Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ron Paul's words

Ron Paul engaged in a publicity stunt to defend his words in the Republican presidential debate, sending a reading list to Rudy Giuliani to pack up his claim in the debate that US foreign policy was responsible for September 11.
"I'm giving Mr. Giuliani a reading assignment," the nine-term Texas congressman said as he stood behind a stack of books that included the report by the commission that examined the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.
"I don't think he's qualified to be president," Paul said of Giuliani. "If he was to read the book and report back to me and say, 'I've changed my mind,' I would reconsider."
The movie fan in me loves this kind of theatrical gesture and I can't say I have no sympathy for Paul's words in the debate. His whole spiel is here, but this summed it up:
(The end of) non-intervention was a major contributing factor (to 9-11). Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there; we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been 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. ... 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.
It's obviously indisputable that the Jihadis and their mass of enablers in Islam worldwide complain about US policies in the Middle East. So in the sense that it motivated those who executed the attacks, US policies led to September 11, as one factor among others. (Though I wouldn't underestimate the extent to which some of this Arab and Muslim complaining is for the ears of gullible Westerners -- their bid to win the war of hearts and minds and all that).

Paul was saying something unexceptional in the facts, but where I violently disagree with him, and where Giuliani and any other candidate would be right to dress him down, is what follows from that -- not much I would say, and certainly not the isolationist foreign policy that Paul backs.

"Alter our foreign policy as our enemies want it altered so that they will no longer be our enemies" (and peacefully trade with them, Paul burbled, apparently thinking capitalism is the free-from-original-sin cure-all for the whole world) is not merely the logic of appeasement. It's the chemically-pure distillation of it.

Even if that very word no longer anathematizes, appeasement cannot work in this case either. You cannot appease politicized Islam because the will of Allah is absolute -- a worldwide Caliphate is Allah's demanded way and anything short of that can be nothing more than a temporary truce, a hudna until Islam is strong enough to advance again, Allah willing.

Understand that whatever might be said about US support for this or that Israeli action, they will never matter -- the Jihadis want Israel wiped off the map. Heck, Osama is still complaining about Lepanto and the loss of Al-Andalus (that's Spain, for those of you in Rio Linda). Whatever might be said about current US social decadence, the father of modern jihad, Sayid Qutb, was appalled by the decadence of 1940s US culture, the restoration of (most of) which most religious/social conservatives would consider nirvana. As long as oil and Israel are in the Middle East, and worldwide communication and transportation are what they are, there is nothing that the US, the West or Christendom could give the Islamists that would satisfy them. Nothing.

Even beyond that ... on principle, enemies should not be appeased simply because appeasement is the path of the weak. The Athenians (however one says that in Arabic) told the Melians that the weak "suffer what they must" according to the demands of the strong. And to an honor-based culture like the Arabs, weakness earns contempt, not love, and serves as confirmation that Allah is pushing the "correlation of forces" toward conquest by Islam.

The audience that applauded Giuliani rebuking Paul was applauding a man who thought as a man with honor and not as a calculating bourgeois appeaser or as a schoolmarm in "conflict-resolution" class. They were reacting to someone slap down the "blame America" narrative, which holds that whenever others hate us or others attack us, it must be because of something we have done and the onus is on us to correct these perceived wrongs, to be all things to all men. Even that Rubber-Hose-Rightist Todd Gitlin complained after September 11 that "contextualization," "blowback" and all the rest eventually becoming just an excuse to nurture a prejudice and a double standard.
[The anti-war Left] point out that the actions of various mass murderers (the Khmer Rouge, bin Laden) must be "contextualized," yet refuse to consider any context or reason for the actions of Americans. ...
In this purist insistence on reducing America and Americans to a wicked stereotype, we encounter a soft anti-Americanism that, whatever takes place in the world, wheels automatically to blame America first. ...
Soft anti-Americans, by contrast, sincerely want U.S. policies to change—though by their lights, such turnabouts are well-nigh unimaginable—but they commit the grave moral error of viewing the mass murderer (if not the mass murder) as nothing more than an outgrowth of U.S. policy. They not only note but gloat that the United States built up Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan as a counterfoil to the Russians. In this thinking, Al Qaeda is an effect, not a cause; a symptom, not a disease. The initiative, the power to cause, is always American.
But here moral reasoning runs off the rails. Who can hold a symptom accountable? To the left-wing fundamentalist, the only interesting or important brutality is at least indirectly the United States' doing. Thus, sanctions against Iraq are denounced, but the cynical mass murderer Saddam Hussein, who permits his people to die, remains an afterthought. Were America to vanish, so, presumably, would the miseries of Iraq and Egypt.
The audience that applauded Giuliani was expressing an eternal truth -- once war is joined, you have no choice but to fight, and whatever underlying grievances may have led to the war are off the table. That a self-respecting people will not blame ourselves for others' hatred of us. And that an enemy's grievance against us is a thing to be proud of and uphold, not be ashamed of and appease.


Joe M said...

Well put.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

It's one thing to criticize U.S. foreign policy. It's quite another to embrace your enemies' propaganda and regurgitate it as fact to support whatever agenda you have.

That's what Ron Paul is doing. That's also what Ezra Pound did 65 years ago when he broadcast from Fascist Italy to the U.S. and American troops.

Ezra Pound is a traitor. So is Ron Paul.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

If you don't believe that, then understand that the entire purpose of such propaganda is to deflate moral and to sew discouragement, and so defuse the will to fight legitimate enemies and encourage complacency and ennui.

If anybody wants to defend Ron Paul, please tell me how he's not doing what I just described?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't argue with you for a moment, Mr. D'Hippolito. Traitor or idiot - that's the only question.


frank sales said...

In this thinking, Al Qaeda is an effect, not a cause; a symptom, not a disease. The initiative, the power to cause, is always American.
If only Shea and his ilk were able to absorb this powerful critique of their fallacious reasoning.