that the U.S. was attacked because “they hate our freedoms” is worthy of the presidency. Anyone who wishes to change U.S. foreign policy is unfit; only a person who is willing to continue the status quo should be allowed a seat in the Oval Office.
Rabinowitz warns that “The world may not be ready for another American president traversing half the globe to apologize for the misdeeds of the nation he had just been elected to lead.” It’s not clear who she has in mind with the “another”, but it’s by now a familiar refrain. “I’ll never apologize for the United States of America. Ever. I don’t care what the facts are,” President George H. W. Bush declared to the world after a U.S. warship had shot down an Iranian civilian airliner in Iranian airspace, killing all 290 passengers aboard, including 65 children. Surely, any president willing to apologize for the murder of innocent children must not lead the nation. The horror of the thought!
And then there is Dr. Paul’s position with respect to Iran. He recently urged his host in an interview “to understand that Iran’s leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had never mentioned any intention of wiping Israel off the map.” Here, again, it’s notable that Rabinowitz doesn’t actually dispute this. Dr. Paul is, of course, correct. The claim that Iran has threatened to acquire nuclear weapons to “wipe Israel off the map” is a complete fabrication of Western media propaganda, and mainstream corporate news agencies know it is a fabrication, but repeat it obligatorily anyway.
Rabinowitz presumably does, as well, so instead of challenging Dr. Paul on the facts, she quotes him saying “They’re just defending themselves” and writing, “Presumably he was referring to Iran’s wishes for a bomb.” In the interview referred to, Dr. Paul had said, “I don’t want them to get the nuclear weapon”, but pointed out that Israel’s defense minister, “Ehud Barak said that they’re acting logically, and they’re acting in their self-interest, and if he was an Iranian, he would probably think the same way” (Dr. Paul is correct on this, also; it’s true that Barak has “quipped that if he were an Iranian, he would take part in the development of nuclear weapons”).
Rabinowitz also disinclines herself to point out what Dr. Paul said next: “But there is a gross distortion to this debate that they are on the verge of a nuclear weapon. There is no evidence that they are on the verge of a nuclear weapon, and we shouldn’t be ready to start another war” (Dr. Paul is correct on this, too, and has rightly drawn parallels to the current propaganda about Iran and the lies that preceded the war on Iraq).
So, once again, we see that Ron Paul’s true sin is his failure to jump on board with the war propaganda. A further sin is that he said after 9/11 that “there was ‘glee in the administration because now we can invade Iraq.’” But is the contention that those policymakers responsible for the war on Iraq were not happy that they now had the opportunity to do so sustainable? Is Rabinowitz unaware that in 1996, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser coauthored a document prepared for the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, which made the case for overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s regime? Or that the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), whose membership was a virtual who’s who of so-called “neoconservatives” calling for war on Iraq, had a manifesto calling for regime change and stating that the “process of transformation” of the U.S. military into a force to “preserve American military preeminence” around the globe “is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor”? That PNAC director Robert Kagan acknowledged that the 9/11 attacks were the “Pearl Harbor” he and his ilk were looking for, writing in the Washington Post that 9/11 must be used to “to launch a new era of American internationalism. Let’s not squander this opportunity”?
Yet again, it becomes evident that Ron Paul’s sin is that he is too willing to be honest with the American people and speak the truth about U.S. foreign policy. Just as Dr. Paul predicted and warned about the housing bubble and financial crisis of 2008, so did he predict and warn prior to 9/11 that U.S. foreign policy would result in what the intelligence community terms “blowback”. Ron Paul has a long record of speaking truth to power and making predictions that have come to pass.
Rabinowitz concludes, “It seemed improbable that the best-known of American propagandists for our enemies could be near the top of the pack in the Iowa contest, but there it is.” That Ron Paul has emerged in Iowa as a frontrunner is a hopeful sign that Americans are waking up to the realities of U.S. foreign policy and are tired of crude propagandists for U.S. wars and empire insulting their intelligence, as Rabinowitz—who is a member of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board—does so well in her column.