How could one argue that American wrongdoing around the globe was partly responsible for invoking the 9/11 attacks?

For a pattern of American wrongdoing that might have had a hand in the 9/11 attacks, the most obvious source is Osama bin Laden himself. Bin Laden lists a number of incidents which he regards as justification for the attacks. For a wider perspective, Noam Chomsky makes an argument that American foreign policy displays a pattern of "wholesale terrorism," compared with which the "retail terrorism" of bin Laden was insignificant.

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It should of course be noted that the 9/11 attacks benefitted no one and were the direct cause of thousands of people losing their lives, with many more (including a great many in Central Asia and the Middle East) harmed by the repercussions. The attacks did nothing to further any Islamic cause, and greatly increased prejudice against Muslims in the West.

However, it one could make a case that American actions around the globe made the attackers feel as though their action were justified. Osama bin Laden did this himself in his 2002 "Letter to America." An English translation of the text, published in the Guardian, is attached below. Bin Laden lists American support for attacks against Muslims in Somalia, Chechnya, Kashmir, and Lebanon, as well as its continuing aid and assistance to Israel, and the stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia as being among the reasons behind the attacks.

It is obviously rather tenuous to base your arguments entirely on those of bin Laden, so you will also want to look at some Western sources, particularly the work of Noam Chomsky. Chomsky makes the distinction between the "retail" terrorism of A-Qaeda and ISIS and what he calls the "wholesale" terrorism of the United States, which he claims is far more destructive globally. Chomsky refers to a much wider range of incidents than bin Laden does, for instance, to United States support for regime changes in Central and South America. While the 9/11 attacks were clearly not carried out in retaliation for United States policy in Latin America, Chomsky uses incidents such as the installation of General Pinochet as dictator of Chile to explain his concept of wholesale terrorism in American foreign policy.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 19, 2021
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