This is a leap most liberals would not make, preferring instead to see those words as Obama did in Cairo, ie, acknowledging the CIA's involvement in various places or somehow blaming Bush for our tattered Arab street cred after the fact.
But today Sweetness and Light uncovers a fascinating transcript from a talk Rauf gave in Australia in 2005 that shines some actual light on what he actually sees as a Clinton's failure:
The complexity arises, sir, from the fact that - from political problems and the history of the politics between the West and the Muslim world. We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims. You may remember that the US lead sanction against Iraq lead to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations. And when Madeleine Albright, who has become a friend of mine over the last couple of years, when she was Secretary of State and was asked whether this was worth it, said it was worth it.Well, this is not much different than what bin Laden said in 1998 when he called for the murder of Americans wherever found around the globe:
If some people have in the past argued about the fact of the occupation, all the people of the Peninsula have now acknowledged it. The best proof of this is the Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against their territories being used to that end, but they are helpless.Or... from Saddam Hussein in one of his 'open letters' to America after 9/11:
Second, despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million... despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation.
So here they come to annihilate what is left of this people and to humiliate their Muslim neighbors.
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 best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state, and their endeavor to fragment all the states of the region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into paper statelets and through their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel's survival and the continuation of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula.
In addition, we say to the American peoples, what happened on September 11, 2001 should be compared to what their government and their armies are doing in the world, for example, the international agencies have stated that more than one million and a half Iraqis have died because of the blockade imposed by America and some Western countries, in addition to the tens of thousands who died or are injured in the military action perpetrated by America along with those who allied with it against Iraq. Hundreds of bridges, churches, mosques, colleges, schools, factories, palaces, hotels, and thousands of private houses were destroyed or damaged by the American and Western bombardment, which is ongoing even today against Iraq. If you replay the images of the footage taken by the western media itself of this destruction, you will see that they are not different from the images of the two buildings hit by the Boing airplanes, if not more atrocious, especially when they are mixed with the remains of men, women, and children. There is, however, one difference, namely that those who direct their missiles and bombs to the targets, whether Americans or from another Western country, are mostly targeting by remote controls, that is why they do so as if they were playing an amusing game. As for those who acted on September 11, 2001, they did it from a close range, and with, I imagine, giving their lives willingly, with an irrevocable determination.Absurd, of course. Saddam gamed the sanctions and profited off Oil for Food and if anyone starved it was the Shiites--due to him. Bin Laden came along later and blamed America for Saddam's doings, which required our presence in Saudi to stop Saddam, giving him justification for 9/11. Now Rauf is saying they were both kinda right.
For this reason also, the Americans, and the world with them, should understand the argument that made those people give their lives in sacrifi, and what they sacrificed themselves for, in that way.
When one million and a half Iraqi human beings die, according to Western documents, from a population of twenty five million, because of the American blockade and aggression, it means that Iraq has lost about one of twenty five of its population. And just as your beautiful skyscrapers were destroyed and caused your grief, beautiful buildings and precious homes crumbled over their owners in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq by American weapons used by the Zionists. In only one place, which was a civilian shelter, which is the Ameriyah Shelter, more than four hundred human beings, children, young and old men and women, died in Iraq by American bombs.
Most Americans will not take kindly to being blamed in part for 9/11 based on our 'meddling' around the world. Despite some flaws that meddling is largely for the good, such as securing commerce, resources, and democracy. All countries meddle, including the Soviets, who meddled their way into Afghanistan and killed untold thousands, which gave rise to our 'creation' of bin Laden and others to help stop it. Clinton also meddled in Bosnia/Kosovo, which saved Muslim lives, then bin Laden repaid us with 9/11.
As if that's not enough, later in the transcript he invokes Fahrenheit 9/11; blames Bush for not directly addressing the Iraqi people during his surprise appearances in Baghdad (failing to consider that might have seemed rather authoritarian, as if Bush considered himself an emperor); and denies that Islam needs any kind of reformation like Christianity.
He also says women were treated well and given many rights by Mohammad and they need to return to those salad days (presumably condemning the House of Saud) and he favors a one-state solution in Israel. Everyone knows one state leaves an Arab state--with nukes.
And now this same moderate imam wants a mosque as close as possible to Ground Zero. His most erstwhile domestic supporters are likely onboard because they both see the real worldwide enemy as the rest of America. Or perhaps more specifically--white folks' greed running a world of need.
Don't misunderstand--reconciliation is good and necessary but we must both come to the table with honesty. Preconditions to building this bridge cannot include our admitting partial blame for 9/11, after all, we'd never admit as much for Pearl Harbor. Besides, we're being told over and over that the enemy is not really Islam, just a distorted version thereof. If that's really the case why would it make sense to ever assign us blame based on what some crazy people who don't represent their religion or peoples have done?