I don’t know why blowback is such a difficult concept for people to understand.
Simply stated, blowback refers to the unintended consequences of a county’s foreign policy. Example: the US supports Israel in its murder of Lebanese civilians; a group of Muslims retaliate by hijacking American planes and flying them into the World Trade Center. That’s blowback.
We can see this principle at work in everyday life. We can see it in most works of literature. Paris abducts Helen; the Greeks respond by invading Troy. Claudius kills King Hamlet; the prince responds by killing just about everyone he can.
And yet when a Muslim attacks the United States, few conservatives have the sense to view the attack as a response to our own actions. Instead, they tell us that Islam is to blame. Islam is always to blame.
When Major Nidal Hassan killed thirteen people at Ft. Hood, we were told that he was just following the teachings of the Qur’an. And now, four days after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab failed to blow up an American plane (but succeeded in setting his own lap on fire), they’re again laying the blame on Islam.
Frank Gaffney tells us that Abdulmutallab is part of a “theo-political-legal program that authoritative Islam calls Shariah.” This program, he writes, “requires its adherents to engage in jihad, or holy war, to bring about the triumph of Islam under a global theocracy, one that will impose Shariah on Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”
Now I have no idea where Gaffney gets this stuff. He has, you might remember, a long history of saying crazy things—e.g., the US should “take out” Al Jezeera; Saddam Hussein was behind the Oklahoma City bombing; President Obama might be a secret Muslim (h/t Wikipedia).
We don’t yet know a whole lot about Abdulmutallab’s motivations, but the evidence we do have suggests that he was trained by al-Qaeda in Yemen and that his Christmas day malfunction was an attempt to avenge recent US-backed attacks in Yemen.
In a statement released today, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed that the attack was coordinated with the “mujahidin in the Arabian Peninsula after the savage bombardment of cluster bombs and cruise missiles launched from US ships occupying the Gulf of Aden against the courageous Yemeni tribes in Abyan, Arhab, and finally, Shabwah, where they killed dozens of Muslim women, children, and entire families.”
Now maybe you think that the attacks in Yemen were justified. Maybe you think that we’re all safer today because some US cruise missiles splattered a bunch of Yemeni children into a million pieces. But even so, why create a nonexistent boogeyman, that of the crazed Islamofascist hell-bent on global domination?
Even Osama bin Laden has been clear that his intention is not to take over the entire planet but simply to stop the US from attacking Muslims and to drive it from the Muslim World, especially the Arabian Peninsula. “The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.”
It couldn’t be any clearer. They’re attacking us because we’ve been attacking them. Why Gaffney and others refuse to understand this is beyond me.