Terrorism And The Causes Of Terrorist Attacks

2312 words - 9 pages

The continuing successful and attempted terrorist attacks in the USA and the endless wars and conflicts in which we are involved are caused by the very same reasons experienced in the expansion of Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries.  The economic, political, and cultural conditions present in each of these periods in history, although hundreds of years apart, are still very much alike.  The same desires for money, relations between different countries, and differing religious views are what caused this tragedy and similar conflicts during the expansion of Europe.  By examining these causes in the present as well as in the past, Americans might have a better understanding of the current situation and come up with some ways to prevent such a tragedy in future.

The exploitation of many of the native peoples in the New World during the period of European expansion can be seen to have been centered on greed.  According to the class film Conquest of Paradise, Columbus' goal even before he set out on the expedition was to find a shorter trade route to the Indian Ocean.  He thought that by sailing west he would eventually hit India, thereby avoiding the long trip around Africa (Bulliet et al. 430).  Columbus' voyage, however, resulted in the discovery of a new continent when he reached the islands of the Caribbean in October of 1492.  The voyage of Christopher Columbus had "laid the basis for Spain's large colonial empires in the Americas... these empires promoted, among the four Atlantic continents, the growth of a major new trading network whose importance rivaled and eventually surpassed that of the Indian Ocean network" (Bulliet et al. 431).  But this trading network, however, was not gained without a great loss of human lives and great animosity against the imperialists.  America, therefore, inherited this animosity when it became an imperialist country. 

The expedition of Hernán Cortés and the conquistadors, one of Spain's later voyages, showed that a common cause for mass violence and tragedy is found in the human desire for wealth.  Cortés' main goal was at first just to develop trade with the Mexican mainland.  But when he learned of the rich Aztec empire and their gold, he began to exploit and conquer them (Bulliet et al. 437).  Cortés accurately portrays the human desire of greed in the following quote taken from the class film Conquistadors, "Do you have more gold?  For we're troubled from a disease of the heart that can only be cured by gold."  This was just the beginning of the problem.  As soon as the Aztecs had brought the conquistadors gifts of gold as a symbol of peace, Cortés and his men had already set out to overthrow the Aztecs.  "Despite Cortés's initial promise that he came in friendship, Moctezuma quickly found himself a prisoner in his own palace.  His treasury was looted, its gold melted down.  Soon a battle was raging in and about the capital between the Spaniards and the...

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