Yet again MSNBC's Chris Matthews has blamed Islamist terrorism on the stationing of U.S. troops in "the holy land" of Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War, essentially parroting the justification that Osama bin Laden gave in the late 1990s for his jihad against the United States.
Matthews's remarks in the "Let Me Start" segment opening the September 15 Hardball bear some similarity to comments the MSNBC host made last Wednesday on the network following President Obama's address to the nation on his ISIS strategy.
After snarking about the resounding "bugles of war" and yells of "charge" from "cubicles in the Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute," Matthews sought to blame a Bush. No, not Dubya, but his dad, President George H.W. Bush:
This must I know. As Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York recently wrote, "The number one cause of World War II was World War I," and just assuredly the war we're about to fight will lead not to peace but to another war. It happened when we ignited al Qaeda by putting tens of thousands of American troops into the holy land of Saudi Arabia, thereby desecrating Islam's holiest sites.
It happened when we banished the Sunnis from leadership in Iraq, kicking their generals and other officers to the curb, only to have them rise up and join ISIS. Nothing is easier than to join with enthusiasm into the latest war. And nothing is harder than to think of how to avoid starting the next one. But that's what presidents are for. And what I believe I know, this one is trying mightily to do, amid all the cries for blood and a far scarier entanglement in the endless wars of the Mid East.
Last week, a plaintive Matthews urged President Obama, "Please do not listen to Dick Cheney," insisting, "He’s the one that created al-Qaeda by taking over the holy land in Saudi Arabia. He’s the one that de-Baathicized [sic] the Iraqi government. He created ISIS, and he’s coming back again with more advice."
For what it's worth, U.S. involvement in the Gulf War and the subsequent imposition of a no-fly zone and of economic sanctions was one reason bin Laden gave for terrorism against the United States in his 1998 fatwa. But it's also notable that he painted the United States as a puppet of, who else, Jews:
Third, if the Americans' aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews' petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there.
The point is not that Matthews should equally be disdainful of U.S. policy towards Israel but that he should recognize that ruthless extremists like bin Laden and the thugs who run ISIS will summon any excuse for jihad against the United States and the West. They only understand violence and the only remedy for their violence is to use deadly force to send every last one of them through, as Vice President Biden would put it, the "gates of Hell," even if that makes a dovish liberal Democrat like Chris Matthews queasy.