It is no surprise that former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul believes that the U.S. bears some responsibility, albeit indirect, for the terror attack of September 11, 2001. That belief, a staple of the far-left, animated his spoiler campaign for the GOP nomination in 2008 (less so in 2012).
It is a surprise, though, that he continues to voice that belief loudly when his son is trying to establish himself as a legitimate contender.
On Tuesday evening, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) delivered a televised rebuttal to President Barack Obama’s hapless address on Syria. It was an opportunity for Paul to seize the mantle of leadership in the floundering and divided Republican opposition, and to show what his own foreign policy views are. It was not a bad speech, though Paul focused narrowly on the question of war and declined to elaborate on his overall philosophy.
Sen. Paul has been at pains to distinguish himself from the more questionable aspects of his father’s legacy–often to the consternation of his father’s devoted fans. He visited Israel earlier this year, for example, to learn firsthand about the security threats that it faces, and to qualify his opposition to foreign aid by suggesting that Israel would be the last nation whose aid should be cut. (His father’s fans considered the visit a betrayal.)
Moreover, Paul has departed from his father’s view that the U.S. has no particular role in global leadership. He has frequently spoken out about the plight of Christians in the Middle East, for example, and has partly based his opposition to U.S. support for the Syrian rebels on concerns about their treatment of Christians. The implication is that the U.S. bears some responsibility for the rights of persecuted minorities, however distant.
Yet Sen. Paul has not explicitly rejected his father’s view that global hatred of the U.S. stems from U.S. policy. That “blowback” thesis–Ron Paul actually used the term in a 9/11 Facebook post–is how the Noam Chomsky-inspired left views U.S. entanglements in the Middle East, especially its alliance with Israel, and how much of the Muslim world justified the 9/11 attacks as well. It is a profoundly immoral view that excuses terror.
Sen. Paul has disagreed with his father in the past–over the Guantánamo Bay prison, for example (Ron favors closure, Rand does not). He has quietly kept his distance from his father’s new Institute for Peace and Prosperity, a vehicle for Ron Paul’s fringe views. But silent dissent may not be enough in the case of a view as toxic as the one Ron Paul expressed on 9/11. It is important to know that Rand Paul disagrees, as well as why.