What caused 9-11?

 by Leonardo Boff

 

What caused 9-11?

Leonardo Boff

Theologian
Earthcharter Commission

 

 

 

We would have to be inhumane not to condemn the September 11th attacks by al-Qaeda against the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and it would be cruel not to show solidarity with the more than three thousand victims of those terrorist acts.

 

That said, we should delve deeper into the issue, and ask ourselves: why did this meticulously premeditated attack occur? Things do not happen simply because some crazy nuts are full of hatred, and commit such crimes against their political opponents. There have to be deeper causes that, if they persist, will continue to feed terrorism.

 

If we look at the history of more than the past century, we see that the West, as a whole, and particularly the Unites States, has humiliated the Moslem countries of the Middle East. They controlled their governments, took their oil and built immense military bases. They left behind much bitterness and rage, the cultural breeding ground for revenge and terrorism.

 

What is terrible about terrorism is that it takes over minds. To effectively triumph in wars and guerrilla uprisings, it is necessary to occupy physical space. Not so with terrorism. It is enough to occupy the mind, to distort the imagination and to introduce fear. The Northamericans physically occupied the Taliban’s Afghanistan, and Iraq, but the Taliban psychologically occupied the minds of the Northamericans. Unfortunately, Bin Laden’s October 8, 2002, prophecy is being fulfilled: «The United States will never feel secure again, it will never again have peace.» The United States is now a country that is hostage to the fear that has been spread.

 

So as not to give the impression of being anti-Northamerican, I will transcribe here a segment of the words of the Bishop of Melbourne Beach, Florida, Robert Bowman, who, before becoming a Bishop, had been a military fighter pilot, who flew 101 combat missions in the Vietnam War. He wrote an open letter to then-President Bill Clinton, who ordered the bombings of Nairobi and Dar-es-Salam, where the Northamerican embassies had been attacked by terrorists. The content of that letter also applies to Bush, who waged war against Afghanistan and Iraq, a war that Obama now continues. The letter, still timely, was published by the National Catholic Reporter on October 2, l998 under the title: Why is the US hated?, and goes like this:

 

«You, Mr. President, have said that we are the target of attacks because we defend democracy, liberty and human rights. That is absurd! We are the target of terrorists because, in large portions of the world, our government has defended dictatorships, slavery and human exploitation. We are the target of terrorists because we are hated. And we are hated because our government does hateful things. In how many countries have agents of our government removed leaders chosen by their people, who exchanged them for military dictators – puppets who wanted to sell their countries to Northamerican multinational companies!

 

We have done so in Iran, in Chile and in Vietnam, in Nicaragua, and in the rest of the «banana republics» of Latin America. In country after country, our government has opposed democracy, suffocated freedom and violated human rights. This is the reason we are hated all over the world. It is for this reason that we are the target of terrorists.

 

Instead of sending our sons and daughters to kill Arabs throughout the world and thus to take control of the oil under their lands, we should send them to rebuild their infrastructures, to help them with drinking water, and to feed their children who are in danger of starving to death. This is the truth, Mister President. This is what the Northamerican people must understand.»

 

The correct answer is not to fight terror with terror, a la Bush, but with solidarity. Members of the associations of victims of the Twin Towers went to Afghanistan to found aid associations, so that the people may emerge from misery. Through such humanity, the root causes of terrorism are annulled.

 

 

 

Leonardo Boff

 

09-16-2011

 

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