Yet the present Western apology to all this is often to deal piecemeal with these perceived Muslim grievances: India, after all, is in Kashmir; Russia is in Chechnya; America is in Iraq, Canada is in Afghanistan; Spain was in Iraq (or rather, still is in Al Andalus); or Israel was in Gaza and Lebanon. Therefore we are to believe that “freedom fighters” commit terror for political purposes of “liberation.” At the most extreme, some think there is absolutely no pattern to global terrorism, and the mere suggestion that there is constitutes “Islamaphobia.” ~Victor Davis Hanson
This is a clever rhetorical move by Hanson, since it would make it seem as if anyone who would cite occupation as a cause of terrorism also can have no grasp of the Islamic nature of the terrorists fighting occupation. That would be a good point, if he weren’t as horribly wrong as he usually he is. There may be wine-and-cheese liberals who will never say a bad word about Islam and who also tut-tut about the Occupied Territories (the neocons really don’t like it when you call them that, because it reminds everyone that this is exactly what they have been), but they are hardly the only ones making the argument the occupation breeds terrorism. There are those of us perfectly willing to recognise the violent inheritance of Islam, its ready justifications for violence and the use of outrageous tactics shared by all Islamic terrorist groups who at the same time also are capable of seeing that occupations do contribute to the rise and success of these groups by giving them grist for their mill and creating real grievances that they can exploit. Only an idiot or a child would presume to speak on this subject and be unaware of the gruesome crimes that have been committed against civilian populations in Kashmir or Chechnya in the name of counterinsurgency and antiterrorism. That does not mean that we, like some of Hanson’s political allies, start rooting for the Chechens and hoping for Russian humiliation in some insane burst of Russophobic prejudice mixed with old Cold War obsessions, but that we do acknowledge that the Russian war there, while it is certainly their internal business, is counterproductive in bringing an end to Chechen terrorism. The abuses in Kashmir were mostly many years in the past, but the memory of these abuses and the continued dissatisfaction with Indian rule (regardless of the fact that most Kashmiris would not prefer Pakistani or jihadi rule) stoke support for Islamic and Kashmiri separatist terrorists.
Consider that there was nary an incident of Islamic, anti-American terrorism before Americans intervened in a Near Eastern conflict. The supporters of the current Israeli campaign are quick to remind everyone of the terrible 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut. Hizbullah killed 241 (corrected) Marines with that bombing. Everyone knows that, and everyone deplores the evil of it. Relatively few talk about the colossal stupidity of putting the Marines there in the first place. What we don’t get into is why those Marines were there in the first place (as a ’stabilisation’ force following the previous and definitely aggressive Israeli invasion of Lebanon), or that our Navy earlier shelled Lebanon in support of the Israeli campaign–these things may have created some dissatisfaction with our presence. Until our soldiers were stationed in large numbers over there, America was not attacked by Islamic terrorists of any kind. Yet what has Washington done in the last 23 years? It has become more and more entangled in the Near East, sending more and more soldiers to be stationed in Muslim countries, gradually provoking horrific terrorist responses. The response to that? Become even more embroiled in the Near East and establish a full-on occupation of at least one Muslim country. But, no, occupation can have nothing to do with any of it.
Yes, Islam is part of the problem, and a significant part, but Islam and the United States coexisted in the world for 194 years without much incident (with the notable exception of the Tripolitanian War) and only became locked in mortal conflict when American armies started deploying to the center of the Islamic world. You don’t have to be a genius to make the connection, but apparently it helps to not be a neocon.