On February 12 of this year, U.S. forces entered a village in the Paktia Province in Afghanistan and, after surrounding a home where a celebration of a new birth was taking place, shot dead two male civilians who exited the house in order to inquire why they had been surrounded, and then shot and killed three female relatives. Two were pregnant mothers. The third was a teenager.
The Pentagon reported that the dead males were insurgents and the females were victims of “honor killings” by Taliban militants. CNN and the NY Times reported the Pentagon claims as if they were facts, but since the then the Pentagon whitewash has been exposed. US soldiers in fact had mutilated the bodies by digging the bullets out of the females and washed the wounds with alcohol to hide responsibility. Source
ABC News described the efforts of US Special forces to apologize to Haji Sharabuddin the 80-year-old patriarch of that family who lost two sons, two daughters and a granddaughter in the attack -- by offering him two sheep, which is a gesture of begging forgiveness in Pashtun custom, and the article included this:
Presenting sheep is such a powerful form of requesting forgiveness that the father is now obligated not to take revenge, even though he has told reporters he wanted to become a suicide bomber. . . . the incident so inflamed the family, the father initially vowed to take revenge, "even if it breaks me into pieces."Source
"I have lost patience. I am obliged to revenge my martyrs," he told an ABC News cameraman on March 18. "I will destroy everything I have and will launch my own suicide attack. My heart is burning."
I believe that the hatred and violence from Muslims directed against us is a consequence of our government's foreign policy. Multiple detailed studies confirm this. Experts in the field confirm it. US intelligence predicted an upsurge in terrorism in response to our invasion, and that prediction has proved to be accurate. The words of terrorists themselves tell us that our foreign policy is their chief motivation. These evidences, along with basic understanding of historical facts, helps us understand that US foreign policy is the primary cause of Islamic terrorism.
The question of why they hate us has been asked before and answered by high level governmental planning agencies. In 1958 President Eisenhower concluded that "there's a campaign of hatred against us in the Middle East - not by governments but by the people". He asked the National Security Council to look into the matter, and they gave their analysis as follows: "there's a perception in the region that the US is supporting corrupt, brutal, and harsh regimes, and is blocking democratization and development, and is doing so because of our interest in controlling the oil reserves in the region. It's difficult to counter this accusation because it's accurate. It is natural for us to support status quo governments and to prevent democracy because we want to maintain control over the energy resources of the region." Source
The same question was asked more recently. On Sep 12, 2001 the WSJ had an article called "Why do they hate us?" in which they surveyed "monied Muslims", ie, Muslim managers and decision-makers in the financial and corporate world. What the survey found was roughly the same results that were discovered by the National Security Council in 1958: the US supports autocratic regimes, prevents democratization and independent development in the region, supports Israel's harsh occupation of Palestine and does this to maintain control of the countries' natural resources
I want to review a few basic historical facts to help you understand where Muslims get this notion that we want to control their oil. They probably don't read State Department memos which describe Middle East oil as "a stupendous source of strategic power and the greatest material prize in world history." They probably don't read the documents that discuss how control of the oil gives the US "veto power" over the decisions of other nations. They know their own history. They know what it feels like to have a boot on your throat, and I want to share some of those historical details so you can have a sense of what they go through. I'm going to focus on Iran/Iraq exclusively, but the story is much the same elsewhere.
In 1953 Iran elected a Prime Minister by the name of Mohammad Mossadegh via a legitimate parliamentary process. Mossadegh was a somewhat secular leader and he believed that the wealth of Iran was being exported to Britain so he vowed to nationalize the oil industry so that Iranians could also enjoy the prosperity. British Petroleum didn't like this so Britain contacted the United States about this problem and in response the CIA launched Operation Ajax. They removed Mossadegh from power through violence and subversion and installed the Shah. The Shah re-instituted the prior oil contracts and imposed a reign of terror on the Iranian people. The secret police, SAVAK, was trained by the CIA and they slaughtered and tortured with impunity. After 26 years of the Shah’s violence the Iranian people in a staggering display of non-violent resistance, expelled the Shah and took hostages at the US Embassy. The US Embassy was the staging ground for Mossadegh’s ousting, so they knew they needed to control it. About a year after the fact they released the American hostages from the embassy unharmed. Source
For having ousted the vicious dictator that had been imposed on them by the United States Iran became an enemy. Saddam Hussein launched a war against them, and according to Alexander Haige, Reagan’s Secretary of State, it was President Carter that gave Saddam the green light to attack Iran. Saddam did attack Iran with chemical weaponry and American logistics support. When Saddam Hussein gassed his own people killing 5000 Kurds at Halabja, the United States was so committed to aggression against Iran that the Reagan administration blocked Congressional efforts to condemn the atrocity for fear that it would hinder Saddam’s efforts. Source
The Iran-Iraq war finally came to a close because Iran surrendered after the American naval vessel the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, Iran Air Flight 655 killing 290 people. Iran surrendered because they decided that they could not withstand American war against civilian airliners. George Bush is quoted as responding to the attack in an August 1988 Newsweek article as saying, and I’m quoting him now, “I'll never apologize for the United States of America. Ever, I don't care what the facts are.” The crew of the USS Vincennes were all awarded Combat Actions Ribbons for their service. About a million people lost their lives in the Iran-Iraq War. Casualties might have been lower had the US not been secretly providing weapons to Iran in addition to the weapons they were providing to Iraq. These facts, all part of the public record, are widely known in the Arab world and naturally cause rage. Source
In 1990 Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, killing close to the same number of people that the US killed when they invaded Panama a couple of months earlier. Iraq of course was punished in a way the United States wasn’t. Tens of thousands of Iraqis died in the US response, if not hundreds of thousands. War planners realized that if unrest was occurring in Iraq this would hasten Saddam’s exit from Kuwait. So George Bush went on television and encouraged the suffering Iraqis to revolt against Saddam. This they did, and it did hasten Saddam’s exit. But as Saddam’s forces returned to Iraq they began to put down the rebellion. With Saddam now out of Kuwait George Bush realized that he did not want to see the suffering Iraqis succeed. A democratic Iraq would probably be a Shiite Iraq, aligned with Iran. Saddam was someone we knew and thought we could control. So with that George Bush authorized Saddam to crush the rebellion. The United States assisted Saddam in putting down the rebellion that Bush had called for and that probably would have successfully overthrown him. 300,000 were killed, much of it shown on state television as an example to others that might try and revolt. Source
Now, when you're an Iraqi Shiite getting slaughtered by Saddam you know there's only one thing that can save you. US support. They hoped the American people would support them and reverse Bush's policy. But in fact the punditry fully supported Bush's move. We prefer Saddam to a democratic Iraq because Saddam represented "stability" according to Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the NY Times Thomas Friedman. Control of oil is key. How are we going to control the oil of a democratic Iraq? Friedman went on to explain the plan of action. Weaken Iraq so that a future "iron fisted military junta" could come in and replace Saddam, but rule pretty much the same way he did. For now leave him there as he fills the mass graves.
Now, imagine you are an Iraqi that has survived this as well as Bush's invasion in 2003 and when no WMD's are discovered you see Thomas Friedman wringing his hands over the mass graves which were filled with his support. Let me quote his faux outrage. "Once the war was over and I saw the mass graves and the true extent of Saddam's genocidal evil, my view was that Mr. Bush did not need to find any W.M.D.'s to justify the war for me."
So the sanctions were imposed on Iraq, depriving them of food and water. The starvation and death was shocking and done for the express purpose of weakening Iraq to where a new malleable military dictatorship would arise, or barring that the US could just invade and easily topple a government that survives over a starving and impoverished population. Two UN Humanitarian Food Coordinators for Iraq resigned in outrage over what was occurring over the years, which they regarded as genocidal. These are Hans von Spoenek and Dennis Halliday. They say that the US wasn't just blundering and mistaken in what they did to the Iraqi people, but was actively attempting to cause suffering amongst the civilians for strategic goals.
Lesley Stahl did an interview with Madeliene Albright, Bill Clinton's Secretary of State on 60 minutes where she was asked about the effect of the sanctions. Here I quote the exchange.
Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.
At least hundreds of thousands were killed due to the sanctions regime. Maybe more than a million. George Bush in justifying the invasion of Iraq in 2003 pointed to the death rate in Iraq due to the sanctions and how invasion would bring that to a close. He cited 5000 a month. Almost 2 9/11 sized atrocities every month for 13 years in Iraq, which by the way the Iraqi people blame on the US. Since the sanctions ended with the invasion of 2003 foisted on the Iraqi people through a pack of lies another 1.3 million have died according to Oxford Research Bureau's latest estimates from 2008.
What is the consequence of the war in Iraq on terrorism? George Bush would have us believe that we need to be in Iraq fighting. Otherwise the jihadists will be on our shores and around the world engaging in terrorism. That's an interesting assertion, but where is the data to back it up? What does the data show? There's only one study I'm aware that looks at the data to evaluate this question. It was done by Peter Burgen and Paul Cruikshank, research fellows at the Center on Law and Security at the NYU School of Law. They asked these questions. Has terrorism gone up or down since the invasion of Iraq? What are the trends in terrorism if Iraq and Afghanistan are excluded. Has terrorism directed at the United States and it's allies increased or decreased.
The results are shocking. A staggering 7 fold increase in the rate of Islamic terrorism since the invasion, and their study goes on to explain why this is perhaps a conservative estimate. They note the staggering drop in public approval for the US and how the pool of Muslims hostile to the US has grown by hundreds of millions. Source
Robert Pape is an associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago and he has written a comprehensive review of the causes of suicide terrorism in his book "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism". He's examined every single incident of suicide terrorism from the early 80's to today. He finds that foreign military occupation is the primary cause of suicide terrorism. For instance, many people don't know this, but the most prolific suicide terrorist organization prior to 9/11 was the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka. This is group is expressly secular. However they live in a region that they regard as being occupied by an outside military, that of the Sri Lankan government. He shows that the presence of American military forces for combat operations on the homeland territory of the suicide terrorists is stronger than Islamic fundamentalism in predicting whether individuals from that country will become al-Qaeda suicide terrorists by a factor of 10 to 1.
Anyone familiar with these facts would have to predict an increase in terrorism with an expanded US presence in the Middle East, that is, with the invasion of Iraq. Not only do the facts bear this out, but in fact government analysts accurately predicted a dramatic increase in terrorism with a US invasion. I quote the NY Times reporting here:
"The estimate came in two classified reports prepared for President Bush in January 2003 by the National Intelligence Council, an independent group that advises the director of central intelligence. The assessments predicted that an American-led invasion of Iraq would increase support for political Islam and would result in a deeply divided Iraqi society prone to violent internal conflict."
Again, this makes a lot of sense to the experts. Michael Scheuer was the senior CIA analyst responsible for tracking bin Laden from 1996. He explains that bin Laden has been very clear about the motivations of his violence. US foreign policies. “US forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990’s. As a result … it is fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden’s only indispensable ally.” British journalist Jason Burke from his detailed study of Al Qaeda writes that "every use of force is another small victory for bin Laden," which is creating "a whole new cadre of terrorists." Source
So in summary we know that US foreign policy is the primary cause for several reasons. This is the conclusion of commissioned governmental studies, it's exactly what the Muslim world tells us, it's exactly what the terrorists themselves tell us. Our government predicted an expansion of terrorism with an increased troop presence and the data confirms this prediction. Knowledge of the historical facts in my view makes the motivations obvious. Let's do the difficult thing and look in the mirror and consider what we are doing that is contributing to this problem rather than concocting complex reasons that permit us to lay all the blame at the feet of others.