A friend of mine telephoned me about yesterday’s blog and made an excellent point about the five young American men who were recently arrested in Pakistan on suspicion of conspiring to kill U.S. soldiers. My friend pointed out that those young men traveled more than 7,000 miles to enter a foreign country allegedly to kill U.S. troops when they could have stayed here and wreaked terrorist havoc at home.
One of the most important debates regarding U.S. foreign policy is regarding the motivation of those people who commit terrorist acts against the United States.
The official position of the U.S. government is that the terrorists hate America for its freedom and values. Therefore, U.S. officials argue, since the terrorists are coming after us to destroy our freedom and values, the U.S. government needs to send U.S. troops abroad to kill the terrorists before they come to the United States and kill Americans.
Most proponents of an expansive U.S. overseas empire and a foreign policy of interventionism buy into this argument. A smaller segment of the proponents of empire and intervention proposes a variation of the argument, a variation that is not held by the U.S. government. This segment holds that the terrorists are Muslims who hate Christians and whose interpretation of the Koran motivates them to wage jihad against Christians.
Libertarians have long held a contrary view regarding what motivates terrorism against the United States. We hold that it is the brutal nature of U.S. foreign policy that has given rise to deeply seated anger and boiling rage, which has then motivated people to retaliate with acts of terrorism against the United States. Therefore, we have long argued, the solution to restoring a sense of normality and freedom to country, lies in dismantling the empire, ending the foreign policy of interventionism, and restoring a constitutional republic to our land.
For example, we have pointed to the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, where the bomber, Ramzi Yousef, angrily directed his outrage toward U.S. foreign policy at his sentencing hearing before a U.S. federal judge. We have also pointed to the public statements issued by Osama bin Laden regarding U.S. foreign policy prior to the 9/11 attacks. We have also pointed to the logic of the situation — when a foreign regime (i.e., the U.S. government) kills and brutalizes people in a foreign country, it is logical to conclude that friends, relatives, and countrymen of the victims are going to get angry and possibly seek retaliation.
What does all this have to do with those five young Americans who traveled to Pakistan? Well, if they were motivated by hatred for America’s freedom and values, they could have simply stayed here in the United States and blown up shopping malls in which thousands of shoppers could be killed. Indeed, if they hate Christians, why didn’t they just stay here and blow up churches?
Instead, they traveled more than 7,000 miles away allegedly to target U.S. troops, which, of course, are the instrument by which the U.S. government occupies Iraq and Afghanistan and is now killing people in Pakistan.
That would seem to be fairly conclusive proof that what has motivated those particular five men to act, assuming that what they’re accused of is true, is neither hatred for America’s freedom and values nor hatred for Christians, but rather anger over U.S. foreign policy.
In fact, the same principle applies in the case of the Ft. Hood massacre. The Ft. Hood killer could have gone to a nearby shopping mall and opened fire on thousands of Christmas shoppers. Instead, he smuggled a gun onto the base, where he proceeded to kill U.S. soldiers. Again, the Ft. Hood killer’s targeting of U.S. troops would seem to be fairly conclusive proof that the killer was motivated by anger and rage arising from the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is not to say, of course, that in the future some terrorists won’t do what U.S. officials do — conflate the U.S. government and the American people — and strike at American civilians, as they did in 1993 and on 9/11. It’s just to say that the latest instances of terrorist activity provide powerful circumstantial evidence that the root of America’s foreign-policy woes lies in empire and interventionism and specifically in the continued occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and, now, the killings in Pakistan.