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What Motivates the Terrorists?

By Jacob G. Hornberger

10/04/08 "fff" --- -Immediately after 9/11, U.S. officials, led by President Bush and Vice-President Cheney, announced that the attacks were motivated by hatred for America’s freedom and values.

Not so, responded we libertarians. Instead, the anger and hatred that people have in the Middle East for the United States is rooted in U.S. foreign policy, specifically the bad things that the U.S. government has done to people in that part of the world.

What libertarians were referring to were such things as the ouster of Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, the support of Saddam Hussein, the Persian Gulf intervention, the intentional destruction of Iraq’s water-and-sewage treatment plants, the more than a decade of brutal sanctions, the statement by UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it,” the illegal and deadly no-fly zones, the stationing of U.S. troops on Islamic holy lands, the support of authoritarian monarchies, and the unconditional financial and military support of the Israeli government.

Recently, eight British Muslim men were put on trial for terrorism in London. Consider the following statements made by these men, as reported in an article in last Saturday’s Washington Post:

“This is revenge for the actions of the U.S.A. in the Muslim lands and their accomplices, such as the British and the Jews.”

“This is a warning to the nonbelievers that if they do not leave our lands, there are many more like us.”

“Sheik Osama has warned you many times to leave our lands or you will be destroyed, and now the time has come for you to be destroyed.”

“Stop meddling in our affairs.”

“I say to you disbelievers that as you bomb, you will be bombed, and as you kill, you will be killed. And if you want to kill our women and children, then the same thing will happen to you.”

Now, I ask you: In all those statements, how much hatred for America’s (or Britain’s) freedom and values do you find? On the other hand, how much anger and hatred for U.S. (and British) imperial and interventionist foreign policy do you find?

At the very least, don’t the American people and the British people owe it to themselves to accept reality with respect to their governments’ foreign policies rather than live lives of falsehood and delusion? At least then, they would have a better grip on what their troops and citizenry are killing and dying for and what they are losing their liberty for.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.

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