Why Do They Hate Us So Much?

America's New Problem With Terrorism

An essay in hypertext by Scott Bidstrup

"The United States is not nearly so concerned that its acts be kept secret from its intended victims as it is that the American people not know of them."
--former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark


"They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind..."
--Hosea 8:9




Why the World Trade Center Attack?

The events of September 11, 2001 were blowback.

If you don't know what "blowback" is, allow me to explain. It is a term, invented by the Central Intelligence Agency, to describe the unintended and unforseen consequences of a covert action. It has, through its unfortunately frequent use, also come to mean the unintended consequences of American foreign policy.

On July 3, 1979, President Jimmy Carter signed a document that would, through the blowback it would cause, eventually seal the fate of nearly 3,000 innocent people in New York, Washington D.C. and the plains of central Pensylvania a quarter-century later. He signed the first directive to provide secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan. With the benefit of that aid, they would engage in ruthless acts of terror and sabotage, throughout the entire Afghan nation and lead to the destabilization its government. It was ultimately intended to induce a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, drawing them into what would be called Russia's Vietnam, bringing untold misery and suffering to the people of Afghanistan. It would provide support to a new group of Islamic fundamentalists, known as the Taliban, and their allies, a secret, violent terrorist group known as Al Qaeda, run by the son of one of Saudi Arabia's princes, whose connections could provide the covert economic support to get it going.

The principle architect of this plan was Carter's National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski. When the war was finally over, and the country had effectively been devastated to the point of living in the Stone Age, Brzezinski was asked if he regretted the suffering he had caused. His reply was telling for its sheer arrogance, hubris and shortsightedness:

The interviewer from the National Observer asked, "And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists?" His response:

Because of his ego and hubris, what Brzezinski was determined not see is that the Soviet empire did not collapse because of the brilliance of his little secret operation, it collapsed because the command economy and the totalitarian system that supported it was unsustainable over the long term. It had grown progressively weaker through the decades and was on the verge of collapse anyway. The Soviet empire would inevitably have collapsed within a few years even if it had not invaded Afghanistan. The Afghanistan adventure was merely a precipitating event, but there surely would have been others.

But the support for the Taliban and the fostering of Al Qaeda would have long term consequences that would eventually become huge indeed, leading to a horrible terrorist incident of unprecedented scale, causing an ugly scar on the American psyche. It would create a force for terrorism and instability that will take decades, if not centuries to repair. For while the USSR was destined to soon be consigned to "the dustbin of history" anyway, insults suffered by Islam are remembered and recounted in detail for centuries by Islamic militants. Indeed, many Muslim school children today can recite in graphic detail atrocities commited against Muslims by Christian crusaders a thousand years ago. These are wounds that are not allowed to heal. And what was to become the Afghanistan betrayal and its aftermath was destined to become one of these wounds.

So how did Al Qaeda, originally funded, supported and nurtured by the CIA, come to become America's most serious terrorist enemy?

It was the result of another arrogant, ill-considered act of American foreign policy. After the Soviets had bombed Afghanistan back to the Stone Age but had been defeated and left under the gun, America simply walked away. Rather than helping the victors secure the country, repair the damage and build a nation with democratic institutions and a modern, western outlook, America simply abandoned them to their fate. Why not? Arrogant, hubristic and selfish leaders in America, like Brzezinski, had got what they wanted. Why hang around?

Inevitably, warlords arose during the post-war power-vacuum in Afghanistan and a two-decade-long civil war developed that radicalized Muslims throughout the Islamic world, not just the Middle East. But the United States did nothing. The Taliban and Al Qaeda had served their purpose, so the suffering of the Afghanis was of no importance to the leaders of America. This abandonment really rankled. That was enough to anger the Islamic world, but it wasn't the end of the insults. There was more to come. Much more.

The final parting of the ways between Al Qaeda and the CIA happened during the first Gulf War. President George Bush Sr. stationed American troops, infidels almost to a man, in Saudi Arabia to help prop up that thoroughly corrupt and indifferent regime, against the will of most of the Saudi population - mostly because that regime was friendly to the United States and was happy to be compliant with Washington's wishes, but it had little support and needed to be propped up. And, at the end of the war, Bush failed to withdraw them as he had promised when they arrived. To the deeply religious Osama Bin Laden, this was an intolerable insult and an unsufferable transgression against Islam. It was tatamount to an occupation, by infidels, of the holiest region in all of Islam (see below). It could not be allowed to continue. If ever there were a cause for a jihad (holy war), Osama saw this as that cause. Osama's pleas were ignored. His warnings fell on ears totally deaf to the religious and political sensibilities of Islam.

To send a message that could not be ignored, Osama engineered the bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The coordinated explosions happened almost simultaneously and killed hundreds, devastating both buildings and many buildings surrounding them. And the response, the war against Al Qaeda, began, when President Bill Clinton sent cruise missles into Afghanistan to destroy the Al Qaeda training camps there. It wasn't hard to find the training camps. The military knew right where they were. After all, the CIA had helped build them.

As horrific as the African embassy bombings were, and subsequent bombings of troop barracks in Saudi Arabia were, they, and the retaliation they spawned, was quickly forgotten by the American public. But Osama was determined to send a message that Americans could not forget. And so, on September 11, 2001, that message was delivered. And unfortunately, the meaning of that message was totally lost on the American public, due to the determined obfuscation by America's political leadership.

And this war against the monster America itself created, will continue.


The favorite theory of the conservatives of this being an issue of jealousy and envy is laughable to the rest of the world. It's not only laughable, but it is downright dangerous, as this misimpression, and the course of action America will inevitably take as a result, will simply lead to more terrorism. Consider this report as broadcast around the world on the BBC World Service's "Newshour" program on September 21, 2002, just a week and a half after the first anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy (requires Real Player; 16kbs, 4 minutes).

Terrorism is Nothing New

It is tempting to think that terrorism is a relatively new phenomenon, and America's political leadership, for its own private reasons, would have you believe that. Many Americans assume that it is at least no older than the Cold War, and began with Leftist subversion. The reality is that it has been with us for a very long time.

It might come as a surprise to many Americans to discover that the term was used by the British to describe the American colonialists who were fomenting the American Revolution. But one can go back much further than that; there are recorded instances of what today we would call "terrorism," including the use of that word, in Roman times. This is truly an ancient problem.

Which raises the question, then, of why this all seems so new. Why has it become such a problem now, when it has seldom been a problem in America's past?

The reason is quite simple. It is called "blowback." There are two reasons which have worked synergistically in a most sinister manner to create this "new problem" with terrorism and the blowback that spawns it:

First, America has, over the last half-century, been abandoning three key values that had always made it respected around the world: egalitarianism, compassion, and an appreciation of the importance of rigorous education in reason and critical thinking, with an emphasis on the civics of democracy and the ethical and moral values of the Enlightenment. This is a trend I've discussed at length elsewhere on this site. Unfortunately, much of the rest of the world, which apes every American cultural trend uncritically, has largely followed suit, and that trend in education abroad has fertilized the ground internationally for fundamentalist religion with all its extremism, just as it has done here in America.

Second, America, through it's reckless foreign policy and free and easy use of clandestine force and terrorism itself for achieving short-term, mostly economic goals, while publicly condemning such behavior with its obvious hypocrisy, has invited this kind of response. History is replete with dozens of examples of where American covert activities and overt foreign policy has thoroughly and callously undermined the very values that the American government so publicly and loudly proclaims. Americans tend not to see this, because they are unconcerned with the rest of the world and tend to uncritically trust their government to do the right thing, believing what they are endlessly told about the promotion of freedom, democracy and human rights, and assuming that their leaders are sincere in what they say and without guile. Seldom do they see the behavior of their government abroad as the rest of the world sees it. But the victims, millions of them around the world, do see it, and see it in their lives every day, and they know who is ultimately responsible.

So if you're an American and are genuinely puzzled at why America is hated with such passion, and why much of the world reacted to September 11 as it did, here's a quickie course in a few of the more important things your government has been doing in your name while you weren't looking:

The Islamic World and the Middle East

The Far East

Latin America


These are just a few of the many dozens of incidents, worldwide, of the gross hypocrisy of the American government and the ignorance of the American people. I could have made this list much, much longer - book length, in fact. Indeed, others have. But this list is intended to illustrate the point - America cannot, with any reasonable hope of success, go on doing what it has been doing in the world and expect the world to continue to tolerate it. It is not surprising, then, that the victims and their terrorist allies will strike back with the only means available to them. This is particularly true as long as America continues to stagnate culturally, economically and politically, while the rest of the world moves forward and grows ever stronger and more powerful.

If the United States wants to cease being a prime target for terrorism, Americans need to fix the foreign policy problems that make the U.S. so hated and such an inviting target. In other words, the United States needs to put its moral money where its mouth is, and start being what it claims to be.

In view of this, here is my four-point plan for ending the problem of terror in America and the rest of the world:

This won't be easy. Many people will oppose it, particularly those currently in positions of privilege, power and leadership, because it is their power and privilege, and their easy control of the masses, that will be threatened. But the fate of our civilization, not just our liberty and peace of mind, is at stake. We can afford to do nothing less.

Postscript... And Some Predictions

After most of the material in this essay was written on September 13, 2001, just two days after the attack, America has indeed gone to war with Afghanistan. And just as was predicted, there has proven to be no easy way out. It is increasingly apparent that the goals of the war in Afghanistan, other than achieving sheer vengance, are increasingly unlikely to be realized. The Taliban is not collapsing as much as it is dissolving into the countryside and neighboring countries, and Osama Bin Laden is not being found, just as I had predicted. They live to rise again, most likely in a more insidious and difficult form.

In addition, the terrorists, who know us better than we know ourselves, have won. They got one of the main things they wanted. They have caused us to surrender our freedom. They couldn't punish us with their own brand of tyranny, so they have gotten us to foolishly surrender them to our own conniving neo-fascist politicians, so we will punish ourselves.

The cynically and disingenously misnamed "U.S.A. Patriot Act" of 2001 was passed by congress and has been gleefully signed into law by George W. Bush Junior, a man who himself once said in reference to a satirist-critic that "some people have too much freedom." It contains provisions that make the CIA in essence a secret police force, by giving it the authority to spy on Americans at home, and giving the FBI the power to arrest and hold Americans in secret, just like the KGB once spied on and arrested Soviet citizens secretly. Worse, the act also creates the authority for secret trials, conducted outside the scrutiny of the press, much like what occurred regularly against dissidents in the Soviet Union. The police tell us that this isn't a problem if we just simply trust them, but they have clearly shown us, as recently happened in Portland, Oregon and elsewhere, that such trust is clearly not warranted.

Yet for all the seriousness of the threat to civil liberties these provisions represent, none of these abuses of authority would have prevented the events of September 11, 2001. Just as I predicted, those events proved to be used as a pretext to motivate us to surrender some of our most cherished freedoms - for the duration of a "war" that will prove to be as endless as the "war" on drugs. And all these abuses would have been very familiar to the founding fathers of the American republic. They are among the abuses that the American Revolution was fought to end. They are among the abuses in which Americans once prided themselves in being different, and better, than the rest of the world. So now in America, we are no different than the rest of the world. Meanwhile, the real causes of the terror, as discussed above, have not been addressed or even examined. As always, the conservatives and fundamentalist Christians continue to scapegoat rather than address the real problems. The terrorists have won and they couldn't be happier - and the sad part is that Americans don't even realize that their own leader has become the poster-child for terrorist recruitment.

Some predictions. I'm predicting that none of the recommendations of this essay will ever be adopted. And because they won't, I'm going to make some predictions as to what will be the result, each recommendation listed above leading to a prediction here - and remember, you read it here first:

Remember, you read it here first. Bookmark this page. Come back often and re-read this essay. I am quite cofident that you'll see that I'm right. I wish it weren't going to end up like this, but of course it will. We just don't have the stomach for doing the hard work and making the hard choices that need to be made. And in the end, we'll all pay the price.





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