Bin Laden's American blood brothers

By David Horowitz

By Salon Staff

Published September 17, 2001 10:07PM (EDT)

Read the story.

David Horowitz uses the catastrophe of last week's events to write yet another screed against American liberals and radicals. Like a true ideologue, virtually every thing he says about them is the same as it would have been if the bombings had not occurred. The actual events seem unimportant except as means to continue his war -- not on Osama bin Laden, but on the American left.

-- Jon Landau

While I hate to admit it, David Horowitz is right about one thing -- the attacks on New York and Washington come at a time when the American Fundamentalist Left is in full swoon over the most radical elements of the '60s bomb-throwers. And that history is being rewritten for a new audience that knows nothing of their tactics or victims. Moreover, the progressive news outlets are pushing the "we had it coming" line pretty hard -- arguing that terrorism is the last resort of an oppressed people (and wealthy Saudi aristocrats) and dragging out every foreign policy blunder from the past 200 years to explain why 5,000 people deserved to die. They prefer the blood of innocents to assuage their middle class guilt.

I remain a socialist and liberal thinker, but the Fundamentalist Left lost me when it started divorcing itself from the truth in the interest of indoctrinating a new generation of bomb throwers. Indeed, I think this will be the final straw to whatever tatters are left of the coalition that walked the streets of Seattle in 1999. How sad it has been to watch them exploit the original messages of that moment into deeper and deeper rationalizations for violence against Americans.

-- E.M. Hunt

David Horowitz, as always, misses the big picture. I certainly disagree with those who say that bin Laden's attacks are the fault of U.S. policy. Certainly the responsibility lies fully with those who committed those violent deeds and their accomplices.

However, he errs by assuming that anybody with reservations about U.S. foreign policy is in league with those on the far left who plotted bombings in the 1960s. I am basically a quasi-libertarian (not one of the leftists that he's forever railing against) and I believe that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and Central Asia deserves careful scrutiny. The U.S. government is not morally responsible for the attacks, but our errors in judgement have set off a chain of cause and effect.

It is a fact that we have nothing to gain from intervention in the Middle East but much to lose. It is a fact that we have been unable to make peace in that region but we have made enemies. It is a fact that we have armed militant factions and dictators, including Saddam Hussein and the Afghan rebels who later became the Taliban.

Given these facts, although the criminals are bin Laden and his accomplices, it is imprudent to meddle in the Middle East and Central Asia. My statement is akin to U.S. State Department advisories that certain countries may not be safe for travel. Harm incurred by those who ignore the warnings is the fault of those who perpetrate violence, but the travelers still would have been safer at home.

Likewise, we would be safer with a foreign policy that avoids most foreign conflicts. Our last intervention in the Middle East and Central Asia should be to hunt down those individuals responsible for the attacks and either kill them for our safety or bring them here for trial. Afterwards we should remove ourselves from the business of providing economic and military aid in an unstable region where we have nothing to gain. Peace and free trade are more humane than intervention and embargoes.

-- Alex Small

In his latest column, David Horowitz referred to "the 1960s Weather Underground, America's first terrorist cult." Obviously Mr. Horowitz has never heard of the KKK. Perhaps he should take some time off to repeat high school history.

-- Paul H. Rosenberg

Salon Staff

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