They Hate Us Because We Are Free

Bin Laden responds:

Bin Laden said he wanted to explain why he ordered the suicide airline hijackings that hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon so Americans would know how to avoid “another disaster.”

“To the U.S. people, my talk is to you about the best way to avoid another disaster,” he said. “I tell you: security is an important element of human life and free people do not give up their security.”

He accused President Bush of misleading Americans by saying the attack was carried out because al-Qaida “hates freedom.” Bin Laden said his followers have left alone countries that do not threaten Muslims.

“We fought you because we are free …. and want to regain freedom for our nation. As you undermine our security we undermine yours,” he said.

In another shocker, he continues his claim that 9/11 was — from his perspective — purely defensive:

He said he was first inspired to attack the United States by the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon in which towers and buildings in Beirut were destroyed in the siege of the capital.

“While I was looking at these destroyed towers in Lebanon, it sparked in my mind that the tyrant should be punished with the same and that we should destroy towers in America, so that it tastes what we taste and would be deterred from killing our children and women,” he said.

That’s called blowback. Antiwar.com and other advocates of non-intervention have stressed these points over and over again: American foreign policy has angered large portions of the world. Bin Laden has found loyal followers because of this shared hatred. How do we stop the resulting terrorism? The Bush/Kerry option maintains that we keep our current stance, with entangling alliances (read: Pakistan, Israel, et al) and US troops stationed throughout the world. The positions only differ in asking the French and Germans to come along for the ride. The second option is one that forms the basis of Antiwar.com’s ideology: non-intervention.

Bin Laden is clearly not a man to trust, but his claim that the events in Lebanon sparked his anger is not surprising. What were American troops doing in that country? They were there at the request of the Lebanese, who were under the seige of the IDF and in the midst of a civil war. James Bovard, in Terrorism and Tyranny explains:

…as the fighting between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon escalated, the original US peacekeeping mission became a farce. The US forces were training and equipping the Lebanese army, which was increasingly perceived in Lebanon as a pro-Christian, anti-Muslim force. By late summer, the Marines were being targetted by Muslim snipers and mortar fire.

On September 13 Reagan authorized Marine commanders in Lebanon to call in air strikes and other attacks against the Muslims to help the Christian Lebanese army. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger vigourously opposed the new policy, fearing it would make American troops far more vulnerable. Navy ships repeatedly bombarded the Muslims over the next few weeks.

At 6:20am on Sunday morning, October 23, 1983, a lone, grinning Muslim drove a Mercedes truck through a parking lot, past two Marine guard posts, through an open gate and into the lobby of the Marine headquarters building in Beiruit, where he detonated the equivalent of six tons of explosives. The explosion left a 30-foot-deep crater and killed 243 Marines. (page 14)

Many of my war-hawk hate-mailers claim that my attitude is one that excuses the actions of these men. Of course, that is not my intention. Instead, I am merely explaining why such things happen. If the circumstances that caused the problems are things the US government shouldn’t be doing in the first place — in this case non-defensive military intervention — then it is easy to see the solution. Stop intervening. Such a response is not appeasement. Rather, it is a recognition that when the US government takes sides in conflicts that do not threaten it, there inevtiably arise parties who blame us for their losses and who are willing to “pay us back.”

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