In "The Spirit of Terrorism," Jean Baudrillard attempts to define the source not only of the rage of the terrorists who commandeered four jetliners to crash into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon but also the reaction of the West who suffered death and destruction in real time. Although Baudrillard does not come right out to say that he supports the terrorists' claims that America deserved to be attacked, the totality of his rhetoric clearly suggests a sympathetic stance towards those who seek harm to the United States. He equates the destruction of the Twin Towers as a deeply rooted desire of Capitalist America to "suiciding spectacularly." The "violence brewing around the world" would find a natural outlet on 9/11. Baudrillard likes to play armchair psychologist with frequent mention of America's death wish: "It is almost they who did it, but we who wanted it." He sees "complicity" between this death wish of America and a corresponding wish by terrorists to supply the fruition of that wish.
Power as concentrated in the hands of any nation-state must, according to Baudrillard, inevitably lead to its misuse by its brokers and a reactionary response by those who experience an "exacerbating will to destroy" that power. Thus, power "is complicit with its own destruction." As the Twin Towers collapsed, their duo fall resulted from America's hubristic self-vision as God-like which in turn Baudrillard terms America as "declaring war on itself." The uniqueness of the events of 9/11 he further sees as a "game to complete the event."
Baudrillard tries mightily to excuse Islamic religious fervor and ideology as the root cause of 9/11: "No ideology, no cause, not even an Islamic cause, can account for the energy which feeds terror." Further, he notes that Islam "is conversely not the embodiment of terror." Finally his defense of Islam is "if Islam dominated the world, terrorism would fight against it." Where then can an unbiased observer rationally account for the willingness and eagerness of those who wish to kill uncounted numbers of innocent men, women, and children merely to provide an outlet for ideological rage? The answer lies in what he sees as the symbolic nature of violence: "Violence in itself can be perfectly banal and innocuous." It is the symbolic reversal of the traditional unwillingness of killers to die to prove a point. The terrorists of 9/11 engaged in an orgy of this symbolic reversal of violence, an act which he calls "the true victory of terrorism." Yet, nowhere in this brief essay does Baudrillard touch upon the years of brainwashing and mind control needed to bring about this reversal. Nor does Baudrillard hint at other less noble, less self-sacrificing reasons that might have accounted for the attack on the Towers and the Pentagon. In essence, Baudrillard invites the reader to focus his view on the instant the planes crashed into their targets crammed with unsuspecting human beings. Such readers are invited to view the collapse of the Twin Towers as he does: a symbolic and unique event that must be viewed in the context of rage by the poor against the rich. Such a limiting view is of course a familiar one: blame the victim and excuse the perpetrator.