No Ron, 9/11 is Not Our Fault

In recent years I had found myself warming up to the intrepid representative from Texas, Ron Paul.  His rigorous devotion to fiscal restraint and the Constitution preceded the Tea Party movement, and his ability to motivate young people toward the cause of liberty is endearing.  But for all the good that Dr. Paul has done in helping shift the focus of the Republican Party back to one of limited, smaller government, his fervent allegiance to a radical brand of libertarianism is nonetheless concerning.

Consider the dust-up he had with former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum at the recent Republican presidential debate.  On the day after the 10th anniversary of the horrific attacks of September 11th, 2001, Ron Paul let loose with his mindless trope about how interventionist U.S. foreign policy was what brought the vile hatred of radical Muslims to our shores. 

Regardless of whether you agree with Paul (as I do) that our military shouldn't be spread all over the globe, or whether you agree with Paul (as I do) that nation-building is a quagmire waiting to happen, the idea that a few decades worth of American imperialism (as Paul would call it) provoked radical Islamists into violent actions they would not have otherwise taken is beyond absurd.

For him to even intimate as much reveals that Paul's rigid devotion to libertarian dogma (including strict military isolationism) arrests his ability to consider any other cause of anti-American aggression beyond "we brought it on ourselves."  It also demonstrates an embarrassing lack of understanding of the danger radical Islam poses to Western civilization.  We already have one president who suffers from such delusion; we certainly don't need another.

In a column posted to his website, Paul suggests that the "real motivation behind the September 11 attacks" was American occupation of foreign, Muslim lands.  Even if we grant that Muslim jihadists do not distinguish between American military presence and "occupation," this argument falls woefully short in diagnosing the problem. 

Islamic scholar Ibn Warraq explained why, observing, "It is extraordinary the amount of people who have written about the 11th of September without once mentioning Islam.  We must take seriously what the Islamists say to understand their motivation, [that] it is the divinely ordained duty of all Muslims to fight in the literal sense until man-made law has been replaced by God's law, the Sharia, and Islamic law has conquered the entire world."

That is precisely what al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden conveyed in his infamous 2002 open letter to the American people, where he wrote, "What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?  The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam...It is the religion of Jihad in the way of Allah so that Allah's Word and religion reign Supreme."  Of course, "reigning supreme" means an international, worldwide caliphate where Sharia is forced upon all resisting non-Muslim nations.

Paul's assessment of the cause of 9/11, then, is incredibly short-sighted.  This war against Western civilization is something that has been going on for a thousand years -- long before American troops ever occupied a square inch of the Middle East.  And withdrawing every single soldier from that part of the world will not pacify those who believe it to be their historic, divinely inspired quest to subjugate all infidels under the banner of jihad.

If Ron Paul struggles to grasp that, he should consider the words of Mullah Mustapha Kreikar, the leader of a radical Islamist group known as Ansar al-Islam, who confirmed, "The [Muslim] resistance is not only a reaction to the American invasion, it is part of the continuous Islamic struggle since the collapse of the caliphate."  The operative words there are "continuous Islamic struggle"; words not conditioned upon the location of American military personnel.  It is sad that a man who speaks so eloquently about the benefits of human liberty like Dr. Paul does fails miserably to acknowledge the existential threat it faces from global jihad. 

As much as Dr. Paul may firmly believe that U.S. foreign policy is responsible for the merciless slaughter of those innocent people ten years ago, he is embarrassingly misguided.  Their murder had little to do with our global military presence, and much to do with the words of the Hadith of Bukhari, the text from which the hijackers drew their inspiration: "I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."

As long as our country continues allowing for the rights of conscience and freedom of religious expression, we will remain the targets of the radical Islamists who despise such liberty.  Our next president must understand that.

Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana.  Email, visit, or like him on Facebook