More Timely Than Ever!

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The Phony Mystery of Why "They" Hate Us

What do Barack Obama and Donald Trump have in common? Among other things, they have -- or pretend to have -- no clue why some Muslims hate us. Trump says (I almost typed believes, but I'm not sure anyone, including Trump, knows what he believes) Muslims should be barred from the United States until "until the country's representatives can figure out what's going on."

Note that Trump includes himself among those who haven't figured it out, or else he surely would have told us. He either does not know, or does not care, why people are willing to kill Americans.

Let's give these members of the American elite their due: one has to work hard to make a mystery of anti-American (and anti-Western) terrorism emanating from the Middle East. It takes prodigious effort to maintain an air of innocence about San Bernardino and Paris, because no one who claims to be informed can plead ignorance of the long history of U.S. and Western imperialism in the Muslim world. This includes the CIA's subversion of Iranian democracy in 1953, the U.S. government's systematic support of compliant autocratic and corrupt Arab monarchies and dictatorships, its empowering of Iraqi Shi'ite Muslims, and its unconditional backing of Israel's brutal anti-Palestinian policies. (The savage 2014 war on Gaza killed many noncombatants.)

In the 10 years before the 9/11 attacks the administrations of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton bombed Iraq while maintaining an embargo, most especially on equipment for the water and sanitation infrastructure the U.S. Air Force had destroyed during the Gulf War. Half a million children died. This was also when U.S. officials promised, then reneged on the promise, to remove U.S. forces from the Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

From the air Americans routinely kill noncombatants in Syria and Iraq, most recently this week, when "at least 36 civilians, including 20 children, in a village in eastern Syria" were reportedly killed, according to McClatchyDC. Do Americans notice? Of course not. That's why San Bernardino and Paris can be made to appear so mysterious.

Things like this happen all the time. The U.S. attack on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was especially egregious against this background of war crimes.
The U.S. government has conducted war by remote-controlled drones since 2001 in a variety of places, including Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. Do Americans have a clue what it must be like to live under the drone threat? You know the answer is no. But many Muslims do, and many others can sympathize.

Since the San Bernardino shooters both had roots in Pakistan, it might be worth focusing on the drone war there, part of the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Steve Coll, in his Nov. 24, 2014 New Yorker article "The Unblinking Stare: The Drone War in Pakistan," notes that that country "has absorbed more drone strikes -- some four hundred -- than any other country." Coll writes, "Armed drones are slow-moving pilotless aircraft equipped with cameras, listening devices, and air-to-ground missiles. They can hover over their targets for hours, transmitting video feed of the scene below, and then strike suddenly." Most of the time, the remote "pilots" do not know whom they are targeting.

Obama has claimed that the drone war kills few noncombatants, but this is rejected by many authoritative sources, including, Coll reports, a team of NYU and Stanford law students who found that "C.I.A.-operated drones were nowhere near as discriminating toward noncombatants as the agency’s leaders have claimed."

The kill estimates vary, but the totals are significant -- to the families and friends, and to distant Muslims who see their coreligionists slaughtered while minding their own business.

What turns an angry and anguished Muslim into someone willing to kill Americans indiscriminately? That's a hard question to answer completely. But when violence such as that inflicted by the United States drives a Muslim to the most "radical" form of the faith in search of revenge, the explanation is far more political than religious. If terrorism were happening during peacetime, that might tell another story. But it is not.

It's not "moderate" Muslims who need to take the lead in ending terrorism. It's the U.S. foreign-policy makers, whose daily atrocities make targets of Americans at home.

Sheldon Richman keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society. Become a patron today!

(Cross-posted at the Center for a Stateless Society.)

Additional reading
"Another Frankenstein's Monster"
"What If the Tsarnaevs' Motive Was Revenge for U.S. Foreign Policy?"
"Muslim Radicals Strike at U.S. Foreign Policy"
"Terrorism: Made in the U.S.A."
"Mistaken About Motives"
"President's Perilous Foreign Affairs" (1998)
"Thank You, Mr. President" (1999)


Anonymous said...

Here's one (of among many) American-driven actions that put the world where it is now; read "Charlie Wilson's War" Hmm, another case of sowing the wind, reaping the whirlwind....

Edward said...

What was outrageous about the 1980's Afghan war was that the U.S. tried successfully to manipulate the Soviets into invading that country before the war began. It is on par with the U.S. support for both sides in the Iran-Iraq war.

Moderator said...

While Americans are usually welcomed around the world, America is often "hated." —

Don Bacon said...

The US together with Turkey and the Gulf States created and supported ISIS in order to counter the Iran-Iraq-Syria axis. When ISIS goes rogue, and public opinion turns against ISIS, the US and its allies drop 2,000 bombs, and in fact run out of bombs, killing and injuring an untold number of people. In a reaction to that, people from the region kill some people in Paris and California. Clearly it's the fault of their religion.

Anonymous said...

Empowering Shiites? The.American empire has been supporting and aiding Summit and the Saudi lunacy masquerading as Wahhabiism. The Saudis have admitted they wish to wipe them out.

nonsequiturcouk @ twitter said...

While everything you say is correct from the start of US interventionism, you're ignoring the fact that Islam has not changed it's strategy for about 1350 years BEFORE the west got involved.

Do some research on the Expulsion of the Muslims from Spain in 1497, then again in 1503. The second time was because Isabel and Ferdinand gave in to some form of amnesty, the first time. By 1503 the muslim were up to their old tricks, forced conversions, Violence, tax collecting and false conversions to Christianity while still practicing Islam in secret. By 1503 they had had enough and expelled every single last one.

Yes, they hate us more for being involved, but being involved is not the 'causal' effect people think it is. Islam is the causal effect of violence, forced conversions and the 7th century lifestyle that the Quoran says (in the first page of) that it is perfect and immutable.

You can download an official English version of the Quoran and read it. I suggest you do. The hate towards unbelievers starts on page 2. It ramps up to "Will be the fuel of the fires" on page three. And it doesn't get any better from there on.

Sheldon Richman said...

Please give me your insights on this Juan Cole post:

Unknown said...

Why are Muslims so hostile towards homosexuals, Christians and gender equality?

Unknown said...

Sheldon Richman said...

I recommend this:

Unknown said...

We could talk about the possibility that Muslims are angry about Hollywood and the entertainment industry promoting behaviors they consider immoral, such as abortion, pornography, substance abuse, promiscuity and gay marriage. Somehow, I don't think too many progressives want to go there.

Bob Warden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Warden said...

Non-interventionist western countries are almost never victims of terrorism. So it pretty clearly is revenge for foreign policy decisions. Radicalized Islamist Belgians don't attack Belgium because Belgium is non-interventionist.

Sheldon Richman said...


A libertarian Muslim (you read that correctly) friend of mine was amused that you compare the rule of Ferdinand and Isabella favorably to the previous Muslim rule. (Didn't they expel the Jews in 1492?) Your defense of the Spanish Inquisition really broke him up. He notes that one way the Inquisition determined if someone was a secret Muslim was to determine if that person, as it was said, "commended nothing so much as that liberty of conscience in all matters of religion, which the Turks, and all other Mohammedans, suffer their subjects to enjoy.”