Monday, January 07, 2008

Republicans & “Freedom Haters”

I watched a fair amount of the Republican presidential debate last Saturday (not so much of the Democratic debate since the Wild game was on at the same time and it is way to early in the political season to sacrifice hockey games for politics), but there was one aspect of the debate that I just couldn’t put my head around, that being the threat of terrorism.

During the debate Charlie Gibson asked Ron Paul a question regarding U.S. foreign policy, “Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?” To which Ron Paul gave a very succinct and intelligent reply which basically explained that simply stating that the United States is the target of terrorism because we are free and prosperous is inaccurate and wrong. Here is his response:

But the Bush doctrine of preemptive war is not a minor change; this is huge. This is the first time we, as a nation, accept as our policy that we start the wars. I don't understand this.

And that all options are on the table to go after Iran?

This is not necessary. These are Third World nations. They're not capable.

But I think it's the misunderstanding or the disagreements that we've had in this debate along the campaign trail is the nature of the threat.

I'm as concerned about the nature of the threat of terrorism as anybody, if not more so. But they don't attack us because we're free and prosperous.

And there are radicals in all elements, in all religions that will resort to violence. But if we don't understand that the reaction is, is because we invade their countries and occupy their countries, we have bases in their country -- and we haven't done it just since 9/11, but we have done that a long time.

I mean, it was the Air Force base in Saudi Arabia before 9/11 that was given as the excuse.

If we don't understand that, we can't win this war against terrorism.

Let me try to explain so you can understand this better.

Try to visualize how we would react if they did that to us, if a country, say China, came that great distance across the ocean, and they say, "We want you to live like us. We want you to have our economic system. We want bases on your land. We want to protect our oil."
Even if we do that with good intentions -- even if the Chinese did that with good intentions, we would all be together and we'd be furious.

After this the rest of the candidates were given a chance to respond and all of them basically laughed at Paul’s analysis and instead responded that terrorists target the U.S. because “they hate our freedom” (here is the full transcript).

I just don’t understand how anyone could begin to believe such a simplistic explanation to a complex issue. How anyone could believe that individuals living half way across the globe would go to the extreme of coming over to the United States and kill themselves in a terrorist attack would do so for no other reason than because they “hate our freedom”.

Yet sadly it appears that, in all likelihood, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008 will be a candidate who subscribes to this overly simplistic world view, and thus if elected will make foreign policy decisions on the same lines.

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