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It doesn't stop
at the water's edge

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Blowback is when a nation's foreign policy leads to attacks against it in the future. More specifically, it's when the foreign policy, originally formulated from a dominant and/or optionally engaging position[1] of realpolitik[2] for or against another sovereign entity and/or its allies, leads to an attack from the same. To a rational mind it should seem self-evident that things you do today could bite you in the ass sometime in the future, but some would call this victim-blaming.[3]

Europe between the wars[edit]

After World War I the victorious allies were determined to, in the words of the embarrassment that was Eric Campbell Geddes,Wikipedia's W.svg "squeeze Germany till the pips squeak." Allied governments and people who had suffered during the Great War both supported this. John Maynard Keynes was very critical of the terms. The Germans and Austrians were forced to pay reparations and this caused severe hardship for ordinary people who had not been responsible for the war. Resentment over reparations together with sheer economic desperation were major factors in the rise of Hitler and the development of Nazi Germany. Heckofajob, Allies.

Soviet-Afghanistan War and Al-Qaeda[edit]

By the end of 1993, in Afghanistan itself there were no roads, no schools, just a destroyed country — and the United States was washing its hands of any responsibility. It was in this vacuum that the Taliban and Osama bin Laden would emerge as the dominant players. It is ironic that a man who had almost nothing to do with the victory over the Red Army, Osama bin Laden, would come to personify the power of the jihad.
—George Crile III, Charlie Wilson's War[4]

In the 1980s, the Soviet Union and the United States were engaged in a proxy war in Afghanistan. The CIA had helped the rebel mujaheddin with $3.2-20 billion from the United States through the CIA operation "Cyclone." While many of them were anti-Islamist, there were a few that weren't who pocketed the rest. These payments quite naturally caused Osama bin Laden's movement to grow considerably.

After the war, he organized what he had into Al Qaeda. The organization was involved in many terrorist operations. However, the group truly came to prominence on September 11, 2001, in a series of attacks known as 9/11.

America's chickens have come home to roost[edit]

Reverend Jeremiah Wright of the Trinity United Church in Chicago connected the 9/11 attacks to earlier actions by America, proclaiming that "America's chickens have come home to roost" (itself echoing a controversial statement by Malcolm X on the assassination of John F. Kennedy). Reading the previous section, it's not the most unreasonable position to take. Unfortunately, Wright's less than diplomatic language ("God bless America? No! God DAMN America!") made him come off as something of a pious Ward Churchill. Normally a reverend's sermon wouldn't draw this much attention, however, the remarks came to light during the 2008 presidential campaign because Barack Obama was a member of the church, who was accused of absorbing the "radical" influence of the pastor.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Serbia getting a declaration of war from Austria-Hungary...
  2. Humanitarian aid given to a dictator who sells it to buy weapons...
  3. Well, Rudy Giuliani would.
  4. Secretary Gates and the Zen Master, ABC News