The fact of the matter is that the terrorist attacks of 911 had more to do with the U.S. government’s meddling in the affairs of the Middle East for decades than it did as George W. Bush would have us believe because we are free. All one needs to do is compare say Luxembourg or Lichtenstein with the U.S. In many ways the two European nations are freer than the U.S. especially economically, but don’t interfere in and bomb Arab nations. Thus, even a casual observer could deduce that radical Islamists attacked us not because of our political or economic system but because for decades America has supported either directly or indirectly wholesale violence against Muslim people.
You would think we would learn from our mistakes. But, one thing our government is good at is making enemies and one thing Americans are good at is believing their government even when it is to their detriment. Take the latest two military actions undertaken by Washington against Muslim people. The U.S. military is currently engaged directly in two illegal wars against Muslim people. In Pakistan, our unmanned drones have been striking terrorist targets since at least 2004. These attacks are justified by Washington as necessary to root out terrorists and thereby make us safer. The war against Pakistan is illegal because it is being perpetrated against a sovereign nation that has not threatened U.S. security in any way.
The same can be said of our military actions through NATO in Libya. Yes, Qaddafi is a nut and has had a terrorist past, but all that seemed to be water under the bridge until NATO led by the U.S. decided to set up a so-called “no-fly zone” over Libya to “protect” rebels and civilians from extermination at the hands of the brutal dictator’s forces. Again, Libya posed no threat to American security, but in the name of protecting Libyans Obama launched his illegal military action against Libya.
Besides the illegality inherent in both missions, on the surface the actions of U.S. forces in Pakistan and Libya seem reasonable given the dangers posed by terrorism and Qaddafi against his own people. But, make no mistake about it both missions will prove to make us more vulnerable to terrorist attack than if we had not gotten involved in them in the first place.
Since becoming president, Obama has ordered the CIA to carry out more drone strikes in Pakistan than George W. Bush did in his entire eight years in office, killing more than 500 people since 2009. Roughly a third of this number was innocent civilians. Recently, Obama authorized Seal Team 6 to violate Pakistani sovereignty to allegedly murder Osama bin Laden. Consequences of the latter U.S. action in Pakistan have already resulted in the dual suicide bombings that killed 80 Pakistani paramilitary recruits in northwest Pakistan. Threats of revenge for bin Laden’s alleged killing have been made against all navy seals and their families due to the notoriety they as a group have received for allegedly murdering bin Laden. Hell, Al Qaeda has even made threats against Obama’s step-grandmother in Kenya. The point is U.S. induced violence in Pakistan puts all Americans at risk of future blowback from terrorists in that country.
Of course, many Pakistanis are seething with anger over the indiscriminate bombing of their country by American forces. Many Pakistanis view their own government as complicit in the matter. Is Pakistan getting ripe for a violent overthrow? Given its strategic location and nuclear arsenal, our leaders will certainly be compelled to intervene with boots on the ground. How many Americans will lose their lives in the bloodbath that would result?
And the situation is not much better for us in Libya. The so-called no-fly zone has proven to be a farce. NATO is in the conflict to cause regime change. Many innocent civilians have already been killed in NATO bombings of “military targets”. Just last week 11 imams were killed in a bombing in the eastern Libyan city of Brega. These deaths strike at the heart of Muslims. In fact, speaking at a press conference in Tripoli late last Friday, fellow imams urged Muslims across the world to kill “1,000 people for each dead imam” across the world, namely in “France, Italy, Denmark, Britain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.” Once again U.S. forces under the guise of NATO are seen as Muslim killers – and worst yet Muslim holy men killers. What blowback will result from this event?
After President Obama reported that he had killed Osama bin Laden, Americans danced in the streets while chanting U.S.A.! U.S.A.! They were celebrating as if the “War on Terror” was finally over. I couldn’t help but think how idiotic and premature the celebrating was. For one thing, didn’t we expect Al Qaeda to retaliate for the death of its martyred leader? For another, were all those delirious Americans not mindful that we are still engaged in military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Libya? Did they not understand that their celebrations would be used to recruit even more terrorists to the cause of Al Qaeda?
From the CIA overthrow of popularly elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 to Bill Clinton’s ordered bombing of a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory in the 1990s, the U.S. government’s long and sordid history of hostile acts against Muslims has resulted in loads of resentment against us which has manifested itself in terror networks like Al Qaeda. With the most recent actions of our government in Pakistan and Libya, more resentment and increased terrorist activity are sure to transpire. You would think our leaders would learn from past mistakes or maybe it is they don’t want to?
Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina