“If it’s freedom we hate, why didn’t we attack Sweden?” So asked Osama bin Laden in 2006. He was attempting to show that the 9/11 attacks were about America’s “imperialist” foreign policy, not hatred of freedom. And, as Alana Goodman points out at Contentions, “this statement seemed like watertight logic to a certain species of non-interventionists, who immediately began quoting the terror leader as if he was a dependable, trustworthy source.”
But the “blowback” theory has not held up well in the years following bin Laden’s query. The recent attack in Stockholm is only one in a string of Islamic terrorist actions against non-imperialist, non-interventionist, and politically correct nations.
Goodman makes the point exquisitely by recalling this statement by Ron Paul on the floor of the House in 2002:
How many terrorist attacks have been directed toward Switzerland, Australia, Canada, or Sweden? They too are rich and free, and would be easy targets, but the Islamic fundamentalists see no purpose in doing so.
Today, we know that each of these countries has been attacked, some on mulitiple occasions.
Goodman’s unassailable conclusion is this:
[T]o say that the U.S. would be safe from terrorism by adapting a non-interventionist foreign policy simply ignores the reality on the ground. Enemies who will gladly kill us over a petty cartoon in a small-circulation newspaper certainly don’t need to use foreign policy as a justification to fly planes into our buildings.
UPDATE: Bruce Bawer provides a distressing account of Sweden’s (and the New York Times’) willfully blind reaction to the Stockholm attack.