In my last post, part of my post defended Ron Paul from the criticism that he received during a GOP presidential debate after claiming Al-Qaeda’s motives were based on American foreign policy. I found a couple editorials from The Daily Caller that offer more on this topic. This first one is from a critic of Ron Paul, who rejected the idea that American foreign policy led to 9/11:
The second one is a response to it, arguing the opposite.
Obviously I agree with Glaser over Weinstein, and since Glaser does an excellent job refuting him, I suggest you read his article. I will not reiterate his points, but there are a couple points that Weinstein makes that I would like to further address. His arguments will be in block quotes, and my comments will follow:
America is in trouble financially, but not because of our defense budget. It is our entitlement programs that put us in fiscal peril.
How can someone argue this? He follows it up by saying “this is really beyond serious dispute.” The U.S. spends $700 billion a year on the military. These entitlement programs are a small fraction of that. Trimming the military spending would undoubtedly reduce the national debt, and the entitlements project benefits Americans and helps increase consumer spending, which benefits the American economy.
the argument that the attack was meant to draw the U.S. into a larger Afghan war was only made by al-Qaida members, including Osama bin Laden, after 9/11.
Weinstein is criticizing the argument that 9/11 served to attack the U.S. so they would respond in force and get stuck in a drawn out war in Afghanistan. First, the claim that al-Qaeda and bin Laden only made this argument after 9/11 is comical: of course they did not make this argument before 9/11; why would al-Qaeda announce their plans before the attack? Weinstein’s argument is so weak, it would be like arguing that al-Qaeda is not responsible for the 9/11 attacks because they did not take credit for them until after 9/11.
Does Weinstein seriously think bin Laden or al-Qaeda would be stupid enough to say before 9/11: “Dear U.S., we are plotting a major attack on your country. We will hijack planes and fly them into some of major American buildings. The reason for this attack is to draw you into Afghanistan so you will get stuck fighting a long war. You’re welcome for the warning. Best wishes, Osama bin Laden & al-Qaeda.”
I cannot be the only one to find Weinstein’s point that al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. on 9/11 because they did not expect the U.S. to react by attacking Afghanistan simply because al-Qaeda never mentioned it as a motive before 9/11 so absurd that it honestly makes me laugh.
Moreover, before 9/11, America had put its sons and daughters at risk at least three times to protect Muslims — to push Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, to bring food and humanitarian aid to the Muslims of Somalia, and to protect Kosovar Muslims from Slobodan Milosevic.
So I ask again, which Muslim countries were we forcibly occupying before 9/11 which helps explain why al-Qaida attacked us on 9/11?
Weinstein’s point here is that the U.S. did not occupy foreign Muslim lands, and therefore bin Laden could not have been motivated by that. He adds on that the U.S. even fought in Muslim countries to protect Muslims. This argument reveals how little Weinstein understand bin Laden’s ideology.
In Growing Up bin Laden, authored by Jean Sasson with Omar bin Laden and Najwa bin Laden, the reader sees Osama’s extremism and anti-Americanism significantly rise as a result of the first war against Saddam Hussein. Osama resented the U.S.’s invasion of Iraq, not because he liked Saddam Hussein, who he hated, but because he — fresh off his victory with the Mujahideen against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan — wanted to lead his Mujahideen soldiers to defend Kuwait and attack Iraq’s military. As a friend of the Saudi royalty, he was insulted when they denied him permission to wage war against the Iraqi military and instead allowed the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia and to continue to have bases there. To Osama, it was an insult that the secular Americans were allowed on Saudi religious territory to defend Kuwait. Osama felt personally insulted that women soldiers were used while his Mujahideen soldiers were denied the right to fight, as he felt it was emasculating. This was a significant turning point in Osama’s life that cannot be understated; he went from a military hero in the Arab world who held close ties with Saudi royalty, to an outspoken critic of the Saudi government for allowing the U.S. to occupy its territory and fight wars for Muslims. It was not long after this that Osama was forced to leave Saudi Arabia behind because of his outspoken campaign against the government, and his resentment towards both the Saudi government and American government began during the Gulf War, while Weinstein seems to think Osama would have approved of the U.S.’s participation in the war.
Weinstein’s mention of the U.S. bringing food and humanitarian aid to the Muslims in Somalia further reveals how little he understands al-Qaeda’s ideology and even just recent history. Does he not realize that many of the fighters who resisted the U.S.’s foreign aid in Somalia — which, whether Weinstein wants to admit it or not, includes occupation — were affiliated with al-Qaeda? Bin Laden and al-Qaeda simply oppose the U.S.’s occupation or involvement in any Muslim lands, whether Americans believe it is a humanitarian mission or not. Weinstein’s argument is seriously flawed by using cases of the U.S.”aiding” Muslims as evidence that bin Laden did not oppose the U.S.’s foreign policy; what Weinstein sees as aiding, bin Laden saw as imperialism and rejected any attempt by the U.S. to get involved in Muslim nations.
Osama bin Laden wasn’t upset because the Palestinians were given poor treatment: He was upset that Israel exists at all.
Glaser already argues against this claim in his article, but I just want to re-emphasize it: how can one separate the two? Osama bin Laden opposed Israel’s existence, but he resented the U.S.’s unbinding support for Israel while Palestinians suffered under Israeli occupation. To attempt to distinguish his hatred towards Israel from his support for Palestine is absurd.
In short, Ron Paul — who, again, I do not support — was right that the U.S.’s foreign policy motivated al-Qaeda’s attacks on 9/11. It does not justify the attacks, but it is important to understand what their motives were. Osama bin Laden did not attack the U.S. because he hated our “way of life” or “our “freedom,” but because he hated our foreign policy.