[Note: This entry reflects my own personal opinion. Disciple Dojo as a whole does not officially endorse any political candidates. Christians are free to disagree on political issues and this post is meant simply to encourage thoughtful discussion. -JM]
In the Tea Party Debate tonight on CNN, Ron Paul got chastised for suggesting that terrorist attacks on America had more to do with American foreign policy and occupations around the world than it did with a general Jihadist hatred of “freedom.”
When Paul replied that Al Quaeda and other groups SPECIFICALLY said they were attacking us because of our military presence in the middle east and our unfair stance towards the Palestinian people, he was met with resounding boos from from the Conservative crowd.
[update: here’s the video clip]
How DARE a Republican candidate suggest that American foreign policy is anything but benevolent, wise and Godly.
However, while the crowd may have been on Santorum’s side, the facts themselves are not…at least not according to leading US intelligent analysts:
In 2004, Donald Rumsfeld directed the Defense Science Board Task Force to review the impact which the administration’s policies — specifically the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — were having on Terrorism and Islamic radicalism. They issued a report in September, 2004 (.pdf) and it vigorously condemned the Bush/Cheney approach as entirely counter-productive, i.e., as worsening the Terrorist threat those policies purportedly sought to reduce. It’s well worth reviewing their analysis, as it has as much resonance now as it did then (h/t sysprog).
The Task Force began by noting what are the “underlying sources of threats to America’s national security“: namely, the “negative attitudes” towards the U.S. in the Muslim world and “the conditions that create them” (click images to enlarge):
And what most exacerbates anti-American sentiment, and therefore the threat of Terrorism? “American direct intervention in the Muslim world” — through our “one sided support in favor of Israel”; support for Islamic tyrannies in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia; and, most of all, “the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan“:
Let’s just repeat that: “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies.” And nothing fuels — meaning: helps — the Islamic radicals’ case against the U.S. more than ongoing American occupation of Muslim countries:
For that reason, “a year and a half after going to war in Iraq, Arab/Muslim anger [had] intensified” and the war had thus “weakened support for the war on terrorism and undermined U.S. credibility worldwide” (see. 14-15). Similarly, as of six months into his presidency, Obama had vastly improved perceptions of the U.S. among Western Europeans but — as Der Spiegel put it– he “has actually made little progress in the regions where the US faces its biggest foreign policy problems,” particularly the Muslim world (other than Indonesia, where Obama spent part of his childhood, and Egypt, where Obama spoke).
We can’t combat Terrorism by sending our military into Muslim countries. Doing that only exacerbates the problem, since it inevitably intensifies the anti-American sentiment that enables and fuels the terrorist threat in the first place. All of that is so basic. It’s been empirically proven over and over during the last decade. It’s not Noam Chomsky or Al Jazeera pointing out these basic truths, but instead, a 2004 Task Force handpicked by Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon to review and assess the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism efforts, principally the wars they were waging in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Undoubtedly, there is some small faction of “Islamic radicals” principally motivated by religious fervor which will likely hate the West regardless of what it does, but — as the 2004 Pentagon-commissioned Report found — their most potent weapons are American policies that inflame anti-American hatred in the Muslim world, beginning with ongoing wars waged by the U.S. military in Muslim countries. That’s so self-evident it shouldn’t require a report to document it, but since it seems to, here’s a very credible report that does exactly that.
It’s easy to point fingers at a caricature enemy and blame everything on “them”…but for decades Ron Paul has been the voice of the remaining fingers on our hand pointing back at us, urging us to re-examine the popular–dare I say, “patriotic”?–assumption that America is righteous and our history of military expansion and nation-building bears NO measure of responsibility for the hatred we’ve garnered around the world.
The supreme irony in Santorum’s chiding of Ron Paul is that more active duty military personnel agree with Ron Paul than all other candidates combined!
So, the men and women around the world who are actually staking their lives on US foreign policy OVERWHELMINGLY support the one candidate who NeoConservatives demonize and dismiss as “unpatriotic”…
This is one of the many reasons why regardless of whether or not he receives the Republican nomination, Ron Paul will get my vote (again) in 2012.