At last, Americans can finally dispense with the fairy
tale that terrorists hate us "not for what weíve done, but for what we
stand for, who we are." Osama bin Laden shattered that myth with his
videotaped statement released on October 7th, in which he publicly
declared, for all practical purposes, that an unjust U.S. foreign policy
is the driving force behind the September 11th terrorist
attacks. "Millions of innocent children are being killed in IraqÖNeither
America, nor the people who live in it, will dream of security before
peace reigns in Palestine, and before all the armies leave the land of
Muhammad [Saudi Arabia]," said bin Laden.
Nothing can justify the World Trade Center and Pentagon
attacks on innocent and defenseless civilians, and whoever perpetrated
those heinous and barbarous acts must certainly be brought to justice.
Muslims around the world agree that killing civilians is not permitted
under Koranic law, but bin Ladenís message still resonates with millions
of Muslims in the Arab world. It would be foolhardy and dangerous for
Americans to dismiss without further examination bin Ladenís stated
For the past eleven years, the United States has been the
driving force behind UN sanctions against Saddam Hussein and the 22
million Iraqi people. Estimates vary, but World Health Organization and
UNICEF studies certify that sanctions are responsible for the death of
approximately 1 million Iraqi civilians, including over 500,000 children.
Denis Halliday, the first of two UN humanitarian coordinators in Iraq to
resign the post in protest of the sanctions, has used the term genocide
in reference to the sanctions. "It certainly is a valid word in my view
when you have a situation where we see thousands of deaths per month, a
possible total of 1 million to 1.5 million. If that is not genocide, then
I donít know quite what is," said Halliday in a 1999 interview.
UN Security Resolution 242 calls for Israelís territorial
withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. However, the PLO has gained sole
control over less than one third of the territories. Meanwhile, the
Israeli settler population in the occupied territories has reached nearly
200,000. "Without solving the Palestinian problem, we will see a new
generation of terrorists threatening world security. Itís a breeding
ground for terrorism," Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said after a
recent meeting with German officials in Berlin. Jordanís King Abdullah II
said he told President Bush that a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict could lesson terrorism worldwide, removing a key cause taken up
by extremists. "I told him that we need a speedy resolution to the
Palestinian issue," the King said. Yet U.S. foreign policy provides $3
billion a year in military aid and nearly unconditional political support
to the Israeli government.
The United States maintains approximately 5000 troops in
Saudi Arabia, home to two of Islamís most revered religious sites, Mecca
and Medina, and the birthplace of Muhammad. "The country of the Two Holy
Places has in our religion a peculiarity of its own," bin Laden told ABC
reporter John Miller in 1998. In his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, U.S.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as
the keeper of the holy places in their religion, has a special
responsibility." In a 1999 FRONTLINE interview, Said K. Aburish, a
Palestinian born journalist and author of the book Coming Fall of the
House of Saud, said that the continued presence of U.S. troops in
Saudi Arabia is "religiously unacceptable to Saudis."
Besides sullying Islamic holy soil, the U.S. presence in
Saudi Arabia also constitutes, according to bin Laden, an infringement on
Arab sovereignty. "America supports the oppressive, corrupt, and
tyrannical Saudi regime," bin Laden told FRONTLINE. Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld affirmed U.S. support in an October 3rd
press briefing: "In the case of Saudi Arabia, here's a country with which
we have a very good relationship with and we have had it for a very long
time." Said K. Aburish told FRONTLINE, "The Saudi government is not
terribly different than Saddam Husseinís regime. People have no voice in
the running of the government. People disappear in the middle of the
night, and people are imprisoned without being charged. And the government
has squandered the countryís wealth."
U.S. foreign policy is either contributing to or
responsible for gross injustices perpetrated against Iraqi, Palestinian,
and Saudi citizens. Americans may see themselves as a good and civilizing
force in the world, but the civilians killed or suffering under U.S.
foreign policy do not agree. The deep and lasting hatred felt by millions
of Muslims towards the United States requires an acceptance that these are
forces United States foreign policy has helped set loose.