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Why Do They Hate Us? By: Frontpagemag.com
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, September 10, 2008

[The following is an exchange between author William Blum and Frontpage's Managing editor Ben Johnson, the co-author (with David Horowitz) of Party of Defeat.

Why Do They Hate Us?

By William Blum

From the late 1970s through much of the 1980s, Afghanistan had a government that was secular and relatively progressive, allowing women equal rights, including Western dress. And what happened to this government that stands so sharply in contrast to what followed in the next two decades? Why, the United States overthrew it, a process initiated by Jimmy Carter and completed by Ronald Reagan. David Horowitz and Ben Johnson mention none of this. All they know is that the Russian bad guys invaded Afghanistan, and that subsequently various bad-guy Democratic administrations in the US were soft on the "Islamofascists" created there, the same guys Reagan called "freedom fighters".

In 1970, the Nixon administration instigated the overthrow of Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia. This was all that was needed to impel Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge forces to rise up against the new government, eventually take power, and conduct their infamous mass murder. Pol Pot was then overthrown by the Vietnamese communist (sic.) government, which led to the United States supporting (sic.) Pol Pot, again an effort begun under Carter and continued under Reagan. Horowitz and Johnson mention none of this either. They instead tells us that the evil Democrats were to blame for the Khmer Rouge coming to power because they didn't sufficiently support the government overthrown by the forces of Pol Pot.

In both these examples, and in much else that the book deals with, the authors are concerned only with showing how Democrats and/or "communists" and/or the American and international Left were responsible for one horror after another. Historical background is missing and the Republican Party role is not discussed. (Nixon and Reagan, in case you've forgotten, were both Republicans.) Nuance is not the author's strong point, as little distinction is made among centrists, liberals and genuine leftists -- they're all "leftists", or "far leftists" or the "anti-war left" or "communists" or were once part of the "anti-Vietnam left"; most, on one occasion or another, "radicals" or "terrorists". It's truly remarkable how many seemingly-respectable American citizens have been terrorists. You would think that Horowitz, a one-time Marxist intellectual, would have a better understanding of ideology.

On several occasions the authors also damn the Democrats-Leftists-communists-terrorists alliance for being too soft on Saddam and not recognizing the monumental threat the man represented to the United States and all that is decent and holy. But nowhere do the authors raise the obvious question: What possible reason would Saddam have had for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide? Horowitz and Johnson have no answer to this question and so are reduced to making statements like: "There is no one in a position to demonstrate that if the United States had failed to remove Saddam by force, he would not have resumed his programs to build weapons of mass destruction, or that he would not have used them." Is that not breathtaking in its absurdity and its bankruptcy of argument? In its insistence on proving a negative? In its desperation to justify the invasion of Iraq?

Horowitz and Johnson, the terrorism experts, however, ignore all the real terrorist groups supported in recent years by Washington -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- from the anti-Castro Cubans in Florida to the Kosovo and Bosnian allies of al Qaeda to the MEK in Iran. They also warmly laud Bush for his tough warnings to other nations not to harbor terrorists. Yet, the United States in recent years has harbored more terrorists than any other country in the world. (See my book Rogue State: "A Guide to the World's Only Superpower", chapter 9.)

The authors accept all the premises of Bush administration foreign policy, and believe in the nobility of their motives. In a timeline he notes for March 19, 2003: "War commences in Iraq".

Subsequently we read "American forces entered Iraq". Horowitz seems unable to bring himself to use the word "attack" or "invade", presumably because it might put George W. in a bad light. But immediately following the latter quotation he says that "the Democratic Party launched its first all-out attack on the president's credibility and the morality of the war." This is the main theme of the book. The authors have a thing about the Democrats. And they have it really, really big. (For the record, I'm not at all a fan of the Democrats either. I'm against them for, amongst other reasons, their support of American imperialism. Horowitz and Johnson hate them for not being imperialist and murderous enough, for paying even lip service to international law and human rights.)

In David Horowitz's and Ben Johnson’s world anti-American terrorists are just a bunch of crazies, acting from irrational if not psychotic reasons. The idea that in their own minds the terrorists have good reason for their anti-Americanism is one that is barely alluded to. Horowitz and Johnson do not refer to any of the following US actions as leading to a desire for revenge on the part of individuals in the Middle East, even though Osama bin Laden and many other terrorists, in the US, the UK, and elsewhere, have repeatedly made it a point to emphasize that "retaliation" is their primary motivation.

  • the support of corrupt and tyrannical Middle East governments, from the Shah of Iran to the Saudis
  • the shooting down of two Libyan planes in 1981 
  • the bombing of Libya in 1986 
  • the bombing and sinking of an Iranian ship in 1987 
  • the shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane in 1988 
  • the shooting down of two more Libyan planes in 1989 
  • the massive bombing of the Iraqi people in 1991 
  • the continuing bombings and horrific sanctions against Iraq from 1991 to 2003
  • the habitual support of Israel despite the routine devastation and torture it inflicts upon the Palestinian people 
  • the habitual condemnation of Palestinian resistance to this 
  • the abduction ("extraordinary rendition") of Muslims from many different countries, who are then taken to places like Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia, where they are tortured 
  • the large military and hi-tech presence in Islam's holiest land, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region 
  • the devastation and occupation of Afghanistan beginning in 2001 and of Iraq beginning in 2003

And much more. But the authors would have us believe that such things play no role in anti-American terrorism, which is actually all due to Islamofascism...and Democrats, particularly the likes of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Al Gore, and Ted Kennedy not being tough enough. And certainly, the Democrats could indeed have been tougher. They could have supported bringing to the people of the entire Middle East and elsewhere the utter ruination that Bush has brought to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. And the Democrats could have championed the end of all civil liberties in the United States and completely done away with habeas corpus, not just supported the halfway measures of the Bush administration.

Of course, the best preventative to anti-American terrorism would be to change US foreign policy, but this is something that the Republicans, the Democrats and David Horowitz and Ben Johnson dare not express. Ironically, though Horowitz and Johnson perhaps wouldn't see the irony, under Bush there have been many more acts of anti-American terrorism than under any other American president. Since George W. took office, the United States has been the target of terrorist attacks on literally scores of occasions, not even counting anything in Iraq or Afghanistan -- attacks on military, diplomatic, civilian, Christian, and other targets associated with the United States, in the Middle East, South Asia and the Pacific, more than a dozen times in Pakistan alone. The attacks include the October 2002 bombings of two nightclubs in Bali, Indonesia, which killed more than 200 people, almost all of them Americans and citizens of their Australian and British war allies; the following year brought the heavy bombing of the US-managed Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, the site of diplomatic receptions and 4th of July celebrations held by the American Embassy; and other horrendous attacks in more recent years on US allies in Madrid and London directly because of the war.

There's also, of course, what happened on September 11, 2001, which Horowitz and Johnson manage to blame on Democratic Party actions and inactions. He blames budget cuts and denials of increased powers for the CIA and FBI, as well as failure to curtail civil liberties even further, for crippling those agencies. This is very standard conservative fare, charges easy to make, but totally divorced from the facts of actual US foreign policy and how the world sees and reacts to those policies.

Despite all their references to "terrorism", the authors never actually explains exactly what he means by the term, even though there exists a generally accepted definition used by, among others, the FBI, the United Nations, and the State Department. The last defines it thusly: "Terrorism is premeditated politically-motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience." As it happens, this definition applies to very few of the numerous individuals and groups Horowitz and Johnson apply the term to.

Horowitz and Johnson are rather upset with the movement against the war in Iraq and with those offering less than full support for the so-called War on Terror. (I say "so-called" because it's primarily a cover for expansion of the empire.) They will say anything to disparage those against the war -- "The American Left ... mobilized to prevent the overthrow of the Saddam regime." As if the anti-war protesters actually supported Saddam -- perhaps loved him? -- and were protesting on his behalf and not on behalf of the Iraqi people upon whose heads the United States would be, and are, raining down incendiary hell morning and night. They castigate the anti-war movement for "destroying the credibility of the commander-in-chief while his troops are in battle" by harping on all the many lies they perceive emanating from the White House. The solution to this "problem", not commented upon, is of course obvious: Bush and Cheney simply put an end to their steady dissemination of mis-, dis- and non-information. Horowitz and Johnson compare this behavior of the anti-war movement with the cold-war tactic of the Soviet Union of "sowing the seeds of anti-Americanism by discrediting the American president". What I find remarkable about such a statement is that the author thinks this will impress in the slightest anyone except a diehard anti-communist. It's also fallacious, for Soviet propaganda rarely descended to attacking the US president, unlike the never-ending American attacks on Stalin and Khrushchev.

Likewise the authors’ quoting of a former Soviet intelligence official: "After U.S. forces precipitously pulled out of Vietnam, the victorious communists massacred some two million people in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia." This has become a common argument of anti-communists even though they must know that the two million figure (besides being a gross exaggeration) applies to Cambodia only.

Horowitz and Johnson try their best to tie Saddam to the 9-11 attack but have no more success than other conservatives have had. And needless to say, those in Iraq resisting the American invasion and occupation are dismissed as "terrorists".

The authors repeatedly praise Bush for his bipartisanship as if an imperial policy that's supported by both of the major parties makes it a good policy, and not simply evidence of the common imperialist world view of Democrats and Republicans alike. As an example of Bush's bipartisanship, Horowitz and Johnson tell us that the president renamed the FBI headquarters building in Washington the "Robert F. Kennedy Building". I've never heard this before, and I live in Washington, so I checked the FBI website and saw that the headquarters is still the J. Edgar Hoover Building.

A reader can finish this book and not gain any greater understanding of recent US foreign policy nor of the Cold War; nor have any better idea of an answer to the question often asked since 9-11: Why do they hate us? Or what to do about that.

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, first published in 1995 and updated since. It has received international acclaim and Noam Chomsky called it "Far and away the best book on the topic." Blum is also the author of: Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, and Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire. In January 2006, a tape from Osama bin Laden stated that "it would be useful" for Americans to read Rogue State. Blum currently sends out a monthly newsletter, the Anti-Empire Report.


Osama’s Propagandist Proves Our Point
By Ben Johnson

Osama bin Laden has not issued a fatwa on our book, Party of Defeat, but having William Blum denounce it is the next best thing. His work comes highly recommended by Osama. Moreover, Blum has dedicated his life to “injuring the beast” – that’s us, the USA. His response is a validation one of our book’s arguments: the radical left is consciously working for our enemies.

It should hardly be surprising that someone who collaborated with the CIA-defector and American traitor, Philip Agee, would seek to justify the sabotage of America’s war effort conducted by the radical Left during the current conflict. Still, his review, long on ideology and sophistry while short on facts, manages to present a breathtakingly audacious assault on history and logic.

Blum begins his critique with an ahistorical trip through the 1970s. He takes us to task for mentioning the two million Southeast Asian deaths that followed U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam. “This has become a common argument of anti-communists even though they must know that the two million figure (besides being a gross exaggeration) applies to Cambodia only.” If anything, the figure is an underestimate and it does not apply to Cambodia only. In addition to the Killing Fields on which two million Cambodians were slaughtered, R.J. Rummel estimates that from 1975-87, the North Vietnamese killed between 50,000 and 250,000 people by execution alone, not including the tens of thousands who died in reeducation camps. This also does not include the half-a-million who died trying to escape the Communist gulag that Blum and his friends helped put in place.

Blum also ignores the Laotian genocide of the Hmong people. The “progressive” Pathet Lao government continues to persecute them so ruthlessly that thousands remain in hiding 30 years after the end of the war. The Hmong have reason to fear, as the government still pays subjects of the Communist regime to murder Hmong children and grandchildren and has engaged in “yellow rain” chemical warfare against them.

Yes, Ronald Reagan supported the freedom fighters who opposed the Soviet invasion – and as David Horowitz and I note in our book, a trifecta of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the State Department all agree al-Qaeda did not receive a dime of these funds. (See pp. 26-7, as well as p. 167, footnote #9.)

Blum also criticizes us for ignoring “the real terrorist groups supported in recent years by Washington – Democrats and Republicans alike,” including “the Kosovo and Bosnian allies of al Qaeda.” I guess Blum missed page 46, where we criticize President Clinton for launching “an air war in the Balkans to support an al-Qaeda affiliate, the Kosovo Liberation Army…even allowing the KLA to receive support from Iran.”

He then asserts we do “not refer to any of the following US actions as leading to a desire for revenge on the part of individuals in the Middle East.” Among the events Blum argues were justifications for Islamic terror are:

  • The oft-repeated canard that U.S. support for Shah Reza Pahlavi over Mohammed Mossadegh enraged Muslim extremists, ignoring the fact that the secular socialist Mossadegh was no hero of Islamists, and that the Shah’s sin, which inflamed them was his support of the education of women and other “modern” ideas;
  • The two Gulf of Sidra incidents, in which Muammar Qaddafi attempted to annex parts of international waters, then sent Libyan jets to militarily harass U.S. airmen, who fired in self-defense;
  • The U.S. bombing of Libya in 1986. This was an American retaliation for Libya’s role in bombing a German disco, killing two U.S. soldiers and injuring more than 200 people, including 50 servicemen (Party of Defeat, p. 31);
  • Operation Praying Mantis, which resulted in the sinking of two Iranian ships (not one as Blum wrote), proving Blum can’t even get his objections straight. U.S. troops shot at those planes (and a few tiny vessels) in retaliation for the Iranian mining and near-sinking of the USS Samuel B. Roberts four days earlier;
  • Operation Desert Storm, launched on behalf of an Arab, Muslim nation, Kuwait, which had been swallowed by Saddam Hussein;
  • Iraqi sanctions, which were put in place by the UN to force Saddam’s withdrawal from Kuwait;
  • The alleged torture inflicted during renditions of al-Qaeda terrorists – which is an allegation of the terrorists and the left– all of which occurred after 9/11 and was revealed long after the “insurgency” in Iraq began; and
  • The presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia – at the Saudi government’s request to protect them from an aggression by Iraq. President George W. Bush withdrew all but a handful of troops from the kingdom in 2003.

Given the baseless nature of these “provocations,” what was the point of relating them? Only to present the United States as an evil empire, and deserving of every act – terrorist and otherwise – against it.

Other aspects of Blum’s “critique” lead one to question whether Blum read the book he reviewed. He expresses surprise that we wrote “that ‘the Democratic Party [conducted an] all-out attack on the president’s credibility and the morality of the war.’ This is the main theme of the book.” Indeed. This is why our book is entitled Party of Defeat: How Democrats and Radicals Undermined America’s War on Terrorism Before and After 9/11. Yet Blum affects surprise.

“Horowitz and Johnson try their best to tie Saddam to the 9-11 attack but have no more success than other conservatives have had.” Our book in no way tries to “tie Saddam to the 9/11 attack.” In fact, Party of Defeat dedicates an entire chapter to explaining “Why We Went to War,” which focuses on the 17 UN Security Council arms control resolutions that Saddam violated, including a war ultimatum.

Blum claims we refer to “most” antiwar “centrists, liberals and genuine leftists” as “‘radicals’ or ‘terrorists’. ” In fact we never refer to American politicians, or even members of the radical fringe, as “terrorists.”

Blum presents Saddam Hussein as an innocent victim with pure intentions. Blum asks, “What possible reason would Saddam have had for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide?” This may be a question for Saddam’s psychiatrist. The fact is that Saddam launched Scud missiles into Israel during the first Gulf War, attacked Israel by proxy as a state sponsor of suicide bombers, attempted to assassinate a former U.S. president, regularly had his military fire on U.S. and British war planes patrolling the UN “no fly zone,” hosted international terrorism conferences, and harbored terrorists who had perpetrated acts of mass terrorism against the United States. One could equally ask, if Saddam had no WMDs, what possible reason would he have for not disclosing the fact other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide? Why would he and his sons refuse to leave Iraq during the 48-hours before the war as Bush admonished him, other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide?

Blum continues incredibly, “Horowitz and Johnson have no answer to this question and so are reduced to making statements like: ‘There is no one in a position to demonstrate that if the United States had failed to remove Saddam by force, he would not have resumed his programs to build weapons of mass destruction, or that he would not have used them.’ Is that not breathtaking in its absurdity and its bankruptcy of argument?” Not according to The Duefler Report, which came to that very conclusion. According to the Duelfer investigators who interviewed Saddam’s military and scientific advisers, Saddam was biding his time until UN sanctions could be lifted, at which time he would aggressively revamp his WMD program.

Saddam is not Blum’s only hero. “Osama bin Laden and many other terrorists, in the US, the UK, and elsewhere, have repeatedly made it a point to emphasize that ‘retaliation’ is their primary motivation.” In fact, Osama disclosed another, more important motivation:

I am one of the servants of Allah. We do our duty of fighting for the sake of the religion of Allah. It is also our duty to send a call to all the people of the world to enjoy this great light and to embrace Islam and experience the happiness in Islam. Our primary mission is nothing but the furthering of this religion…Let not the West be taken in by those who say that Muslims choose nothing but slaughtering. Their brothers in East Europe, in Turkey and in Albania have been guided by Allah to submit to Islam and to experience the bliss of Islam. Unlike those, the European and the American people and some of the Arabs are under the influence of Jewish media.

Blum glosses over the path to 9/11, assures us Iraq is “a cover for expansion of the empire,” and that the term “terrorism” actually “applies to very few of the numerous individuals and groups Horowitz and Johnson apply the term to.” Well, for one, it applies to al-Qaeda terrorists who murdered thousands of American civilians.

Blum is incredulous that we noted the affinity of some antiwar protesters for Saddam Hussein, “as if the anti-war protesters actually supported Saddam – perhaps loved him?” If they opposed him, his defiance of international law, his mass murders, rape rooms, and torture chambers, they found a strange way to show it. Ramsey Clark is the founder of the International Action Center – the leading figure behind International ANSWER and a member of United for Peace and Justice, the organizations that have launched nearly every major antiwar protest in the last five years. When Saddam was put on trial for his crimes, Clark volunteered to serve as his lawyer and described the madman as “calm, thoughtful, reflective.” Others on the Left parrot Saddam’s propaganda statistics about his government’s rich allocations for the health care, food, and literacy of his beloved population, and called for the lifting of UN sanctions designed to block his WMD programs. If this isn’t support, what is?

Blum has found one error in our text. We were wrong in saying that Bush renamed the FBI building after Robert F. Kennedy. It was the Department of Justice Building. Even in noticing this trivial error (the point was that Bush named it after a Democrat as evidence of his initial attempt to reach across the political divide) Blum makes his own error denying that any renaming after a Kennedy took place.

Blaming the victim, Blum concludes, “the best preventative to anti-American terrorism would be to change US foreign policy.” Democrats tried this tack by appeasing the Islamic jihadists during the Carter Administration, with disastrous results. America’s retreat was viewed by its enemies as weakness, not compassion. As anyone who has followed Osama’s statements knows, it was America’s retreats in Vietnam, Somalia, and elsewhere that convinced him Allah would deliver the Great Satan into his hands. However, Blum’s counsel is predictable. As we write in Party of Defeat, “the Left believes America is hated because it [is] an imperial oppressor of the weak and poor.” The McGovern call to “Come Home America” – the fountainhead of Democratic appeasement policies ever since – was “not a plan to conserve America’s strength and restore America’s integrity. It was a plan to quarantine the American virus and save others from the infection.”

Blum concludes by asking us to ponder, “Why do they hate us?” A more pertinent question is why do Americans like William Blum who enjoy the freedoms and privileges of citizenship in a country that is truly blessed hate us so much that they would dedicate their lives to aiding and justifying enemies who would destroy it?

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