Ignoring the role played by US actions is dangerously self-flattering and self-delusional
By Glenn Greenwald
"Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 'the 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, has told interrogators that the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated him and his brother to carry out the attack,' the Post writes, citing 'US officials familiar with the interviews.'"
In the last several years, there have been four other serious attempted or successful attacks on US soil by Muslims, and in every case, they emphatically all say the same thing: that they were motivated by the continuous, horrific violence brought by the US and its allies to the Muslim world - violence which routinely kills and oppresses innocent men, women and children:
"I had an agreement with at least one person to attack the United States in retaliation for US support of Israel and in retaliation of the killing of innocent and civilian Muslim populations in Palestine, especially in the blockade of Gaza, and in retaliation for the killing of innocent and civilian Muslim populations in Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and beyond, most of them women, children, and noncombatants."
"If the United States does not get out of Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries controlled by Muslims, he said, 'we will be attacking US', adding that Americans 'only care about their people, but they don't care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die' . . . .
"As soon as he was taken into custody May 3 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, onboard a flight to Dubai, the Pakistani-born Shahzad told agents that he was motivated by opposition to US policy in the Muslim world, officials said."
When he was asked by the federal judge presiding over his case how he could possibly have been willing to detonate bombs that would kill innocent children, he replied:
"Well, the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don't see children, they don't see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody. It's a war, and in war, they kill people. They're killing all Muslims. . . .
"I am part of the answer to the US terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people. And, on behalf of that, I'm avenging the attack. Living in the United States, Americans only care about their own people, but they don't care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die."
First, some leading American opinion-makers love to delude themselves and mislead others into believing that the US is attacked despite the fact that it is peaceful, peace-loving, freedom-giving and innocent. As these myth-makers would have it, we don't bother anyone; we just mind our own business (except when we're helping and liberating everyone), so why would anyone possibly want to attack us?
With that deceitful premise in place, so many Americans, westerners, Christians and Jews love to run around insisting that the only real cause for Muslim attacks on the US is that the attackers have this primitive, brutal, savage, uncivilized religion (Islam) that makes them do it. Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan favorably cited Sam Harris as saying that "Islamic doctrines ... still present huge problems for the emergence of a global civil society" and then himself added: "All religions contain elements of this kind of fanaticism. But Islam's fanatical side–from the Taliban to the Tsarnaevs–is more murderous than most."
These same people often love to accuse Muslims of being tribal without realizing the irony that what they are saying-Our Side is Superior and They are Inferior-is the ultimate expression of rank tribalism. They also don't seem ever to acknowledge the irony of Americans and westerners of all people accusing others of being uniquely prone to violence, militarism and aggression (Juan Cole yesterday, using indisputable statistics, utterly destroyed the claim that Muslims are uniquely violent, including by noting the massive body count piled up by predominantly Christian nations and the fact that "murder rates in most of the Muslim world are very low compared to the United States").
As the attackers themselves make as clear as they can, it's not religious fanaticism but rather political grievance that motivates these attacks. Religious conviction may make them more willing to fight (as it does for many in the west), but the motive is anger over what is being done by the US and its allies to Muslims. Those who claim otherwise are essentially saying: gosh, these Muslims sure do have this strange, primitive, inscrutable religion whereby they seem to get angry when they're invaded, occupied, bombed, killed, and have dictators externally imposed on them. It's vital to understand this causal relationship simply in order to prevent patent, tribalistic, self-glorifying falsehoods from taking hold.
Second, it's crucial to understand this causation because it's often asked "what can we do to stop Terrorism?" The answer is right in front of our faces: we could stop embracing the polices in that part of the world which fuel anti-American hatred and trigger the desire for vengeance and return violence. Yesterday at a Senate hearing on drones, a young Yemeni citizen whose village was bombed by US drones last week (despite the fact that the targets could easily have been arrested), Farea Al-Muslimi, testified. Al-Muslimi has always been pro-American in the extreme, having spent a year in the US due to a State Department award, but he was brilliant in explaining these key points:
"Just six days ago, my village was struck by a drone, in an attack that terrified thousands of simple, poor farmers. The drone strike and its impact tore my heart, much as the tragic bombings in Boston last week tore your hearts and also mine.
"What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village one drone strike accomplished in an instant: there is now an intense anger and growing hatred of America."
By Jacqueline Marcus
There is a simple solution to diminishing violent acts of terrorism that this government refuses to acknowledge: Leave these poor people alone! Stop invading them, stop killing them! Send drones that drop boxes of food, bread not bombs, so that the healing can begin. Of course, by now, they probably don’t trust anything that comes from the U.S. government, including food and water—they’ll assume it will all be poisoned. Can you blame them?
I put those words in quotes because the settlers were the vanguard of genocidal policies that intended to push the Indians into the desert or the ocean. And the Indians knew it.
The Indians were fighting for their way of life, their very existence. They couldn't strike at the generals in their forts or the politicians in the statehouses. So they struck at the frontline purveyors of these genocidal policies.
The point is that almost no one wages "terrorism" because they're mad or evil. They're human beings just like everyone else. And they have motives and goals just like everyone else.
It may be foolish to try to stop an onslaught by killing civilians. It probably does nothing but inflame your opponents against you. That's why Jesus, Gandhi, and King preached nonviolence--and succeeded with it.
But people do foolish, desperate, even horrible things when their backs are to the wall. The Indians tried the peaceful way; they signed 400 treaties. The white man broke every treaty, interred the Indians in concentration camps (reservations) and boarding schools, and watched them die slowly of disease and hunger.
With that in mind, I can understand why the Indians resorted to the occasional massacre. When you're fighting for your people in self-defense, the unthinkable becomes thinkable.
For more on the subject, see "Why Do They Hate Us?" 2012 and Why Don't "They" Like Us?