A belated, Texas-sized, Ten-Gallon Hats-off to Congressman Ron Paul. I still haven't gotten over what he said during the Republican presidential debate in South Carolina a few weeks back on live TV!
When he was asked if he really wanted the troops to come home, Paul pointed to the BIG elephant in the elephant party tent. (The GOP tent has several elephants, and a few 800-pound gorillas too, but I digress).
Paul provided a quick GOP history lesson for dummies, reminding his uncomfortable audience that "the conservative wing of the Republican Party always advocated a noninterventionist foreign policy."
He reminded them about Taft's objection to joining NATO; about Bush campaigning in 2000 espousing "a humble foreign policy - no nation-building, no policing of the world;" about Republicans being elected to end the Korean and Vietnam Wars; about the "strong tradition" of anti-war Republicanism going back to the Founders' non-interventionist ideas.
The predictable paranoiac - I mean, "patriotic"- question followed. But didn't 9/11 "change everything?"
Sounding like one of those "blame-America-first, wacko Leftists," Paul said U.S. foreign policy was a "major contributing factor" to 9/11. "Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attacked us because we've been over there; we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years."
"We're building an embassy in Iraq that's bigger than the Vatican," plus 14 other permanent bases in the Middle East. "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 somebody else did it to us."
(After hearing that, I imagined Dick Cheney asking one of his staffers to send his "dear friend Ron" an invitation to go bird hunting).
Ron went Professor Chalmers Johnson on 'em. In fact, Johnson, author of Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, just the other day told the Institute for Public Accuracy:
"Bin Laden attacked us in 1993, 1995, 1998 and 2000. Throughout that period, and again just after 9/11, he stated his motivations: the 'infidel' presence on the Arabian peninsula, the economic sanctions on Iraq that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children in the 1990s and our support for Israeli expansionism."
Whenever you drop Chalmers-like observations on true believers you get asked questions like Paul did. Are you suggesting we invited the attacks?
"I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we're over there because Osama bin Laden has said, 'I am glad you're over on our sand because we can target you so much easier,'" was Paul's answer.
And that's when Ring Master Rudi Guiliani pulled the curtain back so the circus audience could be introduced to Blowback, the Great American Elephant.
With a straight-face, Guiliani says: "That's really 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."
Small-time columnists like me writing about the genocidal impacts of Iraqi sanctions over and over again going back to 1995 aside, Guiliani played the role well, whip in hand - meaning: he was either lying or exhibiting a severe case cognitive dissonance - denying even the possibility of what the CIA (and "wacko leftists") call "blowback."
Ron Paul: "I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback" - the 1953 "regime change" operation in Iran, for example.
"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 we're free. They come and they attack us because we're over there. I mean, what would we think if we were - if other foreign countries were doing that to us?"
I feel such gratitude toward the Distinguished Gentleman from Texas for his words alone that I just might vote for guy - as a write-in, of course. You sure as hell don't hear Democrats talking like that, other than Dennis Kucinich whose been given the short-guy-with-big-ears treatment by the "liberal" media and therefore doesn't have a snowball's chance, unless....
....the real conservatives stand up. And then maybe, just maybe, "progressives" and "conservatives" could get together to effect "regime change" in Washington. OK, now I'm getting carried away. Anyways, thanks Ron.
Sean Gonsalves is an assistant news editor for the Cape Cod Times and a syndicated columnist.