It's anything but news that Charles Kruathammer is a rank propagandist, but his column today is particularly egregious, though quite illustrative of how these issues are discussed. He lambastes the Obama administration for what he calls its "absurd and embarrassing refusal . . . to acknowledge who out there is trying to kill Americans and why." Krauthammer -- needless to say and for reasons too obvious to require explanation -- wants to claim that the True Cause of Terrorism is "radical Islam" by itself, and thus accuses the administration of dishonesty because it "has banned from its official vocabulary the terms jihadist, Islamist and Islamic terrorism." His primary evidence is this recent statement of Faisal Shazhad, when he pleaded guilty to attempting the Times Square bombing: "I consider myself a mujahid, a Muslim soldier." See, Krauthammer argues, even Shazhad admits it was Islam that caused his Terrorism, so why can't Obama admit it, too?
Except to make this accusation against Obama and Islam, Krauthammer hides from his readers what Shazhad actually said, because it completely negates his claim. When pleading guilty, Shazhad explained that his attempted bombing was in response to the violence and wars which the U.S. is perpetrating in the Muslim world, telling the court that violence aimed at Americans will continue unless and until the U.S. stops waging wars and spawning violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other Muslim countries:
Well, the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don't see children, they don't see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody. It's a war, and in war, they kill people. They're killing all Muslims. . . .
I am part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people. And, on behalf of that, I'm avenging the attack. Living in the United States, Americans only care about their own people, but they don't care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die.
Shadzad was a Muslim the entire time when he was building a law-abiding, peaceful, middle-class American life over the last decade, but emails obtained by The New York Times reveal that he became increasingly angry and radicalized as a result of U.S. actions in the Muslim world: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, drone attacks, Israeli violence against Palestinians and Muslims generally, Guantanamo and torture were among the policies against which he railed. In one email, Shazhad asked: "Can you tell me a way to save the oppressed? And a way to fight back when rockets are fired at us and Muslim blood flows?"
Krauthammer conceals all of that from his readers because that's what dishonest propagandists do: he wants to incite Americans to hate Islam and blame it for Terrorism, and any evidence suggesting a causal relationship between U.S. policy and the anti-American sentiment that fuels it -- including (though not only) U.S. support for Israeli violence -- must be suppressed and ignored. Extremist versions of Islam certainly play a role in inducing some people to take up arms, but a desire for retribution against U.S. violence in that part of the world is unquestionably the perceived proximate cause for many, as Shazhad himself explained (and as accused Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan also made clear). Whatever else is true, if Krauthammer is going to cite Shazhad's comments as evidence of the real cause of Terrorism, it's inexcusable for him to deceive his readers about what Shazhad actually said.
Why is it so important to correct Krauthammer's deceit and illuminate the acutal causes of Terrorism? Ironically, Krauthammer himself explained exactly why:
Why is this important? Because the first rule of war is to know your enemy. If you don't, you wander into intellectual cul-de-sacs and ignore the real causes that might allow you to prevent recurrences.
Indeed. Aside from the truth issue, the Obama administration, purely as a strategic matter, is doing the right thing by avoiding casting the conflict in terms of Islam. Nothing bolsters the strength and recruitment efforts of violent, extremist groups than allowing them to depict the U.S. and Islam as enemies. But the truth issue is paramount: our refusal to recognize the causal relationship between our own actions and the Terrorism with which our political class is ostensibly obsessed ensures that it not only continues indefinitely but worsens as a direct result of what we do. As I wrote when discussing Shazhad's court statements: "It's really quite simple: if we continue to bring violence to that part of the world, then that part of the world -- and those who sympathize with it -- will continue to want to bring violence to the U.S." This is the central fact that rarely rears its head in establishment discussions of Terrorism, and the principal reason for this self-defeating behavior is because of deceivers like Krauthammer, whose agenda is served by fabricating false causes while concealing the real ones.
UPDATE: In comments, David Mizner writes:
American violence sparks anti-American violence.
Also breaking: punches thrown in bars spark more punches.
I think the "war of terror" is propagated by two kinds of people: those who don't understand the basic fact that American violence sparks anti-American violence, and those who, understanding all too well, want to create more terrorists to justify their endless war.
That about covers it. He also notes the huge disparity between (a) the number of Muslims killed by the U.S. in that region over the last decade and (b) Americans killed by Muslims. And let's hope we can remain free today of those who have somehow come to believe that American interference and violence in the Muslim world only began after September, 2001. Finally, in a futile effort to make the discussion fool-proof from distorters: the issue, as always, is causation (a factual question), not justification (a moral question).