My 7-year-old understands “blowback” – so why can’t Rudy Giuliani or Rick Santorum?

In the GOP primary debates, with the exception of Ron Paul, it seems to be anathema to discuss how blowback was a major cause of 9/11. This is as much the case in 2011 with the likes of Rick Santorum as it was with Rudy Giuliani in 2007, with their ignoring of both a key finding of the 9/11 Commission and of CIA analysis. Blowback was a predictable response to US foreign policy decisions largely relating to the Middle East, be it support of autocratic regimes in Arab countries, military bases in Saudi Arabia or disregard for the plight of the Palestinians. One would assume that obliviousness to blowback betrays an ignorance that would be unthinkable for a President tasked with making the biggest decisions of state. I doubt that to be truly the case with a great many blowback deniers, the likes of Giuliani and Santorum are clearly smart guys, rather they are simply continuing their pandering as a matter of rote. Anything to appeal to the base to try and win the primary, no matter how outrageously ignorant they sound. But it doesn’t really work with the swing voter does it?
In talking to my 7-year-old about bullying, I asked him how he would respond. He said he would tell the bully to stop. “But what if he doesn’t stop?” “I’d tell my teacher.” “But what if that doesn’t help?” Long pause. “I’d trick him.” At 7 he knows that if you try to fight a bully fair and square, it ain’t going to happen and you will very likely get pummeled. You may deck him, but you’ll likely get jumped soon thereafter. Growing up in darkest Lanarkshire taught me that, but I was super impressed by my sons answer. “I’d trick him”. He is clearly way smarter than I was at the same age!
Is it really so hard for people to understand that people don’t attack us because “we are free” but because we are bullies? That we are letting ourselves be tricked into responding in ways harmful to our national security and ultimately self-destructive? That we are bankrupting ourselves, mortgaging our children’s future, polarizing our society and, by casting the Bill of Right onto its funeral pyre, destroying what makes America truly exceptional? Sure, I supported our response after the violence and fatalities of 9/11. But after we overthrew the Taliban we engaged in a militaristic adventurism that has fuelled further blowback. We let ourselves be tricked. After all, the primary goal of terrorism is not to kill as many people as possible. Rather, it’s to change the political environment in which the terrorists and their supporters are seeking to function. Be it the Stern Gang, IRA/INLA or Al Qaeda. This is not a difficult concept to understand. Look around the world today, and how America is regarded. With all the billions we expend on so-called national security and defense we routinely walk into traps that a 7-year-old can understand.
No blowback denier for me. I do not want a Commander-in-Chief that is a dupe and unable to grasp even the simplest manifestations of blowback, let alone to ultimately have the authority to one day send my son and daughter off to war. I do not want a President that is a blatant panderer that would blithely expend our strength on militaristic adventurism. I will never vote for such a candidate in 2012. I do want a President that recognizes the magnitude of the mess we are in and stops this madness.

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