September 13, 2013

On the 9/11 anniversary this week, former Texas congressman Ron Paul put out the sort of vile commentary for which he is infamous. On his Facebook page he proclaimed: “We’re supposed to believe that the perpetrators of 9/11 hated us for our freedom and goodness. In fact, that crime was blowback for decades of US intervention in the Middle East. And the last thing we needed was the government’s response: more wars, a stepped-up police and surveillance state, and drones.”


Sen. Rand Paul, left, and his father, Ron, in Iowa in 2011 (Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)

This is a monstrous lie. And all the conservatives and libertarians who voted for him for president should consider the true views of the man who was the object of their affections.

When asked about the remarks Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who fancies himself as a more sophisticated version of his father, could not bring himself to condemn the remarks. Instead he responded: “What I would say is that, you know there are a variety of reasons and when someone attacks you it’s not so much important what they say their reasons are. The most important thing is that we defend ourselves from attack. And whether or not some are motivated by our presence overseas, I think some are also motivated whether we’re there or not. So I think there’s a combination of reasons why we’re attacked.”

This is grotesque, and all the proof one needs to see that the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree. Well, Rand Paul’s admirers might say, you can’t expect him to repudiate his father. This is nonsense for three reasons. First, he can repudiate the views without repudiating his father. Second, are we to have leader who can’t object to nutty things his father or others’ around him say (recall the Southern Avenger)? It is impossible to know whether he has sympathies for such extremist notions or whether he simply lacks the judgment to discern what is beyond the pale. Rand Paul sure seemed oblivious to the offensiveness of the comments. And finally, the episode, like the Southern Avenger scandal, evidenced no sign he was personally repulsed by radical views. His reaction to the 9/11 comments was a telling indicator of the noxious brew he has soaked up his entire life. Frankly, the 9/11 sort of talk likely doesn’t seem out of the ordinary; he’s heard it for years.

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton who has formed a PAC and super PAC to elevate national security as a key issue for voters (and to combat the right-wing trend toward isolationism) doesn’t think Rand Paul should get away so easily. He says, “Ron Paul has made similar comments before — there is no way they can be brushed aside.” He argues the media has an obligation to put Rand Paul, a potential presidential candidate, on “the media griddle until he either repudiates Ron’s comment or not. The question is very simple: ‘Do you agree or not?’  And the answer is very simple: ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’”

However, quite apart from Ron Paul’s statement, Rand Paul made clear his own views, which are objectionable and dangerous. He announced that “there are a variety of reasons and when someone attacks you it’s not so much important what they say their reasons are.” This is the Obama mindset, the pre-9/-11 mindset which denies and ignores the nature of our enemy, radical jihadism. It pretends that we need not understand or recognize the source of the animus toward the West and that, well, if we give no more offense surely they will go away. This is especially problematic given how badly we’ve gotten off track in the war against Islamic terror of late.

Al-Qaeda is once again on the rise, as this report explains:

Throughout the war on terror, both the Bush and Obama administrations have sought core-focused campaigns against terrorist leaders, operating on theories that removing prominent figures would cause the network’s infrastructure to collapse.

However, after the deaths of thousands of al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, the terrorist network continues to gain traction throughout the Middle East.

“Our strategy has been very focused on certain groups and certain individuals, and the rest of the network has been permitted, to some degree, to prosper,” Katherine Zimmerman, author of “The al Qaeda Network: A New Framework for Defining the Enemy,” said in an interview.

The American Enterprise Institute report found that local elements have largely been ignored, allowing them to grow and gain influence. Vacuums of power in the wake of the Arab Spring has given an opening for groups such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) to expand their reach.

The Middle East is convulsed by Sunni terrorists and Shia fundamentalist sponsors of terror. To say we have no idea why we are attacked or the motives of our enemies is Obamaism on steroids.

In this regard Rand Paul is in a class by himself. Others may ape his aversion to anti-terrorism tactics like the National Security Agency program. Some will try to mimic his aversion to any conflict, including embrace of “containment” to deal with Iran. And many others foolishly embrace his notion we can cut defense in a dangerous world. But no one on the national stage buys into the idea that the motive behind 9/11 is unknown. His refusal to recognize the face of evil and the nature of our enemy, what former prosecutor Andy McCarthy calls “willful blindness,” should, and I suspect will, render him a fringe figure, just as unacceptable to a broad part of the electorate as was his father. And if by some miracle he should become the GOP nominee, there will be millions and millions who vote for a Democrat for president for the first time in 2016.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.