By Jacob G. Hornberger
By this time it has become painfully obvious that Donald Trump is going to follow the interventionist road in the Middle East that Republicans and Democrats have been following ever since the Cold War ended in 1989. Like any good conservative, Trump is expanding the size of the military establishment, unleashing the Pentagon to wage its war on ISIS and terrorism, and continuing the bombing, shooting, and assassinations by the military and the CIA in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and other parts of the Middle East. At the same time, he’s keeping the entire NSA surveillance machinery fully intact and operational.
In other words, same old, same old. None of this should surprise us, of course. These were all things Trump led us to believe he would do during his presidential race.
But there is one big aspect to all this that we should emphasize and talk about now — the possibility of more terrorist blowback from the U.S. government’s interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East and Afghanistan, especially a big terrorist attack that involves dozens or even hundreds of victims, such a massive bomb in a shopping mall or office building or on a crowded bridge.
If that happens, one thing is certain: rational thinking will be in extremely short supply. You can already imagine most everyone panicking and screaming, “Those damned Muslims! They hate us for our freedom and values! They’re coming to get us and take over our government! They’re hell-bent on establishing a caliphate here! Their religion forces them to kill us! They’re trying to establish Sharia law here! They want to force our children to study Islam! They’re all bad, those Muslims!”
The last thing many people are going to want to hear is that the terrorist attack is a direct retaliatory consequence of the death-and-destruction spree in which the U.S. government has been engaged in the Middle East for the past 25 years, beginning with the Persian Gulf War and continuing now through the Trump administration.
I can already imagine the emails FFF is going to receive after we point this out: “You hate America! You’re blaming us! You love the terrorists! You’re a terrorism justifier! America — love it or leave it!”
Why am I so certain that this is what will happen if there is another big retaliatory terrorist strike here at home? Simple. Because that was the type of venom to which we were subjected after the 9/11 attacks, when we immediately began telling people that the attacks were the natural, predictable consequence of the U.S. government’s interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East during the 10 years before the 9/11 attacks.
Many people didn’t want to hear any such thing. To them, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA are holy and sacrosanct. They would never do anything wrong. They would never do anything bad. If they had to kill people, such as the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children with 10 years of brutal sanctions on Iraq, then that’s only because it had to be done — that is, national security supposedly required it. That’s why hardly any national-security statist objected when U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright, told Sixty Minutes long before the 9/11 attacks that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children were “worth it.”
So, I fully expect the same type of hyper-irrational thinking to occur if another big terrorist domestic attack comes. That’s why it’s important to confront and talk about it now, when people are still thinking somewhat rationally and sanely.
When the U.S. government goes abroad and kills people and destroys homes and businesses — indeed, when it bombs wedding parties and hospitals and kills innocent children — the victims and families of the victims tend to get angry, even if the killings are inadvertent or accidental or as part of “collateral damage” occurring as a result of killing combatants. Some people get so angry that they decide to seek revenge.
That shouldn’t surprise anyone. While it might be unhealthy from a psychological standpoint, the thirst for revenge is extremely difficult for some human beings to overcome. Americans should be able to relate. Just consider the thirst for revenge after the 9/11 attacks among many Americans. It caused many of them to support a regime-change war of aggression and decade-long occupation against Iraq, even though no Iraqi had ever attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. Since the 9/11 attackers were Muslims and since most Iraqis were Muslims, it was considered okay to kill Muslims in Iraq. That’s what the quest for revenge does to people.
Since Trump has decided to continue the 25-year U.S. killing spree in the Middle East, it stands to reason that there is going to be more terrorist retaliation, especially here at home. If it happens, it’s not going to be limited to targeting U.S. troops, in large part because the troops have killed countless noncombatants in the Middle East.
In fact, I’m surprised that Americans have not borne more terrorist blowback than what has already occurred in places like Boston, Orlando, and San Bernardino. I’m surprised that American tourists in Europe and elsewhere haven’t been targeted for assassinations. I’m surprised that there haven’t been any big suicide bombs among U.S. troops stationed outside the Middle East, where they are not constantly on guard against such a thing happening, as they would be in a combat zone.
And I’m surprised that there haven’t been more big terrorist retaliatory strikes here in the United States, especially given that it only takes a few Muslim sympathizers to blow up a big bomb in a mall or office building or with a car bomb on a bridge.
My point in bringing all this up now is so that Americans can think about and reflect right now on U.S. foreign policy — specifically, Trump’s plans to continue the 25-year-long Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama killing spree in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Keep in mind: There is another option. Stop it, now. No more U.S. killings, no more U.S. bombings, no more U.S. assassinations. Just leave the Middle East. Yankee, come home, now!
Could that mean that anti-U.S. regimes could take over in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere?
Yep, and so what? There are already plenty of regimes around the world that hate the U.S. government (and indirectly the United States): North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, and Syria come to mind. There are others. What difference would it make if four or five more joined the ranks? It wouldn’t make a whit of difference insofar as the United States and the American people are concerned.
In fact, bringing the troops home (from everywhere) would go a long way toward dissipating the anger and hatred that foreign regimes and foreign citizens have for the U.S. government and the United States. No one likes a foreign invader, interloper, intervenor, killer, bomber, and aggressor. As a national-security state, pro-empire regime, the U.S. government has become all of those things.
Now is the time for the American people to rise and say, “Enough is enough!” Now is the time for Americans to demand that Trump and the national-security establishment bring the troops home now. After a major terrorist attack, it will be too late because the impetus to retaliate through the infliction of more death and destruction against Muslims in the Middle East and Afghanistan is likely to be too powerful to stop at that point.
This article was originally published at The Future of Freedom Foundation.