The Bush administration's projected war on terrorism is designed to eradicate and delegitimize terrorists. Both aims are futile. The grievances of the terrorists who committed the horrendous attacks on New York and Washington on September 11 have deep and persistent roots going back more than 150 years. The terrorists harbor a hatred that will not die, and their grievances cannot be delegitimized through military attacks.
Middle Eastern opposition to the West is far from being a phenomenon invented by Osama bin Laden, or the Taliban, or for that matter Iran, Iraq or the Palestinians. It has grown consistently since the beginning of the 19th century as an effective oppositional force both to the West and to local secular rulers. Western powers were blind to Middle Eastern opposition forces throughout the 20th century because they were overshadowed by great power rivalry.
The original leader of the opposition to the West was Jalal al-Din al-Afghani (1838-1897). Called the "Father of Islamic Modernism," al-Afghani was educated in Iran, Afghanistan and India. He traveled throughout the Islamic world promulgating an "Islamic reform movement."
Using an Islamic ideology helped him to transcend ethnic differences in the region, and preach a message all would understand. He sought to mobilize Muslim nations to fight against Western imperialism and gain military power through modem technology. Al-Afghani claimed that Britain, France and Russia in particular were operating in collusion with Middle Eastern ruler to rob the people of their patrimony through sweetheart deals for exploitation of natural and commercial resources.
As a direct result of the efforts of al-Afghani and his followers, groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood evolved throughout the region.
These groups generally espoused personal piety coupled with three methods in their political and religious activity: evangelism, religious modernization, and political resistance to secular regimes.
The Western nations have committed a litany of crimes against the Muslim world according to the Islamic opposition. After World War I, the Middle Eastern peoples were treated largely as war prizes to be divided and manipulated for the good of the militarily powerful Europeans. The British and the French without consent or consultation on the part of the residents created every nation between the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf for their own benefit. This increased the resentment of the...