It's Not Because They Hate Who We Are





Mr. Eland is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California, and author of the books, THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. FOREIGN POLICY EXPOSED (forthcoming in October) and PUTTING "DEFENSE" BACK INTO DEFENSE POLICY.

According to one of the main findings of the 9/11 Commission, the U.S. government's failure to anticipate the grave threat from al Qaeda prior to the September 11 attacks was a failure of imagination. Since those attacks, however, the Bush administration's broad "war on terror" has exhibited nothing but imagination.

To begin with, President Bush has the chimerical and dangerously naïve notion that al Qaeda attacks America because of its freedoms--that is, the United States is attacked for what it is and not what it does. All evidence is to the contrary. Both Western and Islamic authorities on al Qaeda tell us that the group attacks the United States because of its foreign policy toward the Moslem world. Osama bin Laden believes the U.S. military's presence and actions in Islamic lands, as well as its support for corrupt governments there, are tantamount to a modern day "crusade." President Bush's disastrous use of the c-word to describe U.S. policy merely confirmed the obvious to many Moslems around the world. Repeated polls of the Islamic world demonstrate that intense anti-U.S. hatred is generated by U.S. foreign policy, not by U.S. culture, technology, or political and economic freedoms. In fact, those latter characteristics of U.S. society are often admired in Moslem lands.

The Bush administration's immediate response to 9/11--invading Afghanistan, removing the Taliban regime, and remaining to remake the country--has been widely praised in the West. But on two separate occasions, instead of risking American casualties by using U.S. Special Forces, the Bush administration imagined that the unreliable Northern Alliance could round up al Qaeda fighters trying to escape from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Osama bin Laden and other dangerous high-level members of al Qaeda escaped and have not been rounded up in almost three years. Moreover, instead of hunting down the terrorists, leaving, and threatening to return if Afghanistan again becomes a haven for al Qaeda, the continuing American nation-building program in that country--as well as U.S. support for an unrepresentative Afghan puppet government--have fueled a resurgence of al Qaeda and the Taliban. Both are conducting a defensive jihad against what they believe is an infidel occupation of Islamic territory.

Instead of fully neutralizing those who attacked us on 9/11, the Bush administration--like Don Quixote--imagined other threats that were nonexistent. The administration took advantage of the September 11 attacks to go after many "terrorist" groups around the globe that do not currently focus their attacks on the United States (for example, Arab groups that attack Israel) and countries that supported them (for example, Iraq). In fact, the administration fantasized that Iraq's involvement in sponsoring terrorism was much greater than it was. Iran and Syria are much greater state sponsors of terrorism than was Iraq. The few groups that Iraq sponsored focused their attacks on Iran and Israel.

The administration also imagined that Iraq had large stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons and an advanced nuclear program. More important, even if all of those weapons had actually existed, the administration still exaggerated the threat to the United States. In the very worst case, if Iraq had had a few working nuclear weapons, the United States could have deterred an Iraqi nuclear attack with the multitude of warheads in the most powerful nuclear arsenal on the globe--just like it did when the radical communist Mao Tse-Tung obtained nuclear weapons in the 1960s. The threat of Iraq giving nuclear, chemical or biological weapons to anti-U.S. terrorists was also grossly inflated by the Bush administration's concocting of an operational link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. In fact, Saddam Hussein would have been unlikely to give such weapons--which are expensive to research and produce--to any radical terrorist groups that could have brought him needless trouble with a superpower.

Now the administration's post-9/11 "war on terror" is bogged down in the Iraqi quagmire, predictably siphoning official effort, resources, and attention away from the critical fight against al Qaeda. But that's not the worst implication of this Quixotic and unnecessary invasion of a sovereign nation. Invading a second Islamic country has energized Osama bin Laden's zealous global defensive jihad to throw the infidel crusaders off Moslem soil. Bin Laden has been able to recruit many locally-absorbed Islamic radicals to refocus their attacks on the United States--for example, Islamic fighters in Algeria. The frequency of al Qaeda attacks since September 11 has been greater than before that fateful day. Unfortunately, the overflowing anti-U.S. hatred in the Islamic world--which has spawned those attacks and has been generated by the Bush administration's fanciful foreign policy--is not imaginary.


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Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Okay your semantical nitpick is acknowledged and agreed to. Replace "social security savings" with "budget revenues otherwise available to fund social security". I stand by the unchallenged substance of the earlier post.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


What is historically interesting about Al Qaeda, its cousins, and its offshoots, is their lack of accountability. Of course, there can be no negotiating with such monstrous criminals, but even if they were to operate less heinously, there is no quid pro quo imaginable with them.

Because "they" are an amorphous, constantly self-regenerating lunatic fringe of extremist Islamic fanatics, what "they" think about us at any given point is less important than how they replicate.

One obvious source of their renewable power is American hypocrisy: suddenly attacking the Taliban after ignoring it for years, suddenly insisting on instant regime change in Iraq after first encouraging Saddam for a decade and then tolerating him for another decade. Allowing him to slaughter Kurds and Shias in 1991 unopposed, allowing him to use our sanctions to murder and oppress Shias, then expecting those betrayed rebels to throw rose petals at our soldiers' feet in 2003, and then bombing them in 2004 when it turns out that some of their leaders are not much more democratically-minded than Saddam. Expecting only concessions from Arafat while Sharon gets carte blanche. Preaching about democracy while propping up tyranny in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Following military strategies that put thousands of foreign civilians at risk in order to slightly reduce the risk to a handful of American soldiers. Railing on and on about some countries that flout the "will of the international community" or UN resolutions, while withdrawing from our own commitments whenever that serves some new post-labor-day product launch of an American political consultant. The list of hapless stupidities goes on and on. Plenty of material with which to recruit into suicide terrorism a young male who has lost family members to a U.S. cruise missile, even if he has had plenty to eat and been spared the brainwashing of a maddrass-type school, and not been subject to foreign troops occupying his village.

None of these hypocritical policies serves any legitimate interest of the people of the United States. Terminating them would do more to thwart the recruitment of new Jihadistic terrorism, than would a hundred years of Rumsfelds and Wolfowitzs spending 100% of our social security savings on ill-planned and deceptively-packaged military occupations.



andy mahan - 9/19/2006

Not the AMERICAN soldier.

Semantics. While belly button gazing why not let us ponder "what the meaning of is, is." After all what comes first, the thought or the action? Isn't the action the outcome of the thought? What we do IS who we are. Being is expressed by action. Absent action, being does not exist. (in this world anyway)


andy mahan - 9/19/2006

I don't even know why I am answering this. No Adamisms please. Let's stick to the issue, not reform my statement to say something that I didn't say, huh? I didn't say that each and every occurrence must first be preceded by a thought that exactly mirrors the occurrence, now did I?

The U.S. presence in the Middle East is no unintended consequence. It is the act following much thought and deliberation. Every aspect of our presence is not exactly as originally envisioned yet our thought ultimately located us in the area. Our existence in the region is a direct result of our values, which is who we are.

If I were to use your logic America could rationally claim that it is not its fault that we have a presence in the middle east, because what we really intended was to stabilize oil flow, troops in the region are an unintended consequence when violence erupted. For that matter any negatives of U.S. foreign policy should be excusable.


andy mahan - 9/19/2006

Copasetic.


andy mahan - 9/19/2006

Perle is so right. No need to understand why murderers murder, it is sufficient to know that civilized society is repulsed by it and to meet it with like force in kind. The appeasers approach has gotten us in the hole we now are.


Arnold Shcherban - 9/18/2004

“Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is
easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”
- Hermann Goering


Arnold Shcherban - 9/18/2004

How do you know if this country never tried to do that?
Russia, on the other token, just pulled its troops out of Chechnya in 1994, but never gave the latter full economical, political, and social independence.
The other thing that it will happen sooner or later, unfortunately rather later than sooner...


Michael Barnes Thomin - 9/18/2004

For the same reasons they must pretend like they are not responsible for the atrocities they have committed in the past (our just wipe the past from out of popular memory). Namely, they do not want the public to know what their intentions and actions have been and are simply because the people would not tolerate it. Contrary to popular belief, the average person in the United States does not believe it is morally acceptable to murder for monetary gain (or any of the various other motivations by nations). Therefore, they must invent other reasons to justify the military actions they decide to take... usually this consists of freightening people with a) Savage "Redskins" b) Evil Black/Yellow/Brown drug dealers c) Evil "Commies"/"Reds" or d)Crazy Arabs. Of course, these threats do or have existed but they are grossly exaggerated to "scare the cattle into their pens" and seek the closest means of protection (our government)... which, ironically, is probably the worst threat of them all. The good news is that the intoleration of just carpet bombing cities into ashes indicates that there has been another step in the evolution of humanity. The bad news is that old tricks seem to still work quite well.


Don Williams - 9/14/2004

in the course of being "liberated" by Bush.

Why don't the Bush/Israeli propagandists simply say Arabs are subhumans who deserve to be exterminated by the Master Race and be done with it?


Michael Barnes Thomin - 9/14/2004

Richard Perle is nothing short of an Israeli meat puppet. Besides, I am not aware of the U.S. or Israel ever attempt to appease terrorists. The U.S. and Israel has made that abundantly clear.


malcolm Dodd - 9/12/2004

Read "A Clean Break", primarily by Richard Perle.
Also read -"De-contextualising" Chechnya

By Gwynne Dyer

What would we do without Richard Perle, everybody's favourite
neo-conservative? It was he who came up some years ago with the notion
that we must "de-contextualise terrorism:" that is, we must stop trying to
understand the reasons that some groups turn to terrorism, and simply
condemn and kill them. No grievance, no injury, no cause is great enough
to justify the use of terrorism.

http://www.gwynnedyer.net/articles/Gwynne%20Dyer%20article_%20%20Russia%20and%20Chechnya.txt


Oscar Chamberlain - 9/11/2004

I have no proof for this, but I have often wondered about the extent to which US actions in support of Israel are aimed at forestalling a nuclear "exchange" (a pleasant euphemism). So we act to make sure Israel is not put in a position that it believes that nuclear weapons are the best or only possible response.

This line of reasoning does not necessarily support the "Israel as the font of all evil" line expressed here. After all, the primary reason Israel developed nuclear weapons was to forestall destruction. (They are lousy tools of expansion) In fact, Israel's current imperialism, which is cruel and unjustifiable in many ways, began as a form of defense from true and credible threats.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 9/10/2004

Read "A Clean Break", primarily by Richard Perle.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 9/10/2004

"Isn't the action the outcome of the thought?"

My point was not to "reform your statement" but rather to answer the question you proposed: My answer was, not necessarily.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 9/10/2004

Read my previous posts and you will find that there is no disagreement between you and I. I simply think that people's thoughts do not follow semantics.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 9/10/2004

There is a fundamental difference between our views. I see absolutely no difference in any of these acts- they all aim to maim, kill, and destroy “soft targets”. There is no divergence in whether you kill innocent people for some political or religious cause (most the time they are intertwined) by cutting off their heads or by placing explosives in movie theatres. A terrorist is a terrorist regardless of his/her methodology of implementing their atrocities. I see the suicide bombings of innocent Israelis just as much as a terrorist act as that of death squads in Brazil/Guatemala/Honduras/El Salvador, etc. (in fact, if you look at the veracity of these barbaric acts the death squads were much worse than that of the Chechnyan Muslims- instances such as hanging pregnant women upside-down by their ankles and cutting out their vaginas is but just one of many examples). I also see no difference in a Muslim killing an innocent child in the name of Islam to that of a Conquistador butchering a child in the name of Christianity (read Bartholomew de las Casas). If we wish refrain from being hypocrites, we must apply the same standards to everyone, which includes ourselves.

But this is all beside the central point. The point is the basic question I presented, which is what drives a population to go to these extremist monsters for help and/or recruit for their cause? If you read the Declaration of Jihad by Osama Bin Laden he makes it quite clear why he is doing these gruesome atrocities. Whether you agree with him or not makes no difference. Much of it consists of passages from the Qu’ran, but eventually he refers to his people’s oppressions (which sadly he need not conjure out of thin air).

In regards to your comment to my reference to the Romans, I believe that it explains exactly why children or innocence in general are killed for any cause. It boils down not to the Roman perception of reality, but to that of the oppressed people's reality. Usually, the one's with knives held to their necks, guns held to their foreheads, and heads under the boots have a much clearer picture of what reality indeed is. Calgacus's speech illustrates this- as he says, "they give the lying name of empire; they make a desert and call it peace." We can call our actions whatever we want to; but that does not change what they truly are.

I do not try and apologize for any of these gangsters’ violent crimes; but we must consider that our reckless and brutal actions against these people throughout the last forty years (id est propping up and direct/indirect monetary/military support for vicious dictatorships) has something to do with their support of these criminals. I do not have the slightest bit of respect or sympathy for the Chechnyans responsible for murdering those people, nor do I have the slightest bit respect of those who bomb and destroy in the IRA. In principle they are exactly the same- ruthless and murdering bandits. However, somehow they recruit people for their cause. How? The answer is because of the concept of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. And in these cases, the enemy of their enemy confronts their oppressions and oppressors. We can no longer afford to erase our true past from out of the pages of our history books.


Vernon Clayson - 9/10/2004

You give a reasonable argument but then you lost a lot of credibility when you said "social security savings." There are no "savings", it is and will ever be a pay as you go system. Workers and their employers pay now for people collecting now. Savings, indeed!


Don Williams - 9/10/2004

Howard Dean was the only Presidental candidate who opposed the war on Iraq. Dean was right from the viewpoint of US national interest, but "national interest" doesn't pay for TV campaign ads. Dean failed to recognize that American supporters of Israel were pushing for the destruction of Hussein because, while Hussein was no significant threat to the US, he was seen as a threat by Sharon and Likud. A threat to Israeli expansion and imperialism, that is.

What does $1 million in campaign donations buy? Currently, 1000 American lives to defend Sharon's aggression.


Don Williams - 9/10/2004

If you go here : http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/index.asp

You can look up the political donations made by individuals. If you enter "Saban,Haim" for the 2002
cycle, you will see donations of $11.7+ MILLION made to the Democrats. If you look at Saban's donation for
this 2004 election cycle, you see donations of only
$84,000 -- several thousand of which were made to George Bush.

Here is the State Department press release issued in Pakistan announcing the creation of Saban's Middle East Policy Center at Brookings Institute: "wwwh02051402.html">http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/pk1/wwwh02051402.html" -- headed up by the former US Ambassador to Israel. I'm sure the import was not lost on the Pakistani leadership.

Here is the LA Times oped by the Directors of Saban's propaganda organization advocating US war on Iraq:
http://www.mafhoum.com/press4/125P10.htm

Saban made his $billion from sale of the Might Morphin Power Rangers to Fox News. (My cynical evil twin brother can't help speculating " money laundering ??") See
http://www.disinfopedia.org/wiki.phtml?title=Haim_Saban .

Another name to enter is "Abraham, S Daniel" -- the Slimfast billionaire. Opensecrets.org indicates that Abraham gave $1 million to the Democrats in
the 2002 cycle , $1.3 million in the 2000 cycle,
but only $76,500 in this 2004 cycle.
Abraham has long been involved in influencing US Policy toward Israel -- see, e.g., http://www.mojones.com/news/special_reports/mojo_400/1_abraham.html

By the way, S Daniel seems to have rethought that 3/18/2003 donation to Howard Dean. In September 2003,
the Jewish publication Forward, among others, reported a spat between Howard Dean and Joe Lieberman due to Dean saying that the US needed to take a more even-handed approach toward the Israeli-Palestian issue.
See http://www.forward.com/issues/2003/03.09.12/news.lieberman2.html


In early 2004, Dean's campaign was torpedoed by a barrage of negative TV ads in the Iowa primary, financed by a new, secretive organization called "Americans for Jobs". See
http://blog.deanforamerica.com/archives/002665.html .
But that organization didn't talk about jobs --it talked about Howard Dean being too weak to deal with Bin Ladin.
Not until after the Iowa primary was over did Americans for Jobs have to report it's funding -- and it turned out that the largest chunk of it's funds ($200,000) was from --ta da --S Daniel Abraham. See
http://www.opensecrets.org/527s/527cmtedetail2.asp?cycle=2004&;ein=800081307&format=&name=Center+for+Middle+East+Peace%2FEcon+Coop&type=c&tname=Americans+for+Jobs%2C+Healthcare+%26+Values


Don Williams - 9/10/2004

If you go here : http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/index.asp

You can look up the political donations made by individuals. If you enter "Saban,Haim" for the 2002
cycle, you will see donations of $11.7+ MILLION made to the Democrats. If you look at Saban's donation for
this 2004 election cycle, you see donations of only
$84,000 -- several thousand of which were made to George Bush.

Here is the State Department press release issued in Pakistan announcing the creation of Saban's Middle East Policy Center at Brookings Institute: "wwwh02051402.html">http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/pk1/wwwh02051402.html" -- headed up by the former US Ambassador to Israel. I'm sure the import was not lost on the Pakistani leadership.

Here is the LA Times oped by the Directors of Saban's propaganda organization advocating US war on Iraq:
http://www.mafhoum.com/press4/125P10.htm

Saban made his $billion from sale of the Might Morphin Power Rangers to Fox News. (My cynical evil twin brother can't help speculating " money laundering ??") See
http://www.disinfopedia.org/wiki.phtml?title=Haim_Saban .

Another name to enter is "Abraham, S Daniel" -- the Slimfast billionaire. Opensecrets.org indicates that Abraham gave $1 million to the Democrats in
the 2002 cycle , $1.3 million in the 2000 cycle,
but only $76,500 in this 2004 cycle.
Abraham has long been involved in influencing US Policy toward Israel -- see, e.g., http://www.mojones.com/news/special_reports/mojo_400/1_abraham.html

By the way, S Daniel seems to have rethought that 3/18/2003 donation to Howard Dean. In September 2003,
the Jewish publication Forward, among others, reported a spat between Howard Dean and Joe Lieberman due to Dean saying that the US needed to take a more even-handed approach toward the Israeli-Palestian issue.
See http://www.forward.com/issues/2003/03.09.12/news.lieberman2.html


In early 2004, Dean's campaign was torpedoed by a barrage of negative TV ads in the Iowa primary, financed by a new, secretive organization called "Americans for Jobs". See
http://blog.deanforamerica.com/archives/002665.html .
But that organization didn't talk about jobs --it talked about Howard Dean being too weak to deal with Bin Ladin.
Not until after the Iowa primary was over did Americans for Jobs have to report it's funding -- and it turned out that the largest chunk of it's funds ($200,000) was from --ta da --S Daniel Abraham. See
http://www.opensecrets.org/527s/527cmtedetail2.asp?cycle=2004&;ein=800081307&format=&name=Center+for+Middle+East+Peace%2FEcon+Coop&type=c&tname=Americans+for+Jobs%2C+Healthcare+%26+Values


James E. Thornton - 9/10/2004

An Islamic Reformation is impossible because the Prophet declared himself "the Seal of the Prophets" (Quran Sura 41, Verse 33), and any attempt to change the faith will be declared bida (innovation). Talk to any Muslim and they will tell you that Dar al-Salam is destined to defeat Dar al-Harb. Al Qaida and those with the same ideological interpretation of Islam have taken matters into their own hands. Do not disconnect Chechnya and Al Qaida. They are the one and the same...with the same goal of reestablishing the Caliphate.


Vernon Clayson - 9/10/2004

Michael, I admit the IRA used terrorist methods. However, they have yet to fly any airliners into American buildings, blow up any American embassies or behead any newspeople on television. Perhaps they have held back from this because they have the good will of Ted Kennedy. The Irish Catholics (IRA) are small bananas in any comparison to the Muslim terrorists. Anyway, none of this, including your reference to the Romans, can explain away the fact that the Chechnyan Muslims killed children in the name of their cause. The IRA and the Islamists are wrong in any event, one would think that society should have advanced enough from the time of the Romans to think the best way to gain political advantage is to sit down and discuss matters in a peaceful way, not blow up children. These radical Islamists, whoever their leader, whatever name they go by, are pikers in deceit, fractiousness and mercilessness compared to their beacon, Nobel prize winner Arafat. You insult the IRA, as bad as they were, in comparing them to the Muslim terrorists.


Don Williams - 9/10/2004

We really need to destroy the TV networks --because it is unacceptable for wealthy men to profit from using a public resource (the airwaves) to lie to us, day in and day out.

Dick Cheney knew nothing about the oil business or corporate management in 1993 --yet he was given a job as
CEO of "oil services" firm Halliburton. Why? Because the oil firms made no secret at that time that the "service" they want was influence in Washington that would have the US government protecting their foreign investments.
Cheney spent much of the 1990s prodding the government to support Houston's move into the huge Caspian Sea oil deposits --against the will of Russia and Iran. Yet that whole subject became verboten in the US news media after 911 --even though the Bush administration is using the "War on Terror" as justification for building a chain of military bases in Central Asia. While promoting "democracy" in Iraq by holding of elections until their puppets can rig them, the White House is happy to cozy up to oil dictators in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan -- just as it has always supported oil dictators in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and UAE. Ask the people of Kuwait how much of the oil royalties and freedom they have received since they were "liberated" by Cheney in 1990.

You want to know why Bush invaded Iraq? Because Haim Saban's paid-for propaganda machine at Brookings Institute strongly advocated that invasion. Who is Haim Saban? He's the Israeli billionaire who gave the Democrats $12 million in the 2002 election cycle -- yet has only given them $70,000 in this years campaign and $4000 to Bush. Bush knows that the Democratic Party is highly dependent upon finanacial support from a few wealthy men who are strong supporters of Israel. Bush is trying to cripple the Democrats by pulling away those wealthy men. I guess 3000 dead on 911 , 1000 dead in Iraq, and 20,000 plus wounded is just the price of playing politics in Washington these days.

Plus there's Big Defense == "War is our business -- and business is good". After 911, Condi Rice went to the TV networks and twisted their arms to not broadcast any more Bin Ladin speeches --- so when Americans asked why 911 occurred , the only answer they were given was Bush's deceitful bullshit "Because they hate our freedom".
Americans never were informed that Bin Ladin stated in a November 2001 interview that 911 occurred because the US government gives Israel advanced weapons with which to kill Muslims. They were never informed that the execute order for 911 was issued in July 2001 ---weeks after Bush sold Sharon 53 F16 fighters. Fighters which Sharon used to bomb an apartment house in Gaza -- killing 9 children. Fighters made in Fort Worth Texas by Lockheed Martin, on whose Board of Directors Dick Cheney's wife served from 1994 until the Jan 2001 inauguration.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 9/10/2004

Not every action comes out the way it was originally percieved. I can leave an hour early for work everyday but that doesn't necessarily dictate that I will arrive there on time. There are many variables invovled that effect each and every action I chose to take. For example, a car wreck might cause me to be late or maybe my car blows a head gasket and I am unable to make it to work entirely. Therefore, not every thought results in the original desired action (not in this world anyway).


Michael Barnes Thomin - 9/10/2004

Zell Miller was right to claim that it is the soldier who has given us the freedom of press. However, he failed to acknowledge that it is also the soldier who takes it away.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 9/10/2004

Lynn- American soldiers have undoubtedly helped many people throughout the world at various different periods in time. However, remember that states are not moral agents. It is the individual soldier and not the squad, or platoon, or regiment, or division that fights for righteousness. States or institutions do not act as charity foundations. They act in accordance only with their interests. The instances you point out on the surface might seem noble, and perhaps at times they have served noble causes. What is interesting is to examine declassified documents and discover the planners/administrators/architects motivations for entering wars. The picture that you come out with is very different than what was originally perceived. It is also very common for nations to only remember their good deeds but to completely ignore their atrocities. We remember stopping the Nazi’s, but we forget our aggressions and support of “death squads” against Nicaragua (which, ironically, ex-nazi officers were used for counterinsurgency techniques: Klaus Barbie comes to mind). And when atrocities cannot be ignored or wiped completely out from the confines of memory (the memory hole) then they are simply brushed off as old instances that bare no relevance and are no longer practiced. What I think will happen in twenty years from now is what has happened throughout our past: secret documents will surface which "set the record straight". These will probably shed a much different light on the original reasons for getting involved in countries/wars. Regrettably, the pattern will continue of brushing these off as past mistakes that are no longer committed. Even so, this is irrelevant, because the perpetrators of these crimes (crimes against international law as well as against the constitution) are still alive and well, who could easily be brought to justice. Though, I fear like so many instances throughout the history of mankind, they will live out their days free from reaping what the sow. We must confront our victories as well as failures in order for future decisions to be made wisely. Otherwise, our future has already been determined to fail.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 9/10/2004

Also note that terrorism is not only a weapon of Muslims... Roman Catholics use it as well (IRA).


Michael Barnes Thomin - 9/10/2004

Vernon- Here is an interesting exercise. Go back to any source (newspaper, Whitehouse press release, etc.) of all the attacks made on the U.S. (or any of it's interests) prior to 9/11. What you will discover is that on every occasion (so far as I am aware) the press releases on the attacks (bombing of U.S.S. Cole, embassies in Beirut and Africa, etc.) would consist of a Department official stating that the attacks were said to be a response to some action made by the U.S. (from what I have discovered they were all military operations). Now, go to any terrorist attacks after 9/11 and what you will find is that officials will claim it is in response to either: A) Their innate hate towards the West B) Their disgust with freedom C) Their despise for democracy or D) Their jealousy of our massive wealth. Nowhere will you now find that it is purported to be in response to some military action or foreign policy that anybody could conceive as a consequence.

If they (anybody who would mount assaults against the U.S.) had an innate hate towards the West, or disgust for freedom or democracy, or jealousy of our wealth, then please discuss why they do not attack Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Amsterdam, Japan, etc. ? These countries are all wealthy, all pro-West, all democracies, and all free nations. These countries share something else in common… they do not go about interfering with other countries affairs (at least no where near in the same degree as the U.S. does). Also go back in history and see exactly when Middle Eastern terrorist attacks were directed towards the U.S.

Of course, I am by no way suggesting that there is no unreasonable hate towards the United States. That is quite apparent and any rationale being can make that connection. The question is not about whether there are cells of extremists who wish the complete destruction of the U.S., but rather the question is how do they find so many recruits? The answer, I believe, lays within legitimate grievances of the people who become exploited by empires and therefore seek out any defense, regardless of what that defense might be (American colonists were desperate enough to go to the French… the French!!). This is such a reoccurring theme throughout the history of empires that I need not examine the matter with any great detail. If we answer the majorities of the people’s legitimate oppressions, then I think you will find that the recruiting and support for these thuggish terrorists will fall dramatically, and eventually their enemies will become too numerous and too uncooperative. As Mao Tse Tung wrote in “On Guerrilla Warfare”, “The people are like water and the army is like fish.” If you remove the fish from the water he cannot survive and the only way we can remove the water is by turning it’s tides against the fish. As of now the water is more than willing to give the fish sanctuary and it is because the people see these thugs as addressing their oppression.

Third World countries exist for a reason and it is not because the "poor stupid brown people" do not understand how democracy works. The more we delude our senses with this nonsense then the further from reality our minds will be. We can choose to believe our actions are not what they really. But what truly matters are those who chose not to. To quote Calgacus in his heroic speech before confronting the Romans, “To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a desert and call it peace.” We can chose to fight a war that might very well last until the extinction of the entire species, or we can chose to face genuine injustices that we are or have been responsible for. I for one believe that the latter would be much quicker, cheaper, and shed a lot less blood then the former.


E. Simon - 9/9/2004

Please excuse the typo on the URL, I was not able to cut and paste:

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/akyol200408250840.asp


E. Simon - 9/9/2004

I don't think you are wrong, Oscar. Your point is well taken, but for socio-political reasons, it is difficult to get accurate polls in many of the countries to which we are referring.

However, and fortunately for myself - and/or others who are interested in looking into this, I just happened upon a theological reinterpretation of the concept that seems much more reasonable and amenable to the Lockean values we take for granted in Western societies. I don't know if it's iron-clad, but it's quite reasonable and workable. From a Turkish political scientist, the fourth paragraph is very encouraging from a standpoint of avoiding a simplistic "clash of civilizations" mindset:


MUSLIM REFORMATION
Still, a coherent argument against indiscriminate violence carried out in the name of Islam should go beyond all of these examples. I have tried to explain that terrorism against civilians has no justification in mainstream Islam, but there is another major issue: Some aspects of Islamic tradition are outdated, and we have to reevaluate some of our doctrines in light of modern times.

This is a very wide issue that needs extensive work. Briefly: The Koran was revealed in the seventh century and some verses refer to events that do not or could not take place today. This means there are some parts of the Koran that we can't - and aren't supposed to - implement literally now. Take the verse that orders Muslims to muster "cavalry" to frighten their enemies (8:60). Today, of course, no Muslim state would think of building an army based on cavalry. The verse can't be implemented literally. We can only infer a principle - such as that strong armies are necessary for national defense - and apply that principle in a modern context.

The same line of reasoning can be extended to some other social and political issues in the Koran, especially to the war verses such as the ones quoted by McCarthy (2:191, 5:33, 8:12). Again, it is possible that we no longer need take all of these verses literally.

Besides that, some traditional doctrines can be abandoned completely. Take the much-disputed concepts of "House of War" and "House of Islam," developed by Muslim jurists in the 8th century. Those jurists regarded all foreign lands as enemy territories, because they could not expect tolerance and safety for Islam there. Today we live in much different world, in which religious freedom is widely established, especially in liberal democracies. Thus there is no justification to see those democracies as "House of War." That very definition is simply outdated; along with many other concepts in the Islamic tradition.

I agree, then, with McCarthy that Muslims need to have reformation - to reread the Koran in today's terms, question all post-Koranic traditions, and create a new canon that will include, among other things, a doctrine of just war that leaves no excuse for terrorism and other aggressive actions. Whether we can accomplish such a reform - good for both Muslims and non-Muslims alike - will be a crucial question in the years and decades to come.

- Mustafa Akyol is a political scientist, columnist, and writer from Turkey. He is also director at the Intercultural Dialogue Platform, based in Istanbul.


The entire article is available at NRO, as a reasonable refutation against suggestions to the contrary:

http://www.nationalreviewonline.com/comment/akyol200408250840.asp


Vernon Clayson - 9/9/2004

It doesn't matter whether ALL of the Muslims in Chechnya wanted to slaughter the children, you can be sure that the vast majority believe that all non-Muslims are infidels and that a few hundred children are not to big an expense to prove their point. Do you really believe that terrible gang carrying explosives and weapons that herded all those children into a gymnasium had no intention of harming them? What will it take to prove to liberal sympathizers that these fanatics are merciless? While you struggle to understand them they are planning further atrocities. I believe their opinion is that nothing proselytizes like high explosives and fear, there will be more attacks and the weak and innocent seem to be their favorite target.


Oscar Chamberlain - 9/9/2004

I would put nothing off limits, including cultural differences. I am just not ready to conclude, on the evidence that I have seen, that most Muslims want universal Islam to the point that they are truly desirous of fighting for it or of suppressing others outside the countries in which they hold a majority to get it.

If you have evidence to suggest I am wrong in this, I will look at it.


Lynn Bryan Schwartz - 9/9/2004

The author is perfectly correct in saying that it is not what we are but what we do. However, the author is completely wrong about what we do in the world generally, and the middle east particularly. Many Muslims hate the United States because, especially in the cases of Iraq and Syria, the people for thirty or forty years have been fed a steady diet of an Arab-style fascism(Pan-Arab unity, hatred of the Jews because they are supposed the source of all Arab troubles, Civic and religious culture that demands submission to the one true leader). It is no wonder then that they fear and hate us merely on principle. But what are we doing in the world that these neo-fascists hate. Zell Miller at the Republican convention reminded the delegates that no one has liberated more people, helped more people through bloodshed and famine, and created more democracies than the American soldier. This is why they hate us. For nearly, sixty years we have supported the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel, while the rest of the Arab world was mired in dictatorship and war. This why they hate us. We are now in the hard process of creating democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is why they hate us. It simply amazes me that mnay Americans oppose our policy in the Arab world as if the world would be better with Saddam in power. The policy that places stability over the longer term interest, happiness, and rights of millions in our world perhaps fits the European Union but it does not fit the American people, our beliefs and the hopes of our Founders. Finally, the whole notion that we are Infidel crusaders is misplaced. Recent history has shown that the Arabs are the modern day crusaders. Just look at Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, and the inhuman monsters at a school in Beslan.


E. Simon - 9/8/2004

I, personally, do not. But it is, indeed, telling, that the condemnations from major Islamic politico-theological organizations had misgivings primarily with the fact that the slaughter was, at worst, bad P.R.


E. Simon - 9/8/2004

How does this, in any way, refute the theologically and, likely, in many ways - culturally, unchanged principle of Dar al Harb vs. Dar al Islam?


Dar al Harb=The Abode of Warfare (lit. the sword)

Dar al Islam=The Abode of Submission

The policy prescriptions are definitely worth analyzing. Are the cultural perceptions off limits?


James E. Thornton - 9/8/2004

Russia granted Chechnya autonomy after losing the '94 and recall the Chechnyan response...invading Russia (Dagestan)! We and the Russians could meet every demand of the terrorists and they would continue to attack because Dar al-Salam (Islam) will defeat Dar al-Harb (non-believers).


Oscar Chamberlain - 9/8/2004

Do you really believe that all the Muslim's of Chechnya wanted to slaughter children?


Oscar Chamberlain - 9/8/2004

I wasn't taking abour Chechnya. I specifically referred to Al Qaeda for a reason.

In Chechnya there is a longing for independence or, at minimum, autonomy. Russia's repression has made it a legitimate target (which should in no way be confused with supporting the wiring of a building full of children with explosives).

Many of our actions in the Middle East have been wrong. Our support for Saddam in late 1970s and 1980s is one terrible example. The installation of the Shah in Iran in 1954 was another exampple, which helped set the stage for a resurgent political fundamentalism.

However, Egypt's nationalism took an authoritarian turn on its own. The same with Syria and Saudi Arabia. In fact, bin Laden's dislike for the Saudi regime predated August 1990.

It is true, the US should reconsider those policies that have made it a target. Such a reconsideration could make peace more possible. But in doing so, we should not delude ourselves that our actions alone can lead to peace.


Arnold Shcherban - 9/8/2004

... And I don't like yours, and you don't like your neighbor's ones, and so on and so forth...
That's the main reason they launch terrorist attacks?

I guess we can easily discard (as the legitimate reasons) so minor items as the unwavering, unconditional, all-means support for Israel
in Israeli-Arab conflict stretching for half-a-century,
the all-means support (in some cases, like Iran - forceful installation) of pro-American, reactionary and bloody regimes in largest Arab countries (including Saddam Hussein's one... as long, as it matched the US interests perceived by this country's financial and political elite), the non-stop subversive operations against any (even timid) attempts to implement wide-scale populist reforms and really democratic institutions (if different from the official American interpretation), and the many examples of the "democracy" this country supports in other regions of the Third World.
"They" are so dumb, they don't understand that by supporting and protecting by force the local elites from the rest of 90% cold, hungry, sick, and ignorant population, "we" are doing them a great favor - protecting them from their own good,... since what's good for them is bad for "us" (corporate power)!

Chechen terrorists didn't attack Russians, 'cause they
didn't share/disliked their beliefs (in fact many Chechens were pro-Soviet by choice), but because of Russia's refusal to give Chechnya economic and political independence, which consequently led to the war. terrorists did and will attack Westerners, because
the latter ones don't allow them to deal with their natural resources and internal economic and political sutiations on their own, and keep the regimes their populus, not the "American national interests", wants to keep!
So, indeed, our Middle East policies for the last half a century, current ones inclusive, should be "questioned"(condemned and abandoned?), not their perception of our beliefs.
It is not an apology of the evils of terrorism - just the rebuttal of the big-time misinterpretation of its causes, which caused and causes grave consequences for the average American.


Vernon Clayson - 9/8/2004

This is another liberal faulting the US for terrorist acts on itself and others, somehow believing if we had just cowered rather than take the battle to them there would be no bombings, beheadings, atrocities against civilian targets. He uses "crusade" as if it were some kind of unreasonable and unwarranted attack on the Muslims, forgetting, or ignoring, that all of the crusades, beginning with the first one in the eleventh century, were in response to Muslim encroachment and depradations. We fool ourselves if we think that the word crusade can't be used to describe the current situation. It being politically incorrect in the western world to do anything in the name of religion, we shy from any reference that this is non-Islamic peoples against Islam. They are not so constrained, they have no compunction saying everyone not of their faith is an infidel and deserves no mercy, witness the killing of innocents, e.g., school children. It used to be said that Islam was spread by the sword, now it's high explosives and guns - and a too frequent return to use of the sword to behead an infidel. Russia will not be so tolerant as we are, the Muslims of Chechnya will rue the day they slaughtered the Russian children.


Oscar Chamberlain - 9/8/2004

Quotes from the Qur'an neither make or break the argument that Al Qaeda terrorists hate us for what we are. There are simply too many quotes to choose from.

The same is true for the Bible, which can be used to support or oppose ruthless Crusades.

What is important is what the Al Qaeda terrorists themselves say. On balance, their comments tend to combine a hatred for our values (as they perceive them) and the growing proximity of American power due to its foreign policy.

Our middle east policies, indeed, should be questioned, as I am not sure a case can be made that our military presence in the Middle East before 9/11 helped us all that much. But we should be under no illusion that withdrawal would buy us friendship. They really don't like our beliefs.


James E. Thornton - 9/7/2004

"And when the forbidden months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever you find them and take them captive, and beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent and observe Prayer and pay the Zakaat, then leave their way free. Surely, Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful." The Koran, Sura 9, Verse 5

"The hour [Judgment Day] will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. A Jew will [then] hide behind a rock or a tree, and the rock or tree will call upon the Muslim: 'O Muslim, O slave of Allah! There is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!' Hadith - Sahih No. 5203 and Ahmad ibn Hanbal's Musnad, No. 9029


Kenneth R Gregg - 9/6/2004

I am reminded of a comment by the great French classical liberal, Benjamin Constant, when I hear about the supposed wonders of Bush:
"It is a great evil when the men who hold in their hands the destiny of the world are mistaken about what is actually possible. Experience, then, instead of serving them, can only harm and confuse them. They read history and see what was done earlier, and do not stop to consider whether it can still be done now. They try to make use of old, broken tools. Their obstinacy, or, if you like, their genius, may give their efforts an ephemeral success. But since they are at odds with the moods, the interests, the entire moral existence of their contemporaries, these forces react against them. And, within a span of time all too long for their victims, but extremely short if we consider it historically, nothing is left of their enterprises but the crimes they have committed and the sufferings they have caused..."
"Woe betide those who, believing themselves invincible, throw down the gauntlet to the human reace, and claim to carry out through it, since they have no other instrument, upheavals of which it disapproves and miracles for which it has no wish."
--The Spirit of Conquest and Usurpation and Their Relation to European Civilization, Forward to the fourth edition (1814)

Ken Gregg
KGregglv@cox.net
http://classicalliberalism.blogspot.com/

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