Terrorism: Where Lies the Greatest Blame?


The world just witnessed how the actions of a handful of terrorists could send a nation into a state of near hysteria, striking fear into the hearts of its people. The deadly attacks that took place in Paris recently are an example of what is called “blowback”; acts of revenge taken by those who believe that their nations and people have been continually intimidated and humiliated by aggressive, oppressive forces.

This tragic event should not really come as a shock, something totally unexpected. Why? Well, simply because the European nations and the U.S, in decades past, planted the seeds that have now produced a harvest of these terrorists; when you create your own enemies they will come after you.

What specifically is fueling this intense hatred that motivates terrorists to commit such horrific acts? And why do I advance the premise that we that we in the Western world are greatly to blame? To answer those questions all we need do is study modern history and see how this situation has developed.

We know that most of these terrorists, or what some refer to as radical Islamists, have their roots in the Middle East. So what is it that has happened, over time, in this region of the world that we can identify as the root causes of this terrorism?

Let’s begin with what happened after World War I when European powers, mainly Britain and France partitioned, or we might say, carved up and colonized the Middle East, reshaping that region of the world based on their own concept of how it should be configured. The citizens of those countries had no real say in the process; they were powerless to prevent what happened, and it would be accurate to say that this partitioning gave birth to the growing anger and massive resistance of the Arab nations against those that they consider to be their oppressors.

Thereafter, over subsequent decades following World War II, the U.S. slowly but surely increased its presence in the Middle East. It quickly formed an alliance with Saudi Arabia because of mutual interests in oil. It interfered in the internal affairs of Iran as the CIA deposed its Prime Minister Mohammad Mossdegh. More unrest and turmoil followed during the 1970s as America sought to tighten its control over oil reserves in the region. The Carter Doctrine, in 1980, stated that the U.S. would not hesitate to use military force to defend its “national interests”, namely oil, in the Persian Gulf – and it did exactly that with the Gulf War in 1990-1991 when Saddam Hussein’s forces were quickly defeated.

Fast forward to the 21st Century as U.S. involvement and control over this region intensified. Bush/Cheney attacked and occupied Iraq, destroyed its infrastructure, caused the deaths of several hundreds of thousand Iraqis and sent several million fleeing into other countries. Then in Central Asia, U.S. forces took control over Afghanistan and Pakistan and attempted to overthrow the rulers of Iran and Syria.

In 2014, President Obama initiated what might be called Iraq War II as he, once again, sent troops, supposedly advisers, into Iraq and initiated an aggressive bombing campaign against that country and Syria intended to destroy ISIS. He also has conducted an ongoing program to launch drones into Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians and generated thousands of new revenge-seeking enemies.

However, notwithstanding the turmoil and misery that many of these counties have experienced, let’s not entirely absolve them from any blame in this matter. Many of their dictators were more than happy to fully cooperate with the European powers and the U.S. to advance their own interests. So these countries must also share a good deal of the blame for what has transpired. Saudi Arabia has a long history of being involved with various forms of terrorism and funding terrorist groups. 15 of the 19 hijackers in the 911 disaster were from that country.

Consider those facts and evidence relative to what happened in the Middle East over these many decades. Think about the suffering that so many of these people were subjected to by a succession of invasions, occupations, and interference in their internal affairs; under constant siege, largely over the control of oil. Does it become more clear why we are now seeing more and more terrorists emerge from these countries and this region that are determined to seek revenge?

Now here’s a question for those who still refuse to accept the notion that we have been and are continuing to create our own enemies; do they honestly think that these countries and their people would just continue to absorb the blows, refuse to fight back and simply resign themselves to what is happening to them?

One other major factor that has contributed to this turmoil is the Global War on Terror (GWOT), initiated by G.W. Bush and continued by Barack Obama. It hasn’t worked, it has created more and more terrorists but it goes on and on, a misguided policy seemingly with no end and a strategy that will never work.

But then again, let’s be fair and present the opposite opinion by many that the GWOT has been wildly successful because it has created a perpetual stream of profits for those who manufacture the ammunition, the missiles, and all sorts of other highly sophisticated weaponry. For these merchants of war the more fuel that is tossed on the fires of terrorism the better. They thrive on terrorism.

As this terrorism gains momentum massive armies and powerful weaponry will become largely ineffective in dealing with this totally different kind of enemy; one who you can’t see, that strikes without warning, and then blends into the population. This is a new form of asymmetric warfare by which weaker nations use unconventional tactics against a much stronger foe and it’s been working. In the future, Europe will be the main terrorist target but if the U.S. continues to bomb Iraq and Syria and launch drones then it will also become a prime target.

This can’t be allowed to go on and we have to find the ways to bring this situation under control before it’s too late and we see this turmoil spread all over the world; bringing death and misery to many who have done nothing to contribute to the problem. So here are some recommendations for how the U.S. government should change its policies and strategies in the world and thereby begin to bring an end to this madness.

*Scale back the vast U.S. military empire; retain only strategic bases; remove all forces from Middle East countries except the major military base in Qatar; maintain a strong naval presence in the region.

*Stop supporting dictatorships and repressive militaries; cease U.S. involvement in the internal affairs and elections in other countries.

*Conform to international rule of law; stop the violation of borders and air space of sovereign nations; end the associated drone strikes.

*Reinstitute the use of diplomacy and cooperation instead of military hubris.

*Return NATO to its original role as a defensive force for North Atlantic nations.

*Convert massive U.S. military funding into important domestic needs and positive, constructive projects in various countries.

*Return America to being a symbol of peace and leadership in the world.

Without a doubt those who control Washington D.C., who have been the proliferators and facilitators of these ongoing wars to control oil and to generate more profits for the nation’s defense industry and weapons manufacturers would fight against any such recommendations with all their might; so the probability of this happening is not great.

We can only hope that, at some point in time, somehow, some way this government will undergo a massive awakening and realize that to continue in this direction is an exercise in futility and one that will surely fail. Sadly, it may take more of these terrorist attacks to convince these leaders to rethink what they are doing. Or, perhaps, when the cost of the massive U.S. military empire becomes unsustainable, and there is no other alternative, enlightened thinking may finally prevail and this country will change its strategies, its objectives and turn in a new direction.

If, however, nothing changes and the terrorism continues, this government may need to turn its embassies around the world into armed fortresses. We can bet that going into the future some of them will be closed permanently because protecting our diplomats will become virtually impossible. And, as is already happening, more and more Americans will be forced to curtail their travel to foreign countries.

So where do we go from here? Has America dug itself into a deep hole from which it cannot extract itself? Is this government incapable of changing? Well, if this government continues to use military power to control, intimidate and dominate other nations to “protect its interests” then we can fully expect terrorism to increase exponentially. And, talk about irony, as this country’s foreign policy continues on this disastrous course, there are still those that proclaim that it is an exceptional nation. Somehow, this seems to be a disconnect.

When will this government understand that there is a direct correlation between military hubris and terrorism? When will it stop creating its own enemies?


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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.