Texas Governor Rick Perry has predictably flunked his class in Senator Rand Paul’s foreign policy of aggressive self-defense. He scored a zero on his July 11, 2014 opinion column in the Washington Post titled “Isolationist policies make the threat of terrorism even greater,” replete with mischaracterizations or distortions of Senator Paul’s foreign policy.
The unschooled governor salutes self-destructive global attacks by the United States in defense of foreign nations or foreign citizens. For example, intervening in Iraq to defend religious bigots or dictators like Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Mr. Perry’s indiscriminate bellicosity would create terrorists against the United States in places where they do not now exist — a strategy indistinguishable from stupidly poking a hornet’s nest with a bayonet.
Contrary to the Texan Governor, Senator Paul is concentrated on what is happening in Iraq. He discerns a need for self-defense against terrorism attacks on the United States from any quarter — including the Islamic State (IS). Unlike Mr. Perry, however, Senator Paul would refrain from dispatching military trainers or advisors and drones to Iraq on a fool’s errand to rescue a dysfunctional government.
A page of history here is worth volumes of logic.
In the 1990s, Osama bin Laden issued unambiguous fatwas. If the United States refused to dismantle its military bases in Saudi Arabia (which were superfluous to American security and were closed in 2003), Al Qaeda would attack. The United States foolishly insisted on provoking jihadists by remaining in the land of their holy places, and then came 9/11.
The scholarship of Robert Pape, Director of the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Terrorism, confirms the lesson of bin Laden: virtually every terrorist suicide attack is provoked by foreign military occupation. Pape demonstrated that “the deployment of American combat forces [account] for 92% … of all the 1,833 suicide terrorist attacks around the world [from 2004 to 2009].”
In contrast to Mr. Perry’s juvenile swagger, the aggressive self-defense policy championed by Senator Rand Paul would strengthen the shield of the United States. It would upgrade vigilance abroad, and implement forward-looking cyber and missile defense systems without triggering terrorist attacks occasioned by reckless uses of the sword.
Aggressive self-defense also exploits the invariable internecine rivalries that characteristically plague our adversaries. In Iraq, for instance, the ISIS alliance with secular Sunnis against al-Maliki is already fraying. As reported in the New York Times on July 13, 2014, “the marriages of convenience formed among ISIS and Baathists, Sunni nationalists, and Sunni tribal groups and Sunni Jihadists to fight a common enemy — the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki — are coming under strain.” The centuries-old Islamic rivalry between Sunni and Shiite can also be manipulated to stifle or arrest ISIS thousands of miles from American shores.
The mindless military intervention bugled by Governor Perry would unwittingly unify Sunnis against the United States. Serbians only rallied to war criminal Slobodan Milosevic when the United States was raining down bombs on Belgrade. Further, the Iraqis Perry would assist are uniformly antagonistic towards Israel.
Chinese General and military strategist Sun Tzu instructed, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” Senator Paul understands, but Governor Perry does not.
Mr. Perry also flunked his history test on President Ronald Reagan’s nuanced foreign policy. President Reagan withdrew all United States military troops from Lebanon in 1984 when he recognized the futility of employing force to unify its endless tribal, ethnic, or religious groupings. He refrained from war with the Soviet Union over the shooting down of Korean Airlines flight 007 with 269 passengers, and negotiated an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987.
Even Michael Reagan, Ronald Reagan’s son, says that, “Rand Paul gets it.”
Mr. Perry’s foreign policy, on the other hand, resembles the blind and clumsy Cyclops seeking to catch Odysseus without result. But foreign policy is too important to be left to “Oops.”
Senator Paul’s eagle-eyed aggressive self-defense, in contrast, sharply distinguishes between genuine and exaggerated threats to national security and adjusts foreign policy accordingly. It is a direct descendant of President George Washington’s ageless farewell address. And it is what the majority of the American people crave.
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