Paul Offers Giuliani Foreign Policy 'Reading Assignment'

Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:32pm EDT
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( - Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) Thursday repeated his challenge to debate foreign policy with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and offered Giuliani a "reading assignment" of books examining U.S. policy toward the Middle East.

The Republican presidential hopefuls briefly sparred over foreign policy during the Republican debate in South Carolina on May 15. Giuliani criticized Paul for suggesting that U.S. policies in the Middle East contributed to Osama bin Laden's motivation in orchestrating the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

"Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years," Paul said during the debate.

Giuliani interrupted Paul's comment to make a point of his own. "That's really an extraordinary statement," he said. "As someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq, I don't think I've ever heard that before, and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11."

In a post-debate interview on Fox News, Giuliani compared Paul's comments to conspiracy theories about Sept. 11 and said it "makes no sense."

But during a news conference in Washington, D.C., Thursday, Paul said he was "giving Mr. Giuliani a reading assignment." He recommended that Giuliani read four books that outline causes for al Qaeda's hatred of the United States, including the 9/11 Commission Report and Chalmers Johnson's 2000 book, "Blowback."

The night of the debate, Paul expressed a desire to debate Giuliani directly on foreign policy. Thursday, he told Cybercast News Service that he still wants to debate the former mayor but admitted it was "not likely" to happen.

Paul said his reading list backs up his position on foreign policy.

"The whole notion that our foreign policy has nothing to do with [terrorism] and that Giuliani has never heard of this is preposterous," he said. "Even the 9/11 investigation report supports my position that there is blowback, that there are consequences."

In its analysis of the motivating factors behind the al Qaeda attacks, the 9/11 Commission, formally known as The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, noted that bin Laden "stresses grievances against the United States widely shared in the Muslim world."

"He (bin Laden) inveighed against the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam's holiest sites. He spoke of the suffering of the Iraqi people as a result of sanctions imposed after the Gulf War," the commission report stated.

Paul also cited a 2003 Vanity Fair interview with Paul Wolfowitz in which the then-deputy defense secretary said that U.S. troop presence in Saudi Arabia had been a "huge recruiting device for al Qaeda."

"In fact, if you look at bin Laden, one of his principle grievances was the presence of so-called crusader forces on the holy land," Wolfowitz told Vanity Fair.

Paul said that addressing the grievances expressed by terrorist leaders like bin Laden could reduce the motivation for terrorist actions against the United States and its citizens.

"They need something really forceful to get somebody to commit suicide terrorism," Paul said, adding that bin Laden and other terrorists would be "disappointed if we leave" Iraq because it would remove a major recruiting device.

"He distorted what I believe," Paul said of Giuliani, criticizing his opponent for what he viewed as a personal attack. "We just need to get away from the demagoguing and the challenging [of] patriotism.

"The issue is foreign policy. It's not patriotism," Paul said, calling it "ridiculous" and "preposterous" to characterize his statement as placing blame for the attacks on the victims.

In a statement e-mailed to Cybercast News Service , Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella said "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 absurd."

"It is extraordinary and reckless to claim that the United States invited the attacks on September 11th," Comella stated. She did not respond to Paul's invitation to debate Giuliani on foreign policy issues.

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