Plenty of conservatives in America seem to think this was the year of Ron Paul, something that may sadly be true. The Tea Party movement and the return to “traditional” conservative values in the Republican Party have boosted Paul’s presence on the national stage. I only hope that he continues to remind Americans just how irrational his worldview really is in the coming year. To Paul, Islamic terrorists exist because we are “occupiers,” a claim so ridiculous it warrants further denunciation.
Paul states: “One thing that is missing here is never asking the question what is the motive? He said why he was -- he did it. He said it was because we bombed Yemen two weeks ago. That was his motive.” So according to Ron Paul and his like minded travelers, the attempted terrorist attack on the NWA flight was a response to a western policy in the Muslim world. What I want to know is why he would assume this? Paul takes at face value the terrorist’s statement that he attempted to carry out the attack as a response to recent bombings in Yemen. As Christopher Hitchens pointed out in his dialogue with Robert Wright, Islamists and like minded terrorists may claim their actions are a response to foreign influence in said country, but there is little reason to believe they would not have carried out the same act in the absence of such a condition. The Taliban and al-Qaeda were carrying out atrocities on the population of Afghanistan long before a foreign force was in the country. They may say that attacks on Afghan civilians are now a response to military occupation, but their previous actions without that existing variable undercuts their assertion. Al-Qaeda was attacking civilians and military personal around the world long before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, something missing from Paul’s analysis.
More importantly, and this has been said before by individuals more intelligent than I, why should we allow our foreign policy to be dictated by such murderous elements? Even if Paul is correct, and the reason the attempted NWA attack was a direct response to American air attacks on terrorist training facilities in Yemen, what would be achieved by bowing to the demands of terrorist organizations? Again, these organizations and individuals were operating before the War on Terror. If it wasn’t the bombings in Yemen, it would be the airstrikes in Somalia. If it wasn’t Somalia, it would be Gaza. If it wasn’t Gaza, it would be minarets in Switzerland, and so on. Those willing to blow up an airplane full of innocent people or target a marketplace full of workers and civilians are not operating on the rational foundation Paul and his like-minded kin attribute to their actions. To bend our policy to meet the demands of fascists and theocrats is to make a mockery of our commitment to basic liberal principles, and legitimizes these groups as legitimate players on the international political stage.