This simplistic notion fails on two counts. Though Chileans and Vietnamese have undoubtedly suffered as a result of U.S. decisions, there's no instance of these or other foreign-policy victims ever mounting payback terrorist operations aimed at killing thousands of U.S. civilians. Second, in Zinn's view only the U.S. government has any real agency in the world. He offers not a single sentence to plumb the motivations of Al Qaeda or similar groups, other than their supposed indignation over our errant policies. That the middle-class, college-educated Saudi Arabian 9/11 hijackers might also be motivated by a Judeophobic, suicide-cultish interpretation of the Koran somehow doesn't compute.
Zinn's recipe for dealing with Al Qaeda is to have treated 9/11 as "horrific criminal acts" requiring not a military response but only intensive police work using "every device of intelligence and investigation." This will strike many astute readers as a rhetorical cop-out, carefully constructed to avoid even the possibility that military force against a fanatic and murderous enemy might be justified.
We need "new ways of thinking," Zinn writes. Indeed. But Zinn's way of thinking about our current circumstances are unsatisfying, if not just plain obsolete. He offers no substantial explanation of how we wound up in a face-off with rising Islam and even less of an idea of how we are to get out of it. The antiwar schema of the Vietnam era transposed onto the world of 2007 makes for a poor fit.