Most Americans today held a moment of silence to remember and honor those who sacrificed their lives on 9/11. The courage of the first responders cannot be forgotten, and their families’ losses cannot be overstated. However, reflection on the tragedy beckons us to ask a tough question: Why did this happen?
“Our Freedoms” Don’t Cause Terrorism
Usually we get an answer that should seem dubious to any sane observer – Islamists in the Middle East hate us for our freedoms.
Part of that answer is correct. They do hate us. As for our freedoms, I do appreciate the liberties we have here that don’t exist in many developing countries. But I also realize that they’re slipping away, fast. Just ask activists in Wisc0nsin or Occupy, black men (1 killed every 28 hours by the police), or companies that refuse to let the NSA spy on its customers. And even if we assume that we’re a generally free country, why would terrorists care? Bombing us doesn’t make them any freer. How about we ask those same terrorists why they hate us? They’d know.
What Does Cause Terrorism?
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the man behind the Boston bombings, justified himself: “”They [the US] come and they attack us because we’re over there. I mean, what would we [Americans] think if we were— if other foreign countries were doing that to us?”
Najeebullah Zazi, who was behind the failed subway bombings, similarly justified, “This is the payback for the atrocities that you do [in Iraq and Afghanistan].”
Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber, pled guilty by saying, “I’m going to plead guilty 100 times forward because until…the US pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and stops the drone strikes…and stops the occupation of Muslim lands, we will be attacking [the] US.”
The Motivation Behind 9/11
That seems like a pretty universal consensus. How does this fit in with 9/11?
Osama had similar motivations, put out like a laundry list in a letter to America. A little more history will help illustrate this point. According to Robert Gates, the director of the CIA at the time, we funded the “mujahideen” and Islamist fundamentalists like bin Laden in Afghanistan 6 months prior to the Soviet invasion. We did this precisely to induce Soviet intervention, thus destabilizing Afghanistan and depleting the USSR’s resources.
Do We Want to Repeat This?
Do we want to put geopolitics above the safety of people in the Middle East and the US? Do we want to keep fomenting negative opinions of America? Put more simply, do we want to fight terrorism with more terrorism?
If we have any concern for the lives of ordinary people, and the answer to these questions is no, we cannot once again stir up violence in the Middle East. We cannot funnel in arms to the rebels in Syria (yes, we’re secretly doing that), nor can we bomb the nation. When we remember 9/11, let’s understand that we’ve been victims of the blowback to our own government’s terror. When we remember 9/11, let’s understand that we will never achieve peace in America until we promote it elsewhere. Lastly, when we remember 9/11, let’s understand that we must stop imposing countless 9/11’s on the Middle East – for their sake and ours.