September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document

Story:Toward a More Perfect Union: Failure to Ask the Right Question and to Answer It

The well coordinated terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 occurred because a group of men hated the United States enough to give their lives to hurt us. Following the attacks, the U.S. Government rightly asked the question, ""How was this allowed to happen?"", and began planning to more effectively combat terrorism.

Another question ought also to have been asked, and addressed, namely, ""Was the hatred of the United States to any extent justified, and, if so, how can we proceed to moderate or even eliminate hatred of our country?"".

Osama bin Laden, credited with masterminding the terrorist attacks, has been quoted as saying, ""I swear to God that America will not live in peace before peace reigns in Palestine, and before all the army of the infidels depart the land of Muhammad"" (i.e., Saudi Arabia).

If we had troubled ourselves to be introspective, rather than simply outraged and vengeful, we might have realized that the goals of these terrorists are not substantially different from our own goals.

We (the American people and the U.S. Government) want peace in the Middle East, and more than that we want a just peace. We (the American people) want out of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Government is autocratic, and supports an international islamic organization that is working to foment revolution around the world, including inside the United States.

It's not too late to be introspective, to become concerned with how to reduce hatred, rather than only with how to combat it. The Bush administration, however, appears to disregard the importance of hatred entirely, for example, the hatred growth effect of making a pre-emptive strike into an Arab country seems not to be a factor in the administration's invasion cost:benefit equation.

Hatred cannot always be avoided, and we should not compromise our principles in order to avoid it. In this case, however, we are hated because we are already compromising our principles. Let's ""straigthen up and fly right"".

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