Whence comes Middle Eastern terror against America in recent decades? Documents collected by the Rubins point to its being a confrontation staged by a modern, radical, and minority offshoot of Islam extant since the late 1920s, which has aggressively targeted the United States for more than thirty years. The ideological underpinnings of this movement are provided in Anti-American Terrorism and the Middle East through the words of the Muslim Brethren founder, Hasan al-Banna; the militant Egyptian ideologue, Sayyid Qutb; the Iranian revolutionary cleric, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini; through Hamas and Hizbullah spokesmen, and various spokesmen for al-Qa‘ida, including Usama bin Ladin himself.
Particularly powerful is Barry Rubin's 25-page essay entitled "The Truth about U.S. Middle East Policy," arguing that contrary to countless Arab and Muslim claims, U.S. foreign policy toward the Arab and Muslim world has been one of accommodation, rather that antagonism. Rubin correctly asserts that the United States was a political patron of Islam during the Cold War because "traditional Islam was a major bulwark against communism and radical Arab nationalism." He further notes that recent U.S. military action in the Middle East has been on behalf of Muslims, rather than against them. Indeed, the United States protected Saudi Arabia and Kuwait from Iraq, Afghanistan from the Soviets, Bosnia and Kosovo from Yugoslavia, and Somalis from warlord Muhammad Farah Aidid. Thus, Rubin notes, "whatever the failure of America and Americans in understanding the Middle East, the inability of Middle Easterners to understand the United States seems to exceed it." Policy toward Israel, he aptly notes, is the only exception to obsequious U.S. policies toward the Arab world. Israel, loathed by the majority of the Arab world but strategically vital to the United States, is the least common denominator for anti-American sentiment.
The editors also include documents from both the Arab world and America in response to the attacks of September 2001. They note that in the Middle East "the attack provoked mixed reactions," ranging from cheers and blaming the United States to condemnations and calls for reform in the region.
This selection of documents reveals that, for all the progress in the last year, the West has yet to identify its true foe: the ideology of radical Islam, which has justified violence against Americans for decades, resulting in thousands of lives lost.