Nothing can excuse acts of terrorism, which are aimed at civilians, or those acts of state terror in which planned civilian deaths are advertised as "collateral damage." Yet the uniformity of the presentation by the mass media after 2001, to the effect that the United States now faced threats arising from a fanaticism with religious roots unconnected to anything America had done or could do, betrayed a stupefying abdication of judgment. The protective silence regarding the 725 American bases worldwide, and the emotions with which these are regarded by the people who live in their shadow, cover up a clue in the fact that fifteen of the nineteen hijackers on September 11 were Saudis. The presence of thousands of American troops on Arabian soil was hotly resented. To gloss over or ignore such facts only obstructs an intelligent discussion of the reaction likely to follow from any extended American occupation of the Middle East.
This inability to see ourselves as others see us is hardly new, but it can't be good news.