Bret Stephens's Attack on Ron Paul
As I noted last week, I was at an event at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco to discuss a forthcoming documentary called “Is America in Retreat?” (The video should be available in a few weeks.) The inspiration for documentary is a book with the same title written by Bret Stephens, currently a New York Times columnist and before that a foreign policy columnist with the Wall Street Journal and, before that, the editor in chief at the Jerusalem Post.
The organizers told me to focus on the documentary in preparing my comments, and so that’s what I did. Since then, though, I’ve paged through Stephens’s book. He has one mention of Ron Paul. It is this:
[Rand] Paul’s foreign policy is often viewed as an effort to water down and make palatable the moonshine that is the worldview of his father, former Texas congressman Ron Paul, the libertarian who thinks America had it coming on 9/11 because we were “occupying” Muslim territories. Perhaps.
Had it coming? To say that someone “had it coming” means that the person or country deserved it. I’m sure Bret Stephens understands that. I’ve followed Ron Paul’s foreign policy statements closely over the years and I can’t find him ever saying that. I can find him often saying that the 9/11 attack occurred as a response to U.S. foreign policy. But that doesn’t mean that we “had it coming.”
Does Stephens do a similarly bad job in characterizing the views of others who disagree with him? I hope not, but I’ll see.