Reading response paper six
Rohan Gunaratna, “Inside Al Qaeda: global network of terror”
So if we defend our people in Palestine, the world reacts by ganging up against the Muslims under the banner of fighting terrorism, falsely and unjustly (p. xlvii).
The piece by Osama bin Laden was very blatantly anti-American. I think there is some truth, however, in his message. I never like to read documents that are laden with religious “imagery,” such as “Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Universe…,” “Peace be upon those who follow…,” or Christian phrases as well, such as “Praise the Lord… something, something… Promised Land of flowing milk and honey,” etcetera. I must have attended church one too many times when I was younger to appreciate such wording…
Another characteristic of the text was how bin Laden brought up numerous acts of the US, twisting them from what an American would think to something that might motivate a Muslim to hate America. His comparison of Bush to murderous pharaohs of the past is quite vulgar, and many Americans would say that he is exaggerating greatly. I almost think bin Laden has a point, though, because there is no denying that Bush played a major role in America’s “war against terrorism,” which unquestionably resulted in the deaths of countless innocents. Before passing such judgments, I think one must consider the overall impact a person such as Bush has had, and what he was trying to do. That, however, is a question for history to decide.
Bin Laden also criticized the administration in America, and this is certainly a valid criticism, to a point. As more than half of the country is currently in disagreement with some aspect of the war in Iraq, the American people by no means back everything the ‘country’ does. Our history has no shortage of scandals, cover-ups, and atrocities. We can only hope to do better in the future, which we are not doing according to bin Laden.
America was not the only country bin Laden spoke of, although most of the other nations were mentioned due to some alliance with the US. He warned Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Germany, Australia, and even Russia. All of these countries are more “Western” than most Islamic nations, though, and this is probably why bin Laden targeted them in his speech.
These things, combined with the religious overtone, made it obvious that bin Laden was simply pandering to his audience. If I am not mistaken, bin Laden did not come from a traditionally religious family. I do not think he had an especially devout and religious upbringing either. The image that he portrays of himself is likely a means to achieve his ends, and nothing more.
A problem with bin Laden’s crusade against America is that it conflicts with the religion he claims to be purporting. From what I know of the Qur’ran from class, the only kind of war that Allah would not look down upon is a defensive one. Although bin Laden probably feels he is defending himself, I have trouble understanding how killing thousands of innocent Americans is an act of defense. If bin Laden thinks it is, he must be viewing all Westerners as having played an active role in America’s attacks on certain Islamic areas. Bin Laden is not even considering that not all Americans fully support the administration or the military’s acts.
On the other hand, both Al Qaeda and America have killed an unnecessary number of innocent civilians in the past. Perhaps it is both entities that are at fault. Neither side seems very innocent, nor does either side seem willing to negotiate. My opinion is that we need to work on defending ourselves only, and not invading other countries, even if our leaders claim that is the best way to defend ourselves. It seems to me that the more we become involved in Southwest Asia, the more the ‘world’ seems to ‘hate’ us. We should take the nobler road and retract our troops, even if we are right and bin Laden is wrong. I think that if we spent all of the hundreds of billions of dollars we have spent on the war and directed that toward securing our seaports, airports, and revamping our intelligence system, we would be far better off, and the ‘world wouldn’t hate us.’ (as much)
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