Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rudy's Reading List

U.S. Representative Ron Paul, who stood his ground despite a verbal dressing-down by fellow presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani in the South Carolina debate on May 15, has issued a list of books he recommends to Giuliani (and, by implication, to others) with regard to how U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has led to unwanted and unintended consequences.

In a news release issued by his campaign today, Congressman Paul recommends several books that support his reading of recent history -- including the published findings of the presidentially-appointed 9/11 Commission.

Here is the full list:

Johnson, Chalmers. Blowback. Henry Holt and Company: New York, NY. 2000.

Pape, Robert A. Dying to Win. Random House: New York, NY, 2005.

Scheuer, Michael. Imperial Hubris. Potomac Books: Washington, DC, 2004.

National Commission on Terrorist Attacks. The 9-11 Commission Report, Final Edition. Barnes & Noble Publishing: New York, NY, 2006
The campaign news release says:
"I hope Rudy Giuliani reads these books from top foreign policy experts," said campaign chairman Kent Snyder. "We have also included some Cliffs Notes in case Mr. Giuliani is too busy giving $100,000 speeches on national security."
Unfortunately, Giuliani apparently thinks he is fully educated, according to a campaign spokeswoman:
Mayor Giuliani said it best -- it is extraordinary and reckless to claim that the United States invited the attacks on September 11th," [Maria] Comella said. "And to further declare Rudy Giuliani needs to be educated on September 11th when millions of people around the world saw him dealing with these terrorist attacks firsthand is just as absurd."
That retort rather misses the point. Nobody doubts that Mayor Giuliani responded with swiftness and courage when the 9/11 attacks happened. His response to that event helped Americans rediscover a mayor who, through fiscal discipline and force of will, converted New York from an economic basket case to a vibrant, safe city that its residents and leaders can point to with pride.

But it says nothing about whether "America's Mayor" has studied the causes -- direct and indirect -- of those attacks. To say "I was there" is not to say "I know why it happened." Observing a solar eclipse does not make a man an astronomer, if he still thinks that the sun is being eaten by a snake, rather than being obscured by the moon.

There is bound to be disagreement among scholars, policymakers, journalists, and average-but-informed citizens about issues like this. The disagreements arise through discussion and debate, and appear frequently in the popular press, on talking-head TV programs, in documentary films, in the blogosphere, and in academic publications. Giuliani's remark during the Fox News debate about Ron Paul's view -- that "I don't think i've heard that before" -- indicates that he has not been paying attention to the discussion of the past six years.

Now he's got a chance to catch up. There is plenty of time for reading -- or listening to audio books -- on the campaign bus.

1 comment:

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