Glenn Greenwald writes in They hate us for our occupations:
In 2004, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld commissioned a task force to study what causes Terrorism, and it concluded that “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies”: specifically, “American direct intervention in the Muslim world” through our “one sided support in favor of Israel”; support for Islamic tyrannies in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia; and, most of all, “the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan” (the full report is here). Now, a new, comprehensive study from Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political science professor and former Air Force lecturer, substantiates what is (a) already bleedingly obvious and (b) known to the U.S. Government for many years: namely, that the prime cause of suicide bombings is not Hatred of Our Freedoms or Inherent Violence in Islamic Culture or a Desire for Worldwide Sharia Rule by Caliphate, but rather. . . . foreign military occupations….
Imagine that. Isn’t Muslim culture just so bizarre, primitive, and inscrutable? As strange as it is, they actually seem to dislike it when foreign militaries bomb, invade and occupy their countries, and Western powers interfere in their internal affairs by overthrowing and covertly manipulating their governments, imposing sanctions that kill hundreds of thousands of Muslim children, and arming their enemies. Therefore (of course), the solution to Terrorism is to interfere more in their countries by continuing to occupy, bomb, invade, assassinate, lawlessly imprison and control them, because that’s the only way we can Stay Safe. There are people over there who are angry at us for what we’re doing in their world, so we need to do much more of it to eradicate the anger. That’s the core logic of the War on Terror….
The only caveat I’d add to Professor Ahmed’s remarks is that a desire to exact vengeance for foreign killings on your soil is hardly a unique attribute of Pashtun culture. It’s fairly universal. See, for instance, the furious American response to the one-day attack on 9/11 — still going strong even after 9 years. As Professor Pape documents: ”when you put the foreign military presence in, it triggers suicide terrorism campaigns . . . and that when the foreign forces leave, it takes away almost 100% of the terrorist campaign.”
I’ve been repeating that quite a lot here. The terrorists themselves have made it perfectly clear what motivates their terrorism and violence, and, while there have been religious aspects involved in their rage, the primary motivation has been political: They don’t like foreign governments occupying their lands. The U.S. government has been colluding and scheming with other governments in the expansion of U.S. government apparatus especially military bases on their foreign territories for many, many decades, but, aside from the governments of those foreign countries, the actual inhabitants of those countries, particularly the Muslim countries in the Middle East and Asia, have perceived that as being intrusions and acts of trespassing, and they are correct.
I’ve made note of this before here, but I’ll repeat this comparison. Those people here in the U.S. who see nothing wrong with our government expanding itself on foreign lands probably would react negatively if Barack Obama were to make an agreement with the Chinese government to put Chinese military bases in Texas or Montana. It’s just a guess. But for some reason, the more self-centered among us seem to think it’s different if its our government trespassing on other people’s lands.
But I wanted to address the unwillingness or inability of government bureaucrats to recognize the real causes and effects going on in these international conflicts. For example, the CIA had overthrown the Prime Minister of Iran in 1953 and replaced him with the Shah and supported the Shah and his dictatorial, murderous regime for 25 years, leading up to the 1979 taking of Americans hostage by enraged Iranians in Iran. Shouldn’t Americans have learned from that long episode? There was a moral lesson there: Don’t intrude in the affairs of other peoples, don’t trespass on their lands, don’t support dictatorial State regimes who oppress their people.
But nooooo, in 1990, President George H.W. Bush gets an administration flunky to go over to Iraq and give Saddam Hussein the message that if he invaded Kuwait that the U.S. government would look the other way. Then, when Saddam invaded Kuwait, Bush then invades Iraq. The Bush crowd wanted Iraq all along for the sake of U.S. government expansion, more power, and oil. (In fact, Ronald Reagan wanted to reduce the size and power of the U.S. government — in philosophy he was not an expansionist, but the Reagan Administration during the 1980s was infected with Bush cronies throughout the Administration.) And then the Bush administration went on to destroy Iraq (the first time), wreck water and sewage treatment facilities (much in the same way that the Israeli government has done in the Gaza Strip, and refuses to fix it) and through sanctions had deliberately withheld the means to repair that infrastructure, leading to increased cancer and child mortality rates and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, many of them children, by 2001.
But why is it that, despite our knowing full well that terrorists –from the 1993 WTC bomber to Osama Bin Laden — had been reacting to the U.S. government’s invasions, intrusions, sanctions, and support for murderous regimes, the government bureaucrats’ answer to terrorist attacks against America is to do more of the same thing that’s causing the problem?
A similar example is the American medical system — it’s in shambles. The reason it is so dysfunctional and costly is not because “the free market failed,” but because of all the government interventions, interferences, intrusions, regulations, bureaucracy, taxes and fees that have been distorting the medical system. There hasn’t been a “free market” in the medical system in decades, a century, in fact. But the government bureaucrats’ answer to this crisis has been to do more of the same! ObamaCare! It’s like government bureaucrats and statists never learn.
The same situation is in foreign policy. The causes of problems and crises are government interventions, interferences, and intrusions in both domestic and foreign affairs.
When you have problems and crises in private business, what do the leaders of private businesses do (or usually do, and when they aren’t enmeshed with government agencies)? Do they go into their neighbors’ homes and other people’s businesses and interfere, intervene, and intrude? No, of course not. They’d get arrested for trespassing, theft or being a public nuisance. But the government bureaucrat’s answer to problems and crises has been and probably always will be to do more of the same: more intrusions, more interventions and more interferences. That is because that’s the nature of compulsory government: Government bureaucrats have the power of compulsion that “regular” people don’t have, the power of legally-protected monopoly that others don’t have, and, most important, the power to be above the law, whether those bureaucrats are in “national defense” like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld or in domestic affairs like Kathleen Sebelius or Arne Duncan.
That is the difference between government bureaucrats and private citizens or businessmen. Businessmen wouldn’t go over to Iran and overthrow democratically elected leaders and replace them with dictators, and businessmen wouldn’t go invade a country that didn’t attack them — only professional, career government bureaucrats and politicians do that.
My fear is that the upcoming electoral “cleansing” in Washington, that will supposedly sweep in Republicans and oust Democrats, will also be perceived as a “mandate” for continued Republican-initiated policies: more U.S. government intrusions in the Middle East, and that will be because government bureaucrats never, ever learn.