Michael Moore is Right

“Terrorists aren’t trying to kill us because they hate our freedom. They’re killing us because we’re in their countries killing them.”  – Michael Moore

imageIn his new book Decision Points, former president George W. Bush complains about a 2004 tape by Osama bin Laden “mocking my response to 9/11 in the Florida classroom.” What really upset Bush was that “it sounded like he was plagiarizing Michael Moore.”

Moore is the documentary filmmaker and liberal political commentator who harshly criticized Bush in his 2004 film Fahrenheit 9/11, which he wrote, directed, produced, and stared in. As Lew Rockwell wrote about the film:

The movie decries the warmongering of the Bush administration, exposes the fraudulence of his excuses for invading and crushing Iraq, unearths the unseemly ties between the Bush regime and big oil and the Saudis, and blasts the Bush regime for its egregious violations of civil liberties and massive pillaging of the American taxpayer on behalf of the merchants of death.

This, of course, does not mean that Lew Rockwell or I endorse anything else that Michael Moore has ever done.

Like Mr. Rockwell, I am no fan of Michael Moore. He is a radical liberal, a union propagandist, a socialist, a gun grabber, an economic ignoramus, and a hypocrite who criticizes capitalism and poses as a spokesman of the working class while living an upscale life, sending his daughter to an elite private school, and boasting of his wealth. I even agree with Bush that Moore is a “slimeball.”

But there is one thing Michael Moore is right about.

In a recent open letter to Juan Williams regarding his firing by NPR, Moore used the courtroom statements of the Times Square car bomber Faisal Shahzad to explain why many in the Muslim World hate us. Moore previously wrote an open letter to Bush on the eve of the Iraq war and to Obama about the war in Afghanistan.

Here is what Moore quotes Shahzad as saying at his June 21, 2010, appearance in the Federal District Court in Manhattan where he pleaded guilty to a ten-count indictment:

I want to plead guilty, and I’m going to plead guilty 100 times over, because until the hour the U.S. pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan, and stops the occupation of Muslim lands, and stops killing the Muslims, and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we will be attacking U.S., and I plead guilty to that.

And here is what Moore quotes Shahzad as saying on October 5, 2010, when he was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole:

[Saladin] liberated Muslim lands … And that’s what we Muslims are trying do, because you’re occupying Iraq and Afghanistan… So, the past nine years the war with Muslims has achieved nothing for the U.S., except for it has waken up the Muslims for Islam. We are only Muslims trying to defend our people, honor, and land. But if you call us terrorists for doing that, then we are proud terrorists, and we will keep on terrorizing until you leave our land and people at peace.

The first thing to be determined is whether Moore accurately quotes Shahzad. In the court transcript from June 21, “100 times over” appears as “a hundred times forward.” The only other difference between Moore and the official transcript is a few commas. In defense of Moore I should point out that the way he quotes Shahzad is the usual way the quote has been reported. In the court transcript from October 5, we can see that the first and second statements attributed to Shahzad actually come after the third statement. And just to be fair to Shahzad (yes, I know he’s a convicted terrorist, but that doesn’t give us the right to misquote him), here is what he said without the brackets and ellipsis: “He liberated Muslim lands from the Jewish crusade, Christian crusade. And that’s what we Muslims are trying do, because you’re occupying Iraq and Afghanistan.” Moore quotes the third statement word perfect. So, what Moore quotes Shahzad as saying is essentially correct.

It is at the close of his short open letter that Moore reaches his conclusion I quoted above: “Terrorists aren’t trying to kill us because they hate our freedom. They’re killing us because we’re in their countries killing them.”

So if Moore is right – and I have no doubt that he is – then Islamic terrorists don’t want to detonate bombs in Times Square or blow up U.S.-bound airplanes because we have a bill of rights or because they think Brittany Spears should wear a burqa.

But Michael Moore is not just right; he is by implication giving us the key to declaring the war on terror over: GET OUT. Get U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Get the CIA out of Yemen and Pakistan. Stop the Predator drone attacks. Cease flying the sorties. I’m not sure about Moore, but I would go even further. Close the overseas bases. Bring all the troops home. Retire as the policeman of the world. Discontinue the foreign wars. Halt the spreading of democracy. Freeze the nation building. End the interventionist foreign policy.

What Moore is saying is not new. The CIA calls it blowback. The Bible calls it reaping what you sow.

The terrible truth is that the war on terror creates terrorists. As the great Glenn Greenwald wrote after Faisal Shahzad entered his guilty plea:

The great contradiction of American foreign policy is that the very actions endlessly rationalized as necessary for combating Terrorism – invading, occupying and bombing other countries, limitless interference in the Muslim world, unconditional support for Israeli aggression, vast civil liberties abridgments such as torture, renditions, due-process-free imprisonments – are the very actions that fuel the anti-American hatred which, as the U.S. Government itself has long recognized, is what causes, fuels and exacerbates the Terrorism we’re ostensibly attempting to address.

But never mind what Glenn Greenwald has to say; never mind what Michael Moore has to say, and never mind what Laurence Vance has to say.

According to a report on strategic communication prepared by the Defense Science Board Task Force, “a federal advisory committee established to provide independent advice to the secretary of defense”:

The information campaign – or as some still would have it, “the war of ideas,” or the struggle for “hearts and minds” – is important to every war effort. In this war it is an essential objective, because the larger goals of U.S. strategy depend on separating the vast majority of non-violent Muslims from the radical-militant Islamist-Jihadists. But American efforts have not only failed in this respect: they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended.

American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.

Muslims do not “hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.

Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. U.S. actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim selfdetermination.

Therefore, the dramatic narrative since 9/11 has essentially borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars. American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims. Fighting groups portray themselves as the true defenders of an Ummah (the entire Muslim community) invaded and under attack – to broad public support.

But U.S. foreign policy blunders didn’t just begin on 9/11. As Sheldon Richman recently explained:

Contrary to those who think history began September 11, 2001, U.S. regimes have long pursued policies in the Middle East and Central Asia that have brutalized the Muslim world and cultivated a seething passion for revenge. That explains (though does not excuse) the terrorism against civilians that government officials now say they must spend so much to stop. The threat was created by American policy, and it can be ended by changing that policy to the Washington-Jefferson foreign policy of nonintervention. That will not only make us safer, it also will save the taxpayers money.

Richman ought to know, as he prepared the exhaustive study titled “‘Ancient History’: U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War II and the Folly of Intervention.”

The attacks of 9/11 were political acts. They were not undertaken because of our freedoms, way of life, culture, or religion. The problem is our government and its abominable foreign policy. It is because of our foreign policy that our soldiers are needlessly dying in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now, to accept the fact that terrorists want to kill us because we’re in their countries killing them doesn’t mean that those killed on 9/11 deserved to die or that violence is justified or that the Koran is a holy book or that Islam is a religion of peace or that no act of terrorism against the United States would ever take place again if we withdrew our troops.

What it does mean – to anyone except red-state fascists, bloodthirsty conservative chickenhawks, Republican armchair warriors, Religious Right warvangelicals, theocon Values Voters, reich-wing nationalists, God and country Christian bumpkins, and other apologists for the U.S. military and its wars – is that maybe, perhaps, possibly there might be something terribly wrong with U.S. foreign policy, as the heroic Ron Paul has pointed out over and over again.

Michael Moore may be a liberal, he may be a hypocrite, he may be wrong on an innumerable number of issues, he may be overweight, he may even have bad breath, but on the subject of why terrorists want to kill us Michael Moore has never been more right.


Originally published on LewRockwell.com.