The eight years since the ouster of Saddam Hussein have been traumatic both to Iraqis and Americans. But at the same time, the shared experience . . .
And before I do I want to point out what should be obvious.
It was not
It was not
In 1975 it was not
It was not
And it was not
Between the date of the attacks and October 7, 2001 and March 20, 2003, we were not attacked again. It’s not as if we were acting in self-defense. And it’s not as if the terrorist attack didn’t have a history. It has been our decades of imperialism and aggression that brought on the attack. Look at the targets: the pinnacles of American economic and military power: the Pentagon,
American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the
to single-digits in some Arab societies. United States
• Muslims do not “hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of
Israeland against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the . Gulf states
• Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy. Moreover, saying that “freedom is the future of the Middle East” is seen as patronizing, suggesting that Arabs are like the enslaved peoples of the old Communist World — but Muslims do not feel this way: they feel oppressed, but not enslaved.
• Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of
Afghanistanand has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. Iraq actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim selfdetermination. U.S.
• Therefore, the dramatic narrative since 9/11 has essentially borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars. American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims. Fighting groups portray themselves as the true defenders of an Ummah (the entire Muslim community) invaded and under attack — to broad public support.
• What was a marginal network is now an Ummah-wide movement of fighting groups. Not only has there been a proliferation of “terrorist” groups: the unifying context of a shared cause creates a sense of affiliation across the many cultural and sectarian boundaries that divide Islam.
• Finally, Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic — namely, that the war is all about us. As the Muslims see it, everything about the war is — for Americans — really no more than an extension of American domestic politics and its great game.This perception is of course necessarily heightened by election-year atmospherics, but nonetheless sustains their impression that when Americans talk to Muslims they are really just talking to themselves.Thus the critical problem in American public diplomacy directed toward the Muslim World is not one of “dissemination of information,” or even one of crafting and delivering the “right” message. Rather, it is a fundamental problem of credibility. Simply, there is none…
And what has come of it?
Keep in mind that in this alternate reality we are the weak and they are the strong. They account for half of global military spending and have foreign bases sprinkled all over the globe while we don’t even account for a quarter of a percent and have no such bases. We have never attacked them. Our leaders have attacked neighboring countries while genuflecting to them, but our leaders never bit the hand that fed them. We don’t have the military strength like they do. Our lives have been shaped by their foreign policies, and not the other way around. When one of them was attacked by less than two dozen terrorists, we paid for it despite having nothing to do with the attacks. We have suffered through war and sanctions and ethnic cleansing. Thirty-six million of us have seen our lives smashed out by bombs, disease or starvation, and sixty million of us have been forcibly removed from our homes by gangs and militias with ties to the Iraqi government who invaded and occupy us.
Meanwhile they have their “Veterans Day” and “Memorial Day” where the denizens of their state proudly wave their flag and put yellow ribbons on their trees and cry while they sing patriotic songs and thank their soldiers for the sacrifice they made to protect their freedoms that were never endangered by us. And all the while it is their government who is spying on them, harassing their activists and cutting their social benefits and doing almost nothing to stop the economic crises that are costing them their jobs and pensions. And rather than rise up against their government who is bringing death and destruction to the world and exploiting them, they wave their flags and say “Thank you” to the soldiers that obey orders.