Rarely has there been a more offensive, counterproductive, and-frankly-undemocratic and un-American idea in public politics as the suggestion by Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis to exclude Representative Ron Paul from the Republican presidential debates because of remarks he made during the South Carolina debate about the reasons behind the September 11 terrorist attacks.
My foreign policy philosophy is different from Mr. Paul's. I enthusiastically supported the first Gulf War and, with reservations, supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as well. In the latter case, we were led to believe that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and I argued for a quick intervention to depose Saddam, eliminate his WMD programs and get out. In my view, we should have immediately turned over reconstruction and nation-building to the United Nations, the Organization of the Islamic Conference or almost anyone else. I wrote a piece in support of the invasion ("Give War a Chance", ITNI) and would make the same recommendation again on the basis of what I knew at the time.
Still, I admire Representative Paul's courage and consistency and cannot understand why his comments should make him a pariah in the Republican Party. Mr. Anuzis and his ilk had better watch themselves-if they succeed in removing Mr. Paul from the debate, they would send a powerful signal not only to Democrats, but also to independents and quite a few Republicans that the Republican Party is not a big tent, that there is no place in the party for those who are skeptical of foreign interventions, and that on the most important campaign issue-Iraq-the Republican Party has lost touch with reality on the ground in both Iraq and America. Mr. Anuzis may succeed in excluding Rep. Paul from the debate, but he would likely also contribute to excluding the Republicans from the White House. . . .