Pretty much missing from the commentaries and responses to the recent Belgium bombing was the basic question as to why Muslim extremists attack us. And its obvious corollary: if we know the reason for these atrocities, perhaps we can get a handle on how to stop or reduce them.
But, as usual, the American media, politicians, talking heads, and other so-called experts in general remain as evasive and clueless as ever. But the answers as to the terrorists’ motives are not hard to find.
Why Belgium? ISIS proclaimed it was targeted as “a country participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State.” And ISIS (as well as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) said the Paris attacks last year were in retaliation for French airstrikes again them in Syria and Iraq.
Then there’s Osama bin Laden, who told us the main reason for the 9/11 attacks was the deployment of U.S. forces in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia, which he called “the greatest of” aggressions incurred by the Muslims since the death of the prophet.”
Peter Bergen, an expert on bin Laden and Jihadism, in his 2006 book, The Osama bin Laden I Know, states that the al Qaeda leader “has been pretty consistent about why he’s attacking the United States. It’s because of America’s foreign policies. … It’s about what America has been doing in his backyard, as he sees it.”
Even earlier, a Department of Defense study in 1997 (in response to the 1996 suicide bombing of Air Force housing at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia) concluded that: “Historical data show a strong correlation between US involvement in international situations and an increase in terrorist attacks against the United States.”
So no, it’s not because of our freedom, our wealth, our values, or our religion that they attack us. It’s because of our foreign policy and actions around the world: the invasions, occupations, drone strikes, killing of civilians, torture, and similar atrocities. The more we involve ourselves militarily in places around the world where we are not wanted, the more terrorist attacks we will see here and in the West.
The answer to reducing terrorist attacks should be obvious: draw down American and Western involvement in the Middle East and other places far from our shores, and use those resources toward fixing our own problems (which we can all agree need our attention), as well as helping rebuild (with their permission) some of the countries we helped devastate. That would go a long way toward making this a friendlier and safer world. And we could all use that.