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Patrick Buchanan
Pat Buchanan
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Why Are They at War With Us?


"We are at war. We are at war against al-Qaida, a far-reaching network of violence and hatred that attacked us on 9/11, that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people and that is plotting to strike us again."

Thus did Barack Obama clear the air as to whether we are at war, and with whom and why.

Following his remarks, during a White House briefing by National Security Council aide John Brennan, Helen Thomas asked a follow-up question to which we almost never hear an answer:

Why is al-Qaida at war with us? What is its motivation?

It was Osama bin Laden himself, in his declaration of war in 1998, published in London, who gave al-Qaida's reasons for war:

First, the U.S. military presence on the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia. Second, U.S. sanctions causing terrible suffering among the Iraqi people. Third, U.S. support for Israel's dispossession of the Palestinians. "All these crimes and sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on God, his Messenger and Muslims," said Osama.

He began his fatwa quoting the Koran: "But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war."

To Osama, we started the war. Muslims, the ulema, must fight because America, with her "brutal crusade occupation of the (Arabian) Peninsula" and support for "the Jews' petty state" and "occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there" was waging war upon the Islamic world.

Terrorism, the direct killing of civilians for political ends, is al-Qaida's unconventional tactic, but its war aims are quite conventional.

Al-Qaida is fighting a religious war against apostates and pagans in their midst, a civil war against collaborators of the Crusaders and an anti-colonial war to drive us out of the Dar al-Islam. On Sept. 11, they were over here — because we are over there.

Nothing justifies the massacre of Sept. 11. But these are the political goals behind the 9/11 attack, and this is why Islamists fare well in elections in the Middle East. Tens of millions of Muslims, who may despise terrorism, identify with the causes for which Osama declared war — liberation of Muslim peoples from pro-American autocrats and Israeli occupiers.

Americans are being killed for the reasons Osama said we should be killed — not because of who we are, but because of where we are and what we do.


America lost 4,000 soldiers in six years in Iraq, with 30,000 wounded. Yet not one American of the 125,000 soldiers in Iraq was killed in December. Why not? Because we no longer conduct raids, patrol streets, kick down doors and pat down suspects. We have ended our combat operations, withdrawn to desert bases and seem anxious to go home. When we stopped fighting and killing them, they stopped fighting and killing us.

Most Americans today appear content to let Shia and Sunni, Arab and Kurd decide the future of Iraq. And if they cannot settle their quarrels without a civil-sectarian war, why should their war be our war?

According to Gen. Barry McCaffrey, we must now prepare for 300 to 500 dead and wounded every month in Afghanistan by summer.

Why are the Taliban killing our soldiers? Because we threw them out of power, took over their country and imposed the Hamid Karzai regime, and our troops, some 100,000 by fall, are the force preventing them from recapturing their country. We will bleed in Afghanistan as long as we are in Afghanistan.

But if, as Obama said, "we are at war with al-Qaida," why are we fighting Taliban when al-Qaida is in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and North Africa?

Hamas has used terrorism, but not against us. Hezbollah has used terrorism, but not against us since the bombing of the Marine barracks, a quarter-century ago. And our Marines were attacked in Lebanon because we were in Lebanon, intervening in their civil-sectarian war. Had the Marines not been sent into the midst of that war, they would not have been targeted.

When Ronald Reagan withdrew them, the attacks stopped.

Like Europe's Thirty Years' War — among Germans, French, Czechs, Dutch, Danes, Swedes, Scots and English, Catholics and Protestants, kings, princes and emperors — the Muslim world is roiled by conflicts between pro-Western autocrats and Islamic militants, Sunni and Shia, modernists and obscurantists, nationalities, tribes and clans. The outcome of these wars, the future of their lands — is that not their business, and not ours?

The Muslims stayed out of our Thirty Years' War. Perhaps we would do well to get out of theirs. But as long as we take sides in their wars, those we fight and kill over there will come to kill us over here.

This is payback for our intervention. This is the price of empire. This is the cost of the long war.

Patrick Buchanan is the author of "Churchill, Hitler and 'The Unnecessary War." To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at



7 Comments | Post Comment
Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul, both Republicans, seem to be the only people in the power structure of this country with the courage to speak the truth on this matter. When it comes to war and peace, Obama and the congress are afraid of change.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Elwood Anderson
Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:19 PM
Some columns and articles are curious and reflect on censorship, even self-censorship in the mainstream media and this column is such a clear example because it should have been written decades ago and it was undoubtedly written decades ago but was editorially rejected by those in the mainstream media.
Often when something has been glaringly true or valid socially, politically and economically for a period of long time it is reported on and columns are written on it. Our country is decades behind in areas of infrastructure, including high speed rail, education and foreign and domestic policies as democrats and republicans stumble along often squandering the wealth of the nation inefficiently and ineffectively. Accountability has become only a word because it has so little applicability, for it is applied so minutely and piecemeal that it is largely non-existent.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Henry Pelifian
Tue Jan 12, 2010 7:28 AM
Good article Pat, but shouldn't we also include some other reasons why the wars on going on? The foriegn drug policy of America has tryed to control the Opium production in the area. The growers crops have been stolen from them, their lives destroyed not by the drugs they grow but by our efforts there to stop the crop. This action has created a unfriendly reaction which has helped in the feeling that the U.S. is the emeny there and needs to be stopped. The Opium crop is a multi billion crop and like Cannabis in America, it can't be controlled no matter how much money is spent. The current war on terrorism has its base in the War on Drugs.

If America just came clean about Cannabis, a Plant which is non-toxic, non-addictive, heathly renewable resource, could replace foriegn oil. The other harder drugs would lose their profit margins because who would want herion when they could buy a safe product called Marijuana. The only groups profiting from the war on drugs is the drug cartels and various government justice department employees and prison systems. All at the cost of our rights.
Comment: #3
Posted by: mike
Tue Jan 12, 2010 10:14 AM
You make it sound so simple. Would that it were.The isolationism of the 30s did not keep us out of war, nor will it avail us peace now. The world's most powerful nation must protect its interests as it sees fit. Your friendly pit upon Muslims will take our leaving as a sign of weakness. I am surprised Buchanan but you are beginning to sound like Chamberlain. Turn the other cheek and soon you will have no head.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Arthur Finn
Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:42 PM
Mr. Pelifian, very good. Mr. Byuke, so you want us to be smart for a change? That's a tough sell, as Mr. Smart Obama seems to have discovered. Run for office. Do it for real this time. You have nothing to lose, except big money if you actually get elected, as Ms. Palin has clearly discovered.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Masako
Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:15 PM
I'm Tamilian, of a minor race;n living in Malaysia, under Malay Muslim government, where several opposition deaths in custody have occurred and will continue as fanatic Muslims are allowed to govern. Much unemployment, decreasing wealth, wastage of existing resources, eg taxes, even rubber trees n high levels of anarchy.They do not want to work just freeload, allowing multinational companies to operate here. mainly with Chinese and Tamils and less Malays at operator and management level.By contrast Malays occupy nearly 100% of govt.sector.They support terrorists naming their babies Saddam and Osama when these two did their evil plots of aggression.
Malays are very fanatical Muslims like their brethren in other countries.Last week they torched 9 churches with Molotov cocktails for using "Allah" in publications including the Bible to refer to God.Malaysia can never attain higher status economically as long as Chinese and Tamils are suppressed There should be "world justice" applicable here because prewar Tamils were majority with Chinese second Malays non existent until British started use of the word Malay to refer to the earlier Indonesian migrants.I am 5th generation Tamil of Malaysia.Where do we go for justice?
I believe USA should expand its role as "world policeman" to curb blatant racism and fanatic beliefs.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Hannah Sathiavathy
Tue Jan 12, 2010 10:40 PM
"You make it sound so simple. Would that it were.The isolationism of the 30s did not keep us out of war, nor will it avail us peace now. The world's most powerful nation must protect its interests as it sees fit. Your friendly pit upon Muslims will take our leaving as a sign of weakness. I am surprised Buchanan but you are beginning to sound like Chamberlain. Turn the other cheek and soon you will have no head.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Arthur Finn
Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:42 PM "

Arthur I think you are the one who is making it sound so simple. I don't know if you are a student of history but Buchanon, like myself, is. I say this because with out looking at our current situation through the lens of history you will come to the wrong conclusions. First off let me take on your comparison of Pat to Neville Chamberlain. While it is true isolationism in some cases is not the correct decision the same can be said about interventionism. You use pre-WWII Germany as an example of why isolationism would be the wrong decision for us today since it is accepted knowledge that most historians agree it was the wrong choice when Chamberlain's didn't move stop Hitler earlier. I must say that comparison is not a very apt one. First off Germany was a nation-state who had a history of imperialism and empire. Our enemy in this so called "War on Terror" is a dispersed group of religious fanatics who don't possess any of the characteristics of a country. Their is no armies or military-industrial buildings we can destroy and thus achieve victory as in WWII. Ask yourself what victory looks like in the "War on Terror", do you really think we can kill everyone on this planet who hates America and would do her harm if they could? The answer is no so really the best we can do is take away the grievances that make America hated in the Middle East, and by doing so, deny Bin Laden the ability to recruit. So what are these grievances I speak of? Well, they don't wage war for power and empire like nations have done throughout history. Even if this was what they really wanted, they could never achieve it. Al Qaeda doesn't have a single fighter jet, ship, or for that matter tanks. Instead their main objective is simply to bleed the United States until either our public or politicians reach the conclusion that our presence in the Middle East is not worth the costs. As Pat points out Bin Laden, his followers, and for that matter a large portion of Muslims feel as though the United States was the one who started this fight. If you think that this is not true, or if you think they have no right to feel this way, I would again point you to history. Here are some facts that our beyond dispute; First off, not only supported unpopular dictators who rule with violence, we have also overthrown democratically elected leaders simply because they wouldn't go along with our interests. Second, while the popular view in the West is that Israel is the victim of Palestine aggression (and there is some merit to that), that is a completely one sided view of the situation. To illustrate how Muslims feel let us imagine that a few hundreds years from now the world decides that since Native Americans were here before us, they should have a nation carved out of the modern day USA. Now imagine if China, Russia, South America, and Europe passed a resolution in the United Nations declaring that North Dakota and South Dakota were no longer part of the United States but would now instead become a nation for Native Americans. Then imagine they followed up in helping Native Americans make this a reality by arming them with advanced weapons and providing other support. What would our reaction be? Well if we still had the most powerful country on Earth we would use that to protect the Dakotas right? I don't think a single American would say we were wrong to use force in this situation, and lucky for us we have the military to do this. Point being we wouldn't give up our land without a fight, not even to the people who inhabited before us. Now you might say, "Well the Muslims didn't and still don't fight a war to stop Jewish people from reclaiming their ancient homeland. They don't have an army with tanks and airplanes that they fight with.". It is true that they lack the military to fight a traditional war, however for the point of this mental exercise, let us imagine that the only defense we had was that of the Muslims living in Palestine during the 1900s. Even with these very limited means of resistance I know for a fact that the American people in North and South Dakota would resist occupation by any and all means. Just look to the founding of our nation for an example. We used guerrilla warfare tactics that were totally against the rules of war during that time period. You may say, "Well we didn't do anything too crazy, there isn't anything wrong with hiding in trees and sniping officers". I would agree but remind you that while today such tactics are the norm, during the time period of the Revolution, this type of behavior was considered totally immoral and cowardly. Why do you think that was? The answer is simple, he who has the power makes the rules, and thus these rules are designed to maintain this power by outlawing anything that threatens it. During WWII another example arose of this in the form of kamikazes. If we ever confronted a situation like the Palestinians have, anyone who says that America wouldn't not only go to war, but resort to any means necessary to win is ignorant or lying (WE DROPPED NUKES!!!). Desperate men will resort to desperate measure when left with no alternative, and for young Muslim men there is no alternative to hurt us(thus, due to our overwhelming military advantage, no alternative to get us to stop messing around in the Middle East). If they could join a army and resist us that way they surely would, but because we'd wipe any Army out with the press of a button, that is not a option. For Palestinians, the situation I described above (Dakotas being occupied) is not imaginary, it is reality. They are in a fight for their very existence, so it isn't surprising that Muslims who want to help, often end up resorting to terrorism. I am not in anyway condoning these heinous acts of violence, simple trying to put them in their proper contexts as Pat has above. We constantly heard Bush try to present this as a war of cultures, claiming that Bin Laden attacked us because of who we are (our way of life) instead of what we've done (and are still doing). That is the biggest bunch of BS in history, but more importantly then that is the fact that we will never win the "War on Terror" if that is why we think they are fighting us. Think about it, if that is really the case the only way we can win this war is by killing or imprisoning the over one billion Muslims in the world. The alternative is this- we first admit to ourselves that, as history teaches, empires who occupy or seek to influence foreign lands pay a mounting price for such actions the longer they go on. Next we must admit, and the President must explain that, since our last defensive war, WWII, we have strayed from the advice of our founding fathers who advised against such foreign entanglements (they saw the trouble it causes Britain up close and personal), and instead have become an empire. Why and how we got to this point can be disputed, however if we do not recognized and move away from our current interventionist foreign policy we will see more and more hatred for America around the world. We must admit our wrongs and instead of occupying multiple Muslim countries (which only causes more hatred), pursue and locate suspected terrorists through a strengthened intelligence network, then finally, bring them to justice with special force teams or surgical air strikes. If we do not both reign in our pursuit of empire and blunt use of force, we stand no chance of ever winning a war against what is nothing but a idea, terrorism.
Comment: #7
Posted by: kheck34
Sat Feb 27, 2010 6:56 PM
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