Giuliani obviously won the exchange. Ron Paul was a bit awkward in crafting his explanation of blowback, but more importantly he failed to grasp the importance of striking the right emotional chord in these debates. Quoting Robert Taft isn’t enough.
That said, arguing that U.S. interventions in the Middle East have motivated people to support or even engage in anti-American terrorism is not the same as arguing that we deserve those attacks or that terrorism is justified. The Republican frontrunners argue that a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would cause terrorists to follow us home and attack us on American soil. If that were to actually happen, they would not be saying that we deserved the resulting attacks but merely that they were, in their view, a predictable consequence of U.S. policy.
There is evidence that our involvement in the Middle East has made some people living in the region angry enough to want to kill Americans. That fact doesn’t automatically dictate what our foreign policy should be, nor does it follow that if we were to leave the region tomorrow that Islamist terrorism would cease to be a problem. But it shouldn’t be beyond the pale to bring up.
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