Ironically, Paul even contradicted himself: minutes earlier, when discussing the need to cut back on the military, he complained that we had a military presence in 130 countries — bringing to mind the question: why haven’t these countries lashed out?

But what’s worse is Paul’s naivety — that he would actually swallow and regurgitate verbatim the propaganda al-Qaeda has been dishing for years: thus “Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda have been explicit — they have been explicit, and they wrote and said”; and “I’m trying to get you to understand what the motive was behind the bombing.”

Did it never occur to the congressman that al-Qaeda could be, um, lying? Had he bothered to juxtapose al-Qaeda’s propaganda to the West — which indeed does amount to blaming U.S. foreign policy for their terrorism — with the other things “they wrote and said,” he would have learned their ultimate motives.

For example, for all his talk that U.S. “occupation” is the heart of the problem, shortly after the 9/11 strikes, Osama bin Laden wrote to fellow Muslims:

Our talks with the infidel West and our conflict with them ultimately revolve around one issue — one that demands our total support, with power and determination, with one voice — and it is: Does Islam, or does it not, force people by the power of the sword to submit to its authority corporeally if not spiritually? Yes. There are only three choices in Islam: [1] either willing submission [conversion]; [2] or payment of the jizya, through physical, though not spiritual, submission to the authority of Islam; [3] or the sword — for it is not right to let him [an infidel] live. The matter is summed up for every person alive: Either submit, or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die. (The Al Qaeda Reader, p. 42)

This medieval threefold choice, then — conversion, subjugation, or the sword — is the ultimate source of conflict, not U.S foreign policy (see also “Reciprocal Treatment or Religious Obligation,” which compares al-Qaeda’s messages to the West with its internal messages to Muslims, documenting all the contradictions).

The good news is that, if Paul is ignorant and naive regarding al-Qaeda and its motives, based on all the loud booing he received, increasing numbers of Americans are not.