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In the aftermath of the brutal attack by Hamas on Israeli citizens, the last thing that the Israeli government, many Israeli citizens, and Israeli supporters here in the United States want to do is focus on motive. What motivated Hamas to commit such a brutal attack? It had to know that most of the attackers would be killed, which would amount to a murder-suicide mission. There also could be no doubt in Hamas leaders that the Israeli military would retaliate in an equally ferocious manner by killing thousands more innocent civilians in Gaza than Hamas killed in Israel.
Knowing what the consequences were certain to be, what could possibly motivate Hamas to undertake such an attack?
Yes, I know what the likely response is to that question. “You’re a justifier! By asking that question, you’re just justifying what Hamas did!”
How do I know that that is the likely response to asking about motive when it comes to terrorist attacks? Because that was the response of U.S. officials and U.S. interventionists after the 9/11 attacks, when a small number of libertarians, including those of us here at The Future of Freedom Foundation, immediately began asking about what motivated the terrorists to commit such attacks. See, for example, my September 27, 2001, article entitled “Is This the Wrong Time to Question Foreign Policy?”
Here at FFF, we were inundated with the nastiest attacks I have ever seen. “You’re a justifier!” they cried. “You just love the terrorists and hate America!” One of the few other libertarians who were focusing on U.S. foreign policy as the motivating factor in the 9/11 attacks was Lew Rockwell, who himself was inundated with nasty attacks.
Ron Paul was another libertarian who was willing to point to the motive of the 9/11 attackers. When he did so in the now-famous Republican presidential primary debate in 2008, he himself was attacked viciously by his opponents, including Rudy Giuliani. Ironically, that’s when Paul’s presidential campaign took off because many Americans knew that he was telling the truth.
Let’s set one thing straight. Simply because one examines the motive of someone who commits a heinous act, such as the 9/11 attacks or the Hamas attack, does not mean that the examiner is justifying and defending the heinous act. A good example of this principle is a criminal prosecution. During a criminal trial, the prosecutor will examine motive in the process of showing that the defendant did in fact commit the crime. By delving into motive, the prosecutor is, needless to say, not defending or justifying what the defendant did. He is using it as part of his criminal prosecution of the accused.
Why was the examination of motive important after the 9/11 attacks? Because if one can figure out motive, then it becomes possible to avoid further terrorist attacks by ceasing wrongful conduct that is motivating people to commit terrorist attacks. That principles applies universally, not just to the United States but also to Israel and every other nation-state.
After the 9/11 attacks, U.S. officials and U.S. interventionists immediately declared that the terrorists were motivated by hatred for America’s “freedom and values.”
Thus, U.S. interventionists weren’t actually angry at us here at FFF for delving into motive. That’s what they were doing. They were angry at us for pointing to another motive for the attacks — one that was completely different from the motive that they came up with.
Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that the 9/11 terrorists were, in fact, motivated by hatred for America’s “freedom and values.” Such being the case, we obviously would not want to give up our “freedom and values” in order to avoid future terrorist attacks.
But in fact, the official explanation for motive was entirely bogus. The real motive for the 9/11 attacks was the U.S. government’s deadly and destructive interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East, which included the continuous killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children with sanctions, which U.S. officials had declared to be “worth it,” and the unconditional financial and military support of the Israeli government.
I say: It would be a good thing to abandon the U.S. government’s interventionist foreign policy, including sanctions and foreign aid to Israel and every other nation, not only because it’s an immoral foreign policy but also because it would mean no more ongoing threat of terrorist retaliation against the American people.
Obviously, however, U.S. interventionists do not want to give up their deadly and destructive foreign policy of interventionism, which is why they came up with the bogus motivation of supposed hatred for America’s “freedom and values.”
How do we know that it was the Pentagon’s and CIA’s interventionist foreign policy, not hatred for “America’s freedom and values,” that was the motivating factor behind the 9/11 attacks? Because terrorists had said so. For example, when Ramzi Yousef, one of the World Trade Center attackers in 1993, was brought to U.S. District Court for sentencing, he angrily said to the federal judge who was preparing to sentence him:
And now you have invented new ways to kill innocent people. You have so-called economic embargo which kills nobody other than children and elderly people, and which other than Iraq you have been placing the economic embargo on Cuba and other countries for over 35 years…. The Government in its summations and opening statement said that I was a terrorist. Yes, I am a terrorist and I am proud of it. And I support terrorism so long as it was against the United States Government and against Israel, because you are more than terrorists; you are the one who invented terrorism and using it every day. You are liars, butchers, and hypocrites.
Given that the Pentagon, the CIA, and U.S. interventionists were focused entirely on revenge and retaliation for the 9/11 attacks, the last thing they wanted to do was examine their own interventionist misconduct for what had motivated the 9/11 attackers. That’s why they went off on their baseless “They hate us for our ‘freedom and values’” motivation rather than focus on their own misconduct in motivating the terrorists to retaliate.
It was that failure to accept the truth and the responsibility for what motivated the 9/11 attackers that then drove the Pentagon, the CIA, and U.S. interventionists to engage in more interventionism by invading both Afghanistan and Iraq, which then gave rise to more ongoing rage, which itself gave rise to a perpetual threat of more terrorist retaliation, which gave rise to the never-ending “war on terrorism,” which gave rise to the continuous destruction of the rights and liberties of the American people at the hands of their own national-security establishment.
Unfortunately, the Pentagon, the CIA, and U.S. interventionists have still not learned the lesson from all this. The FBI is now warning Americans that there is a growing threat of terrorism here in the United States arising out Israel’s retaliation against the people of Gaza for what Hamas did to Israel. If such retaliation comes, mark my words: The Pentagon, the CIA, and U.S. interventionists will immediately claim, with straight faces, that the attacks have been motivated by hatred for America’s “freedom and values,” not by the unconditional financial and military support that the U.S. government gives to the Israeli government. (See my recent article, “‘We’ Are Not Helping Israel.”)