Moussaoui and Foreign-Policy Unrealities

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Writing about the Zacarias Moussaoui case in the Washington Times, Suzanne Fields displays one of the major maladies that typify conservatives — their propensity to create their own realities with respect to foreign policy in order to avoid confronting the harsh consequences of U.S. foreign policy, especially in the Middle East.

Fields writes,

Moussaoui, nurtured in the Islamic culture, became virulently and violently anti-American, contemptuous of the ‘soft’ psychological and sociological interpretations Americans make of the Islamist enemy. He was even contemptuous of the two jurors who took into account his unhappy childhood, his father’s hot temper and his hostile relationship with his mother as mitigating causes of his viciousness, and spared his life.

Yet not a word about such U.S. foreign policies as the Persian Gulf intervention, the more than a decade of brutal sanctions against Iraq that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent children — and the cold and callous reaction to such horrific consequences among U.S. officials — the stationing of U.S. troops on Islamic holy lands, or the illegal and deadly no-fly zones over Iraq.

(Of course, prior to all that, there were the U.S. delivery of WMDs to Saddam Hussein, the U.S. support for Saddam in his war against Iran, and the secret CIA ouster of Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, followed by ardent U.S. support of the brutal and tortuous policies of the shah of Iran.)

Wouldn’t you think that someone writing about Moussaoui’s motivation would have wanted to quote his own words during his trial?

“Every child who has been killed in Palestine has been killed because of you. Israel is just a missing star in the American flag.”

“Maybe one day she can think how many people the CIA have destroyed their life.”

“You have an amount of hypocrisy which is beyond any belief.”

“You have branded me a terrorist or whatever criminal…. Look at yourself first.”

“Your humanity is a very selected humanity — only you suffer, only you feel.”

Fields wasn’t the only one who didn’t want to focus on Moussaoui’s own reasons for hating Americans and conspiring to commit the 9/11 attacks. When he attempted to explain the reasons, he was cut off by a federal prosecutor’s objection against “political speeches,” an objection that was sustained by the judge. Maybe that’s why Moussaoui, according to the New York Times, remarked that “Americans had forfeited an opportunity to use the trial to discover why people like himself and Mohamed Atta, the pilot of one of the hijacked planes of Sept. 11, ‘have so much hatred for you.’”

Fields might also have gone back to the angry tirade against U.S. foreign policy that the 1993 WTC terrorist Ramsi Yousef delivered to the federal judge who sentenced him, a tirade that referred to, among other things, the brutal sanctions against the Iraqi people and ardent U.S. support of Israeli government policies against the Palestinians.

Even given Moussaoui’s dysfunctional upbringing and Islamic religion, you would think that a journalist such as Fields would want to ask an important question: “What role, if any, does U.S. foreign policy play in this mix?”

But no. Unfortunately, all too many Americans would rather not go down that road because to do so would mean giving up the false reality to which they have clung ever since 9/11: that the terrorists are motivated by hatred for our “freedom and values,” not because of the cruel and brutal things that the U.S. government has done to people overseas for decades.

The late psychiatrist M. Scott Peck once observed that mental health involves a commitment to reality at all costs. It’s an observation that could easily serve as a diagnosis for what ails the American body politic.

May 23, 2006

Jacob Hornberger [send him mail] is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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