Politicians and pundits continue to discuss alleged terror suspect Faisal Shahzad’s attempt to detonate an explosive device in New York City’s Time Square, but few are asking the obvious—how could our wars on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere have prevented an individual like Shahzad from trying to carry out a terrorist attack on US soil? Furthermore, to what extent do our wars in the Middle East inspire such attacks? Aren’t we “fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here?” And if so, why are we still fighting them here?
In December, when it was discovered that the so-called “underwear bomber,” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had visited Yemen, I jokingly asked my radio audience, “So are we going to start bombing Yemen now?” The very next day, Senator Joe Lieberman said we should consider military action against Yemen, something that nation’s president quickly warned would only create more terrorists. Given Shahzad’s current place of residence and following Lieberman’s logic, perhaps we should now start bombing Connecticut? If that terrorist-harboring state could be magically transplanted to a more oil-rich, defense contractor-benefitting and Israel-approximate location, no doubt Lieberman might consider it.
Since taking office, President Obama has supported the drastic increase of drone strikes on Pakistan where civilian casualties have been noticeably high, or as the Los Angeles Times reports “Civilian deaths caused by Western arms are a source of deep anger in Pakistan.” Unlike virtually everyone else, international affairs expert Stephen Walt has dared to ask the obvious concerning Shahzad, writing in Foreign Policy magazine:
“then there’s the question of why he tried to do this. Based on the still-sketchy information I’ve read so far, it seems likely that he wanted to kill Americans in New York City because he didn’t like our killing people in Central Asia. (Most of our victims are suspected terrorists, but we sometimes kill innocent civilians by mistake). Whether he was acting alone or in cahoots with Pakistani extremists, his abortive attack was probably a response to our efforts to eradicate terrorist groups in Pakistan via drone strikes and other special operations. In short, he decided to enlist in the ‘war on terror,’ but not on America’s side.”
Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Quresh, who seems to be plagued by the same sort of pesky logic as Yemen’s president, told CBS News of the Pakistan-born Shahzad, “This is retaliation. And you could expect that … let’s not be naïve… They’re not going to sort of sit and welcome you (to) sort of eliminate them. They’re going to fight back.”
Shahzad’s alleged attempt was only one of many in Times Square since 9/11, and such incidents have not-so-coincidentally correlated with the further entrenchment of the United States in the Middle East, a phenomenon the CIA calls “blowback.” Mainstream media discussions that attempt to address Islamic terrorism while pretending “blowback” doesn’t exist, are about as useful as Obama officials who try to address the national deficit while pretending their own, expensive agenda doesn’t exist. Those who still naively contend that such terrorism has nothing to do with our foreign interventionism, but is exclusively due to some Islamic plan to dominate the world or “Caliphate,” should remember that New Yorkers attending the Broadway premiere of My Fair Lady in 1956 never had to worry about any car bombs bringing down the house, much less Times Square. Since Islam isn’t exactly a brand new religion, has the Koran been rewritten to be more intolerant of “freedom” than it was during Broadway’s golden age? Or could it possibly be something else?
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