Some very good, if politically incorrect, points from Glenn Greenwald on cause and effect in the aftermath of the Brussels terrorism in this DemocracyNow interview.
The key section is below:
What we’ve seen in Brussels is the same exact pattern as we’ve seen, essentially, for the last 15 years each time there is one of these attacks. There is never any sense at all that there’s some balance needed between security, on the one hand, and civil liberties and privacy and a constrained budget for our military and intelligence, on the other. Every single time there’s a terrorist attack—every single time—politicians like Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz come forward and say we need more of everything we’ve been doing. We need more money for intelligence, more surveillance authorities, more military presence, more security. You know, imagine if every single time there were a fatal car accident, every single time, in response, someone said not, "Well, we accept the fact that in exchange for having roads, we know there’s going to be some fatalities," but instead, every time, said, "We need more safety regulations for cars. We need to lower the speed limit even further." The reality is, in an open society, especially if you have a government that is constantly bombing people around the world, there are going to be people who want to bring back violence to you and who are going to succeed in doing it. You can’t stop people in every case. And it’s not necessarily the case that each time there’s a terrorist attack it means that you need more security measures, more intelligence gathering, and more security and military adventures in the way that politicians just almost reflexively call for.
I think it’s really important to note a couple things about Brussels. Number one is, the Brussels attack is now the fourth straight attack, after Boston, the Charlie Hebdo massacre and then the Paris attacks, where siblings, brothers, were at the heart of the planning. And just like in those three previous attacks that I just referenced, the attacks were carried out by people who live in the same communities, who live very close to one another, and who almost certainly met in person in order to plan them. And yet, the exploitive mindset of Western politicians is to say, every time there’s a successful attack carried out, it means we need to wage war on encryption, we need greater surveillance, we need more police in these communities. But the reality is, if people are meeting in person, if you’re talking about siblings and cousins and family members and people who go to the same mosques, who are meeting in person to plan the attacks, none of that will actually help detect the attack.
What’s amazing is that if you listen to the media narrative about how these attacks get discussed—and I had the misfortune of listening to hours of CNN coverage and MSNBC coverage, because I’m traveling, about these attacks—the one question that’s never asked is "What is the motive of the attackers? Why are people who are in their twenties and thirties willing to sacrifice their lives to kill innocent people in this really horrific way?" And ultimately, it’s not hard to figure out. They say what it is, and it’s really not that difficult, which is the countries that they’re targeting—France and Belgium and the United States and others—are in Iraq and Syria bombing ISIS. And so, of course, it’s just natural to expect—doesn’t mean it’s justified; it’s never justified to target civilians, but it’s natural to expect—that countries that go and bomb ISIS, ISIS is going to want to bomb and attack back, just as the United States, for 15 years, has been declaring itself at war and bombing multiple countries and then acts surprised when people want to come and attack us back.
And so I think, more than saying we need more intelligence and more surveillance and wage war on encryption and more bombing campaigns, we need to be asking whether there are things that we can be doing that reduce the incentive for people to want to kill us—and in the process, kill themselves—and especially the support infrastructure that they get because of the anti-American and anti-European sentiment that gets generated when we engage in all of this violence in the world.
And here, in the context of US foreign policy, is Greenwald's curious take on the distinction between Cruz and Trump:
I do get a little bit disturbed by this widespread notion on the part of a lot of well-intentioned people that Donald Trump is somehow so far outside of what we regard as what had been previously acceptable within American political discourse. I mean, if you look at what Ted Cruz has actually been saying and what he’s been doing, you could certainly make the case—and I would be someone who agrees with this—that Ted Cruz is, in many respects, maybe most respects, more dangerous than Trump. I mean, Ted Cruz is this true evangelical believer who seems to be really eager to promote this extremist religious agenda. You have him constantly expressing animosity toward Islam and toward Muslims in a way that’s sort of redolent of almost a religious-type war. He holds himself out as this constitutional scholar and small-government conservative and yet advocates some of the most extremely unconstitutional measures you could possibly imagine, like targeting American communities filled with Muslims with additional police patrolling and monitoring and surveillance and scrutinizing.
And as far as Donald Trump is concerned, you know, when he comes out and says, "I want to do waterboarding and worse," and we all act so shocked, I mean, as you just said, you know, he almost deserves credit for what he’s saying, in the sense that he’s being more honest. The United States for 10 years did engage in torture. We did use not only waterboarding, but techniques far worse. And the reason why that’s still part of the debate is because the current administration, under President Obama, made the choice not to prosecute any of the people who implemented those techniques and who used to them, despite the fact that we’re parties to treaties requiring their criminal prosecution. And when he did that, he turned torture into nothing more than just a standard partisan political debate.
And that’s why people like Donald Trump are able to stand up without much repercussion and advocate that we use those techniques. But we shouldn’t act all that shocked. The U.S. government did exactly what Donald Trump is advocating as recently as seven or eight years ago.
Greenwald's punchline on Trump:
I think if you look at the reaction to Donald Trump and this kind of horror that even Republican elites and conservatives are expressing when reacting toward him, to call it hypocritical is really to be generous. It is true that he doesn’t use the language of political diplomacy. He doesn’t really use euphemisms. He speaks like ordinary people speak when talking about politics at their dining room table, which is one of the reasons for his appeal. And in that sense, he actually provides an important value, which is he’s stripping away the pretense of what the American political system and American political culture have become and describing it in a much more honest way. And that’s the reason that so many Republican elites and other media figures, who have no problem with Republican politicians or even Democratic politicians who advocate similar policies, why they’re so offended by Donald Trump, because he sort of renders the entire system nakedly candid about what it actually is.