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Denial on Terrorism and Foreign Policy

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Do you ever wonder why it is that so many Americans steadfastly refuse to acknowledge that our nation’s terrorist woes are rooted in U.S. foreign policy? Why not simply acknowledge the obvious rather than come up with cockamamie explanations for the terrorist strikes, such as “They hate us because we’re Americans and free” or “They are motivated by hatred for Christianity”?

Consider, for example, this statement by Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby regarding the guy on the flight to Detroit who purportedly tried to explode a bomb on the plane:

“Like the 9/11 hijackers and countless other jihadists, Abdulmutallab was motivated by ideological and religious fanaticism. The teachings of militant Islam may seem monstrous to outsiders, but that is no reason to doubt that their adherents genuinely believe them or that by giving their lives for jihad they hope to change the world.”

How in the world does Jacoby reconcile that assertion with all the news reports in which al-Qaeda took credit for what happened on that Detroit flight and expressly stated that it was in retaliation for U.S. attacks in Yemen. Consider this report from The Guardian:

“[Al-Qaida’s] statement yesterday saying the attempted bombing on Christmas Day was in retaliation for US attacks on the group in Yemen follows a year in which the US spent tens of millions of dollars boosting Yemen’s coastguard and border security and providing helicopters with night-vision cameras.”

Moreover, surely Jacoby knows that prior to the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government had killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children with its brutal sanctions on Iraq, had stationed troops in Saudi Arabia, and had been providing unconditional military and financial aid to the Israeli government, things that Osama bin Laden expressly pointed to prior to the 9/11 attacks.

Indeed, as a columnist Jacoby must be aware of convicted 1993 WTC terrorist Ramzi Yousef’s tirade at his sentencing hearing, during which he pointed to U.S. government interventions in the Middle East rather than express some general hatred for America’s “freedom and values” or for Christianity.

So, why don’t people just accept that the U.S. government’s actions in the Middle East have motivated countless people to seek terrorist retaliation against Americans? Then, we could have a real debate: Is the U.S. government’s foreign policy of empire and intervention morally right and is it worth the constant threat of terrorist retaliation, infringements on civil liberties, and national financial bankruptcy?

I think that all too many Americans have a profound unwillingness to think badly of the federal government when it conducts itself in overseas affairs. I get the feeling that in foreign affairs many Americans have raised the federal government to the status of a deity or an idol, one that is engaged in spreading morality, goodness, caring, and compassion to the poor, struggling people of the world.

Thus, any hint that this idol or deity has actually been doing some pretty awful things around the world is, for all practical purposes, considered akin to heresy.

You see this mindset especially with respect to the troops, who are really nothing more than human instruments whose mission is to use force to carry out the will of the government. Yet, many people treat them as if they were as exalted as angels. Aren’t we constantly being exhorted to “support the troops” without regard to what the troops are doing? In churches all across the land, aren’t special prayers offered for the troops but, for some reason, never for the contractors, police, businessmen, doctors, lawyers, or other people working in American society?

Another aspect of this is the welfare part of the welfare-warfare state. The federal government has become a primary provider for multitudes of Americans. It provides many people with their retirement, health care, education, food, housing, and many other things. It has become people’s friend, caretaker, daddy, or deity. What child wants to alienate his parents when his survival depends on them? What worshipper wants to alienate the god that maintains life or death powers over him?

Also, all too many people have come to conflate the U.S. government with the American people. Thus, they think that by acknowledging that the U.S. government has done bad things to people overseas, they are essentially accusing themselves of being bad people. The notion that the government and the country are two separate and distinct entities, as implied in the Bill of Rights, is unfathomable to such people.

Finally, there are some people who simply like the fact that the U.S. government is now an empire and willing and able to impose its will all around the world. They don’t want to give that up. So, they do everything they can to avoid confronting reality and convince others to do the same.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.