The American Taxpayer Is Paying Dearly to Be Attacked by Terrorists

Al-Hamra compound on Thursday May 15, 2003, one of the three compounds that was attacked in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Despite President Bush's expansive and expensive "war on terrorism," al Qaeda-by apparently and simultaneously bombing several housing complexes in the police state of Saudi Arabia-has shown its continued viability and potency as a terrorist group. According to the Saudi Interior Minister, the attacks were conducted by men who escaped Saudi authorities a week ago, but left behind an arms cache. The Saudi government noted that the men were bent on attacking U.S. and British targets in Iraq, as well as the U.S.-supported Saudi royal family. They chose to do so shortly before Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived in Saudi Arabia. In addition, one target of the bombing was a complex housing the employees of an American company that uses former U.S. military personnel to train the Saudi National Guard. Despite victims of other nationalities, early evidence indicates that the main targets of the attack were the United States and Britain, the two nations conducting the war against Iraq.

The terrorist attacks support the views of those who argued against such a war on the grounds that it would increase anti-American terrorism, not reduce it. After arriving in Saudi Arabia, Secretary Powell said: "Terrorism strikes everywhere and everyone. It is a threat to the civilized world." Although the Secretary's statement is technically true, he needs to read his own department's reports entitled "Patterns of Global Terrorism." Those annual reports regularly indicate that terrorists launching international attacks strike U.S. targets an astounding 40 to 60 percent of the time. Those numbers are unusually high for a nation that has no ethnic or civil war within its borders, has no unfriendly neighbors stoking such internal unrest, and is far removed from the world's major centers of conflict.

So why are Americans disproportionately attacked by terrorists? President Bush would have us believe that they hate our freedoms (freedom of speech, religion, etc.). In addition to being intuitively unconvincing (if peaceably practiced, how do our freedoms hurt anyone else?), this theory does not explain why countries like Sweden and Switzerland aren't attacked. Similarly, some pundits believe that the United States is attacked because it is a rich, capitalist country. Of course, once again, there are many such nations that don't face the same terrorist threat.

Lastly, some believe that the U.S. is attacked disproportionately because of its decadent culture-for example, Hollywood movies, Madonna, etc. Yet repeated polls taken in Arabic and Islamic nations indicate that the people in those nations admire our political and economic freedoms, our wealth, and even our culture, but they object to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

Which brings us back to Iraq. According to anonymous U.S. officials, the invasion of Iraq was designed to show that the war on terror was broader than just an attack on the September 11 terrorists and the Taliban regime that was harboring them in Afghanistan. Of course, by attacking the Iraqi regime, which had no demonstrated connection with the attacks on September 11, the Bush administration haplessly fell into Osama bin Laden's trap. Terrorists, always the weaker party, commonly attack the stronger party-in this case, the United States-and hope for an overreaction that will generate funding and new recruits. A non-Islamic invasion and occupation of an Islamic nation without a convincing self-defense rationale is sure to fan the flames of the already intense hatred of the United States in the fundamentalist Islamic world.

In addition, in Iraq, the "you break it, you've bought it" aphorism may hold. Now that the United States destroyed any governing authority in Iraq (as the widespread looting and lawlessness shows), the Iraqi people-particularly the majority Shiites-have expectations that the invading power will make war-ravaged Iraqi society whole again. Failing to fulfill those high expectations during its occupation-as is likely given the short attention span the United States has exhibited in Afghanistan, Somalia and Haiti-the U.S. military may face terrorist attacks from the many Iraqis who then want the U.S. forces to get out.

A strengthened al Qaeda may not be the U.S. government's only problem. Bin Laden and the rest of his al Qaeda followers are Sunni Moslems. Iraq contains the holy sites for the Shiia sect of Islam. To retaliate for the U.S. occupation of the nation containing those holy sites, the Shiite Hezbollah, an international terrorist group every bit as formidable as al Qaeda, could resume attacks against U.S. targets worldwide (such attacks dissipated after the United States abandoned its failed intervention in Lebanon in the 1980s). Other Shiite terrorist groups-for example, Hamas-could also begin attacking Americans both at home and abroad.

When people in the United States speak of U.S. foreign policy, they often use the term "we." Although most Americans supported the war against Iraq, the average citizen might consider that the neo-conservatives currently running the U.S. government have different interests than they do. The neo-conservatives freely use the words "American empire"-an utterance that Americans have avoided ever since they shook off their own colonial oppressors during the American revolution. Empires cost money and lives as defense budgets go through the roof and America's sons and daughters die in foreign brushfire wars. Now, blowback from such overseas military adventures-in the form of terrorist reprisals-has and will likely continue to harm U.S. citizens even here at home. Throughout history, governments have gone to war and the common people have paid the price. Same stuff, different day.

Ivan Eland is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute in Oakland, California, and author of the book, Putting "Defense" Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World.

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Older Comments:
This is one of the finest and very thoughtful written articles that i have read about condemning American foreign policy.

Terrorists are jackals feeding on the blood of injustice...Until America stops its war of revenge, terrorists of all stripes will thrive. 9/11 was the most brilliant military operation in the history of mankind and the World Trade Center were astutely chosen because the monolithic towers symbolized the financial imprisonment of the Arab world indeed all of the Third World. The American flag placed on the statue of Saddam Hussein and quickly removed was the same American flag that flew over the Pentagon on 9/11. Iraq was the Pentagon's war of revenge that will self-perpetuate terrorism and keep feeding the Pentagon's budget. Osama Bin Laden is smiling.

I'm not really sure where this article is coming from. First I must ask, what is terrorism and who defines who is a terrorist? Is the terrorist the man who flies a plane into a building or the man who drops a "smart" bomb on a wedding party?Are the definers the U.S. and it's Western and Israeli allies or is it the people who experience first hand the foreign policies of the U.S and its allies? And who defines democracy? The U.S and its President, who was never elected, the UK where a minority government is virtually guaranteed to win? When people talk of "democracy" they are talking about western values. When people talk about "human rights" they are talking about western values. When people talk about "freedom" they talk about western values.
As a muslim I know that the law of God comes first and any man or government that does not rule according to Gods law must be overthrown if he or they do not change. Regardless of western values. No human being has rights other than those given or restricted by God. God has said homosexuality is wrong and must not be accepted, western "values" say we must accept homosexuality. This is just one example where "human rights" are against Gods law. So to accept these "rights" is to go against Gods law. Simple. Western values is code for colonialism.
Killing children is against Gods will, full stop. American servicemen have killed more than any "terrorist". Killing innocent women, American sevicemen have killed more than any "terrorist". Killing old men, the same.
Every muslim must fight this evil America, but should not kill the children,women,old. It is a hard thing to ask when evil American soldiers and their allies are killing the very same of ours.Anyone that works for or supports the military of any country that kills muslims is a legitimate target, if they wage war on us we must wage war on them. It is a duty. so who are the terrorists?

May Allah/God bless everyone,
As a Muslim who lived in the Muslim world for years and as an American who loves America as much as his very native land, I firmly believe that there is one and only one solution for the terrorists to cease hating America. First of all, the United States must cease turning a blind eye on the plight of the Palestinians; secondly, our government must help install real democracies predicated on the indigenous will of the people of all Muslim states; and thirdly, the United States must promote education throughout the Muslim world by offering financial aid to the local institutions (those void of corruption tendencies). Education will definitely decrease people's narrow-mindedness about the Unites States and their dispositions to absorb all that hate which the local religious leaders (directed by the local authorities) promote during Friday's sermons. This way, the United States will fall back into people's hearts as a country of democratic principles, justice, openness, and not one which keeps playing a double-standard. I whole-heartedly believe that the Unites States will find in the Muslims of the world an ally, a friend and a brother like no other. Under this holistic picture, the terrorists will not find a place to operate out of. After all this is said and done, Islam remains a religion of peace and not one of violence as some have dubbed it to be.


What the author is not telling us is that
Al Qaeda, is now the instrument which the current administration will use to fulfill it's global adgenda.

Bin Laden's warped jihad is backfiring ... it's being used by the very people he wishes to distroy to reep more power, and to push him further into his cave like the lost ape he really is.

If anyone objects to the path the current administration wishes to take the country, they are not a Patriot, the don't care about the US.

In the name of National Security the world's resources will be secured and the planet will be made to heed to the adgenda of the rich and greedy!

Rednecks, a US Supreme Court approved word, are taking over the world and it's resources and they are using Saddam and Bin Laden to help them justify their actions in the process.


As an Astrologer, knowing Uranus which often influences changes has entered Pisces which among other things relates to forienors we seem to be following a formula made in heaven that could have been for different results than fear and terror of a majority of people who are just trying to live from day to day like the rest of us. As a senior going down on the lowest step on the ladder of success in USA I see the poor being squeezed from what they once thought were thier luxuries of smoking and putting gas in their car as the price of this new war by this administration. If we vote him back in, we deserve what we get. Defiance.

That was an impressive article. What puzzles me is that it comes from a thinker associated with the Independent Institute. Isn't that a rightwing think tank??? If so, it seems as if rightwingers are the only ones allowed to criticize Bush policy today. If the same text was written by a leftwing writer, he would probably be the object of a Freeper campaign, like that waged against anyone and everyone who spoke out against war.