Thursday, October 4, 2007

Ron Paul, John Paul II, and the Iraq War

Below is an article written a few months ago by a good friend of mine, Kathryn Landreneau. We tried to get it published in some other venues to no avail. So what better place to post this than Catholics for Ron Paul?


"I don't think I've ever heard that before, and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th." This was Rudy Giuliani’s scathing commentary on Ron Paul’s discussion of the Iraq situation during the Republican debate on May 15. Paul was the only candidate there who does not support U.S. involvement in Iraq, so he drew plenty of fire. Sean Hannity was another one of Paul’s attackers. During the Fox News interview after the debate, he would not allow Paul to finish his sentences, and called his ideas “immoral.” Since both Giuliani and Hannity are Catholics and Ron Paul is not, it should be safe to assume that Paul’s ideas are unacceptable to Catholics. However, to make that assumption would be nothing more than to judge a book by its cover.

During the debate, Paul outlined his opinions on Iraq quite clearly. He believes that the traditional Republican foreign policy is to avoid entanglements with other countries. Ronald Reagan, the quintessential modern republican, said that it is particularly unwise to become involved in the Middle East, because the region is so “irrational.” According to Paul, the U.S.’s continuous meddling in Iraqi affairs for the past ten years, including an occupation of their holy land in Saudi Arabia, bombings in their country, and sanctions, were part of the cause of the 9-11 attacks. Paul is not pulling these ideas out of thin air. The official 9-11 report written by the CIA says the same thing. Yet, people like Giuliani and Hannity insist on calling Paul’s assertions absurd and immoral.

Perhaps someone should ask them if they thought John Paul II was absurd and immoral. During his State of the World address in 2003, the late Pope begged world leaders not to solve the problem of terrorism in the Middle East by going to war. The way to attack terrorism, he said, is by going to its root causes. People are driven to terrorism when they are being treated unjustly: “History, in fact, shows that the recruitment of terrorists is more easily achieved in areas where human rights are trampled upon and where injustice is a part of daily life,” he said, naming Iraq as one of those countries. He explains that, among other things, it has been “sorely tried by more than 12 years of embargo.” He clarifies that none of this is an excuse for terrorist acts. However, we cannot expect terrorism to end as long as we provoke a country by going to war against it.

It’s really no surprise that people like Giuliani and Hannity are not in line with John Paul II’s opinions on Iraq. After all, despite their claims to Catholicism, each of them stands against many other things John Paul II fought for. Giuliani has repeatedly asserted that he is pro-choice. He supports government funding of abortions and has said that partial birth abortions should not be banned. As New York mayor, he pushed the city council to protect the rights of homosexual partnerships. He has been married three times; the last marriage was to a woman he had had an extramarital affair with. Besides the fact that Hannity supports Giuliani in the presidential race, further evidence of his “cafeteria Catholicism” was exposed by Fr. Thomas Euteneuer recently. In his weekly column as president of Human Life International, Euteneuer challenged Hannity for being pro-contraception. Hannity then invited Euteneuer onto his show and proceeded to treat the priest rudely, even going so far as to blame Euteneuer in part for the clergy sex abuse scandals.

Despite the fact the Ron Paul is not Catholic, the convergence of his ideas on the war with those of John Paul II is no accident. Paul highly respected the late Pope and his views on social issues. On the occasion of John Paul II’s death, Ron Paul wrote a column praising him. In it, he said, “The Pontiff would not ignore the inherent contradiction in being pro-life and pro-war, nor distort just war doctrine to endorse attacking a nation that clearly posed no threat to America.” In the column, Paul distanced himself from other political conservatives who resented the Pope’s views on the war. In this way, he shows himself to be a unique candidate in the presidential race, and one that Catholics should take notice of.

Kathryn Landreneau is a mother of two, heroically helping her husband attend Pepperdine Universtity School of Law in Pasedena, CA.