It was predictable. For years I've been writing that
the U.S. Government has been making more enemies than
Americans really need, all over the globe, and that one
of these days some of them would have a nasty surprise
It is a time that American should ask their leadership that why Pan Am
Flight 103 over Lokerbie went into flames in 1988. It is time that
should ask their leadership that why World Trade Center was bombed in
They should ask their leadership that why the bombing of the Khaboor
took place in Saudi Arabia in 1996. They should ask their that why U.S.
embassies in Africa were bombed in 1998. They should ask their
that why US Cole in Yemen was rocked in Yemen last year.
In fact it nearly happened a few years ago, when
Islamic radicals tried to blow up the World Trade Center.
But of course they made a botch of it and got caught.
This time, though, someone pulled off what must have
been an extremely cunning conspiracy, a criminal feat for
the ages. They managed to execute a secret plan calling
for four simultaneous hijackings of airplanes. Those who
committed these coordinated deeds -- in spite of all
security measures -- also had the determination to die in
hitting their targets.
This wasn't "terrorism." This was war. It wasn't a
random attempt to scare people with an arbitrary
atrocity, like the bombing of a pizza joint; it was a
serious attempt to kill as many people and do as much
material damage as possible at two strategic targets, the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
But, as I write, hours after the attacks, we don't
know who is at war with us. We may never know. Who has
reason to hate this country? Only a few hundred million
people -- Arabs, Muslims, Serbs, and numerous others
whose countries have been hit by U.S. bombers.
Imagine hating a country so much that you were
willing to cross an ocean and carry out an elaborate
revenge against its people, killing yourself in the
process. This is something far more than the sort of
ideological anti-Americanism that leads student mobs to
throw stones at U.S. embassies abroad; that's kid stuff.
This is an obsessive, fanatical, soul-consuming hatred.
Foreigners aren't quite real to Americans, and most
Americans are unaware of how profoundly their government
antagonizes much of the human race. We are easy-going people who
generally have no idea how bullying we seem to
foreigners. Until now, we have had no experience of what
the U.S. Government has so often inflicted on others.
Now, at least, we have an inkling of what it feels like.
Government spokesmen have responded with their usual
cant of "cowardly attacks" by "terrorists" who "hate
democracy and freedom." Rubbish. A fanatic who is ready
to die is the opposite of a coward, and nobody can "hate"
such abstractions as "democracy and freedom" with that
kind of intensity.
It's dangerous to belittle your enemy, especially
when his courage and cunning have already proved as
formidable as his hatred and cruelty. The first question
you should ask about your enemy is why he is your enemy
in the first place.
You may be deluding and flattering yourself if you
assume he hates you for your virtues. But our "leaders"
assure us that our enemies are unnaturally evil people
who hate us only because we are so wonderful. And they
manage to utter this nonsense with an air of tough-minded
True realism, on the other hand, doesn't mean
blaming Americans for bringing these horrifying and truly
evil acts on themselves. It does mean trying to imagine
alien perspectives from which our government's conduct
might appear so intolerable that some people might be
driven to take atrocious revenge.
"To understand all is to forgive all," says the
French aphorism. Not true. But understanding all can at
least teach you how to avoid making enemies, and avoiding
making enemies is the best defense -- better than a $300
billion "defense" budget that didn't defend the World
The great director Jean Renoir was once asked why
there were no villains in his films. He answered simply:
"Everyone has his reasons." Your bitterest enemy may have
his reasons for hating your guts. You may not think they
are good or sufficient reasons, but you'd better take
them into account. If he has any brains, he may find a way to hurt you.
The United States is now a global empire that wants
to think of itself as a universal benefactor, and is
nonplussed when foreigners don't see it that way. None of
the earlier empires of this world, as far as I know,
shared this delusion; the Romans, the Mongols, the
British, the Russians and Soviets didn't expect to rule
and to be loved at the same time. Why do we