"If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road."
George W. Bush, Oct. 3, 2000
Many Republicans honestly believe that above all else, our war in Iraq is a necessary and just war and that U.S. presence overseas is crucial to preventing another 9/11. Nothing could be further from the truth. And it is this great divide in opinion on the war that has put Texas Congressman Ron Paul on the map.
During a GOP presidential debate in May, Paul suggested that the continuing U.S. presence overseas led to 9/11, to which former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani replied, "That's really an extraordinary statement ... I don't think I've heard that before, and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11."
And in a sense Giuliani is right. Most Americans haven't heard this explanation before. If you're a Republican, you likely listen to talk radio, where fellow Republicans support their Republican president by supporting his war. Few serious questions asked.
These conservatives who in the 1990s criticized President Bill Clinton for trying to snake his way out of perjury charges by questioning the definition of the word "is," now find themselves using the same double-talk by insisting that Saddam Hussein had links to Osama bin Laden or that there really were weapons of mass destruction. Even Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney now deny they ever tried to make these connections.
When it comes to the dangers of American empire, Paul has been proven 100 percent correct, and President Bush and the entire Republican establishment have been proven 100 percent wrong. As Paul predicted as early as 1997 in a letter to President Clinton, "Policy toward Iraq is ... not designed to protect U.S. national security. It is instead a threat to our security because it may lead to war and loss of American lives, increase terrorism, and certainly an additional expense for the U.S. taxpayer. The hyped rhetoric coming from Washington which describes Hussein as the only evil monster with which we must deal in the world is a poor substitute for wise counsel."
When it comes to why the U.S. was attacked on 9/11, the former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit Michael Scheuer validates Paul. As he told CNN, "We're being attacked for what we do in the Islamic world, not for who we are or what we believe in or how we live."
The 9/11 Commission Report also validates the claim that U.S. foreign intervention facilitated 9/11. Furthermore, it demolishes the childish fantasy-land idea that we were attacked simply because terrorists "hate our freedom," a notion that every single Republican presidential candidate subscribes to — except Ron Paul.
If American presence on Islamic soil is what originally led to 9/11, does anyone honestly believe our nation-building missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and possibly Iran make us safer? Bush in 2000 certainly didn't think so.
But if Bush in 2007 is right that America must fight the terrorists "over there" so that we don't have to fight them "over here," then which country do you believe is more at risk for another 9/11, the United States or Canada? Most Canadians would likely agree their comparative "isolationism" has served them well.
It's time for a new, saner American foreign policy or as Constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein recently wrote in The Washington Times: "Nonintervention and global neutrality should be the national security creed of the United States. Its contemporary leaders ... create more enemies than they destroy. The global military projection of the United States as imperative to national security has become mainstream gospel. But as Bertrand Russell advised, 'In all affairs, it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.'"
If Bush's and the Republican establishment's ongoing mythology about the causes of 9/11 and the necessity of foreign wars has even an inkling of truth behind it, then Ron Paul really would be the lunatic that Giuliani tried to paint him as during the debate last May.
At that time, some Republicans were even trying to get Paul the heretic thrown out of any future debates. But as Pat Buchanan wrote: "[Up] on that stage in Columbia, (Ron Paul) was speaking intolerable truths. Understandably, Republicans do not want him back, telling the country how the party blundered into this misbegotten war. By all means, throw out of the debate the only man who was right from the beginning on Iraq."
There's an old saying that hindsight is 20/20. Alone amongst Republicans, Ron Paul's foresight has been 20/20, while each of his fellow presidential contenders continues to toe the party line and stick their heads in the sand, afraid and unwilling to confront the imminent danger before us.
Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the "Morning Buzz with Richard Todd" on 1250 AM WTMA.