Our reluctance to consider whether certain aspects of U.S. foreign and defense policy inspire anti-American extremism began as early as the 9/11 Commission. As the late Ernest May, a distinguished historian who worked with the commission, later acknowledged:
“[T]he report skirts the question of whether American policies and actions fed the anger that manifested itself on September 11…. [it] is weak in laying out evidence for the alternative argument that the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Capitol might not have been targeted absent America’s identification with Israel, support for regimes such as those in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan, and insensitivity to Muslims’ feelings about their holy places. The commissioners believed that American foreign policy was too controversial to be discussed except in recommendations written in the future tense. Here we compromised our commitment to set forth the full story.”
As I pointed out back in 2009, the United States is directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Muslims over the past three decades, a sum vastly greater than the number of Americans killed by Muslims. It would be remarkable indeed if our actions had not led a small fraction of their co-religionists to want to retaliate in some way.Walt is of the realist school of foreign policy.