Why They Hate Us
by Laurence M. Vance
“Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. . . . America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world.” ~ George W. Bush, address to the nation, September 11, 2001
“They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.” ~ George W. Bush, address to Congress, September 20, 2001
Of all the lies of the Bush administration used to justify the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this one has proven to be the most enduring – and the most wrong.
According to a 2004 report 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”:
American 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.
Muslims do 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.
Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has 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.
Therefore, 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.
A 2006 National Intelligence Estimate concluded that the war in Iraq increased the threat of terrorism rather than reduced it. “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States” points out the “centrality” of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in fomenting terrorist cells and attacks and describes how the American presence in Iraq has helped spread radical Islam by providing a focal point for anti-Americanism.