16 May 2007

Rep. Paul's Irrationality

During the Republican debate last night, Representative Paul made what some see as a huge misstep when he commented on the Iraq war and the origins of terrorism against the West. But his flaw was not just his sentiment. His own line of thinking was contradictory.

Initially, according to the transcript, Rep. Paul said, “I think Reagan was right. We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics.” This statement, in itself, is true.

Rep. Paul becomes self defeating when he attempts to rationalize terrorist’s political roots and objectives. Rep. Paul, after a rebuttal by Giuliani, says, “I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback...They [terrorists] don't come here to attack us because we're rich and we're free. They come and they attack us because we're over there.”

This statement strikes me as an attempt to use Western rationality to explain the roots of Middle Eastern problems, which is the very thing that Rep. Paul says we cannot do.

He exacerbates this disconnect in logic by claiming that Iraq’s (and other Middle Eastern countries) negative reaction to hosting US bases is a mirror image to how the US population would feel if other countries built bases inside the US. If, as Rep. Paul suggests, we cannot understand Middle Eastern politics because of its irrationality, we cannot then directly compare Middle Eastern and Western political situations or reasons for action. To do so is intellectually dishonest.


Anonymous said...

Very clever post, and at first blush appears true. However, he said they attack us because we're over there not because that's what Paul surmised, but rather that's what Osama bin Laden SAID. He was very offended that US troops were in Saudi Arabia. So, it's not contradictory.

Bob M. said...

If we are to believe the reasons given by UBL, then perhaps we should make the big stretch back to 1979 and ELF 1. (link: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/elf-one.htm)

My point in this peace is that applying Western rationale to UBL's terroristic motivations is a stretch at best. I think we can trust his stated desired outcomes, but the reasons fed to the West are pure propoganda, and what's more, they rely on Western "sensitivities" to work.