I am so sick of hearing the false notion that "they hate our freedom" constantly being used as some sort of excuse as to why this must be a war without end. It may not sound as good in a country song, but "they" hate our foreign policy. I'm not sure why people seem to have such a problem with accepting the fact that our misadventures in the middle east and all over the world have consequences. When we intervene in foreign affairs there are consequences; it's only logical!
It is naive to think that the United States can traipse around the world lending support to some groups, dehumanizing other groups, and sending our military about at the drop of a hat without facing any repercussions. It also shows a dire lack of maturity when a grown man or woman can look you in the eyes and repeat what they have been told, that we have absolutely no part in what happens to us, that we're not to blame at all, that we are not responsible for our own actions.
We hear about "the terrorists" and how they allegedly hate our freedom, but the average Joe does not bother to look into it further. It is simply accepted as fact. On the contrary, bin Laden himself cited six US policies:
"1: The bases in Saudi Arabia
2: Unquestioning support for Israel (The 1996 Fatwa came on the heels of the first Qana massacre in Lebanon)
3: The no-fly zone bombings and blockade of Iraq which killed hundreds of thousands of people (now replaced on the jihadist sales pitch list by the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan which have killed hundreds of thousands more)
4: Support for dictators across the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, etc.)
5: Pressure on the oil producing states to keep their prices set where America wants them
6: Support for Russia, China and India in their wars against Muslims
This is why al-Qaeda is not just bin Laden and Zawahiri sitting around hating "the Jews" and American culture from their mother's basement. They have a following because they point at concrete examples of how the U.S. government makes life worse for the average guy in the Islamic World – when it's not taking it from him outright."
That bit of insight is from Michael Scheuer, former head analyst at the CIA's bin Laden unit. The next piece of information comes from a Pentagon report from 2004:
"Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies [the report says]. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy."
These are the facts, from the CIA and the Pentagon. Keep this in mind as you witness the continuous onslaught of misinformation put forth by the media and politicians.
Here's yet another piece from then Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz:
"There are a lot of things that are different now [that the U.S. occupies Iraq], and one that has gone by almost unnoticed – but it’s huge – is that … we can now remove almost all of our forces from Saudi Arabia. Their presence there over the last 12 years has been a source of enormous difficulty for a friendly government. It’s been a huge recruiting device for al Qaeda.
“In fact if you look at bin Laden, one of his principle grievances was the presence of so-called crusader forces on the holy land, Mecca and Medina. I think just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going to open the door to other positive things."“I don’t want to speak in messianic terms. It’s not going to change things overnight, but it’s a huge improvement.”
I'm not big on conspiracy theories...wait, I am, so here's this for kicks.
I am NOT saying that murdering innocent American citizens is justifiable, as some commentors have suggested. I am also fully aware that many of our foreign enemies disagree with our lifestyle as well as our foreign policy, but as one commentor has said: "which one do you think motivated twenty people to come half-way across the world and kill themselves just to strike a blow against America? The fact that you're directly responsible for their countries being shit-holes and the deaths of friends, family-members and groups they identify with, or the fact that our women wear revealing tops?"
Alright I'm back. Consider the following:
I concede that these terrorists do also hate a large part of western society simply because our way of life differs from theirs, as dictated by their religious beliefs. It was a bit hasty of me to turn this into a black and white argument; likewise, I acknowledge that many Muslim leaders preach hate and violence. That being said, I believe these things to be secondary and vastly inferior to the issue of our foreign policy.
I stand with Mr. Scheuer in my belief that the ability of terrorist leaders to cite specific examples of how US foreign policy negatively affects their daily lives is the primary factor in whether or not hateful feelings become terrorist activity. Individuals commit hate crimes in every country, but hate alone does not organize an army, lest we would have anti-gay (etc.) militias here in America.
Consider the United States military bases spread throughout the world; now turn the tables - let's say that China has military bases everywhere, including inside the US. Now let's say that China has continuously funded and supported a country that regularly disrupts the US government or even attacks the US; do you think the fact that there's a Chinese military presence in your town has no effect on the situation? Does it make it better or worse?
Nick has asked what I perceive as the correct course of action with regard to our foreign policy. I believe, first and foremost, that we should stick to the Constitution and the advice of the founding fathers. That is, honestly assess all problematic situations to first determine whether or not they are a threat to our national security. If there is no direct or foreseeable future threat, I do not believe military action (or any threatening action) should be taken. Militarily, I believe we should take on a non-interventionist stance. You bring up the situation in China. Until they take some sort of action that threatens our national security, I do not believe we should "coerce" them; if we interfere with China's internal affairs simply because we disagree with them, what's to stop us from interfering with every other country whose internal affairs are not to our liking? However, do not take this non-intervention as appeasement. I am fully aware of the lessons of WWII.