"Our commercial interests and foreign policy are no longer separate...as bad as it is that average Americans are forced to subsidize such a system, we additionally are placed in greater danger because of our arrogant policy of bombing nations that do not submit to our wishes. This generates hatred directed toward America, and exposes us to a greater threat of terrorism, since this is the only vehicle our victims can use to retaliate against a powerful military state...the cost in terms of lost liberties and unnecessary exposure to terrorism is difficult to assess, but in time, it will become apparent to all of us that foreign interventionalism is of no benefit to American citizens, but instead is a threat to our liberties."
-Congressman Ron Paul 01/00
That's right. The above quote is not a recent "attack on Bush" or even a liberal Bush-basher hoping for a presidential nomination. Congressman Paul is a Republican representative from Texas, and he said this over a full year before the 9/11 tragedy. Read it again. Creepy isn't it?
Had these words been said by anyone since the 9/11 attack, that person could expect to be called all sorts of bad things. But what do you call a person that says it a year and nine months before 9/11? Visionary? Psychic? No need to invoke the supernatural here, Representative Paul used something much more mundane (albeit rare); common sense.
Too bad no one listened. Too bad thousands of innocent people had to die. Too bad no one listens even now. This is perhaps the worst tragedy of all, because until we start listening, these sorts of things will still be attempted, and Rep. Paul's prophecy of lost liberties will continue to become our reality. Laws that "combat terrorism" in practice do nothing of the sort, and succeed only in eroding our liberties and increasing the number and resolve of those that would do us harm. Do not forget that these people expect to die. Keeping this in mind really provides perspective on their situation. They are going to try. They will literally die trying. And there are a lot of them. Far too many to suppose that the federal government can bully enough nations and erode enough of our rights as Americans that eventually the War on Terror will be won and we can once again walk our streets without fear of anti-American extremists. That day will never come. We are only making more enemies as the days go by. We are only adding to the number of people that are willing to sacrifice their own lives in order to strike at the heart of this nation. The more we bully the world, the more we instigate hostilities toward other nations, the more this will increase. It is not the answer to our problem; it is what caused it in the first place. The current theory that by increasing this activity we can decrease these terrorist attempts is ridiculous.
When polled, Americans indicated that they were willing to suspend temporarily some of their liberties in order to ensure their safety. Whether or not such a stance could be considered patriotic is not necessarily important. Why not? Because this bullying and right-robbing does not eliminate the problem. Your liberties are compromised for nothing. Capture one terrorist, 10 rise up to take his place. Of course, you can continue to blindly follow the spin and rhetoric. If you are one of these types, you are likely saying "Bring 'em all on, we'll take 'em out!" But where does this end? You will never take them all out. Isn't the end goal supposed to be the achievement of a degree of peace that will allow the restoration of our liberties?
The problem is not solved by catching all the bad guys. The problem is solved by figuring out why the bad guys hate us. They don't "hate our freedoms". They aren't "jealous". To say such things reflects ignorance in the extreme. People do not decide to spend enormous amounts of money and time planning elaborate schemes to attack virtually impenatrable countries for such trifling reasons.
If we listen to Ron Paul as of late, it will be found that he would have us believe more dire consequences ahead. How many will have to come true before the alarm clock goes off and this country finally wakes up? Patriotism does not equal Bush-worship any more than it equals Bush-bashing. Patriotism is recognizing, defending, and being proud to live in a nation that will allow both stances. Only when there is one side left will tyranny reign.
We all want to eliminate terrorism. We all want freedom and liberty. The matters of debate are different philosophical means to commonly desired ends. Remembering that we all only want to find the best possible solution, perhaps we can unravel this mess that we as a nation have created for ourselves by our unreasonableness with each other.