FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

What If the Tsarnaevs’ Motive Was Revenge for U.S. Foreign Policy?

by SHELDON RICHMAN

On the day of the Boston Marathon bombings, President Obama stood in the White House briefing room and said, “We will find out who did this; we’ll find out why they did this.”

What motivated the murderous acts allegedly committed by Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarvaev is the question on everyone’s mind. We would be surprised if it were not.

But will people remain interested in the motive if they don’t like what they hear?

Judging by the recent past, the answer might well be no. After 9/11, people wondered why anyone would kill indiscriminately by flying airplanes into buildings. The Bush administration and others leapt to an unlikely conclusion: the hijackers “hated our freedom.” That seemed to satisfy most people. But it made little sense, and based on previous incidents, we already had ample reason to believe the answer lay elsewhere. Earlier perpetrators of violence from the Middle East had made clear that what fueled their hatred of America was U.S. foreign policy in the region and the larger Muslim world.

Osama bin Laden’s own fatwa against the United States named three offenses: support for Israel’s occupation of Palestine, the presence of American military forces near Muslim holy sites in Saudi Arabia, and the devastation of Iraq through 10 years of bombing and economic sanctions.

But most American officials did not want to hear — and did not want the American people to hear — that Muslim violence was in retaliation for U.S. foreign policy. When Ron Paul, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, criticized U.S. interventionist foreign policy during a primary debate, he was admonished by another candidate, Rudy Giuliani, among others, who claimed he had never heard such an outrageous thing. Giuliani was either lying or unaware that the official 9/11 commission and the Pentagon had previously acknowledged that U.S. foreign policy creates resentment among Muslims.

What about the Tsarnaevs? We await the facts, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reportedly told authorities his acts were motivated by “religious fervor.” But it’s a good bet this resentment was part of their motivation. The Tsarnaev family is Chechen, but Chechnya’s beef is with Russia, not the United States, so that seems an unlikely source of a desire to kill and injure runners and spectators in Boston.

[UPDATEDzhokhar has reportedly told authorities the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan figured in his and his brother’s radicalization.]

It is more likely the young men were angered by U.S. drone warfare that has killed thousands of Muslims in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia; brutal occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan; backing for dictators and corrupt monarchs throughout the Muslim world; and unwavering material and moral support for Israel’s oppression and humiliation of the Palestinians, with no end in sight. The Washington Post reports that a neighbor of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older, deceased brother, told him, “In Afghanistan, most casualties are innocent bystanders killed by American soldiers.”

If revenge for U.S. foreign policy was the motive, what will happen next? Will such evidence prompt a national reconsideration of America’s decades-old imperial foreign policy? Or will it be quickly dismissed, while the bombings are exploited in an effort to double down on that foreign policy. U.S. Rep. Peter King, a Republican, has already begun that effort. (Interestingly, Alberto Gonzalez, who was attorney general under President George W. Bush, acknowledged on CNN over the weekend that U.S. foreign policy is indeed resented by Muslims abroad and prompts a desire for revenge.)

There is much we still don’t know about the Tsarnaev brothers and why they chose their deadly path. (What, if anything, did it have to do with Chechen organized crime?) Maybe it will turn out that they simply developed a hatred for what they saw as American licentiousness and felt they needed to strike out at it. (That Dzhokhar Tsarnaev partied at his college after the bombings, casts doubt on that prospect.)

It seems far more likely that the murder-by-drone of Muslim children, the no-knock night raids of Afghan homes, the daily humiliation of and violence against Palestinians, and the support for violent and corrupt rulers are what made these men want to exact vengeance against Americans.

Of course, none of this would justify killing innocents. But if we wish to prevent such wanton crimes in the future, we’d better understand what motivates the criminals who commit them.

Sheldon Richman is vice president and editor at The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org) in Fairfax, Va. He can be reached through his blog, Free Association.

 

Sheldon Richman, author of the forthcoming America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.  He is also the Executive Editor of The Libertarian Institute.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail