Blowback Isn’t Hard To Understand

John Cole has the most succinct summary of how U.S. policies create anti-American terrorism that I’ve seen yet:

When you bomb people and kill their family, friends, and neighbors, burn down their homes and burn down their businesses and kill their livestock, spewing unexploded ordnance and munitions in fields where they work and their children play, it pisses them off. Many of them even get pissed off enough to fight back against the people they think are responsible for the bombing. They probably even form lifelong grudges when they find their mother and children in thousands of bloody pieces in their former homes.

As Cole notes, this ain’t rocket surgery.

FILED UNDER: Asia, National Security, Quick Takes, Terrorism, World Politics,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. John Burgess says:

    And those who continue to believe that US policies and actions played absolutely no role in the build-up to and planning for the 9/11 attacks are completely delusional. People get pushed until they see the need to take retaliatory action. Often, that action is taken against the perceived source of their anguish, not necessarily the ultimate source, but the proximate source.

    While US-enforced, UN sanction against Iraq were ultimately the result of (in)actions by Saddam, the US and allies got blamed for the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis. It’s not difficult to shift perceptions from ‘attacking Iraqi Muslims’ to ‘attacking Muslims-at-large’. It’s not difficult to shift perceptions from ‘the US and Saudi Arabia don’t want help from my blooded (Muslim) mujahideen who proved so useful in Afghanistan’ to ‘the US and Saudi Arabia shun good Muslims and therefore must be evil in themselves.’

  2. Steve Plunk says:

    I suppose that kid whose sees his father and older brother taken to jail can justify his criminal career as blowback. I wonder too if all the terrorist acts US citizens have undertaken abroad are blowback for 9/11? Oh, that’s right, they haven’t.

    This supposed blowback is a result of religious and cultural norms foreign to western thinking. We also shy away from honor killings and what not.

    Cole is being an anti American apologist for people that have lost control of their own culture and dignity. They lash out and real and perceived insults without regard to the sanctity of human life. They wanted war on their terms and when they got it the couldn’t understand why is was so painful and savage.

    To put it simply, they must learn from their mistakes rather than continue blaming others.

  3. Alex Knapp says:

    I suppose that kid whose sees his father and older brother taken to jail can justify his criminal career as blowback.

    It might, if his father and brother were unjustly accused. If I had innocent family members in jail, I wouldn’t trust the cops either.

    I wonder too if all the terrorist acts US citizens have undertaken abroad are blowback for 9/11? Oh, that’s right, they haven’t.

    You’re right–I forgot that we invaded Iraq because the 9/11 attacks were committed by Iraqi forces.

    This supposed blowback is a result of religious and cultural norms foreign to western thinking.

    Crap, I must have walked into an alternate universe, because in my reality, Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” was a huge hit. So I guess in this universe, you must have a clear recollection of the war crimes trials of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and McChrystal for deliberately targeting civilians, denying habeus corpus, violating the Geneva Conventions, and torturing prisoners in violation of U.S. law and international treaties?

    They wanted war on their terms and when they got it the couldn’t understand why is was so painful and savage.

    Yes, you’re right. All those Iraqi, Pakistani, and Afghan men, women and children DESERVED to get killed by U.S. forces, because they’re all members of al-Qaeda. My bad.

  4. This supposed blowback is a result of religious and cultural norms foreign to western thinking. We also shy away from honor killings and what not.

    Cole is being an anti American apologist for people that have lost control of their own culture and dignity. They lash out and real and perceived insults without regard to the sanctity of human life.

    Steve,

    You are in utter denial regarding the situation. While one may think that our drone strikes into civilian areas are necessary to fight al Qaeda and the Taliban, at least be honest about the consequences of the policy. Innocent people die as the result of our policies–this is undeniable, as our own government has repeatedly admitted to various “mistakes” of that type. It is a wholly normal, human reaction for those people whose families and friends have been killed to hold anger, and perhaps wish to seek revenge, against the US. I don’t think that we adequately discuss this fact. Instead, we look at it all in terms of good guy (us)/bad guy (them) and leave it at that.

    At a minimum you are conflating al Qaeda and Taliban leaders with the general population that had no say whatsoever in the 9/11 attacks.

  5. Brian Knapp says:

    I think that part of the problem in understanding “blowback”, is that for the vast majority of Americans, this whole narrative began on 9/11/01, and the total context is thus lost. Everything that we’ve done after is a “you started it!” exclamation (not that that justifies anything).