Did our foreign policy cause 9/11?

By Joe Campbell
November 18th, 2007

[digg-reddit-me]The frequent reddit commentator amstrdamordeath posed this question:

I’ve often wondered that myself. All of the people who don’t think that American foreign policy caused 9/11. What do you think?

As this issue has been used in the public discourse, there are only two main alternatives (as illustrated in the Republican debate where Ron Paul and Rudy exchanged harsh words over the issue): either our foreign policy caused 9/11 or it is outrageous to say that our foreign policy caused 9/11 – we didn’t deserve to be attacked. Both positions are idiotic. From my response on reddit:

Our foreign policy is what made us a target, but is not what caused 9/11.

Olivier Roy, a French social scientist who has been studying Islam in western societies for the past few decades, believes that the current islamist movement is based on generational factors – as younger Muslims grow up, they are rejecting the hypocrisy of their parents passive response to the power of the West and the comparative decline of Islamic societies. Roy compares this generational phenomenon to the sixties radical movements.

The root cause of 9/11 and the growing support for islamism is not our foreign policy, but the relative economic, technological, and cultural stagnation of Islamic, and specifically, Arab society over the past few centuries. These societies are undergoing a period not dissimilar to Europe’s Dark Ages. At the same time, the power of the West and in the past fifty years, of the Far East has grown exponentially. The knowledge that they lack significant power in the world drives the islamist movement and is the root cause of 9/11.

How does this lead to 9/11? Because many of the leaders of Islamic societies, especially in the Mideast, have been stoking hatred against the West as a distraction from their own illegitimate rule, even as they are being propped up by Western support; because our foreign policy of supporting the status quo in the Mideast (until the Bush administration) was seen as an impediment to a resurgence of Islam; because the relative success of our foreign policy demonstrates our tremendous power over the governments and societies in the region; because we are the dominant world power: these are the reasons why we were targeted on 9/11.

Our foreign policy did not cause 9/11, but caused these strong forces to be directed towards us.

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