The "Grievances" Defense
If grievances explain terrorism, the implication is that removing the grievances would remove the terrorism. The U.S. was warned, however, before 9/11, that it faced a "poisonous coalition" of terror groups, wealthy sheiks, military establishments and intelligence, all fueled with an apparently endless supply of indoctrinated recruits from madrassas and mosques. This coalition now has nuclear weapons. A credible case can be argued that the West has the right of self-defense.
The April terrorist attacks during the Boston Marathon killed and wounded scores of people. Machete-wielding thugs last week butchered a British soldier in full view of citizens on a London street. Simultaneously, in Sweden, a full five days of riots have seen burned cars, banks and schools, and assaulted citizens.
These attacks raise the uncomfortable question: "Why are we being attacked?"
A newly announced American policy to deal with such threats involves "addressing grievances and conflicts" that feed what is described as "extremism."
But will this work?
After 9/11, despite the impression of a nation coming together, almost immediately many pundits, media outlets and academics blamed America. We were, for example, attacked because "our chickens [were] coming home to roost." Three reasons were most often cited: our sanctions against Iraq; our deployment of troops in Saudi Arabia and our support for Israel.
Over a quarter of a century ago, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, our UN ambassador during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan's, first explained this tendency to "always blame America first." It flowed from a view that saw American military power as a harmful force in world politics. Steven Kinzer in All the Shah's Men argued in 2003, just two years later, that, "It is not far-fetched to draw a line through the Shah's repressive regime and the Islamic revolution  to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York." A decade later, former Congressman Ron Paul similarly argued the attacks of 9/11 were in retaliation for American troops being deployed in Saudi Arabia in 1990-1991, there to drive Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. And on May 23, the administration sought to explain what it terms "violent extremism" as a reaction to the "thousands of civilians that have been killed" in Iraq and Afghanistan," implicitly by American intervention.
Even now, many weeks after the Boston Marathon bombing, the "Blame America" syndrome is on full display.
The New York Times charged that the US had failed to assimilate the bombers' family, implying presumably, "What could anyone expect them to do other then bomb the Boston Marathon?"
Then the bombers were humanized. They were described as friendly school chums, attractive to women. The New York Times compared one of the bombers to the hero of that classic American book Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield.
Then came the "self-actualization" explanation for terrorism: apparently, as the two brothers were not members of any terrorist group but possibly just lone-wolf types, America had failed to "assimilate" them properly -- implying that their bombing was somehow our fault.
That rationalization was followed by strenuous efforts to avoid making any connection to their Islamic background, their travel to Dagestan, and their connection to a nearby Boston mosque from which a half dozen members and key leaders have been convicted of terrorist acts in the past decade.
In Sweden, similarly, the BBC said the rioting youths, while from predominant "immigrant areas," were unhappy about joblessness.
The mayor of London assured everyone that even while one of the butchers was "dripping blood and swearing by Almighty Allah 'We will never stop fighting you'," there was no connection to Islam to be drawn.
This compulsion to explain terrorism as driven by grievances against America continues as the politically correct narrative.
If "legitimate grievances" motivate terrorists, the thinking apparently goes, then such terrorism is justified.
Former President James Carter argued that Hamas's and Hezbollah's use of terrorism against Israel "is understandable" because after all they do not have a modern air force with which to fight.
If grievances explain terrorism, the implication is that removing these grievances would remove the terrorism.
If poverty is the problem, advocate more foreign assistance.
If Israel is the problem, establish a Palestinian State.
If the presence of the U.S. military in the Middle East is the issue, withdraw the military force.
If our negative attitude toward Islam is the problem, repeatedly citing Islam as a "religion of peace" wipes out the threat.
But if government officials' assertion that the US is not at war with Islam -- meant to convey to citizens of the Islamic world that they need not fear us and we will no longer "attack them " -- it also conveys the notion that many followers of Islam do not feel compelled to attack those whom they see as insufficiently "Muslim," let alone Jews, Christians, Hindus and others not of the Islamic faith.
That official view also ignores that in 732 and 1683, Islamic forces were twice defeated at the height of their attempted conquest of much of the known world -- the latter attempt on September 11, 1683, at the gates of Vienna, where a army led by a Polish king defeated an Islamic army many times its size.
The search for "grievances" implies it is simply coincidental that 30 of the 32 current "Most Wanted" by the FBI are Muslims, and that of the more than 2,200 terror attacks in 2012, over 2000 were undertaken my Muslims or in the name of Islam.
Critics of U.S. policy under the Bush administration claimed that it was our perceived status as a military "bully" in Afghanistan and Iraq, for example, that propelled young Muslim men to "fight back."
But this analysis fails to take into account that long before the U.S. liberation of Afghanistan in 2001, the U.S., Israel and others -- even in the Muslim world -- were regularly and routinely being attacked and murdered by people "in the name of Islam".
The State Department regularly officially designates countries involved in funding, training or providing safe haven for terrorists as "state sponsors of terror." In the commentary about 9/11 and the intervening terrorism of the past decade, Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Libya have routinely been identified as top sponsors of terrorism.
Although not thought of as terror masters, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia created the Taliban and thousands of Wahhabi mosques, and supports terrorist groups such as the PLO.
North Korea, Venezuela, China and other non-Islamic countries have also worked with, and supported, state sponsors of terror that are primarily "Islamic."
This factor appears to be missing in the current administration's analyses.
But for most in the media and the academic world, the role of either terror states or Islam is dismissed. Terrorism is reduced to legitimate grievances that the West, Israel and the United States are capable of addressing but have failed to clear up.
Ahmad Shah Massoud, however -- head of the Northern Alliance, the Afghani force that defeated the Soviet Union, and who was murdered just shortly before 9/11 -- had warned the U.S. that it faced a "poisonous coalition" of terror groups, wealthy sheiks, military establishments, and intelligence services, all fueled with an apparently endless supply of indoctrinated recruits from madrassas and mosques.
This coalition now has missiles and nuclear weapons.
If, however, the driving force behind terrorist attacks on the United States is a strategy to harm the United States and other Western nations, to eliminate their presence in the Middle East or terrorize them into agreeing to live under the laws of Islam, a credible case can be argued that the U.S. and its allies have the right of self-defense.
This is even truer if the threat the West faces is a force that seeks to establish totalitarian Islam throughout the Muslim world, then everywhere else. If the tip of the spear may indeed be a nuclear weapon, let us rethink what it means to "provide for the common defense."receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free gatestone institute mailing list
Reader comments on this item
|Democracy: Islam's real enemy [31 words]||Clive||Jun 2, 2013 09:57|
|Not grievances but jihad [103 words]||Bart Benschop||May 31, 2013 06:14|
|Muslim admits driving force of terrorism is "Islamic theology" -not "grievances" [124 words]||Steven Buckley||May 31, 2013 03:55|
|Tawfik Hamid said much the same thing in 2006 [63 words]||Wally Greeninker||May 30, 2013 17:04|
|↔ Bravo! [11 words]||Peter Huessy||Jun 7, 2013 14:20|
|It is not about grievances [25 words]||Bonnie Loranger||May 30, 2013 16:53|
|↔ Grievances [170 words]||Peter Huessy||Jun 7, 2013 14:19|
|Defense against Jihad [117 words]||Alainnah Robertson||May 30, 2013 12:08|
|Islam's ultimate grievance is that we exist [193 words]||Edward Cline||May 30, 2013 08:43|
|Submit or die. [56 words]||Ethan P.||May 30, 2013 06:28|
Comment on this item
by Richard Kemp
Would General Allen -- or any other general today -- recommend contracting out his country's defenses if it were his country at stake? Of course not.
The Iranian regime remains dedicated to undermining and ultimately destroying the State of Israel. The Islamic State also has Israel in its sights and would certainly use the West Bank as a point from which to attack, if it were open to them.
There can be no two-state solution and no sovereign Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan, however desirable those things might be. The stark military reality is that Israel cannot withdraw its forces from the West Bank.
Fatah leaders ally themselves with the terrorists of Hamas, and, like Hamas, they continue to reject the every existence of the State of Israel.
If Western leaders actually want to help, they should use all diplomatic and economic means to make it clear to the Palestinians that they will never achieve an independent and sovereign state while they remain set on the destruction of the State of Israel.
by Louis René Beres
The Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO], forerunner of today's Palestinian Authority, was founded in 1964, three years before Israel came into the unintended control of the West Bank and Gaza. What therefore was the PLO planning to "liberate"?
Why does no one expect the Palestinians to cease all deliberate and random violence against Israeli civilians before being considered for admission to statehood?
On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States endorsed a "Mandate for Palestine," confirming the right of Jews to settle anywhere they chose between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the core American legacy of support for a Jewish State that President Obama now somehow fails to recall.
A sovereign state of Palestine, as identified by the Arabs -- a Muslim land occupied by "Palestinian" Arabs -- has never existed; not before 1948, and not before 1967. From the start, it was, and continues to be, the Arab states -- not Israel -- that became the core impediment to Palestinian sovereignty.
by Timon Dias
It looks as if this new law is meant to serve as a severe roadblock to parties that would like to dismantle the EU in a democratic and peaceful way from within.
A rather dull semantic trick pro-EU figures usually apply, is calling their opponents "anti-Europe."
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Soeren Kern
Austria has emerged as a major base for radical Islam and as a central hub for European jihadists to fight in Syria.
The proposed revisions would, among other changes, regulate the training and hiring of Muslim clerics, prohibit the foreign funding of mosques, and establish an official German-language version of the Koran to prevent its "misinterpretation" by Islamic extremists.
Muslims would be prohibited from citing Islamic sharia law as legal justification for ignoring or disobeying Austrian civil laws.
Leaders of Austria's Muslim community counter that the contemplated new law amounts to "institutionalized Islamophobia."
Official statistics show that nearly 60% of the inhabitants of Vienna are immigrants or foreigners. The massive demographic and religious shift underway in Austria, traditionally a Roman Catholic country, appears irreversible.