American Foreign Policy - Essay

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James S Feliz

September 11, 2001:
Why Is America
a Target?

America was a target of terrorism on September 11, 2001, and will continue to be a target of terrorism because it bears a significant degree of responsibility for generating the political, religious, and economic causes of terrorism. As a global superpower and the dominant economic power in the world, the United States has pursued policies which have embittered millions of people throughout the Middle East and the Third World, and one of the consequences of these policies was 9/11. According to Gunaratna (2003) bitterness in the Arab world about Western military and economic dominance, chronic tensions with Israel, and the rise of fundamentalist Islam combined during the last three decades of the twentieth century to foster an ideology of terrorism, especially in the turbulent Middle East. This bitterness has motivated Islamic extremists to target both Israel and the United States for terrorist attacks. Motivated by perceptions of victimization, encouraged by religious fanatics, and trained in Osama bin Laden’s terrorist camps, nineteen Muslims hijacked American airliners and attacked New York City and Washington D.C. on September 11, 2001. The 9/11 attacks demonstrated that the United States was vulnerable to foreign attack despite its global military power, and was a profoundly disturbing experience for all Americans. In order to understand why America was attacked on 9/11, it is necessary to examine the broader issue of Israeli/Arab enmity in the Middle East, for violence between Israelis and Muslims is just one consequence of this historical enmity, which has triggered four Arab/Israeli wars and a multitude of other violent military confrontations, such as the Israeli invasion and occupation of southern Lebanon twenty years ago and the recent fighting in Lebanon between Hezbollah and the Israeli army. Gunaratna (2003) notes that conflict with Israel has been perpetuated by Muslim extremist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the PLO, who have incited hatred of Israel and relentlessly make “the Zionists” the scapegoats for the suffering and misery of poverty-stricken Muslims throughout the region. They deny Israel’s right to exist and have vowed to destroy the Jewish state. But it is not only terrorists who have vowed this, for the destruction of Israel has been the stated goal of many Arab governments ever since Israel’s founding as a nation in 1948. In response to this long-term threat to Israel, the United States has provided significant military, economic, and political support to Israel for more than forty years, which has incited hostility towards the United States throughout the Arab world. American military, economic, and diplomatic support for Israel was one of the primary reasons for the 9/11 attacks, and as long as the United States continues to support Israel, it will be a target for Muslim terrorism.

For decades, American presidents have been concerned about tensions and instability in the Middle East, and have successfully established peaceful relations between Israel and Muslim states such as Egypt and Jordan. But since 2001, American foreign policy has been formulated in accordance with neo-con ideology, which advocates the aggressive use of American power in the world, especially in the Middle East. These misguided policies, combined with the incompetent manner in which they have been implemented, have produced disastrous consequences. In outlining what they perceive as the fundamental problem of terrorist motivations, critics of President Bush have argued that current war against terrorism methods have failed to address the multiple ideological and religious issues that motivate terrorists. According to Ehrenfield (2003) their argument has much merit, for one of the primary causes of terrorism is the dominance of American power and influence in the Middle...
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