I found this interesting comment from a commentator on Slashdot. Very accurately depicts on the causes of this unending war on terrorism.
People were willing to tolerate the US in saudi when the threat from iraq was immediate. People, on the whole, aren’t stupid enough to miss the big picture here. The problem is 3, 4, 5 years later why is the wealthiest muslim country reliant on a foreign power to protect itself? (Given that they can buy US weapons) The *continued* presence of the US there shamed every saudi who believed their country should be able to defend itself from a poorer, weaker (and slightly smaller populationwise) potential adversary. If we all woke up tomorrow and realized mexico had an army of 10 million with a huge inventory of tanks aircraft etc, and was sufficiently well armed NATO rushed into help guard the US border that’s one thing. But 5 years later if the potential adversary, with less money, technology, trade, access and overall weaker it’s a problem. The *continued* US presence, and no fly zones over the oppressed, gassed people of Iraq was a shame on the honour of the people of Saudi, the protectors of the muslim holy places, that they are relying on a bunch of Christians from across the ocean to guard them from another muslim state. Either they lack legitimacy in the eyes of the rest of the muslim world, at which point we should wonder why we’re supporting them, or they figure we’re dumb enough to run in and help them for free, why should they bother, and we should wonder why we’re the only ones who think this needs to be done ‘our’ way.
The US troops in Saudi pushed bin laden over the edge, but he wasn’t exactly pro US or Saudi Royal family before that. The house of Saud for all practical purposes may as well all carry US or EU passports, as they syphon off all the money they can, and then store in the US and EU. As a western country that’s basically what we want them to do, if they took that money and reinvested in their economy or that of their neighbours we wouldn’t have it back (think trade deficits) As it is economically Saudi arabia may as well be part of the US. But long prior to the invasion of Kuwait and the US moving into Saudi he was against what the US puppet in Israel was doing to the Palestinians, the wealth disparity in Saudi between the princes and everyone else, US involvement in southeast asia, Russian control over chechnya, the perceived relations between egypt and the US (hence he was able to merge AQ with the Egyptian IJ)
This is something the lunatic left understands perfectly. The House of Saud are the protrusion of Western imperialism into Saudi, created by Britain (like several middle eastern states) and propped up by their successors in the US. That’s the problem. They aren’t a government of the people, for the people or anything else, nor, in the best of both worlds old school british system are the people represented. You cannot beat someone into submission, at least not states. Every single rebellion in history has played this out. Either you give them a fair shake or eventually they will come back for it, and the house of Saud is definitely not fair to the people of Saudi arabia or their supposed brothers in the rest of the muslim world who they leave in poverty. France and Germany were at each others throats over the overlapping populations along the rhine, the solution, was first move all of the germans out (since we won WW2), and then push them towards being a single state rendering the issue moot. Indians fought, and lost, a rebellion in 1857, it took them 90 years, but eventually they got independence.
There were lots of mistakes that led to Al qaeda hating the US as much as it does. Some of that was simply not inviting them to be part of the coalition to liberate kuwait, a mistake no one even conceived that we could have been making. Al qaeda offered to do it all, we not only turned them down but insulted them by suggesting they couldn’t even participate – something 20 years in hindsight we can see, by definitely had no idea of at the time. Some of it is fundamental and deeply ideological. There are still KKK members in the US, there are still people who apparently think Haiti should be enslaved by the french, you’re never going to eliminate an idea, even dumb ones. The problem is when the fringe hits on a fundamental truth. The nazi’s were a bunch of genocidal nutcases, but they were right about the treaty of Versailles being unjust and they appeared to be the only ones who could do anything about it. We could never have stopped there being anti semites but maybe a better treaty of Versailles would have prevented them being in power. In that case the US saw the writing on the wall from the start and didn’t want to go along with Versailles precisely because the then ‘lefties’ thought this was going to turn out badly in the end.
If we are to confront Al Qaeda, we need to look at all of what they stand for, not just the straw that broke the camels back (and you personally perhaps need to read the rest of ‘in the words of our enemies’ and not just one par)t, and ask ourselves whether or not there is some truth to even a small part of what they say. Is Israel basically turning gaza into a giant concentration camp? Does a huge portion of the oil wealth under the arabian desert get syphoned off into the swiss bank accounts of princes and sheiks and never used to better the lives of the people who actually live there? Do we really need a coaling station in Yemen (well not anymore but both aden in yemen and Kuwait were coaling stations)? Maybe we really do want to keep the House of Saud in power- that’s ok, but we, as the west, myself in canada or our neighbours to the south, do not appear to be making particularly educated decisions about who we’re siding with, and what the consequences are. Of course Al qaeda, like all fringe groups, has more than a one line ideology. We are not going to go along with a rebuilt caliphate that runs from the pyrennes to the indus valley, but the vast majority of the supporters of Al Qaeda are in it because of now what’s going on in iraq, or before what was happening in Saudi, Somalia, and Yemen, not because they want a rebuilt caliphate. I wouldn’t be surprised if 90% of Al Qaeda supporters are there in support of the 10% of their ideology that isn’t crazy – and that’s where we have to fight them. Unless you address that small portion of what they stand for that we could agree on they will continue to have unlimited reserves of recruits to draw on.
Lets make a short list of some of the things we, in the west do that pisses off people in the middle east shall we?
We support israel. Even when they basically build a wall around gaza and make it into a concentration camp with 80% unemployment the money and weapons from us don’t stop flowing. Oh and we let them have nuclear weapons and say nothing about it. Now I’m all for Israel existing, but our support perhaps out to come with the strings that they have to follow the laws they you know… agreed to (notably about settlements). And if we’re going to look the other way when Israel and india built nuclear weapons do we really get to complain about their adversaries wanting to point nukes back?
We support Egypt. Not exactly a democratic government, and they act as the other half of the wall around gaza.
I’m in canada. We have oil. Saudi has oil. A lot of it. Here, you can make 15 bucks an hour working at MacDonalds if you’re in the oil patch. In saudi… not so much. If you’re lucky enough to work in saudi, or the emirates you’re probably an underpaid pakistani or bangladeshi who’s had his passport seized, and is trying to scrape by on a couple of bucks an hour. But that 300 billion dollars a year or whatever it is they get for oil (at about 80 bucks a barrel) is nicely funneled back to US in the forms of investment companies.
You invaded Iraq. Honestly, that kinda pisses me off too. If the worlds policeman doesn’t follow the law it wants to then enforce it’s a bit of a problem.
We (as the UN) bombed and invaded somali in the 1990’s. Maybe it was worth the attempt to get food to people, but we sure pissed them off.
Now to be clear, that’s cherry picking a short list of negative things. But there’s a lot more going on between Al Qaeda and the US than just the US bases in Saudi. They are a worldwide network of ideologically partially aligned groups, just as the US and it’s allies are global and mostly, but not perfectly alligned. Of course we don’t practice islam (and their particular brand of it), and we certainly are not ever going to agree to that, but then if we can deal with these other issues we might not have to.
Unlike a state, where you can, even temporarily enforce you will on them (think germany), and ideology has an unlimited pool of recruits to draw from. Pardon the star wars reference in a serious discussion but the more you tighten your grip, the more of them will slip away. A state which stands for wiping out jews above all else, can compel, because it is a state, non believers to their cause. Break their control of the state, you break their connection to the bulk of their forces. An ideology isn’t like that, you have to break their few appealing positions to destroy their support. And yes, 200 years from now there will probably people in support of the crazy part of Al Qaeda’s ideology, just as there are, apparently, people who think Haiti should still be enslaved by France, but at least most people know enough to to not listen to them. Eventually of course, you make all of the reasonable compromises you can, and maybe even some unreasonable ones (*cough giving up Czechoslovakia cough*), and are left with people who will never be turned. We certainly aren’t there yet with the muslim world, but we aren’t as far of as the rest of my somewhat negative post would imply. The goal would be to have the ‘man on the street’ in the muslim world turn on Al Qaeda, not just our puppets in the House of Saud.