Isn’t this already obvious? For over 50 years U.S. administrations, for the sake of geopolitical hegemony and preferential access to resources, have treated much of the Muslim world like personal property. They’ve backed brutal dictators, subverted governments, and invaded and occupied countries as it suited their agenda of “world leadership.” The program included defying the will of the Iranian people (1953), backing the repressive Saudi monarchy and the Egyptian and Iraqi dictatorships, financing Israel’s wars against Lebanon and oppression of the Palestinians, and so much more. It was bad enough that England and France had betrayed the trust of the Arabs after World War I and turned the Middle East into a colonial playground, with all the humiliation and repression that implies. The U.S. government then compounded the crime by picking up the mantle of empire after World War II. Power and oil were the reasons. Were the brutalized and mortified people supposed to be grateful to the West?
We kid ourselves when we pretend that history began on Sept. 11, 2001. Can anyone say with a straight face that before that date America was minding its own business according to the noninterventionist guidelines set out by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson? Read some history. Or does American exceptionalism mean not having to know anything before dropping bombs on people and torturing detainees?
The Muslims who wish Americans ill have never been mysterious about their grievances. Osama bin Laden’s fatwa against the United States is online. Read it for yourself. It was issued in 1996, soon after U.S.-financed Israel conducted one of its regular onslaughts against the Lebanese. What are his specific grievances? American troops stationed near Muslim holy places in Saudi Arabia. The 1990s killer U.S. embargo on Iraq. U.S. sponsorship of Israel’s domination of the Palestinians and its neighbors. “Terrorising you, while you are carrying arms on our land, is a legitimate and morally demanded duty,” he wrote.
U.S. policy — no matter who’s in power — couldn’t be better tailored to recruit terrorists. We can keep pretending we are innocent victims. Or we can finally put the responsibility where it belongs: in Washington, D.C.