May 12, 2004

Topeka Capital-Journal, KS; Garden City Telegram, KS; Chanute Tribune, KS. Distributed by Minuteman Media.

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At the 9/11 Commission there was a great deal of finger pointing over who is at fault for the worst acts of terrorism on American soil in history. Richard Clarke, former White House counter-terrorism chief, took center stage with his inflammatory rhetoric. “Your government failed you,” he stated, accusing the Bush administration of not considering terrorism an “urgent issue” before the attacks of September 11th, despite numerous warnings.

Clarke’s credible accusations may damage the successful “war president” image that President Bush plans on using for re-election, but they do not get to the heart of the issue.

What are the root causes of terrorism, and why was the United States attacked that fateful morning? Nobody wants to truly examine these questions, because just as the Spanish reacted with rightful anger by ousting the ruling Popular Party in their recent elections for pursuing a foreign policy that provoked the horrific train bombings in Madrid, the blame for September 11th falls almost solely on U.S. government policies.

The Bush administration offers a simple answer to these complex questions: “The terrorists don’t like our values. They are enemies of freedom and civilization. They are evil.”

“Evil” is a convenient response because it can have no reason. If “they are evil,” there is no need to look in the mirror or re-examine our policies.

But if these terrorists hate our values and our freedom, why did they attack the United States and not Canada or France or Denmark? They have the same freedoms and similar values. They have capitalism and wealth and an equally high standard of living, if not higher.

Why attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?

Rather than being symbols of freedom and civilization, these targets were clear symbols of American Empire. They represented a particularly ugly brand of capitalism backed by the incredible violence of the U.S. military.

What the United States has that other Western countries don’t have is an aggressive foreign policy. Canada doesn’t meddle in the affairs of countries around the world. Ottawa and Toronto aren’t targets because Canadians aren’t engineering coups in Latin America or propping up authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. France doesn’t have 725 foreign military bases with troops deployed in over 130 countries, including the Islamic holy land. Denmark isn’t giving billions of dollars a year and weapons to Israel so that it can continue its illegal occupation of Palestine.

Remember that shortly after 9/11 when Osama bin Laden, who had the entire world’s attention to denounce whatever he despised most about the “infidels,” stated that America is now facing something that others have “tasted for decades.” His unpleasant references to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan, the deadly U.S.-backed sanctions in Iraq, and the Israeli tanks rolling through Palestine, were instructive.

Despite bin Laden’s naming of one specific foreign policy reason after another for the al Qaida attack, we are told to naively believe that it’s about freedom. And thanks to our corporate-media-enforced ignorance of international affairs, this explanation has amazingly worked for the majority of the country.

But as we slowly come to grips with the fact that the Bush administration’s violent knee-jerk reaction to September 11th has created a far more dangerous world, perhaps a different conclusion will be reached.

A hypocritical U.S. foreign policy that praises democracy and human rights in word, while assaulting them in deed, is to blame. Terrorism is not the fault of a specific administration or official, but of all U.S. administrations in recent decades for leading our country down the bloody path of empire and causing incredible suffering abroad as a result.

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