This is an excellent article, discussing the specific misunderstandings and mistakes made by the US government in response to the 911 attack on the WTC and Pentagon.
“Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward … and freedom will be defended.” In other words, George W. Bush thought that the reason the United States was attacked was that the attackers hated our freedom. How did he reach this conclusion? He never told us. He made his statement within hours of the attack and never gave any evidence for this view. As far as we can tell, he never questioned this view, never sought evidence that might have challenged it, and acted on the assumption that this view was correct.
Notice the importance of his assumption. If we were attacked because of our freedom, then there are only two options if you want to avoid future attacks: (1) get rid of our freedom, or (2) attack those who want to plan future attacks. But if we were attacked for some other reason, then it’s important to understand this other reason. What could another reason be?
Believe it or not, the Department of Defense, in 1997, had identified another reason that had nothing to do with “our freedom” but a lot to do with the U.S. government’s interventions abroad. The Defense Science Board’s 1997 Summer Study Task Force on DoD Responses to Transnational Threats had written, four years before the attacks:
“As part of its global power position, the United States is called upon frequently to respond to international causes and deploy forces around the world. America’s position in the world invites attack simply because of its presence. Historical data show a strong correlation between U.S. involvement in international situations and an increase in terrorist attacks against the United States.” (Washington: U.S. Department of Defense, October 1997, vol. 1, Final Report, p. 15)
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