Case Closed on Terrorist Motivation
by Jacob G. Hornberger
Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, U.S. officials, from President Bush on down, went on the offensive with respect to what, they claimed, had motivated the terrorists to kill Americans. It was all because the terrorists hated America for its “freedom and values.” The mantra was steadfastly adhered to for the 7 remaining years of the Bush administration, after which it was then embraced by President Obama and his cohorts.
Perhaps realizing the ridiculous nature of that claim, advocates of America’s pro-empire, pro-intervention foreign policy came up with a variation on this theme. They said that the terrorists were motivated by the Koran and the Muslim religion. They said that religious dictates required Muslims to conquer the world and kill all the Christians and Jews.
On the other hand, libertarians have been steadfastly maintaining, since even before 9/11, that the root of the problem lay in U.S. foreign policy. The reason that people in the Middle East were determined to commit terrorist acts against the United States was because the U.S. government had done — and was continuing to do — very bad things to people in the Middle East.
In other words, libertarians said, the terrorists were simply retaliating for what the U.S. government was doing over there. The only way to stop this threat of retaliation, we have consistently argued, is to stop the U.S. government’s pro-empire, pro-interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East.
To make our case, we pointed to the many bad things that the U.S. government has done in the Middle East, especially since the fall of the Soviet Union, when the U.S. military and the military-industrial complex were panicked that the American people were going to call for major reductions in military spending and taxes: the support of brutal dictators in the Middle East (including Saddam Hussein); the Persian Gulf intervention; the intentional destruction of Iraq’s water-and-sewage treatment plants; the brutal sanctions that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children; U.S. official Madeleine Albright’s statement that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it”; the stationing of U.S. troops near Islamic holy lands; the deadly no-fly zones over Iraq; the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan; and the unconditional financial and military aid provided the Israeli government.
Yesterday, the court hearing in which the man who recently tried to set off a bomb in Times Square pled guilty closes the case on terrorist motivation. Statements made by the Times Square terrorist, Faisal Shahzad, to the judge during that hearing confirm, once again, that libertarians have been right on motivation from the get-go and that the pro-empire, pro-intervention crowd has been wrong.
According to the New York Times, “Mr. Shahzad was unapologetic, characterizing himself as ‘part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people.’”
Nothing about hating America for its “freedom and values” in that statement, right? And nothing about the Koran requiring Muslims to conquer the world, right?
“I want to plead guilty, and I’m going to plead guilty 100 times over,” Shahzad said, “because until the hour the U.S. pulls out its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan, and stops the occupation of Muslim lands, and stops killing the Muslims, and stops reporting the Muslims to the government, we will be attacking U.S., and I plead guilty to that.”
It’s hard to get any clearer than that, isn’t it? Nothing about “freedom and values.” Nothing about killing for the Koran. It’s all about U.S. foreign policy, specifically in the Middle East.
When Federal Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum pointed out that the victims in Times Square would have been civilians, including children, Shahzad 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.”
Shahzad’s angry tirade is no different in principle from the angry tirade delivered in 1995 to another federal judge by 1993 World Trade Center terrorist bomber Ramzi Yousef at his sentencing hearing. Yousef angrily pointed directly to U.S. foreign policy to explain his motivation, including the killing of the innocent Iraqi children with the brutal sanctions against Iraq.
So, there you have it. Case closed on motivation. As Ron Paul succinctly put it in that famous exchange with Rudy Guliani during the 2008 Republican presidential debates, “They attacked us because we’ve been over there.”
Of course, this is not what those who glorify the federal government — those who take the position of “My government, never wrong in foreign affairs” — those who have elevated the federal government to the status of a god — those who believe that foreigners, especially people in the Middle East, have a moral duty to submit peacefully and enthusiastically to the violent will of the U.S. Empire — want anyone to hear. They want everyone to continue nodding robotically and loyally whenever they repeat their ludicrous mantras regarding America’s terrorist woes.
Is it all worth it? Is it worth the constant the threat of terrorist retaliation, the ever-increasing loss of civil liberties, the cowardly refusal of the Supreme Court to protect our rights and freedoms, and the ever-growing threat of financial bankruptcy? Is a pro-empire, pro-intervention foreign policy really worth all that? Is it that important to the American people that their government continue killing, torturing, maiming, humiliating, dominating, dictating, invading, occupying, sanctioning, and dominating the people of the Middle East?
Libertarians say: No, it’s not worth it and, more important, it’s all founded on immoral principles, principles that violate the laws of God. It’s time to dismantle America’s overseas military empire and end the U.S. government’s interventionist foreign policy. It’s the only way to restore morality, rationality, peace, prosperity, and harmony to our land. Otherwise, continue bracing yourself for the worst.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.