by Diane V. McLoughlin
June 30, 2010: I would take up a New Yorker's challenge to explain the motivation behind the World Trade Center bombings, who asks, rhetorically, what did we do to deserve those attacks? I've got unhappy news for him - we did plenty. For openers, under Presidents Bush I and Clinton, we deliberately killed hundreds of thousands of Iraq's children - 'worth it', according to Secretary of State M. Albright.
Osama bin Laden wrote clearly in his 'Letter to America' why the Muslim world fights against the machinations of the United States; it should be read by every American citizen. To the eternal discredit of the mainstream American press, most Americans have never even heard of it. For the sake of brevity I have shortened the letter to its most central points, adding a few brief comments of my own in square brackets. (The full text of the letter can be viewed here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/nov/24/theobserver)
The crimes against humanity that the U.S. and the West are complicit in committing against the oppressed Palestinian people is Exhibit A in bin Laden's Letter:
'a) You attacked us in Palestine.'
[The U.S. donates in value three billion dollars to Israel each and every year - most of it in the form of military hardware used against the Palestinian people (and also Lebanon), who in truth have languished for fifty years under Israel's racist, barbed-wire Apartheid regime.
[Bin Laden seems less sanguine than Iran's Ahmadinajad on this issue: Ahmadinajad calls for a referendum to be held in Palestine by the people - both Jews and Palestinians - for them to determine democratically for themselves a structure for a just and fair society; bin Laden says that the creation of Israel was a crime that must be erased. I have no idea whether bin Laden would respond positively to Ahmadinajad's democratic proposal.]
'b) You attacked us in Somalia; you supported the Russian atrocities against us in Chechnya, the Indian oppression against us in Kashmir, and the Jewish aggression against us in Lebanon.
'(c) Under your supervision, consent and orders, the governments of our countries which act as your agents, attack us on a daily basis;
'(d) You steal our wealth and oil at paltry prices because of your international influence and military threats. This theft is indeed the biggest theft ever witnessed by mankind in the history of the world.
'(e) Your forces occupy our countries; you spread your military bases throughout them; you corrupt our lands, and you besiege our sanctities, to protect the security of the Jews and to ensure the continuity of your pillage of our treasures.
'(f) You have starved the Muslims of Iraq, where children die every day. It is a wonder that more than 1.5 million Iraqi children have died as a result of your sanctions, and you did not show concern. Yet when 3000 of your people died, the entire world rises and has not yet sat down.
'(g) You have supported the Jews in their idea that Jerusalem is their eternal capital, and agreed to move your embassy there. With your help and under your protection, the Israelis are planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque...[for brevity, skipped text...]
'(3) You may...dispute that all the above does not justify aggression against civilians, for crimes they did not commit and offenses in which they did not partake:
'(a) This argument contradicts your continuous repetition that America is the land of freedom, and its leaders in this world. Therefore, the American people are the ones who choose their government by way of their own free will; a choice which stems from their agreement to its policies. Thus the American people have chosen, consented to, and affirmed their support for the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, the occupation and usurpation of their land, and its continuous killing, torture, punishment and expulsion of the Palestinians. The American people have the ability and choice to refuse the policies of their Government and even to change it if they want.
'(b) The American people are the ones who pay the taxes which fund the planes that bomb us in Afghanistan, the tanks that strike and destroy our homes in Palestine, the armies which occupy our lands in the Arabian Gulf, and the fleets which ensure the blockade of Iraq...
'...if we are attacked, then we have the right to attack back...That which you are singled out for in the history of mankind, is that you have used your force to destroy mankind more than any other nation in history; not to defend principles and values, but to hasten to secure your interests and profits. You who dropped a nuclear bomb on Japan, even though Japan was ready to negotiate an end to the war. How many acts of oppression, tyranny and injustice have you carried out, O callers to freedom?'
Bin Laden held out a hand of reconciliation: 'We also call you to deal with us and interact with us on the basis of mutual interests and benefit.'
- mildly edited from my original comment No. 76 on New York Times blogger Robert Wright's excellent opinion piece: 'The Myth of Modern Jihad'; June 29, 2010