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(DV) Williamson: The Lesson of September 11







The Lesson of September 11
by Harold Williamson
June 29, 2005

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In his address marking the first anniversary of the U.S. pretending to hand over sovereignty in Iraq, George Bush continued to justify the U.S. military presence there by urging Americans to not "forget the lessons of September 11." 

Bush continues to preach that "the terrorists who attacked us and the terrorists we face murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance and despises all dissent," and that they can only be stopped by transforming their societies into pro-Western style democracies. (Note: Bush said "terrorists", not "insurgents". In fact he didn't use the word "insurgent" in his entire speech.

Typical of this presidency, the facts don't bear this out.

As Director of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism, Robert A. Pape, an associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago and the author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, has compiled the first complete database of every suicide terrorist attack around the world from 1980 to the beginning of 2004.

In an article in the June 29 Chicago Tribune, Pape stated that during that time period there were 315 completed suicide terrorist attacks by 462 terrorists, and the facts show that the attacks were almost always "part of an organized campaign to compel a modern democracy to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider home."

Pape concludes in his book that "the idea that all Muslims around the world are quietly anti-American because Islam encourages hatred for American values for democracy and free markets does not square with the facts. Indeed, robust evidence shows that American military policies, not revulsion against Western political and economic values, are driving anti-Americanism among Muslims."

Pape discovered that the vast majority of suicide terrorist attacks were not isolated or random in nature. Instead, they were part of a larger campaign by an organized group to achieve the specific political goal of compelling a modern democracy to withdraw military forces from their homelands of Lebanon, Chechnya, Sri Lanka, Punjab, and the West Bank.

Two-thirds of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorists were from "Sunni Muslim countries where the United States had stationed tens of thousands of combat troops -- in Saudi Arabia, countries on the Arabian Peninsula, Turkey and Afghanistan." None, by the way, came from the world's most populated Islamic fundamentalist country, Iran, which is part of Bush's "axis of evil" mentioned in his January 29, 2002 State of the Union Address to describe "regimes that sponsor terror."

Pape went on to say that even Sudan, the society that was most congenial to Osama Bin Laden while he lived there for three years, has never produced an Al Qaeda suicide terrorist.

Continuing to spuriously connect the conflict in Iraq with 9/11, Bush said, "Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania."

What Bush failed to tell his audience is that this would not be happening at all if the United States had not showed up in force in March 2003 to forcibly change the government in Iraq. Predictably, the America’s most wanted terrorist in Iraq, Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has used this military action by the U.S. to successfully recruit mostly Iraqi Sunnis and Saudis, and it's no accident that they are from the two countries most vulnerable to U.S. hegemony.

Bush added, "The commander in charge of coalition operations in Iraq, who is also senior commander at this base, General John Vines, put it well the other day. He said, We either deal with terrorism and this extremism abroad, or we deal with it when it comes to us."

Again, the facts say otherwise. The United States cannot rely on a democracy in Iraq to reduce the risk of terrorism as long as American military forces remain on the ground there.

You cannot solve the problem of terrorism using the same rationale that created it.

That is the lesson of September 11.

Harold Williamson is a Chicago-based independent scholar. He can be reached at: Copyright © 2005 Harold Williamson.

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