Martin: Paul's 9/11 explanation deserves to be debated
By Roland S. Martin
(CNN) -- Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was declared the winner
of Tuesday's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, largely
for his smack down of Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who suggested that
America's foreign policy contributed to the destruction on September
Paul, who is more of a libertarian than a Republican, was trying to
offer some perspective on the pitfalls of an interventionist policy by
the American government in the affairs of the Middle East and other
"Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attack us
because we've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years,"
That set Giuliani off.
"That's really an extraordinary statement," said Giuliani. "As someone
who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the
attack because we were attacking Iraq; I don't think I've ever heard
that before and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for
As the crowd applauded wildly, Giuliani demanded that Paul retract his
Paul tried to explain the process known as "blowback" -- which is the
result of someone else's action coming back to afflict you -- but the
audience drowned him out as the other candidates tried to pounce on him.
After watching all the network pundits laud Giuliani, it struck me
that they must be the most clueless folks in the world.
First, Giuliani must be an idiot to not have heard Paul's rationale
before. That issue has been raised countless times in the last six
years by any number of experts.
Second, when we finish with our emotional response, it would behoove
us to actually think about what Paul said and make the effort to
understand his rationale.
Granted, Americans were severely damaged by the hijacking of U.S.
planes, and it has resulted in a worldwide fight against terror. Was
it proper for the United States to respond to the attack? Of course!
But should we, as a matter of policy, and moral decency, learn to
think and comprehend that our actions in one part of the world could
very well come back to hurt us, or, as Paul would say, blow back in
our face? Absolutely. His real problem wasn't his analysis, but how it
came out of his mouth.
What has been overlooked is that Paul based his position on the
effects of the 1953 ouster by the CIA of Iranian Prime Minister
An excellent account of this story is revealed in Stephen Kinzer's
alarming and revealing book, "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime
Change from Hawaii to Iraq," where he writes that Iran was
establishing a government close to a democracy. But Mossadegh wasn't
happy that the profit from the country's primary resource -- oil --
was not staying in the country.
Instead, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now known British Petroleum,
or BP) was getting 93 percent of the profits. Mossadegh didn't like
that, and wanted a 50-50 split. Kinzer writes that that didn't sit too
well with the British government, but it didn't want to use force to
protect its interests. But their biggest friend, the United States,
didn't mind, and sought to undermine Mossadegh's tenure as president.
After all kinds of measures that disrupted the nation, a coup was
financed and led by President Dwight Eisenhower's CIA, and the Shah of
Iran was installed as the leader. We trained his goon squads, thus
angering generations of Iranians for meddling in that nation's affairs.
As Paul noted, what happened in 1953 had a direct relationship to the
takeover of the U.S. Embassy in 1979. We viewed that as terrorists who
dared attack America. They saw it as ending years of oppression at the
hands of the ruthless U.S.-backed Shah regime.
As Americans, we believe in forgiving and forgetting, and are terrible
at understanding how history affects us today. We are arrogant in not
recognizing that when we benefit, someone else may suffer. That will
lead to resentment and anger, and if suppressed, will boil over one day.
Does that provide a moral justification for what the terrorists did on
Of course not. But we should at least attempt to understand why.
Think about it. Do we have the moral justification to explain the
killings of more than 100,000 Iraqis as a result of this war? Can we
defend the efforts to overthrow other governments whose actions we
perceived would jeopardize American business interests?
The debate format didn't give Paul the time to explain all of this.
But I'm confident this is what he was saying. And yes, we need to
understand history and how it plays a vital role in determining
At some point we have to accept the reality that playing big brother
to the world -- and yes, sometimes acting as a bully by wrongly
asserting our military might -- means that Americans alive at the time
may not feel the effects of our foreign policy, but their innocent
Even the Bible says that the children will pay for the sins of their
Roland S. Martin is a CNN contributor and a talk-show host for WVON-AM
WORLD VIEW NEWS SERVICE
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