They Did Not Attack Us for Our Freedoms

Over the past six years, President Bush has constantly told the American people that we were attacked on 9/11 for our freedom, and not a single politician has challenged him on that assertion. They did NOT attack us for our freedom. If they did, why is it that the U.S. and Great Britain remain the two main targets of Islamic terrorism? Why is it that Sweden, Holland, France, Germany and Japan - all of which are as free or freer countries than we are - are not the targets of terrorism?

They did not attack us because they hate our freedom. They attacked us because we have constantly put the American economic interests and safety of our allies in the Middle East before the defense of our principles. When Saudi Arabia passes a law, banning a woman from driving without a man in the car, or when Iran arrests an Iranian-American scholar and jails her for three months with preposterous espionage charges, America keeps quiet. But as soon as the price of oil climbs up, President flies to Saudi Arabia to literally hold hands with the king or issue threats against Iran not because of its human rights violations, but because they are enriching uranium, which they legally have the right to under the NPT. America does all of this while violating the NPT, principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal and International Criminal Court by developing new nuclear weapons that it claims it may use first and holding Israel - Iran's main enemy - to a double standard, constantly funding its military and allowing it to possess nuclear weapons without membership to the NPT and while having remained in the occupying territories in the West Bank. Terrorism and killing of civilians are not the right answer to the hypocritical American foreign policy, but this hypocrisy is the reason why we were attacked on 9/11.

This brings me to the second fact that most politicians won't admit. The reason why Israel gets preferential treatment is because it has an enormously strong lobby in Washington. This lobbying power has been substantially influencing American policy in the region and has made our current policy in the Middle East a liability for America.

Another factor that has been contributing to this problem is the willingness of millions of Jews in America, including many liberal ones who normally support sensible foreign policies, to roll over, make an exception, keep silent and even vocally cheerlead America's support for the Israeli occupation. As a recent issue of The Economist so eloquently put it, "what self-defeating madness. For peace to come, Israel must give up the West Bank and share Jerusalem; the Palestinians must give up the dream of return and make Israel feel safe as a Jewish state. All the rest is details." One can only hope that one of our presidential candidates can take the advice of the Baker-Hamilton Report and address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Committee's recognition of the role of this factor in helping to strengthen terrorism was arguably its most significant accomplishment.

The fact is that the United States cannot fight and "win" the struggle against terrorism with fire arms alone, because terrorism is not an ideology but a tactic, it is not an infection but a symptom, and it is not an end, but a mean. In order to address terrorism, America must address its causes. Bush and Giuliani speak about winning the war against terrorists as if there are a constant number of terrorists, most of whom happen to conveniently be in Iraq. Most republicans pretend that these terrorists can be eliminated with 150,000 American troops and then we can live in a world where people in many countries remain oppressed but maintain an undying love for America that is willing to ignore their oppression, take advantage of their natural and economic resources, continue to ignore international law, pretend to stand for the universal and idealist principle of freedom while maintaining a realist view without values and support Israel no matter what it does. Who thought American taxpayers would end up funding a war that has energized and multiplied terrorists, is playing into radical Islam's narrative of infidels and jihadis and has cut the legs from under the pro-western reformers in Iran. In the meantime, we have ignored how our allies and enemies have treated their own citizens and we have kept silent as long as they kept their pumps open and oil flowing.

There are more terrorists today than they were before 9/11 even though we have killed many of them ever since. A recent intelligence briefing reported that Al Qaeda is as strong or stronger than it was before 9/11. Surprised? The fact of the matter is that there is not a constant number of terrorists. In the real world - as opposed to the Bush world - for every terrorist we kill in Iraq where we aren't supposed to be, we help recruit five more. It is absolutely correct that there are career terrorists whose hearts and minds cannot be won, such as bin Laden and members of Al Qaeda. We must eliminate the likes of bin Laden where they are. People from both sides criticized Senator Obama for his intention to do what he would have to do to kill bin Laden. Obama's view on this demonstrates the common sense and departure from the conventional thinking that has been lacking in our foreign policy.

Every time we ignore the arrest of a young couple in the streets of Tehran for holding hands and not make any noise about those brutalities as we do about Iran's nuclear program, we send the message that America will only take an interest in your country if its own interest is at stake. As long as we try to fight terrorism the conventional way and remain silent about the oppression of millions of people in many of these "rogue" states, we will fail to make allies with the peoples of those countries who are the ones that should really matter to us, and our struggle against terrorism will remain a game of trying to put out a fire with a gallon of gasoline.