Mainstream pundits are struggling to discover the motive of 24-year old Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, the man who attacked two military recruiting centers in Chattanooga, killing four Marines, and who then got killed in a shoot-out with police.
Permit me to hazard a guess: Abdulazeez was motivated by rage over the U.S. government’s killing of people in the Middle East, many of whom are Muslim, for the past 25 years.
It’s just a guess. I don’t have any firm evidence that that was Abdulazeez’s motive. But notice: He didn’t attack people at a shopping mall or a church, where he undoubtedly could have killed many more people. Instead, he killed members of the U.S. military.
And he was Muslim. And he had traveled to the Middle East.
Let’s put two and two together. U.S. Marines are member of the U.S. military, which has been killing people in the Middle East for decades. Is it really a stretch to say that all the death and mayhem that the U.S. government unleashed in the Middle East motivated Abdulazeez to exact revenge in what amounted to murder and suicide-by-cop, especially since that is what has motivated other acts of terrorism within the United States, such as the Fort Hood killings?
Think of the hundreds of thousands of people who were killed in the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Also, all those Iraqis who were arrested, incarcerated, tortured, and abused. Neither they nor their government ever attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. Yet, they were killed, injured, or maimed or had it done to family members or friends. And they had their homes, businesses, and entire country bombed to smithereens.
I’ll bet Abdulazeez may have asked himself that question many times. Or maybe he figured out the answer — a U.S. regime change operation in Iraq. If so, I’ll bet that he didn’t consider that a valid reason for killing, injuring, maiming so many people and destroying their homes, businesses, and country.
Notice something else: While many supporters of the invasion and occupation of Iraq are now expressing regret for it, including presidential candidates, no one is expressing remorse or apologizing for all the death and destruction that the U.S. military and the CIA unleashed on Iraq. Instead, they’re spending their time thanking the troops for “their service” in Iraq and trying to convince family members of soldiers who died there, lost limbs there, or came back mentally damaged that it was all worth it.
It wasn’t the only time that U.S. officials have killed Iraqis. Don’t forget the cruel and brutal sanctions that U.S. officials imposed and enforced before the 9/11 attacks. Those sanctions killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright, the official U.S. government spokesman to that world body, even publicly declared that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children were “worth it.” That was in 1996. The sanctions continued on for another 7 years.
People in the Middle East were filled with rage over the continuous flow of deaths of Iraqi children for more than 10 years. In fact, the sanctions were expressly cited by Ramzi Yousef, one of the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, and by Osama bin Laden prior to the 9/11 attacks.
There were also the hundreds of thousands of people who were killed in the U.S. war on Afghanistan, many of them, strangely, involved in weddings when they were bombed. The reason for the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan? The refusal of the Taliban government to accede to President Bush’s extradition demand for Osama bin Laden, notwithstanding the lack of an extradition agreement between Afghanistan and the United States. In the military invasion to arrest bin Laden, hundreds of thousands of Afghans were killed, injured, or maimed, most of whom had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.After the 9/11 attacks, U.S. officials immediately declared that the terrorists were motivated by hatred for America’s “freedom and values.” Perhaps that’s because U.S. officials believe that the cruel and brutal sanctions against Iraq, which were had killed all those children, along with U.S. foreign aid to tyrannical Middle Eastern regimes and to the Israeli government, as well as the Persian Gulf War, the stationing of U.S. troops near Islamic holy lands, the deadly “no-fly” zones over Iraq, and the U.S. government’s overseas empire of military bases, were all part of America’s “freedom and values.”
But they aren’t. America’s traditional freedom and values have nothing to do with foreign invasions and occupations, undeclared wars of aggressions, sanctions, embargoes, empire, or imperial escapades. They are instead all part and parcel of a national-security state apparatus, consisting of the Pentagon, a enormous and permanent standing army, the CIA, the NSA, the military-industrial complex, and the vast empire of military bases, both domestic and foreign, none of which have anything to do with America’s freedom and values.
It’s the national-security state apparatus, a governmental structure that is common to totalitarian regimes, not free societies, that has brought America to the point where people, filled with rage, are exacting revenge on the people who serve in that apparatus.
In 1961, in one of the most shocking Farewell Addresses in U.S history, President Eisenhower pointed out how this apparatus — which he termed the “military-industrial complex” — constituted a new, alien way of life for the American people. He also observed that it constituted a grave threat to the freedom and democratic processes of the American people.
Then, 30 days after President Kennedy was assassinated, former President Truman weighed in with an op-ed in the Washington Post stating that the CIA had become a sinister force in American life.
And no one can deny that every totalitarian regime in history would have loved to have had a NSA as part of its governmental structure.
Nonetheless, Americans are still reluctant to confront the ugly the truth about this totalitarian-like apparatus that has been attached to our original governmental system. “Praise the troops” and “thank them for their service” are constantly on the lips of the American people. All those people the troops have killed over there deserved to die. Our boys killed them before they could come over here to kill us. The troops are over there protecting our rights and freedoms here at home. They’re keeping us safe by continuing to kill people over there, including with assassinations by drone.
And then Americans just scratch their heads in befuddlement whenever someone strikes back for the death and destruction that the military and the CIA have wreaked — and continue wreaking — over there. Or, even worse, they reach the same conclusion they reached after the 9/11 attacks — that it’s all because the terrorists just hate us for our “freedom and values.”
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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