The Public Square

Al Kagan from Champaign on the creation of terrorism


The Creation of Terrorism: Commentary for the Public Square, WILL-AM by Al Kagan, member of AWARE, the Anti-War Anti-Racism Effort

President Bush often claims that the terrorists hate freedom and our way of life. But such statements further his political agenda rather than address the real world. Instead of a massive and violent reaction to Bin Ladin's reprehensible and criminal actions, we should be seriously responding to his articulated grievances, which resonate in the Muslim world and attract followers to his cause.

Millions of people remain outraged by three strands of US foreign policy. The first was the long-standing international sanctions against Iraq and the regular bombing of military installations, not less than every two weeks, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

The second was overwhelming US support for Israel's policies, resulting in reducing Palestinians living conditions to the level of poverty only seen in the very poorest countries.

And the third was stationing US troops in the Middle East, especially in Islamic holy places. Let's at least acknowledge the force of these POLITICAL arguments.

The basic thrust of US foreign policy remains the same as before 9/11. Reasoned criticism of Israel's policies has often been branded as anti-Semitism, but I would rather characterize it as enlightened self-interest. We must come to grips with the fact that US diplomatic, military, and economic support for the Israeli destruction of Palestinian life has increased.

But the most threatening development is the US assault on the people of Iraq. The initial war was horrendous, but the current policies are even worse. The attack on Falluja has almost completely destroyed the city. How will the returning civilians be able to pick up their lives if their homes, jobs, and city infrastructure are gone? Perhaps 100,000 people are dead from the US war against Iraq, and no one knows how many thousands more are seriously wounded, both physically and mentally. There can be no justification. Not only has the war outraged the Iraqi people, but it must logically lead to creating a vast number of unemployed bitter people who are ready to do anything to kill the invaders. It is clear that some number of other bitter people from the rest of the Islamic world have also found their way to Iraq.

Finally, let's remember the history. Do we ever see any news reports in the mainstream press that remind us of the US support for the Mujahedeen and bin Laden to drive the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan? Do we remember the US support of Saddam Hussein against his rivals in Iran? Do we think that all those US dollars in aid to these tyrants accomplished nothing? The US is facing "blowback," attack by those who were formerly allies.

The way to defeat terrorism is to address its root causes, not by more military actions. The only way to make the world a safer place is to make it more just. To do that we need a mass movement to change US foreign policy. Contact AWARE, the Anti-War Anti-Racism Effort, at to work for peace.