In which I dare to contradict not only Hitchens, but Wilson as well...
"These range from the irredeemably paranoid and contemptible efforts to pin responsibility for the attacks onto the Bush administration or the Jews, to the sometimes wearisome but not necessarily untrue insistence that Islamic peoples have suffered oppression. (Even when formally true, the latter must simply not be used as nonsequitur special pleading for the use of random violence by self-appointed Muslims.)
Underlying these and other attempts to change the subject there was, and still is, a perverse desire to say that the 9/11 atrocities were in some way deserved, or made historically more explicable, by the many crimes of past American foreign policy....There was always some "intellectual," however, to argue in each case that the policy of Tony Blair, or George Bush, or the Spanish government, was the "root cause" of the broad-daylight slaughter of civilians. Responsibility, somehow, never lay squarely with the perpetrators._ (Christopher Hitchens, in Slate)
"[Hitchens] nails those who tried to blame the attacks on “the Bush administration or the Jews.” And for those who held up a simplistic tit-for-tat blowback explanation, Hitchens dutifully pulls their shirts over their heads and rolls down their socks." (Douglas Wilson, on thegospelcoalition.org
Unfortunately, I think Hitchens overreached, and Wilson was prematurely triumphant. (I think Wilson was dead on otherwise by the way, how amusing it is to see someone like Hitchens try to use words like 'Evil' as if they make any sense in his worldview.)
I agree that in a sense, the blame lies squarely with the perpetrators. Regardless of what anyone else did, they made a choice to commit the acts of terrorism, and they are responsible for the deaths that resulted. Yet I find it continually irritating that everyone likes this simplistic answer, and has no interest in understanding what really motivates a person to being willing to perpetrate this kind of act.
These were not your typical yokels. They were able to take a plan, stick to it over a period of time, including being able to learn to fly sufficiently well to accomplish their aims. This is a group of at least semi-intelligent people we are talking about. We should take a very honest look at what factors made it possible to recruit people to do this kind of evil. I grant that there is an aspect to Islam that lends itself to this sort of thing, but the plain reality is that there are over a billion Muslims in the world. If that were the key part we should be seeing a lot more of this than we do.
Meanwhile, even the most minor sympathetic look at what life has really been like for people in Muslim nations over the last 50 years yields a very easy explanation. We let the media dictate what happens over there by what they choose to report, but looking at the government's official
released information (forget classified or theoretical) reveals a far more sobering reality. Surely we can at least humanize the Muslims long enough to realize they aren't that much different than us, and aren't any more happy with our meddling that we would be if say, China were to suddenly start meddling in our affairs, selling weapons to our enemies to use against us, launching missiles into our cities, etc.
After a generation of this, some of us might even be willing to take some drastic action. Is it really so hard to understand how our actions created an environment that made this possible? And once we do understand, should we really just shrug it off in an effort to make sure the "blame" goes to the right place, while we continue to create an environment ripe for more of the same with our foreign policy, learning nothing from it?
Even in our domestic laws we have the concept of "creating a public nuisance". The idea (in this context) that it's possible through your actions to create a situation that would result in harm to other citizens. If you leave your keys in your car with a sign that says "Free Joy-Rides" and someone takes it and kills someone you're guilty too of . We recognize this in our law - but apparently not in our foreign policy, and according to some (like Hitchens and Wilson) I guess that's the way it should be.
For my part, I choose to hold all parties responsible - recognizing that as long as we continue in this type of foreign policy we will continue to create rich recruiting environments for more terrorists.