“Terrorists aren’t trying to kill us because they hate our freedom. They’re
killing us because we’re in their countries killing them.”
~ Michael Moore
In his new
Points, former president George W. Bush complains about
a 2004 tape by Osama bin Laden “mocking my response to 9/11
in the Florida classroom.” What really upset Bush was that
“it sounded like he was plagiarizing Michael Moore.”
is the documentary filmmaker and liberal political commentator who
harshly criticized Bush in his 2004 film Fahrenheit
9/11, which he wrote, directed, produced, and stared in.
Rockwell wrote about the film:
decries the warmongering of the Bush administration, exposes the
fraudulence of his excuses for invading and crushing Iraq, unearths
the unseemly ties between the Bush regime and big oil and the
Saudis, and blasts the Bush regime for its egregious violations
of civil liberties and massive pillaging of the American taxpayer
on behalf of the merchants of death.
This, of course,
does not mean that Lew Rockwell or I endorse anything else that
Michael Moore has ever done.
Rockwell, I am no fan of Michael Moore. He is a radical liberal,
a union propagandist, a socialist, a gun grabber, an economic ignoramus,
and a hypocrite who criticizes capitalism and poses as a spokesman
of the working class while living an upscale life, sending his daughter
to an elite private school, and boasting of his wealth. I even agree
with Bush that Moore is a “slimeball.”
But there is
one thing Michael Moore is right about.
In a recent
letter to Juan Williams regarding his firing
by NPR, Moore used the courtroom statements of the Times Square
car bomber Faisal Shahzad to explain why many in the Muslim World
hate us. Moore previously wrote an open letter to Bush
on the eve of the Iraq war and to Obama
about the war in Afghanistan.
Here is what
Moore quotes Shahzad as saying at his June 21, 2010, appearance
in the Federal District Court in Manhattan where he pleaded guilty
to a ten-count indictment:
I want to
plead guilty, and I’m going to plead guilty 100 times over, because
until the hour the U.S. pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan,
and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan,
and stops the occupation of Muslim lands, and stops killing the
Muslims, and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we
will be attacking U.S., and I plead guilty to that.
And here is
what Moore quotes Shahzad as saying on October 5, 2010, when he
was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole:
liberated Muslim lands … And that’s what we Muslims are trying
do, because you’re occupying Iraq and Afghanistan… So, the past
nine years the war with Muslims has achieved nothing for the U.S.,
except for it has waken up the Muslims for Islam. We are only
Muslims trying to defend our people, honor, and land. But if you
call us terrorists for doing that, then we are proud terrorists,
and we will keep on terrorizing until you leave our land and people
The first thing
to be determined is whether Moore accurately quotes Shahzad. In
transcript from June 21, “100 times over” appears
as “a hundred times forward.” The only other difference
between Moore and the official transcript is a few commas. In defense
of Moore I should point out that the way he quotes Shahzad is the
usual way the quote has been reported. In the court
transcript from October 5, we can see that the first and second
statements attributed to Shahzad actually come after the third statement.
And just to be fair to Shahzad (yes, I know he’s a convicted terrorist,
but that doesn’t give us the right to misquote him), here is what
he said without the brackets and ellipsis: “He liberated Muslim
lands from the Jewish crusade, Christian crusade. And that’s what
we Muslims are trying do, because you’re occupying Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Moore quotes the third statement word perfect. So, what Moore quotes
Shahzad as saying is essentially correct.
It is at the
close of his short open letter that Moore reaches his conclusion
I quoted above: “Terrorists aren’t trying to kill us because
they hate our freedom. They’re killing us because we’re in their
countries killing them.”
So if Moore
is right – and I have no doubt that he is – then Islamic terrorists
don’t want to detonate bombs in Times Square or blow up U.S.-bound
airplanes because we have a bill of rights or because they think
Brittany Spears should wear a burqa.
Moore is not just right; he is by implication giving us the key
to declaring the war on terror over: GET OUT. Get U.S. troops out
of Iraq and Afghanistan. Get the CIA out of Yemen and Pakistan.
Stop the Predator drone attacks. Cease flying the sorties. I’m not
sure about Moore, but I would go even further. Close the overseas
bases. Bring all the troops home. Retire as the policeman of the
world. Discontinue the foreign wars. Halt the spreading of democracy.
Freeze the nation building. End the interventionist foreign policy.
is saying is not new. The CIA calls it blowback. The Bible calls
it reaping what you sow.
truth is that the war on terror creates terrorists. As the great
Greenwald wrote after Faisal Shahzad entered his guilty plea:
contradiction of American foreign policy is that the very actions
endlessly rationalized as necessary for combating Terrorism –
invading, occupying and bombing other countries, limitless interference
in the Muslim world, unconditional support for Israeli aggression,
vast civil liberties abridgments such as torture, renditions,
due-process-free imprisonments – are the very actions that fuel
the anti-American hatred which, as the U.S. Government itself
has long recognized, is what causes, fuels and exacerbates the
Terrorism we’re ostensibly attempting to address.
But never mind
what Glenn Greenwald has to say; never mind what Michael Moore has
to say, and never mind what Laurence Vance has to say.
on strategic communication prepared by the Defense
Science Board Task Force, “a federal advisory committee
established to provide independent advice to the secretary of defense”:
campaign – or as some still would have it, “the war of ideas,”
or the struggle
for “hearts and minds” – is important to every war effort.
In this war it is an essential
objective, because the larger goals of U.S. strategy depend on
separating the vast
majority of non-violent Muslims from the radical-militant Islamist-Jihadists.
But American efforts have not only failed in this respect: they
may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended.
direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated
the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing
support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.
not “hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies.
The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they
see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian
rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what
Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi
Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.
in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and
not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering.
U.S. actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives,
and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national
interests at the expense of truly Muslim selfdetermination.
the dramatic narrative since 9/11 has essentially borne out the
entire radical Islamist bill of particulars. American actions
and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi
insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims.
Fighting groups portray themselves as the true defenders of an
Ummah (the entire Muslim community) invaded and under attack –
to broad public support.
But U.S. foreign
policy blunders didn’t just begin on 9/11. As Sheldon
Richman recently explained:
to those who think history began September 11, 2001, U.S. regimes
have long pursued policies in the Middle East and Central Asia
that have brutalized the Muslim world and cultivated a seething
passion for revenge. That explains (though does not excuse) the
terrorism against civilians that government officials now say
they must spend so much to stop. The threat was created by American
policy, and it can be ended by changing that policy to the Washington-Jefferson
foreign policy of nonintervention. That will not only make us
safer, it also will save the taxpayers money.
to know, as he prepared the exhaustive study titled “Ancient
History’: U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War II and
the Folly of Intervention.”
of 9/11 were political acts. They were not undertaken because of
our freedoms, way of life, culture, or religion. The problem is
our government and its abominable foreign policy. It is because
of our foreign policy that our soldiers are needlessly dying in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now, to accept
the fact that terrorists want to kill us because we’re in their
countries killing them doesn’t mean that those killed on 9/11 deserved
to die or that violence is justified or that the Koran is a holy
book or that Islam is a religion of peace or that no act of terrorism
against the United States would ever take place again if we withdrew
What it does
mean – to anyone except red-state fascists, bloodthirsty conservative
chickenhawks, Republican armchair warriors, Religious Right warvangelicals,
theocon Values Voters, reich-wing nationalists, God and country
Christian bumpkins, and other apologists for the U.S. military and
its wars – is that maybe, perhaps, possibly there might be something
terribly wrong with U.S. foreign policy, as the heroic Ron Paul
has pointed out over and over again.
may be a liberal, he may be a hypocrite, he may be wrong on an innumerable
number of issues, he may be overweight, he may even have bad breath,
but on the subject of why terrorists want to kill us Michael Moore
has never been more right.