Understanding the Media
Ever since the tragic events of the 11th, the media was been quick to shoot-down the "blowback" thesis for explaining the role of
All this is true, yet it should be obvious to all that
Given that US policy has contributed to the elimination (often times murdered) of the left in the Middle East we should not be surprised that we are dealing with the blowback of only a radical right-wing fundamentalist opposition existing in any numbers. For, indeed, not only did the US help suppress the left throughout the Middle East, but we promoted the extremist right in Olivers North "neat idea" fashion when Polish opera colonels running our foreign policy, such as Zbigniew Brzezinski as Secretary of State in 1979, thought it clever to play out their Cold War games with the Soviets by supplying religious fanatics with aid to Afghanistan. As Brzezinski himself admits in a 1998 interview in Le Monde the
Yet, in the medium and long term, peace is dependent on a change in
Yet, the punditry wishes no part of arguments suggesting that
It is difficult to say what motivated Christopher Hitchens to stray so far from the truth with his recent essay "Against Rationality." Like a B-52 laden with unguided bombs, the usually careful Hitchens let loose a torrent of unsubstantiated assertions against a "Chomsky-Zinn-Finkelstein" crowd. Any careful reader will see through his arguments "directly" connecting the motivations of Islamic extremists, who probably bombed the World Trade Towers, to US policy. Unfortunately, Hitchens can count on everyone not having time to read carefully....
To correct the record, Chomsky, in particular, has called the events of the 11th "mass murder." Moreover, citing the perceptive remarks of Robert Fisk, who has appeared in the pages of The Nation, Chomsky has asserted that Osama bin Laden has little knowledge of the world and certainly has NOT exacted "justice" for past US foreign policy through these bombings. Instead, at least with Chomsky, only the more subtle, although certainly easily grasped, argument has been made that US policy has contributed to an environment in which Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda can recruit from a pool of alienated people capable of committing such demented actions.
This is like the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. By bombing the region back to the stone age during the US war in Indo-China, Cambodia was made ripe for such bizarre reactions as the reactionaries desiring to take Cambodia toward a warped vision of an agricultural past as utopian future.
Returning to the Middle East, US policies--in conjunction with its client regimes--have so devastated the region that the fanatical vision of Islam that arose in the 1970s in response to struggles against the Shah of Iran's regime resonates all too unfortunately with all too many people. This type of "Islamic fascism"--as Hitchens calls it--made its first contemporary appearance among Iranians opposing the Shah: the US client in Iran. At the time of the US Hostage Crisis in 1979 President Jimmy Carter was approached with the reasons why US policy created such hostility among Iranians. He reportedly dismissed those historical lessons as irrelevant to solving his immediate problem. He was right. Taking those hostages was neither justified, nor would have addressing US foreign policy errors have pacified those already in the throws of Islamic fundamentalism. Yet, he was wrong in assuming that this crisis was hermetically sealed off from US foreign policy, or from the potential of that policy to create future problems. The future has arrived.
In sum, changing US policy will do nothing to stop those currently possessed by "Islamic fascism"--as Hitchens terms it. Yet, a more just foreign policy for the region will begin to starve these fanatical groups of the rage and destitution that provides them with new bodies to carry forth their "struggle." While we must address the short-term problem of terrorist threats, we would be wise to also look into medium to long-term solutions for a changed foreign policy that works against creating an environment in which extremist groups thrive, rather than one which nourishes them. Yet, Hitchens wants none of it in his jihad against those who do not see the problem as "clearly" as does he.
Hitchens further "elaborates" his argument in a subsequent Nation article. Here he counsels the US take action against the Taliban. He hints at violent action. Yet, he ignores two significant problems. One, is the Russian example in Chechnya. In round two of the Russian struggle against Chechnya the imperial Russians would have been welcomed by locals terrorized by Islamic fundamentalists. And, yes, Mr. Hitchens, this is in part "blowback" from US support of these extremists dating back to the policies of Cold War hawks like Zbigniew Brzezinski who used the Voice of America and any other instruments at their disposal to fuel Islamic fanaticism on the Soviet's southern flank. Instead, by heavy-handed action, the Russians have further alienated the Chechen people who would have viewed them as liberators. This is not a call for inaction in Afghanistan, but caution. Two, the wrong moves might result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands--if not more--through associated affects of military action, such as famine in this thoroughly destabilized region. Let's be careful.