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No, George, that's not why they hate us.

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On July 28, George W. Bush and his lapdog Tony Blair gave a joint press conference in Washington to discuss the crisis in the Middle East and terrorism in general. And Bush once again illustrated why we cannot possibly win the war on terror under his so-called leadership.

Bush kept repeating a familiar refrain, over and over: The reason for terrorism is that they hate our democracy. The terrorists are the enemies of freedom.

Some excerpts from that press conference:

"In Lebanon, Hezbollah and its Iranian and Syrian sponsors are willing to kill, and to use violence to stop the spread of peace and democracy."

"It's really important for people to understand that terrorists are trying to stop the advance of freedom."

"There's a lot of suffering in the Palestinian Territory because militant Hamas is trying to stop the advance of democracy."

"There is suffering in Iraq because terrorists are trying to spread sectarian violence and stop the spread of democracy."

"Isn't it interesting, as a democracy takes hold in Iraq, that al Qaeda steps up its efforts to murder and bomb in order to stop the democracy?"

"They're violent, cold-blooded killers who are trying to stop the advance of freedom."

No, George, that's not why the terrorists hate us.

They hate us because of imperialistic attitudes like yours.

They hate the U.S. government's persistent meddling in the affairs of Arab nations. No one should be surprised at the insurgency in Iraq, a country that we attacked in an unprovoked war of aggression in defiance of the United Nations Security Council. They are responding to a violent ongoing occupation. They are responding to the destruction of their country by U.S. forces over the past three years that leaves them still today with a serious lack of jobs, a serious lack of clean water, unreliable electrical power (if any), and virtually no security.

They hate the presence of U.S. military bases on Arab land. Ironically, Osama bin Laden was trained by, and fought side-by-side with, the U.S. military during the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Osama's opinion of the U.S. changed when we set up a military base in Saudi Arabia after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. His response was in opposition to a Western military presence on Islamic holy ground.

They hate the U.S. government's financial and military support for Israel, which has been used to repress, terrorize, and slaughter Palestinian civilians, and now the Lebanese. Israel received $2.1 billion in military aid from the U.S. in 2003, and continues to reap similar rewards year after year. These American tax dollars have been used by the Israeli army and "settlers" to kill some 3,700 Palestinians - most of them unarmed and including over 600 children - since the start of the current intifada in September 2000. And now that aid is being used to kill innocent civilians in Lebanon.

In short, they hate us because they perceive the U.S. as a hostile, threatening force. And, at least in recent years, they're right.

It's not about democracy, and it's not about our freedom.

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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