A reader writes:
If we had focused on why Al Qaeda thought that 9/11 would be good tactic, we might have discerned their larger strategy. They saw religious imperialism and disrespect for Islam as implicit in the US actions in the Middle East, and they want to create a situation in which that would be made clear. And like the Chinese Communist Party vis a vis the Japanese, they seek to take power in the Middle East by being the most militant and resolute fighters against the foreign invaders.
Of course, our invasion of Iraq (which I supported) validated AQ's line of analysis and furthered their strategy. We proved that we seemingly couldn't tell one Arab from another, but seemed to hate them all. We propagandized their most crucial proposition: that this was the US vs Islam, in general. And we continue to do so whenever we lump together Al Qaeda, the Sadrists, the Baathists, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Fatah, the MBB, and Muslim immigrants in Britain, France and Denmark into one undifferentiated stew.
Our knowledge task is to understand all of the different conflicts in their uniqueness before we draw some vast conclusion. It is most important to break with the vast generalizations that lie under the current strategic thinking.
(Photo: The "Tribute in Light" illuminates the sky over the World Trade Center site September 11, 2006 in New York City. The temporary memorial to those lost on September 11, 2001, returned to mark the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. By Chris Hondros/Getty Images.)