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article imageOp-Ed: Who is really blaming America for 9/11?

By Michael Billy     Sep 16, 2011 in Politics
At Monday's CNN Tea Party debate (video above), Rick Santorum accused Ron Paul of posting an article on his website that blamed the United States for the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
Santorum then did his best Giuliani impression and made the following accusation towards Paul: "You said it was our actions that brought about the actions of 9/11. Now, Congressman Paul, that is irresponsible… We are not being attacked, and we were not attacked, because of our actions. We were attacked, as Newt talked about, because we have a civilization that is antithetical to the civilization of the jihadists and they want to kill us because of who we are and what we stand for..."
The article on Paul's website that Santorum referred to quoted Former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit Michael Scheuer who said, “Our growing number of Islamist enemies are motivated to attack us because of what the U.S. government does in the Muslim world and not because of how Americans live and think here at home.”
Paul's on stage rebuttal pointed to a similar fact saying, "Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda have been explicit and they wrote and said that, 'we attacked America because you had bases on our holy land in Saudi Arabia, you do not give Palestinians a fair treatment…"
At that point, Paul was interrupted by a chorus of boos (and some applause), as he continued to explain the motives for terrorist attacks.
There are the two positions that seem to exist within the Republican. Boiled down, one side believes that the terrorists hate 'us' for 'our' freedoms. The other believes they hate 'us' because of 'our' military interventions.
So I ask, "Which side is actually blaming America?"
After all, both sides seem to agree that the ultimate blame rests with the terrorists. They disagree, however, on the causes of that terrorism. They disagree on the catalyst that drove the terrorists to take such extreme actions.
To answer the question we have to look at what defines 'us' and 'our.' For instance, when it is said that "they hate 'us' for 'our' freedom" it is clear that 'us' is defined as the American people.
However, when it is said that "they hate 'us' because of 'our' military intervention" it is clear that 'us' is defined as the United States government.
Looked at from this perspective, it is clear that Santorum is saying that the American people are the ones who caused the attacks. He is 'blaming' the American people and the American way of life. Paul, on the other hand, is 'blaming' the government and it's policies in the Middle East.
This is a bit of a rhetorical failure on Paul's part. Anytime he - or anyone who advocates a less aggressive foreign policy - is accused of 'blaming America' he should immediately point out that he is not blaming the American people. Reframe the debate. Point out that the terrorism is the fault of the jihadists and the government. Americans are just caught in the middle.
Of course, there is one more very important distinction between the views of Santorum and Paul. The former is a passive view, the latter active. That is, since Santorum believes they hate a nebulous American way of life - and Americans can't very well change that way of life - then the government and military must fight and exterminate those people. There is no other choice because no one in America is doing anything that could ever be viewed in the wrong.
Paul, on the other hand, looks at the evidence. He listens to people, like Michael Scheuer, who were part of the CIA and can comprehend the motivations of the terrorists. Paul understands the enemy and knows that they do not like the United States government's (not 'our,' the government's) presence in the Middle East. He knows that the United States government is actively doing something that the jihadists despise and that is intervening in their politics.
To make this point clear, Paul often asks something like, "How would you feel if the Chinese government had bases all over the United States? You wouldn't like it at all." And, indeed, he made a similar point at Monday's debate and was cheered by the crowd.
The good thing about Paul's view - besides that it rests on evidence and not pandering - is that there is actually a solution that doesn't require a never ending, money sucking, civil liberties stealing, War on Terrorism and that solution is to stop intervening into Middle Eastern politics.
As President Thomas Jefferson said in his inaugural address, "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Ron paul, 911, September 11, Rick Santorum, 2012 presidential election
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