Posted on May 21, 2007 in Articles
In light of the recent controversy in which Ron Paul had the gall to suggest that September 11th originated from years of mistrust and animosity towards the Western world and America in particular with regards to involvement in the Middle East, we wanted to provide a succinct list of perceived grievances towards America. Stated by Radley Balko in Fox News (of all places):
The “blowback” theory isn’t some fringe idea common only to crazy Sept. 11 conspiracy theorists. It doesn’t suggest that we “deserved” the Sept. 11 attacks, nor does it suggest we shouldn’t have retaliated against the people who waged them….
What it does say is that actions have consequences. When the Arab and Muslim world continually sees U.S. troops marching through Arab and Muslim backyards, U.S. trade sanctions causing Arab and Muslim suffering and U.S. bombs landing on Arab and Muslim homes, it isn’t difficult to see how Arabs could begin to develop a deep contempt for the U.S.
In this post, I’ll try to provide a concise summary of grievances that resonate with the Middle Eastern public that facilitates a hostility towards America and fuel the extremism that led to 9/11, the Madrid bombings, and the July 7th attacks in London:
1. Perpetuation of Israeli / Palestinian Conflict
Since the creation of Israel in 1948, the Palestinian conflict has become a symbol of Western imperialism forced upon Arabs. Over 89 billion dollars in foreign aid, much in the way of defense grants, has been given to the Israeli’s to create a first world country with the strongest military in the world. In comparison, the Palestinians have lived under an economically crooked and politically backwards country further stratified and isolated by the Israeli occupation that has existed since 1967. The everyday realities of the world’s longest military occupation combined with Israeli settlements condemned repeatedly by the United Nations yet ignored by the United States solidifies many beliefs that the US, as the primary backer of Israel, is guilty of facilitating their crimes. In the Baker-Hamilton report, US-led peace efforts in Palestine-Israel was listed as the crucible of restoring the American image in the Middle East.
2. The Support of Undemocratic / Illegitimate Governments
While the Bush administration has superficially promoted democracy as a panacea to the Middle East, America has continued to strengthen ties with the regions most undemocratic countries. The most notorious and despised of these may be the Egyptian government headed by Hosni Mubarak — an autocratic system that relies on an intelligence agency known for medieval torturing of government opposition. Since 1979, over $50 billion has been given to Egypt, including an average of over 1 billion dollars a year in military aid. The US’ involvement in the overthrow of the Prime Minister of Iran in the 1950s is also a key event in understanding Middle Eastern resentment of America. America’s support of Saudi Arabia, Bin Laden’s home country, has led him to state “our country has become an American colony.” In this context, he likens himself to the French resistance fighting against the Germans. It’s strange to think that when he was fighting Soviet colonization of Afghanistan, America saw it that way too.
3. 1990-2003 Sanctions Against Iraq
United Nations sanctions against Iraq were imposed by the United Nations in 1990 following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and continued until the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. They were perhaps the toughest, most comprehensive sanctions in history, and have caused much controversy over the humanitarian impact, culminating with two senior UN representatives in Iraq resigning in protest of the sanctions. In as much as the economic sanctions were designed to topple Saddam they were a failure, however the sanctions caused the death of between 400,000 and 800,000 Iraqi children. The reasons include lack of medical supplies, malnutrition, and especially disease owing to lack of clean water. Among other things, chlorine, needed for disinfecting water supplies, was banned as having a “dual use” in potential weapons manufacture. On May 10, 1996, appearing on 60 Minutes, Madeleine Albright, then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, was presented with a figure of half a million children under five having died from the sanctions. Not challenging this figure, she infamously replied “we think the price is worth it”. The sanctions regime was finally ended on May 22, 2003 (with certain arms-related exceptions) by paragraph 10 of UNSC, after approximately 1.5 million people had died. Osama bin Laden stated that one of the three reasons the World Trade Center was attacked was the U.S. sanctions against Iraq.
4. Presence of American Troops in the Middle East
United States troops have been stationed in Saudi Arabia since the First Gulf War and have become a potent symbol of Washington’s role in the region, and many Saudis see them as proof of the country’s subservience to America. Saudi Arabia is home to some of Islam’s holiest sites and the deployment of US forces there was seen as a historic betrayal by many Islamists, notably Osama Bin Laden. It is one of the main reasons given by the Saudi-born dissident to justify violence against the United States and its allies.
5. Diplomacy of Convenience
The Cold War created an atmosphere of a zero-sum diplomatic game in the world and the Middle East provided for a fertile battleground for this extensively intrusive style of diplomacy. In the 1980′s, America provided arms and financial assistance to the Mujahdeen’s (including Osama Bin Laden and future founders of the Taliban) to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. With the Iraqi-Iranian war raging, America provided Saddam Hussein with conventional and chemical weapons, while at the same time supplying Iran in the Iran-Contra Affair. The chemical weapons would eventually be used by Saddam on the Iranians and on his own population during civil unrest from the Kurds. The painfully accurate quip during apprehensions to the 2003 invasion of Iraq was “We know Iraq has weapons of mass destruction; we still have the receipt”.
$50 billion later, taking stock of US aid to Egypt by Charles Levinson, Christian Science Monitor
US pulls out of Saudi Arabia, BBC News
Transcript of Osama Bin Ladin interview by Peter Arnett
U.S. Financial Aid To Israel: Figures, Facts, and Impact, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
Bin Laden’s ‘letter to America’, The Observer
Do we really want another ignoramus in the White House? by James Ostrowski
Straight Talk: Paul Has a Point By Radley Balko, Fox News.
Economic Sanctions in Iraq as a Tool of Foreign Policy by Robert W. McGee
Stallone’s ‘Rambo III,’ Globe-Trotting Cowboy For the 80′s Audience by Janet Maslin (”Rambo III” is dedicated ”to the gallant people of Afghanistan”)
Fisk and Osama by Robert Fisk
Operation Ajax, coup of Iranian government in 1953