Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Are We Safe Yet?

Do you feel safer because of our War on Terror? Our leaders would like you to think you are and are making much of the fact that there hasn’t been a terrorist incident in the U.S. since 9/11. As politicians do, they are taking credit for the fact that so many of us are still shifting air in and out of our lungs. It’s like they are saying, “You’re alive, aren’t you? Quit your whining,” because keeping us alive and terrified has required the removal of a good many civil liberties.

That there has been no attack on U.S. soil since we undertook the bombing, invasion and “liberation” of Afghanistan and Iraq is really something of a miracle. Bombing and torture haven’t won us many friends in the Islamic world and have surely created many enemies. If we only count the relatives of the tens of thousands we have killed, there are surely many more Muslims who hate America now than there were five years ago.

For evidence let’s take the word of our own government. Somebody leaked a copy of the National Intelligence Estimate recently. It concluded that… "the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and ... the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks."

Of course it has. Just because there haven’t been any attacks on American soil doesn’t mean terrorists haven’t been busy. Scores of attacks have occurred since the U.S. Air Force got started on Afghanistan in 2001. American institutions and American allies all over the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific have suffered attacks.

The US State Department used to produce an annual report called “Patterns of Global Terrorism.” The report on the year 2003 showed more “significant terrorist incidents” than at any time since they started keeping statistics in 1985. The report for 2004 was even worse. The gnomes at State had a solution for that. They stopped publishing the report.

Our leaders will never take the rap for the increase in terrorism since the War on Terror began even if the correlation is obvious to everyone else. The Decider and his special friend, Tony Blair, are quick to point out that terrorists were terrorizing long before 9/11. And surely they were, but it’s not as though the US and Israel were idle in the Mideast before 2001.

The CIA overthrew the government of Iran in 1953. We bombed Libya. We devastated Iraq, killing 100,000 soldiers and a large, unknown number of civilians. A US Navy cruiser shot down an Iranian airliner. There have been American troops in Saudi Arabia for years. And the US has never stinted with help to Israel in keeping the Palestinians in their place.

It is curious that the possibility of revenge or retaliation as a motive for terrorist attacks never seems to occur to leaders of the War on Terror. The propaganda machine grinds away at the theme that Islamic terror exists in a political vacuum, that it is evil for evil’s sake, that they simply hate our “freedom.” Such a notion is not only absurd, but captured terrorists themselves refute it.

William Blum, the author of a number of books on the history of American military intervention quotes a captured terrorist from a New York Times report on the recent UK plot to down a bunch of airliners: "'As you bomb, you will be bombed; as you kill, you will be killed,' said one of the men on a 'martyrdom' videotape" ... "One of the suspects said on his martyrdom video that the 'war against Muslims' in Iraq and Afghanistan had motivated him to act." ... "The man said he was seeking revenge for the foreign policy of the United States, and 'their accomplices, the U.K. and the Jews'."

Religious fanaticism can’t explain the motives behind even the 9/11 attacks. The FBI reports that 9/11 hijackers drank alcohol, took drugs and hung out in strip joints, hardly the habits of fanatical Muslims. The common theme in interviews with captured terrorists has been a hatred of American foreign policy in the Mideast, not a hatred of our freedom, or our prosperity, or our way of life.

Unfortunately, those waging the War on Terror present the enemy as irrational religious fruitcakes or freedom hating monsters who loathe democracy and Rock and Roll. They never suggest, despite overwhelming evidence, that Islamic terrorism is simply revenge for Western foreign policies. Until they do, we can expect to keep killing Muslims until they don’t hate us anymore.


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