By Barry Rubin
Why do people in certain parts of the world hate America? Some think it’s because of U.S. support of Israel or other policies; some because of American values and culture. Well, the main reason is the politics, worldview, history, and self-interest of those involved.
Consider (thanks to MEMRI) an interview with a retired Pakistani Lieutenant-General, Shahid Aziz. Remember that Pakistan is an ally and a recipient of massive U.S. aid. The United States has not intervened in internal Pakistani politics, working with whoever is in power. The United States has even backed Pakistan against India.
And remember that Aziz is no streetcorner revolutionary but a career military officer who has held the highest command and intelligence posts, working closely with Americans including in the war onterror.
So what does he say in an interview with a Pakistani newspaper? (Who cares what these people say to American journalists!)
He accuses the United States of killing hundreds of Pakistanis in attacks against the Taliban and also claims the CIA has created spy networks all over the country that then carried out bloody terrorist attacks pretending that they were done by the Taliban.
In other words, there are no real failures by Pakistan’s own government to provide stability or improve living standards; there is no real revolutionary Islamist threat. It’s all America’s fault. And America is murdering hundreds, even thousands, of Pakistani Muslims.
The environment of Pakistan, Iran, throughout the Arabic-speaking world, and now even in Turkey is full of this kind of thing every day. It comes through the schools, radio, television, newspapers, mosque sermons, statements by government officials, speeches by oppositionists (both “peaceful” groups that run in elections and violent terrorists), and from everywhere else. Day in; day out; every day for decades.
Imagine someone in Pakistan reading this interview. He can well conclude that the United States is waging war on Pakistan and on Islam. This kind of behavior meets even the Jihad. Under these circumstances, the reader is completely justified in planting a bomb outside the U.S. embassy, cutting the head off an American journalist, or hijacking an airliner and flying it into the World Trade Center.
It is the failure to comprehend such things–and even the failure to be aware of them–that makes the United States (and the West) incapable of responding to the threat. If the three-star general who worked with you and whose salary you (indirectly) paid wants people to murder you then the idea that President Barack Obama is going to win hearts and minds through flattery and concessions is ludicrous.
The West’s big problem is not Islamophobia but the failure to be aware of massive Westophobia, and even to mimic those lies itself.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at http://www.gloria-center.org and of his blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.