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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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November 12, 2005

Why They Fight

"This war is for real," said the broadside that I received over the Internet. It is said to be from one Major General Vernon Chong. It lists terrorist attacks on American forces and property, including the World Trade Center, NY, 1993; Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia,1996; U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, 1998; and the 9-11 attacks in 2001. Then it says:

Why were we attacked? Envy of our position, our success, and our freedoms. The attacks happened during the administrations of Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton and Bush 2. We cannot fault either the Republicans or Democrats as there were no provocations by any of the presidents or their immediate predecessors.
I wrote back:

This is baloney. Think about it. Would anybody do that out of envy? Stalk the World Trade Center, train for years, commit suicide before the eyes of Allah--out of envy? An army of alien fanatics motivated by envy? Envy of "our freedoms"? No way. It is simply not a believable human motive.

He says: We cannot fault either the Republicans or Democrats as there were no provocations by any of the presidents...

No provocations? To a Muslim, Israel is a provocation, and America supports it. It takes Arab land, it occupies Arab Palestine, treats the Arab people as subjects with no rights. When bin Laden gave his reasons for attacking New York and Washington, they were three: American bases in Saudi Arabia; American blockade of Iraq; and American support of Israel. These are all political reasons. They may be distorted through the eyes of religious fanatics, but they are political reasons--not some dippy psychological reason like "envy." They are also all American interferences in the Middle East. Maybe these reasons aren't good enough reasons for attacking innocent civilians in NY and Washington--that is a different question--but if you put yourself in an Arab nationalist's shoes, they are provocations.

Always when people fight like fanatics, they believe they are defending themselves. That is what the Palestinians believe when they blow up themselves to kill Jews. In their minds, these are acts of retribution, of getting back. (So are the Israeli responses.) The terrorists who hit the WTC and the Pentagon believed they were defending their civilization and their people from our aggression and interference. We don't have to accept all their thinking as accurate, but we ought to take it into account. We lie to ourselves when we say they hate us because of our freedom. Why would they care about our country? They care about their country.

Respond to Bruce.

 
Posted by Bruce Ramsey at November 12, 2005 12:30 PM



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