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About the violent mobs in the Middle East. And in America

16 September 2012

Summary: Every large event, every fork in the road, signals the need to stop and think about our course of action. America today is defined by our refusal to do so, as we see in our reaction to the riots. Our mob psychology mirrors theirs, but we tend to reply with greater firepower. That doesn’t mean we’re wiser, or will be more successful.

This is a followup to Death celebrates 9-11. Can we stop and think before we walk further along the road of terror?

AP Photo by Arun Shanker K.

Contents

  1. The big picture of current events
  2. A clear explanation of causes: it’s blowback
  3. A key to the crisis: that man in the mirror
  4. For more information

(1)  The big picture of current events

Every major event allows our leaders to lay another few bricks on the foundation of the New America.  The blinkers they’ve fitted to us prevent clearly vision of the world, so we’re guided by the words they whisper into our ears.  Enemies everywhere!  Inexplicably evil hatred of us!  We’re innocent sheep, who must reply with overwhelming ferocity and savagery.  Anyone — like our Black Islamic Atheist Socialist Anarchist Foreign President — who advocates reason or caution secretly seeks to weaken American, ending our benign world rule.

Look at what fills our media today.  Conspiracy mongering, advocacy of violence, ignorance about the causes of these conflicts. Above all the blindness to the obvious fact that their hatred has roots in our behavior since 9-11.  We invade Afghanistan, despite the 9-11 Commission saying it had a trivial role in 9-11.  We invade Iraq on the basis of lies about WMDs. We bring terror (by the literal definition) to an ever-widening number of Islamic nations (see here, and here, and here), supporting local tyrants (eg, Bahrain, Yemen).

In moments of national stress these mob-like behaviors get adopted by even moderate, sensible men and women.  That’s the nature of social cohesion:  it brings us together, bringing national strength but not wisdom. It works to accelerate trends, no matter if wise or stupid.

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In these cycles there are only two groups: the mob and the bystanders.  The third, those who attempt to understand causes and craft workable solutions — are trampled in the rush.  We saw this in the immediate reaction to 9-11.  We saw this in the rush to war with Iraq.  We see it today.  Our inability to learn from this history — as we repeat the same foolish behaviors, again — goes to the heart of our dysfunctionality as citizens.

And so we’re led down the path of madness.

Why?  Who benefits? How to change this? I have no idea.  Please post your answers in the comments.

(2)  A clear explanation of causes: it’s blowback

I dislike long excerpts, but under the circumstances it’s warranted today.  Here’s the clearest analysis of what’s happening now:  “US media angrily marvels at the lack of Muslim gratitude“, Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, 14 Sep 201 — “NBC News, along with a leading US newspaper, insist that Egyptians should be grateful to the US for having ‘freed’ them”

On Wednesday, USA Todaypublished an article with the headline “After attacks in Egypt and Libya, USA Today asks: Why?” The paper appeared to tell its readers that it was the US that freed the Egyptian people from tyranny:

“Attacks in Libya that left four US diplomats dead – including Ambassador Christopher Stevens – and a mob invasion of the US Embassy in Cairo, in which the US flag was torn to shreds, have left many to wonder: How can people the USA helped free from murderous dictators treat it in such a way?”

Did you know that the “USA helped free” Egyptians from their murderous dictator? On Thursday night, NBC News published a nine-minute report on Brian Williams’ “Rock Center” program featuring its foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, reporting on the demonstrations in Cairo, which sounded exactly the same theme. Standing in front of protesting Egyptians in Tahrir Square, Engel informed viewers that this was all so very baffling because it was taking place “in Cairo, where the US turned its back on its old friend Hosni Mubarak“, and then added:

“It is somewhat ironic with American diplomats inside the embassy who helped to give these demonstrators, these protesters, a voice, and allowed them to actually carry out these anti-American clashes that we’re seeing right now.”

That it was the US who freed Egyptians and “allowed them” the right to protest would undoubtedly come as a great surprise to many Egyptians. That is the case even beyond the decades of arming, funding and general support from the US for their hated dictator (to his credit, Engel including a snippet of an interview with Tariq Ramadan pointing out that the US long supported the region’s dictators).

Beyond the long-term US support for Mubarak, Egyptians would likely find it difficult to reconcile Engel’s claim that the US freed them with the “made in USA” logos on the tear gas cannisters used against them by Mubarak’s security forces; or with Hillary Clinton‘s touching 2009 declaration that “I really consider President and Mrs Mubarak to be friends of my family”; or with Obama’s support for Mubarak up until the very last minute when his downfall became inevitable; or with the fact that the Obama administration plan was to engineer the ascension of the loathed, US-loyal torturer Omar Suleiman as Mubarak’s replacement in the name of “stability”.

Given the history of the US in Egypt, both long-term and very recent, it takes an extraordinary degree of self-delusion and propaganda to depict Egyptian anger toward the US as “ironic” on the ground that it was the US who freed them and “allowed” them the right to protest. But that is precisely the theme being propagated by most US media outlets.

Even in Libya, where it’s certainly true that many Libyans are happy about the Nato intervention, this bafflement is misplaced. It’s always the case that some portion of the populace of an invaded nation will be happy about even the most unjustified invasions: that the Kurds are thrilled by the Iraq war is a fact still cited by Iraq war advocates as proof of the war’s justness and wisdom.

But it’s also the case that such invasions produce extreme anger, as well: among the families of those killed by the invading forces, or who suffer from the resulting lawlessness and instability. Combine that with the fact that it was repeatedly noted that US involvement in Libya meant that anti-US extremists, including al-Qaida, were being armed and empowered by the US, it is far from mystifying, as Secretary Clinton insisted, that some people in Libya are deeply hostile to the US and want to do it harm.

In the same report, Engel also spent several moments explaining that the primary reason these Muslims have such animosity toward the US is because their heads have been filled for years with crazy conspiracy theories about how the US and Israel are responsible for their woes. These conspiracies, he said, were fed to them by their dictators to distract attention from their own corruption. Let’s leave aside the irony of the American media decrying crazy “conspiracy theories” in other countries, when it is the US that attacked another country based on nonexistent weapons and fabricated secret alliances with al-Qaida. One should acknowledge that there is some truth to Engel’s claim that the region’s tyrants fueled citizen rage toward the US and Israel as a means of distracting from their own failings and corruption.

But to act as though Muslim anger toward the US and Israel is primarily the by-product of crazy conspiracy theories is itself a crazy conspiracy theory. It’s in the world of reality, not conspiracy, where the US and Israel have continuously brought extreme amounts of violence to the Muslim world, routinely killing their innocent men, women and children. Listening to Engel, one would never know about tiny little matters like the bombing of Gaza and Lebanon, the almost five-decade long oppression of Palestinians, the widely hated, child-killing drone campaign, or the attack on Iraq.

And it’s in the world of reality, not conspiracy, where the US really has continuously interfered in their countries’ governance by propping up and supporting their dictators. Intense Muslim animosity toward the US, including in Egypt, long pre-dates this film, and the reasons aren’t hard to discern. That’s precisely why the US supported tyranny in these countries for so long: to ensure that the citizens’ views, so contrary to US policy, would be suppressed and rendered irrelevant.

It doesn’t take a propagandized populace to be angry at the US for such actions. It takes a propagandized populace to be shocked at that anger and to view it with bafflement and resentment on the ground that they should, instead, be grateful because we “freed” them.

But to see why exactly such a propagandized populace exists in the US and has been led to believe such myth and conspiracies, simply read that USA Today article or watch the NBC News report on these protests as they convince Americans that gratitude, rather than resentment, should be the sentiment people in that region feel toward the US. …

(3)  A key element to the crisis: that man in the mirror

Learning is the basic element of life, the first step to reform for America, as described in this excerpt from The first step to reforming America, 7 December 2009.

In finance, in war, in politics — in so many vital areas we have a pattern of repeated behavior — despite repeated failure.  The diagnosis is obvious to those who treat behavioral disorders.

Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.

The source of this brutal insight is not an ancient Chinese proverb, Benjamin Franklin, or Albert Einstein.  Those fake sources serve to conceal the nature of this problem. It comes from the people of Alcoholics Anonymous, its origin lost in the past. I have traced it back to Step 2:  A Promise of Hope by James Jensen, a pamphlet published by the Hazelden Foundation (1980).  Available here at Google Books.

Jensen expands upon this his chapter of The twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (1993).  The resemblance to our America should appear obvious to us all.  From Google Books:

The dictionary defines insanity as “inability to manage one’s own affairs and perform one’s social duties … without recognition of one’s own illness.” The first part of the definition certainly applies to those of us who have just admitted that our lives had become unmanageable. Assuming this is our first walk through the Steps, we have not as yet proceeded to the searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves suggested in Step Four; thus, we probably do not recognize the full dimension of our illness. It is very likely that we’re not looking beyond our drinking or drug abuse at this point and are still denying or minimizing the seriousness of the problem. We still be blaming circumstances or other people for our drinking or using rather than accepting the responsibility for our own behavior.

… The late Dr. Harry Tiebout, who worked with alcoholics and was a strong supporter of AA for 30 years, defined us as “defiant individualists.”  The Big Book {of AA} identifies us as selfish and self-centered, driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity. So our illness is much more serious than we recognize it to be and, if not arrested, can be deadly. But it does not have to mean that we are candidates for psychiatric care.

Another aspect of our insanity is our distorted self-image. Somehow, each of us has come to think of our problem as being so unique that what will work for others will not work for us. …

This is an exact description of America today. Driven by fear and delusion.  Self-centered. Believing that what works for others will not work for us (ie, our health care system cost twice as much as our peers, but produces the same outcomes — yet we refuse to learn from their examples).

The first step to reform requires looking at the Man in the Mirror:

I’m Gonna Make A Change
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right …

I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change

(4)  For more information (updated)

(a)  Other articles about these protests:

  1. Why Americans don’t understand the Middle East“, Stephen M. Walt (Prof of international relations at Harvard), Foreign Policy, 14 September 2012
  2. Hidden Causes of the Muslim Protests“, Robert Wright, The Atlantic, 16 September 2012 — “What are the sources of simmering hostility toward America that helped fuel these demonstrations?”
  3. What the Arab Movie Riots Mean for U.S. Foreign Policy” by Andrew J. Bacevich, Newsweek, 17 September 2012 — “The death of a U.S. ambassador raises questions about America’s foreign-policy assumptions.”
  4. The only surprise is there aren’t more violent protests in the Middle East“, Seumas Milne, op-ed in The Guardian, 18 September 2012 — “The Muslim eruption reflects a deep popular anger and blowback from US intervention in both Libya and Afghanistan”
  5. Terror and Teargas on the Streets of Bahrain”, Jen Marlowe, TomDispatch, 18 September 2012 — “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (in the U.S. at Least)”
  6. A conservative perspective: “Bipartisan Middle East policy insanity“, Christopher Preble and Malou Innocent, CNN, 18 September 2012.
  7. Coming to Grips with Impotence“, Michael Cohen, Foreign Policy, 19 September 2012 — “Can we really expect the president to be able to fix the Middle East?”
  8. Is America Feared Enough in the Middle East?“, Matthew Duss, American Prospect, 19 September 2012 — “Supporting Islamist democracies might actually be the best way to win friends in the region.”

(b)  Other relevant articles by Glenn Greenwald, one of America’s few remaining journalists, writes for the The Guardian (truth no longer finds a home in America):

(c)  These things are discussed in these posts:

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49 Comments leave one →
  1. Vera rudinica permalink
    16 September 2012 11:24 pm

    As always, a terrific insightful article. Thank you.

    Like cancer, the rot starts with one cell drawing nutrients from a variety of sources and feeding off the host. When the cancer becomes bigger than the host it either just keeps the host alive or dies with the host. And thus America and other western democratic nations. The lands of the free are riddled with corruption, lack of accountability, misinformation and practices usually assigned to other less acceptable models of governance.

    The very basics of being human are being trampled on by the very people who espouse those qualities as lacking in other countries. So instead of truth and transparency we are observing lies and hypocrisy.

    We are not stupid. Our countries are not in Afghanistan to rescue the people from tyranny. Nor are they in Iraq to free the people from oppressive regimes. What is the point of lying and spin if everyone is becoming aware of the truth?

    My advice is

    • Clean up your own back yard.
    • Listen.
    • Communicate.
    • Respect.
    • Provide the world with an ethical and moral compass.

    Like

    • 16 September 2012 11:36 pm

      I too use the cancer metaphor, which unfortunately appears to fit us quite well: National decay starts at the heart, and spreads like cancer, 21 August 2012.

      I like your recommendations. But they generate an even more important question, the actionable one: how do we convince our fellow Americans to follow your advice? Listen-Communicate-Respect is good, but we need something more granular. Details, details, details.

      What I suspect many Americans wait for is a leader to communicate these things though his charisma — the God-given gift of leadership. In other words, we’re passively waiting for someone to follow. I see this clearly in my community, in both politics and charitable organizations. I haven’t written directly about this, lacking evidence. But it’s high on my personal list of worries about America.

      Like

    • Sam Nomad permalink
      17 September 2012 4:31 am

      Excellent advice from Vera Rudinica. Providing an ethical and moral compass to the world; leadership by example, is certainly near and dear to my heart, yet we have drifted far from that.

      The article demonstrates that we continue to view the world based on the (sound) bite-sized morsels that we receive from our own media circus. To imply that it is a propaganda machine isn’t quite right though. Our media has defaulted to the position of ingesting and regurgitating whatever they are fed; the Fourth Estate of hard nosed journalists is long gone. The media is lazy, and even in an era of unprecedented access to information, we have become too lazy to seek other opinions and think critically. This perhaps helps to illustrate FM’s comment just above, regarding passively waiting for someone to lead.

      In my unique perspective of nearly a decade of moving through the wake of our national overseas adventures; the people that I meet express the same expectations of America as advised by Vera Rudinica. They all want us as that shining city on the hill; they want us to be just and stand for justice; they want our support, but most do not want us cleaning up or interfering in their mess. This is the type of leadership that they would like from us.

      The response that we have seen to the trailer of this film, is symptomatic of the lack of that type of leadership (read carefully; leadership, NOT power projection). People will always disagree with us or be offended by us; we have vastly different cultures. Projecting a Pax Americana results in those affected seeking a focal point to grow hate. If we had been justly leading based on Vera Rudinica’s advice; I assert that we would be seeing a completely different picture.

      Like

  2. 17 September 2012 1:09 am

    I say to you, Allah knows that it had never occurred to us to strike the towers. But after it became unbearable and we witnessed the oppression and tyranny of the American/Israeli coalition against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it came to my mind.

    The events that affected my soul in a direct way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon and the American Sixth Fleet helped them in that. This bombardment began and many were killed and injured and others were terrorised and displaced.

    I couldn’t forget those moving scenes, blood and severed limbs, women and children sprawled everywhere. Houses destroyed along with their occupants and high rises demolished over their residents, rockets raining down on our home without mercy.

    The situation was like a crocodile meeting a helpless child, powerless except for his screams. Does the crocodile understand a conversation that doesn’t include a weapon? And the whole world saw and heard but it didn’t respond.

    In those difficult moments many hard-to-describe ideas bubbled in my soul, but in the end they produced an intense feeling of rejection of tyranny, and gave birth to a strong resolve to punish the oppressors.

    And as I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon, it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressor in kind and that we should destroy towers in America in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children.

    I do not agree with Bin Laden’s methods, but it’s a lie that they “hate us for our freedoms” – that’s one of the other great big lies that is being foisted on the people of the world, that “islamism” is the issue; that this is merely about religious fascism. There are a lot of very pissed-off people in the middle east, but they are pissed off for geopolitical reasons that make perfectly good sense. Starting with colonialism, partition, interference in their political processes, turning them into economic vassal-states, overthrowing their occasional chosen leaders and supporting puppet thugs, and unquestioning support for Israel no matter what illegal ethnic cleansing, nuclear proliferation, land-grabs, or terror attacks they engage in. Most Americans have forgotten Sabra and Shatila and the bombardment of Lebanon but Bin Laden and his audience decidedly have not.

    The way that the conflict has been successfully re-painted as a religious dispute has been incredibly successful, which is why we are treated to the continuing trope that “islamists” are so crazy that if they get a nuke they’ll choose collective death in order to fulfil some religious agenda. Understanding the conflict in more rational terms – that it’s about territory, disempowerment, and revenge, makes vastly more sense and also explains the willingness (on both sides, at least) to engage in violence. We desperately need to de-paint the conflict as a religious matter (very difficult, because the powers that have painted it as such have done so deliberately and they would need to be actively countered) and return the discussion to the geopolitical plane. Then we could, maybe, talk about fixing the situation.

    Unfortunately, the US has painted itself into a moral and political corner from which it cannot get out of by urging both sides to “talk” and play nice. Asking for stability means ratifying the status quo, and the problem is the status quo. At this point, all the roads forward end in cliffs.

    What could we do? Well, setting aside our internal politics, we could make a commitment to stop interfereing in the political processes of the middle east. We could come clean about (because everyone already suspects it!) CIA involvement in “regime change” currently ongoing – and we could apologize. We could acknowledge Iran’s right to self-determination and engage with them diplomatically on a forward-looking basis of “if you refrain from exporting warfare and rebellion into the currently stable states in your region, we will refrain from turning them into armed vassals, and will allow them to begin the process of negotiating power with their people. And, last but far from least, we would have to ask the UN whether the provisions of the non-proliferation treaty were going to be applied against Israel (economic blockade unless there is compliance, sanctions, etc) or other middle eastern countries that want to develop nukes would be allowed to. The question of nuclear weapons is the one place where the US has been most unwilling to face the realistic consequences of its absurdly one-sided position. Of course Iran wants nukes. After watching the US rip Iraq to pieces and make the rubble bounce in Afghanistan, nobody in their right mind would not want nuclear weapons. After decades of Israel refuse to negotiate in good faith, because of their supremely illegal ace-in-the-hole the single most important thing the US could do is to state loudly and clearly that we were going to step back from the region’s problems and that either way (through disarmament or through other regional powers getting nukes) Israel’s monopoly will have to end. We would need to formally apologize for Iraq. Stopping the targetted killings would also be a must. And a “truth and reconciliation commission” that investigated, published, and cleaned house on US-sponsored torture and support for terrorism would go a long way toward re-establishing our credibility.

    They don’t hate us because of our freedoms – they hate us for damn good reason. They hate us because we have utterly failed to deal with most of the region in anything resembling good faith.

    Like

  3. Thomas More permalink
    17 September 2012 3:26 am

    Another perspective on the Moslem riots: “Manipulated Outrage and Misplaced Fury,” Husain Haqqani (Hudson Institute), op-ed in the The Wall Street Journal,” 14 September 2012.

    Like

    • 17 September 2012 3:47 am

      That is interesting, as high quality propaganda always is. The Hudson Institute was found by by RAND Alumni (itself largely a USAF-funded entity) in 1961 to provide a glossly label under which to publish this sort of nonsense. I esp like this line from the opening:

      “But the mob violence and assaults should be seen for what they really are: an effort by Islamists to garner support and mobilize their base by exacerbating anti-Western sentiments.”

      Certainly the protestors have no agency! They’re just puppets of the master manipulators. And the history of US involvement, most of which can be summarized as “evil”, plays no role in this. Tighten those blinders on our eyes, least we see something our government doesn’t want us to know. Ignorant and dumb makes an easily governed people.

      Like

  4. OldSkeptic permalink
    17 September 2012 8:08 am

    Yes, interesting how we always pick an ‘event’ as ‘causing’ something that we like/don’t like. We never seem to take account of the build up of pressure that, in many cases, has been fermenting for years or even decades.

    Bit like stamping your foot one day and an earthquake happens somewhere … “oh that foot stamp caused it”.

    Riots/revolutions/etc don’t happen in a vacuum or for no reasons. There is always a long build up of ‘pressure’ that is also always ignored for a long time. When some signs of it causing something, the usual response is too oppress it, ‘putting the hammer down’ so to speak. This, at best, buys a little time, but inevitably causes the final break out to be much larger.

    Taking the west (or virtually all of it) we have a fundamental clash going on, between the rich elites and the general population. But, in their endless drive to increase their riches they impoverish society .. which means they have to take even more to just maintain their position .. and so on

    Now they are not that stupid. In the US they are betting that the military/industrial/national security apparatus will hold the line. Most other countries are going the same way. But there are several problems with this:
    1. They are so greedy-stupid that they will not pay for it. They expect the increasingly impoverished ‘rest of society’ to do so. This is not going to be possible eventually.
    2. Most of the M/I/NS crowd are themselves part ‘of the rest of society’. Most not making very much and under the pump of declining living standards themselves. Even many at the top are not exactly rich.

    So what happens when it comes to a showdown between the M/I/NS side and the rich elite? Right now a sort of a bargain exists, but this can only last as long as the looting of the rest of society continues. Eventually this will end when there is nothing left to loot.

    Take a simple example. The next big looting in the US will be your federal pension system, it is about all there is left now. But after that is looted when will they go for all those military/Govt worker pensions? Now that is one possible showdown. There are many.

    But a showdown will happen.

    Naturally the M/I/SN will win, because power does, in the end, “come out of the barrel of a gun”. And if the Fed can endlessly print money to bail out bankrupt banks and hold up asset prices so the rich don’t take a hit. Well then they can print the same money to pay for all those toys, prisons and wars the M/I/NS people love.

    But by that stage, the rest of society will be a total disaster area.

    What neither of them can grasp, because they are all (and I mean all) really, really stupid, is if the ‘real’ economy and society goes under, largely thanks to their machinations, then they go under too.

    Because neither are productive in any sense. They are parasites, ticks that exist on a larger body. and If that body dies, so do they.

    Both can only exist by looting a larger body.

    It is actually a tribute the the strength of the US society and economy that it has lasted so long under the drain and weight of those two groups. But not much longer no matter how much money the Fed prints and how much more looting is done. Or how much more oppression is undertaken.

    Like

  5. DavidS permalink
    17 September 2012 10:42 am

    An alternative perspective on the latedt riots that will undoubtedly be trashed, because it is not in agreement with the infallible dogma of Pope Fabius Maximus, who often espouses free thinking but in truth is only interested in pushing his own perverted, ideosyncratic version of reality.

    The Truth About the Wave of Anti-American Demonstrations“, Barry Rubin, PJ Media, 16 September 2012

    Like

    • 17 September 2012 12:44 pm

      Can we help Davids to distinguish between these two perspectives? I’ll try, but history suggests unsuccessfully. The key element to modern indoctrination is that it blinds people; they don’t want and refuse to see contrary information. It creates too much cognitive dissonance vs deeply held values or beliefs. Please pitch in with your comments!

      (1) One is supported by facts, large numbers of references to history. The other is mostly arm-waving.

      (2) Look at the history cited. If this was your history, how would you feel? That empathy is the starting point for serious analysis; the goal of propaganda is to dehumanize the other so that you never consider their lives.

      (3) Large numbers of people generally act for solid reasons (which you or I might find abhorrent). Why a writer denies them agency, speaking only of plots by leaders with no reference to the people’s motives, you’re certainly reading propaganda. This is a characteristic of high grade propaganda, like that by Stratfor. It’s flattering to the readers, a view into the world of the world’s leaders — moving the pieces on the global chess board. It also consistently generates false predictions.

      Like

    • 17 September 2012 1:03 pm

      DavidS: ” his own perverted, ideosyncratic version of reality.”

      Definition of idiosyncratic: A mode of behavior or way of thought peculiar to an individual.

      No views in this post are idiosyncratic. Such a daft statement reveals DavidS’s blinkers at work, a way to dismiss from his consideration a widely held viewpoint. For starters, the core of this post is Glenn Greenwald’s analysis, so there’e obviously two of us who see the world this way. In fact, its been a common perspective for decades among geopolitical analysts (broadly defined).

      Second, this is probably the viewpoint of the people involved — as shown by many polls during the last decade! Millions, tens of millions of people. This goes to the essence of DavidS’ blinkers: he cannot even see the other side’s view of events — and calls it idiosyncratic.

      Like

    • 17 September 2012 3:21 pm

      Interesting article. I’d want to ask Rubin if he believes that the crusades were entirely about religion. He’s offering a view that appears to be exactly what I was referring to, earlier: assume that the origin of conflict in the middle east is a conflict of religion, and to a lesser degree therefore culture. But what if you flip that around and see it as colonialism and imperialism? I think that offers a more rational view. I.e.: the jews weren’t mad at the romans because the romans messed with their religion, the jews were mad at the romans because the romans came in and took the place over and built it into their empire, changed all the laws, disempowered the powerful and empowered the unpalatable, etc.It’s not as if that hasn’t been playing itself out, over and over and over.

      I often think that the religiously-driven narrative is so closely clung to because it’s part and parcel of some people’s justification for Israel. After all, if you take away the religious aspects of the situation, suddenly Israel’s existence makes as much sense as if the Algonquins started seriously claiming the right to return to New York City and eject all the descendants of the settlers. If you remove the idea that god gave someone title to a piece of land, then it’s just a land-grab like any other.

      If you discard the religious narrative you also discard the more nebulous ideologies like “they hate us for our freedoms” and have to confront the less pleasant idea that “they hate us because we’ve been oppressing them for hundreds of years.” Which is a bit harder to dismiss. As Bin Laden said, he became oriented toward revenge strikes after watching the US and Israel invade Lebanon. It’s a bit harder to dismiss that than to simply say Bin Laden was a religious nutter who hated Americans for Britney Spears or some simplistic narrative like that. Rubin is playing that same game in his article, it seems to me. He uses words like “islamist” “islamophobia” and makes the obligatory references to Hitler. Yeah, if you look at the problem through the kalleidescope of religion it doesn’t make sense (because, religion doesn’t) so that relieves us of the moral responsibility of trying to make sense of it. Convenient, that.

      Like

    • 17 September 2012 3:28 pm

      Great comment, Marcus. Cutting through the fog to see the hard ground underneath. Exactly what our leaders don’t want.

      They prefer the lies of Newsweek’s cover story, written (although they don’t tell readers) by a hard core enemy of Islam.

      Keep them covered in the dark and covered with bs. That’s the way to run a nation (and grow mushrooms).

      Like

  6. Robert Wright, The Atlantic: "Hidden Causes of the Muslim Protests" permalink
    17 September 2012 2:59 pm

    Another voice explaining what many US leaders don’t want you to know, don’t want you to understand:

    Hidden Causes of the Muslim Protests“, Robert Wright, The Atlantic, 16 September 2012 — “What are the sources of simmering hostility toward America that helped fuel these demonstrations?”

    Like

    • DavidS permalink
      17 September 2012 3:41 pm

      Well, at least I got one prediction 100% correct. Pope Fabius did totally dismiss the information in the article I refered without it discussing any of the arguments or facts presented, just because it conflicted with the accepted dogma of himself and his fellow noted Mid-Eastern scholar Glenn Gruwald, who certainly could never be defined as Idiosyncratic. Pope Fabius almost always resorts to the tactic of turning the charges against him onto his critics “One is supported by facts, large numbers of references to history. The other is mostly arm-waving. ” This from a man who only recognizes the facts and history that he choses and is an Olympic champion at dismissing other viewpoints with a wave of his holy hand. My goal here is not to goad him into widening his perspective or taking off his own blinders, I sincerely doubt that is possible, I would just like to get a few of the people on his sight to consider alternative viewpoints and to realize that the truth is often gray and not the black and white based on the Fabius Maximus dogma.

      Like

    • 17 September 2012 4:42 pm

      I gave specific differences. Very clear differences, more than sufficient to make that obvious point.

      Also, DavidS’s use of silly personal epithets instead of detail provide valuable context. This is yet another indication of propaganda and indoctrination — use of labels to demean the other side, and signal to fellow true believers who is on the team.

      Bush Jr was “like Hitler”. Scientists who disagree with aspects of AGW theory and forecasts are “climate deniers”. People who challenge Obama are “racists”. Etc, etc. Right and left, same behavior — because there are Americans on both sides, with the same vulnerabilities. We are the common element.

      We can discuss specifics about behavior, speech, and the external world. But our opponents don’t want that. As Uncle Screwtape explains, logic and facts are the enemy. Once people learn to attend to those, who knows what might happen?

      Like

  7. DavidS permalink
    17 September 2012 6:46 pm

    “I gave specific differences. Very clear differences, more than sufficient to make that obvious point.”

    I see a total of 3 references none of which makes any point other than than FM is so dogmatic in his thinking that he can not see the trees in his imaginary forest.

    1) “One is supported by facts, large numbers of references to history. The other is mostly arm-waving.”

    What facts where, very specific indeed???????

    (2) “Look at the history cited. If this was your history, how would you feel? That empathy is the starting point for serious analysis; the goal of propaganda is to dehumanize the other so that you never consider their lives.”

    The peoples of the Middle East have obviously have experienced some difficult times over that last 100 years. some inflicted on them by outside powers, for the monst part not the USA and some inflicted upon themselves by their rulers and themselves. One could say the same thing about the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Russians, Germans, Poles, Serbians, Croatians, etc. but for the most part they seem to have dealt with their issues more successfully, maybe there are some specific religious, cultural and historical factors at work in the Middle East, that FM does not fully grasp.

    (3) “Large numbers of people generally act for solid reasons (which you or I might find abhorrent). Why a writer denies them agency, speaking only of plots by leaders with no reference to the people’s motives, you’re certainly reading propaganda. This is a characteristic of high grade propaganda, like that by Stratfor. It’s flattering to the readers, a view into the world of the world’s leaders — moving the pieces on the global chess board. It also consistently generates false predictions.”

    Okay, let’s examine FM’s logic here. Millions of Germans were embittered by Germany’s defeat in WWI and post war humiliations, therefore they eagerly supported the Nazi platform and WWII. Should the world have appreciated their “agency” and tried to “empathize” with them and their behaviour? Did Hitler and the Nazi leadership not play a significant role in manipulating German politics and public opinion to achieve their goals?

    Like

    • 18 September 2012 2:24 am

      “What facts where, very specific indeed???????”

      The magic starts when you actually read the references given. Which DavidS obviously has not done. As has been said so many times, facts to the indoctrinated are like holy water to vampires.

      Like

  8. 18 September 2012 2:52 am

    Why Americans don’t understand the Middle East“, Stephen M. Walt (Prof of international relations at Harvard), Foreign Policy, 14 September 2012:

    I hardly ever watch network news, but I happened to stumble across this appalling report on NBC’s “Rock Center” last night. In this clip, reporter Richard Engel blames this week’s anti-American violence on “conspiracy theories” that Arab populations have been fed over the years by their rulers, including the idea that the United States and Israel are colluding to control the Middle East.

    It’s no secret there are conspiracy theories circulating in the Middle East (as there are here in the good old USA: Remember the “birthers?”) I’ve heard them every time I’ve lectured in the region and done my best to debunk them. But by attributing Arab and Muslim anger solely to these ideas, Engel’s report paints a picture of the United States (and by implication, Israel) as wholly blameless. In his telling, the U.S. has had nothing but good intentions for the past century, but the intended beneficiaries of our generosity don’t get it solely because they’ve been misled by their leaders.

    In short, Operation Cast Lead never happened, Lebanon wasn’t invaded in 1982 or bombed relentlessly for a month in 2006, the United States has never turned a blind eye towards repeated human rights violations by every single one of its Middle Eastern allies, drones either don’t exist or never killed an innocent victim, the occupation of Iraq in 2003 was just a little misunderstanding, and the Palestinians ought to be grateful to us for what they’ve been left after forty-plus years of occupation. To say this in no way absolves governments in the region for responsibility for many of their current difficulties, but Americans do themselves no favors by ignoring our own contribution to the region’s ills.

    In short, you want to get some idea of why most Americans have no idea why we are unpopular in the region, this example of sanitized “analysis” is illuminating, though not in the way that Engel and NBC intended.

    Like

  9. 18 September 2012 3:27 am

    Unfortunately we had a very strong hand in pushing the middle east towards extremism, both intentionally through support of the more fanatical mujaheddin and unintentionally yet quite cynically through the overthrow of mosadeq in Iran and the support of Saudi Arabia and other regimes who were quite happy to turn a blind eye to extremism in order to deflect from their own failures.

    The result of all this is that a great deal of the region is filled with ignorance, fear, and hatred, as well as a religious justification that gives power to the most ruthless and violent groups to perform heinous acts in the defense of “honor”. We may not be better off, with few of us having the stomach for outright murder yet being quite happy to let out military and a small cabal of national security people kill with impunity via drone warfare and special operations units.

    The really depressing part is that even if we pull out significantly and stop interfering so overtly, the region will still be a mess for decades, especially as the cycle of extremism fueled by a lack of employment and a decent future only gets worse. The areas in the world with the highest levels of young fighting aged males also seem to be the areas where employment prospects are small to non-existent. Unless this changes, those areas will be hostile and chaotic for many years to come.

    Its getting to the point that reforming America will not be enough anymore, these are globalized problems that will require global solutions because it will be impossible for any country, no matter how strong or prosperous, to insulate itself from the consequences of those problems,

    Like

    • 18 September 2012 3:39 am

      All true, to be filed under “sad but true.”

      One reason they’re such a mess the post-colonial era, in which we overthrew several governments with popular support that might have developed in a promising way. We’ll never know of course, as we replaced them with western-friendly regimes (ie, neo-colonialism replaced colonialism).

      Our often sanctimonious response to these riots ignores our dirty hands in their history.

      Like

  10. Thomas More permalink
    18 September 2012 10:58 pm

    FM shows his weakness here, dismissing inconvenient facts and inappropriate logic when they contradict his cherished delusions.

    Logic: if these global molsem protests are “blowback,” as FM insists, then we would logically expect the protests to be most violent in those countries where America has bombed the most Moslems and the least violent in those countries where America has never bombed any Moslems. But just the opposite is the case. Take, for example, this protest in Australia that quickly turned violent — yet America has never bombed any Moslems in Australia. In fact, most of the followers of Islam who were violently protesting the video had not even seen it.

    “Let’s start with the fact that so few of the protesters who descended on Sydney’s CBD this weekend seem actually to have seen the film that so gravely offends them. When asked by journalists, they bluntly admit this, one even adding that she refuses to watch something so offensive. It’s almost impressive how cyclical this stupidity is. But it’s also instructive. In fact, this is the key to making sense of something so gobsmackingly senseless. The protesters – at least the ones quoted in news reports – know nothing except how offended they are.

    Source: “The Incredible Muslim Hulk Proves to be no friend of Islam either,” Waleed Aly, National Times (Australian newspaper), 17 September 2012

    Will FM now try to claim that Waleed Aly is a white guy at RAND? No, he’s an ethnic Moslem. Will FM contemptuously ridicule this article as “just more propaganda”? If so, perhaps FM can provide us with hard facts and convincing logic to support his claims — because when groups of protesters around the world who haven’t even seen the film in question become violent, there’s clearly something other than “blowback” going on here.

    More inconvenient facts damaging to FM’s claims: surveys of the middle east consistently show that the single biggest complaint Moslems have is that “America disrespects Islam.”

      Not that “America bombs innocent Moslem women and children.”
      Not that “America supports dictators who oppress us in the middle east.”
      Not that “America puts bases in our countries from which to wage war on other Islamic countries.”

    No, the main complaint followers of Islam in the middle east have, according to the polls, is that “America disprespects Islam.”

    Let’s take a look at the Qur’an and see what is says so we can determine whether the Qur’an advises behavior that is worthy of our respect:

    • Tabari IX:69: “Killing disbelievers is a small matter to us.”
    • Tabari VIII:141: “The battle cry of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah that night was: ‘Kill! Kill! Kill!'”
    • Bukhari:V5B59N512; “The Prophet had their men killed, their woman and children taken captive.”
    • Ishaq:489: “Do the bastards think that we are not their equal in fighting? We are men who think that there is no shame in killing.”
    • Qur’an 2:191: “And kill them wherever you find and catch them. Drive them out from where they have turned you out; for Al-Fitnah (polytheism, disbelief, oppression) is worse than slaughter.”

    You tell me: is this the sort of religion for which we should have respect? This is a religion badly in need of Reformation, just as Christianity was in the centuries before Martin Luther. Christianity prior to 1500 was a barbaric cult that burned people alive as witches and tortured innocent women and children to death for the smallest of deviations in religious belief (entire religious wars and horrific tortures, like hanging people naked upside-down and sawing them in half, were perpetrated by Christians against their neighbors because the victims in question believed in God the father, the son and the holy ghost rather than a single god — this was known as “the tridentine heresy”).

    Until Islam undergoes a reformation and stops its barbaric teachings, it is not worthy of respect, any more than the the Christianity which burned witches and tortured heretics and whose pope condemned entire populations to death for heresy was worthy of respect.

    These facts are of course so inconvenient and this logic proves so damning for FM’s cherished Islam victim-hood that he will find himself forced to spew more ridicule against anyone who states them. For the rest of us, the spectacle of violent protests by followers of Islam who have not even seen the film to which they protests tells us everything we need to know. These protests are the tantrums of a spoiled infantile people who prefer to blame someone else for their own economic and social problems. Survey after survey shows the countries of the middle east to be hopeless far behind the West economically, and the same surveys show clearly the reason for this: their oppression of women, their fanatical hatred of the scientific method (because it presents a deadly danger to the religious dogma which controls middle eastern society where there exists no separation twixt church and state), and their adoration of macho heroics as the solution to all possible problems.

    These economic and social attitudes were typical of Europe prior to the scientific revolution. They result from a society mired in religious fanaticism, intolerant of logic and reason, and contemptuous of and unwilling to grant even the smallest human right to the 50% of their society that could enormously boost their econimies — namely, the 50% of their population that’s female.

    When FM hurls charges of racism or religious hatred at me, note that these charges fall completely flat, because Western Europe and America were both guilty of exactly the same foolish and self-destructive behaviors and attitudes as Islam is today. Those attitudes only changed when Europe underwent a Reformation and built a wall of separation twixt church and state that allowed the scientific revolution and women’s rights to flourish. That Reformation was something we in America and Europe accomplished for ourselves. It’s worth of respect. Islam has yet to undergo a Reformation, and until they too build a wall of separation twixt church and state and start treating their women like human beings and giving them some basic human rights and allowing them to contribute to the economies of the middle east and until Islamic societies allow independent scholarship and research and independent thought even if it seems to cast doubt on some tenets of Islam, the countries that believe in Islam are going to continue to hopeless lag the West economically and intellectually and scientifically. And the countries that believe in Islam have no one to blame for this economic and scientific backwardness but themselves.

    Just as I have zero respect for the Catholic church that condemend Galileo for stating that the earth revolves around the sun, I have zero respect for these Islamic rioters. And this is the main complaint of Moslems in the middle east: that we in America have no respect for their religion. Until they change their religion through some kind of Reformation which allows independent thought and which creates a separation twixt church and state, reasonable sensible people everywhere will have little respect for the Islamic religion as it exists today. That’s reality. Protest this as they may, it won’t change the basic fact that violently protesting a video they haven’t even seen and treating their women like animals who have no human rights and throwing people out windows if they state a scientific fact that contradicts the Qur’an is not going to gain the respect of anyone in the developed world who cares about logic or fact or observed reality.

    Like

    • Drake West permalink
      19 September 2012 12:47 am

      Here, here Thomas More. You come the FM and refuse to drink the Kool-aid. I to need air freshener to even read FM’s defense of his myopic factiods. FM, if you are going to be a pundit, realize that challengers will come to you and discredit your facts, your rhetoric and your person. All at once, or one at a time. If you backhand EVERYONE away with more myopic facts, and let’s be honest, there are facts enough to go around for every egotistical, self-published pundit out there, then you have utterly failed to create action in the populace. NOPE, scratch that, you have created one action, you have created a debate on whether you have any sense beyond your own ego to be correct.
      I agree with More’s assessment of why Muslim Protests exist in any nation at any time based on any event. I have seen the video and it is a terrible piece of work, but it does show the disrespect we have of the Muslim way of life. It could have been about any group of Muslim men, not just Mohammed, but making it about him just proves the desire to throw disdain around from west to east.

      I do not agree with factoids that show that the clash between East and West is responsible for the anger that Muslims have. I believe they are angry because our Westernized lives are better even though we disrespect them, their tenets and their lands. I don’t bring links and facts to my reply here because I am educated enough to transliterate my feelings to words on this here post. Nothing more to I care to debate, my opinion drives me because I have processed so much in my adult life that a couple of articles posted by whomever is not swaying me too much. FM, you are a pundit, not a librarian, historian, intellectual, revolutionary, sage or preacher. Pundits one great sin is that they think they are doing a service to the populace that wastes their own time reading and responding. I am guilty of being, in some regard, less than you. But I am to be praised for being more than you in one area, humility. I credit you and your community for keeping the lights on at Fabiusmaximus.com. I come here for one reason only, see what you are focusing on, reading the comments that disagree with you and watching you squirm.

      Like

    • 19 September 2012 1:59 am

      Can anyone extract any content from Drake West’s rant? I don’t see anything to respond to, other than “Thank you for sharing your feelings”.

      Like

    • 20 September 2012 2:35 am

      My initial reaction was to ignore More’s comment. There’s some level of ignorance, bigotry, and lack of self-awareness that cannot be helped. But for the sake of other readers I’ll make a few points.

      (1) “Logic: if these global molsem protests are “blowback,” as FM insists, then we would logically expect the protests to be most violent in those countries where America has bombed the most Moslems and the least violent in those countries where America has never bombed any Moslems.”

      That’s called “making stuff up and calling it logic”. Many factors go into these things. Level of fundamentalist feeling. Fear of hostile government response. Level of repressed anger at both American and US-supported local tyrants. Etc. Social dynamics are complex, not the finger-painting More imagines.

      (2) “Will FM now try to claim that Waleed Aly is a white guy at RAND?”

      Bad guess. In fact he’s just one guy, with one man’s opinion. What a weird point.

      (2) “surveys of the middle east consistently show that the single biggest complaint Moslems have is that “America disrespects Islam.”

      Give some examples, please. Especially a meta-survey to support the assertion that “surveys consistently show”. Otherwise we’ll suspect you’re repeating some nonsense you heard on Fox News or from Rush.

      (3) “Let’s take a look at the Qur’an and see what is says so we can determine whether the Qur’an advises behavior that is worthy of our respect:”

      This is almost an insane point, considering the many incidents of God-mandated genocide in the Old Testament, the millions killed in the name of Jesus, and the tens of millions killed by europeans in the 19th & 20th centuries for various reasons. Such as the famines created by British colonial policy (run by good Christians) that killed millions, while maintaining colonial profits.

      For a few details see Should we fear that religion whose believers have killed so many people?.

      For details about famines caused by good Christians, see here about Kenya, and the Bengal Famine of 1943.

      (4) “You tell me: is this the sort of religion for which we should have respect?”

      When you point your finger, three fingers point back at you. Examine your own history before you lift that stone.

      (5) Note that More totally ignore the past century of western oppression of the peoples in the Middle East. He’s carefully blinkered, and comfortably so, blind to the history of the past century. A model citizen for the New America.

      Like

  11. "It's Not About a Film: The Real Reason Why the Middle East Exploded" permalink
    19 September 2012 2:40 am

    More voices pointing out the obvious to an uncaring America (we prefer our delusions, and will hold fast to them): “It’s Not About a Film: The Real Reason Why the Middle East Exploded“, Ray McGovern (former CIA analyst, co-founder of Vietnam Intelligence Professionals for Sanity), Alternet, 17 September 2012 — “The conventional wisdom about the recent explosion of protest in the Middle East — that Muslims are way too sensitive or irrational — is dead wrong.”

    Like

  12. Seumas Milne: The only surprise is there aren't more violent protests in the Middle East permalink
    19 September 2012 12:57 pm

    The only surprise is there aren’t more violent protests in the Middle East“, Seumas Milne, op-ed in The Guardian, 18 September 2012 — “The Muslim eruption reflects a deep popular anger and blowback from US intervention in both Libya and Afghanistan”

    Excerpt:

    Eleven years after it began, Nato’s occupation of Afghanistan is crumbling. The US decision to suspend joint Afghan-Nato operations in response to a wave of attacks by Afghan soldiers and police on Nato troops cuts the ground from beneath the centrepiece of western strategy. Nato is, after all, supposed to be training up Afghan troops to take control in time for the withdrawal of combat forces in 2014. Instead, those client regime troops are routinely turning their guns on a long-reviled foreign occupation force. No wonder support for a continued military presence is falling rapidly in the main British political parties – long after it has among the populations of all the occupying states.

    The US-British invasion of Afghanistan was of course launched in response to the 9/11 attacks: the poison fruit of US-led support for the Afghan mujahideen war against the Soviet Union. Why do they hate us, many Americans asked at the time, oblivious to their country’s role in decades of coups, tyranny, sanctions regimes and occupations across the Middle East.

    In the aftermath of the killing of the US ambassador to Libya and assault on the consulate in Benghazi, as protests against a virulently Islamophobic US-made video spread across the Muslim world, Hillary Clinton echoed the same sentiments. “How could this happen in a country we helped liberate?” she asked, “in a city we helped save from destruction?” She was referring to Nato’s decisive role in winning power for the Libyan rebels who first took up arms in Benghazi last year. But just as the mujahideen the US backed in Afghanistan later turned their guns on their imperial sponsor in the form of the Taliban and al-Qaida, so many of the Islamists and jihadists who fought against Gaddafi with Nato air cover have their own ideas for the future of their country.

    This is the start of the blowback from US and western attempts to commandeer the Arab uprisings. Something similar is likely to happen in Syria. The invasion of Afghanistan more than a decade ago not only didn’t destroy al-Qaida, it spread it into Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and north Africa, and today the flags of its offshoots are flying across the Arab world.

    In Libya, Nato’s intervention sharply escalated the death toll, triggered large-scale ethnic cleansing, spread war to Mali, and left thousands in jail without trial and the country in the control of multiple armed militias. Western governments hailed July’s elections, in which most seats were not open to political parties, as bucking the Islamist trend across the region. But their man, a former Gaddafi minister, has now been defeated for the job of prime minister by an independent Islamist, while the British ambassador’s convoy, the Red Cross and UN have been attacked and Sufi shrines destroyed. Meanwhile, the Nato-backed authorities are threatening military action against jihadists in Benghazi, as American warships and drones patrol Libya’s coast and skies.

    The fact that the attack on the US consulate, along with often violent protests that have spread across 20 countries, was apparently triggered by an obscure online video trailer concocted by US-based Christian fundamentalists and émigré Copts – even one portraying the prophet Muhammad as a fraud and paedophile – seems bafflingly disproportionate to outsiders.

    … Since launching the war on terror, the US and its allies have attacked and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq; bombed Libya; killed thousands in drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; imposed devastating sanctions; backed Israel’s occupation and dispossession of the Palestinians to the hilt; carried out large-scale torture, kidnapping and internment without trial; maintained multiple bases to protect client dictatorships throughout the region; and now threaten Iran with another act of illegal war.

    The video is manifestly only the latest trigger for a deep popular anger in a region where opposition to imperial domination is now channelled mainly through the politics of Islam rather than nationalism. The idea that Arab and Muslim hostility to the US would have been assuaged because it intervened to commandeer Libya’s uprising (an intervention most Arabs reject) is absurd.

    About two-thirds of people in the Middle East and North Africa say they distrust the US, polling shows, rising to more than three-quarters in Pakistan. After 11 years of the war on terror, following decades of baleful intervention, the only surprise is that there aren’t more violent anti-US and anti-western protests in the region.

    Western war in the Muslim world has also fed a toxic tide of Islamophobia in Europe and the US. What is it about Muslims that makes them so easily offended, Europeans and Americans commonly demand to know – while Muslims point to cases such as the British 19-year-old who was convicted in Yorkshire last week of posting a “grossly offensive” Facebook message that British soldiers in Afghanistan “should die and go to hell”, and ask why they’re not afforded that protection.

    The events of the last week are a reminder that an Arab world which has thrown off dictatorship will be more difficult for the western powers to hold in thrall. The Economist called the deadly assault on the US consulate in Libya an example of “Arab dysfunction” and urged the US not to retreat from the Middle East but go in deeper, including in Syria. As Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Libya have already shown, that would only bring disaster.

    Like

  13. 19 September 2012 1:45 pm

    A wonderful example of the propaganda that blinds us!

    Pentagon Joint Staff: Iran cyber attacks, terrorism reveal Tehran engaged in covert war on the West“, The Washington Beacon (right-wing website, founded 2012), 18 September 2012 — Excerpt:

    The Iranian government recently conducted a major cyber attack on a major U.S. financial institution that a military intelligence report said is a sign Tehran is waging covert war against the West.

    The cyber attack was not successful but was one of several Iranian-backed electronic strikes detected in recent months that highlights the growing threat from Tehran, a major backer of international terrorism, according to a recent report by the Joint Staff intelligence directorate, known as J-2.

    “Iran’s cyber aggression should be viewed as a component, alongside efforts like support for terrorism, to the larger covert war Tehran is waging against the west,” the report, dated Sept. 14, concluded.

    Iran’s hostile posture against the United States is well known. However, the Joint Staff J-2’s hawkish assessment of the Iranian threat contrasts sharply with the more conciliatory policies of the Obama administration, a defense official familiar with the report said. For Pentagon’s J-2 to acknowledge in the internal report that a covert war is underway was unusual, the official added.

    … A Joint Staff spokesman declined to comment.

    This has been widely distributed (almost never citing the source of the rumor), despite it being totally nuts.

    “the more conciliatory policies of the Obama administration”

    The US and Israel have staged assassinations of Iranian scientists, launched cyberattacks against Iran, supported attacks against infrastructure in Iran, funded the MEK (designated by the State Department as a terrorist group). Plus the naval armeda usually off its coast, and the sanctions crippling its economy. All of which is designed to halt a nuke bomb construction program that’s a few years away from success — just as it has been since 1984.

    No mention of all this in the Washington Beacon post, which gives its readers the news that a hostile aggressive Iran attacks a peaceful minding-its-own-business America.

    Perhaps that is the content of the J-2 report, which means that intel remains corrupt up to the highest level. As we learned it was from the discovery that Saddam had no nukes.

    Like

    • Drake West permalink
      19 September 2012 2:39 pm

      “Can anyone extract any content from Drake West’s rant”

      Yes, the content is that YOUR content is not the only content out there. FM, the point of my posting is that it agrees with Thomas More, whom you often disagree with and dismiss. Now you have dismissed me too, WAH! I expected that since my post contained no hyperlinks to your shortlist of sources that you would dismiss it.

      So let me clarify:

      TO BE A PUNDIT:

      1. Have an opinion on a segment of popular topics
      2. Have a forum which to relay your opinions
      3. Research some facts which support your opinions
      4. Find some people who agree with you and latch onto them and nurture them as a ‘following’
      5. Discredit all contrary facts
      6. Dismiss all other pundits or dissenters
      7, Deflect any criticism of your collection of facts which supports your opinion
      8. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: Ignore all attempts to classify you as a pundit and not a Journalist/Intellectual/Official-in-the-know (or retired/previous Official-in-the-know)

      I think you check off 1-8 pretty nicely.
      Don’t get me wrong – you are allowed to have your opinion, and I credit you with being organized and hard-working enough to have developed FM.com. I am not insulting your intelligence (as you do so often to your dissenters), I am merely pointing out and classifying you for what you are, a pundit in the purest sense. I think that anyone in your position would fall into this trap. You are armed with a good writing style, command of current events and lots of time to blog. Unfortunately, these skills and capabilities does not make you CORRECT. The world is a complicated place and pundits try to dumb it down so that their opinions seems wholesome, meaty and brilliant. Connect the dots is not a game for geniuses, it is simple once someone places the dots and numbers them. FM.com is this kind of puzzlebook for its followers. I can come here and read any topic, head to the forums and see the nicely number dots for me to connect. God forbid I don’t start drawing lines in order, then the whole image starts to look like spaghetti.

      Too bad the world is not a simple puzzle.

      To correct your failing?
      Start listening to those who trace the dots in different order. Perhaps there is a Mona Lisa out there instead of a line drawing of a piece of fruit.

      Oh, and I PRE-dismiss myself from an earnest reply from you…

      Like

    • 19 September 2012 2:43 pm

      Ok, my first guess was correct. It’s quite off-topic, and quite the rant.

      So, again, Thank you for sharing.

      Like

    • Drake West permalink
      19 September 2012 2:48 pm

      “Everything is Corrupt – Except my opinions”

      That should be the by line for FM.com

      Like

    • 19 September 2012 2:56 pm

      West — You’ve had your rant. Being good sports, it’s off topic but allowed under the “whatever” clause.

      Now, please, back to the topic of this post.

      Like

  14. Bacevich: What the Arab Movie Riots Mean for U.S. Foreign Policy permalink
    19 September 2012 3:06 pm

    What the Arab Movie Riots Mean for U.S. Foreign Policy” by Andrew J. Bacevich, Newsweek, 17 September 2012 — “The death of a U.S. ambassador raises questions about America’s foreign-policy assumptions.”

    Excerpt

    But why the Arab anger against the United States? Why the absence of gratitude among the very people the United States helped save, in the very countries Americans helped liberate? The way Secretary Clinton frames the question practically guarantees a self-satisfying but defective answer. Still, don’t blame her: the rest of the foreign-policy establishment isn’t doing any better.

    The question is predicated on three propositions that are regarded as sacrosanct in the venues where U.S. policymakers and would-be policymakers congregate and exchange business cards. First: humanity yearns for liberation, as defined in Western (meaning predominantly liberal and secular) terms. Second: the United States has a providentially assigned role to nurture and promote this liberation, advancing what George W. Bush once termed the Freedom Agenda. Third: given that America’s intentions are righteous and benign—okay, maybe not always, but most of the time—the exercise of U.S. power on a global scale merits respect and ought to command compliance.

    Belief in these three propositions depends on viewing history as ultimately a good-news story. If the good news appears mingled with bad, the imperative for the faithful is to try harder. Forget about Baghdad and Kabul: onward to Damascus and Tehran.

    Yet history is not a good-news story. Its destination and purpose remain indecipherable, even (or especially) to an “intelligence community” that purports to peer into the future, but cannot even provide adequate warning of attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities. Not that our civilian thinkers are doing much better. These days the shelf life of the Big Idea that’s marketed as explaining everything in three words or less—Unipolar Moment, End of History, Clash of Civilizations, Indispensable Nation—is about six months.

    What’s the next surprise lurking just around the bend?

    … The problem with the foreign-policy tradition to which Secretary Clinton adheres (and to which any secretary of state appointed by a President Romney undoubtedly would also subscribe) is that it refuses to allow Muslims to set their own course. In fact, U.S. foreign policy is fundamentally incapable of permitting it. For Washington simply to step aside, letting Libyans and Egyptians work out their own problems in their own way, would imperil certain moderately important American interests. More important, it would imply giving up the illusion that the United States models freedom in its truest form and that it can identify and direct history’s course. In effect, it would concede the limitations of American power and American perspicacity.

    This country’s political class is unwilling to make any such concessions. That much is obvious to anyone who bothered to watch the twin celebrations of American exceptionalism that constituted the Republican and Democratic national conventions. Several commentators noted the paucity of attention given by either party to the war in Afghanistan, now approaching its 11th anniversary with victory nowhere in sight. With even greater justification they might have noted the two parties’ reticence regarding the even more disastrous and utterly unnecessary Iraq War. Seldom has the American propensity for turning away from unpleasant facts been more vividly and irresponsibly displayed. This avoidance testifies to a refusal to learn.

    … Sometimes the only remedy for a badly damaged relationship is to give it a protracted cooling-off period. Time and distance may not make hearts grow fonder, but they can allow old grudges to ease. Stay away from your philandering ex-husband awhile and the old rogue might not seem so bad after all.

    Such a breathing spell is very much in order for America’s dealings with the nations of the Islamic world. No preaching; no getting in their knickers; please, God, no “nation building.” For how long? Given the poisonous nature of existing relations, an intermission of something like a century sounds about right.

    In the meantime, if we Americans think we have something to teach others, let’s do it as exemplars—that is, assuming we’re willing to close the yawning gap between the values we loudly profess and the way we actually behave.

    Andrew J. Bacevich is currently a visiting fellow at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

    Like

  15. Michael Cohen @ FP: "Coming to Grips with Impotence" permalink
    19 September 2012 3:14 pm

    Coming to Grips with Impotence“, Michael Cohen, Foreign Policy, 19 September 2012 — “Can we really expect the president to be able to fix the Middle East?”

    Like

  16. frankzappasguitar permalink
    19 September 2012 11:39 pm

    I’ve lived and worked in Egypt in the pre and post 2011 revolutionary periods and I speak Arabic. One thing about Egypt is that political events often seem “set-up” and people are paranoid about engaging in politics for good reason. The mukhabarat (intelligence services) of that country DID have informers scattered throughout every level of society, the men at the top of the Egyptian business and military communities ARE allies of countries that most Egyptians view as antagonistic and intrusive politically (namely Israel and NATO), and the money passed on from Western nations WAS used to build a massive security state that terrorized and impoverished its people while its leadership sucked up the nation’s wealth to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

    Talk to an Egyptian about the revolution now (no matter his education level), and you will likely hear of a “foreign hand” (iyad agnaby) in its instigation and subsequent development. Even the ascendency of the Muslim Brotherhood is considered in conspiratorial terms for many Egyptians who are not brothers (the supporters of Hamideen Sabahi were notorious for talking this way in the recent election once the choice became “Ikhwan/Morsi vs. Old Regime/Shafiq”.)

    I’ve spoken with a small sample of Egyptian friends and colleagues about these events, for what it’s worth. It’s my understanding that for many Egyptians who aren’t taking part in the protests, the recent violence stinks of a deliberate attempt — by who it’s never clear — to stir chaos in the country. The mass of Egyptians, like us, want to know why these things are happening, and they, like us, are often conspiratorial in their analysis. Just something to consider when grouping a nation of 85 million together as a monolith.

    Like

    • 20 September 2012 12:49 am

      Thank you for posting this! This is the sort of first-person expert analysis that is worth its weight in gold.

      Like

  17. TomDispatch: "Terror and Teargas on the Streets of Bahrain" permalink
    20 September 2012 2:02 am

    More reasons they hate us:

    Terror and Teargas on the Streets of Bahrain” By Jen Marlowe, TomDispatch, 18 September 2012 — “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (in the U.S. at Least)”

    Excerpt

    Perhaps the lack of coverage of the predominantly Shi’a uprising against an increasingly repressive Sunni monarchy can be explained, in part, by this: Washington considers that monarchy its close ally; Bahrain is the home of the Navy’s 5th Fleet, and the beneficiary of U.S. arms sales. Perhaps it has to do with the U.S.-Saudi friendship, and the increasing tension between the U.S. and Iran. Bahrain has been portrayed as a battleground for influence between neighboring Saudi Arabia (a supporter of the monarchy) and nearby majority Shi’a Iran.

    Ignoring the revolution underway there and its demands for freedom and democracy is, however, perilous. If activists move from largely peaceful demonstrations toward the use of violence, Bahrain could prove the powder keg that might set the Persian Gulf aflame. Peaceful activists like Jihan currently hold sway, but given the brutality I witnessed, it’s unclear how long the Bahraini revolution will remain nonviolent.

    Like

    • Drake West permalink
      20 September 2012 1:32 pm

      excuse my ignorance, but protesting to overthrow a monarch for a “democracy” Demands for freedom? What aspect of freedom? Freedom of the Press? Women’s rights? Freedom of religion? What Freedoms do the Arab Spring countries seek to instill and ensconce in their countries?

      What democracy is brewing in these countries? The news that has played out in this Arab Spring is that a country kicks out a dictator so that a ruling Junta can come in and feign democracy for the most part. So which side should America take? The known quantity which has help partner in preserving our goals or the unknown chaos and charade of a revolution?

      Like

    • 20 September 2012 1:43 pm

      “The news that has played out in this Arab Spring is that a country kicks out a dictator so that a ruling Junta can come in and feign democracy for the most part.”

      Can you be more specific as to what countries you refer to?

      Your statement is clearly false regarding the major “Arab Spring” nations: Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Their progress is considerable in a brief period. It’s a rough and difficult road, as seen by the West’s slow progress over centuries from tyranny to various forms of democracy. We’re still on it; they appear to have learned from our experiences.

      Among the others, Syria and Yemen remain in civil wars. Bahrain remains locked-down. Note that the US aids the ruling tyrants in Yemen and Bahrain.

      As in all civil wars, a wide range of groups contend for power. As we’ve seen in western revolutions, the results are often not pretty (eg, France, Russia) despite the high hopes at the moment of victory.

      The Wikipedia article on the Arab Spring gives a good summary by nation, with useful links.

      Like

  18. CATO analysts: "Bipartisan Middle East policy insanity" permalink
    20 September 2012 2:44 am

    A conservative perspective: “Bipartisan Middle East policy insanity“, Christopher Preble and Malou Innocent, CNN, 18 September 2012.

    Christopher Preble is VP for defense and foreign policy studies, and Malou Innocent is a foreign policy analyst, at the Cato Institute.

    Excerpt

    In the wake of violent protests in Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere, as embassies and consulates scramble to beef up security, the focus here in the United States has shifted to the U.S. presidential campaign. As the candidates trade shots over apology tours and ham-fisted reactions, their partisan bickering obscures an uglier truth: both of the major parties have supported policies that have failed to deliver tangible benefits to the American people and made the United States look weak.

    Whether it is economic assistance to authoritarian allies, or wars of liberation and nation-building, the most powerful country in the world conveys the impression of begging for cooperation from nations of marginal importance. Democratic and Republican administrations alike have pursued such misguided policies. It’s time to stop, and the appalling response to a low-budget film mocking the Prophet Mohammad should prompt such a change.

    In Egypt, the most populous Arab country and a long-time U.S. partner, a violent mob seized on the film as a pretext to ransack our embassy and tear up its American flag. In neighboring Libya, extremists apparently hijacked the spontaneous uprisings against the film, and used them as cover for a violent attack that killed four Americans serving our country, including the U.S. ambassador. Protests have since spread to Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia, and reportedly as many as 25 other countries. The destruction of property and the killing of U.S. officials are reprehensible. The perpetrators must be brought to justice.

    … U.S. policies have failed, but those failures are bipartisan. Some policies, such as concerted efforts to improve Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors, or counterterrorism practices intended to degrade al-Qaeda’s capabilities, have been constructive, and some have even enhanced America’s security. Other policies, however, such as the invasion and occupation of Iraq, or aid programs that have propped up brutal and corrupt governments, have tethered America to the region’s parochial quarrels and have allowed extremists to gain influence by blaming the West for their countries’ problems.

    Like

  19. American Prospect:: "Is America Feared Enough in the Middle East?" permalink
    20 September 2012 3:11 am

    Is America Feared Enough in the Middle East?“, Matthew Duss, American Prospect, 19 September 2012 — “Supporting Islamist democracies might actually be the best way to win friends in the region.”

    Excerpt

    The past decade should have permanently cured Americans of the idea that we can dictate events in the Middle East. So it’s hard to take seriously some of the conservative claims and criticisms regarding the continuing anti-American demonstrations in the region.

    Senator John McCain has insisted that the Obama administration’s policy of “disengagement” led to the attacks on U.S. embassy outposts last week. “We’re leaving Iraq. We’re leaving Afghanistan. We’re leaving the area,” McCain said on Face the Nation. “The people in the area are having to adjust and they believe the United States is weak, and they are taking appropriate action.” McCain characterized the protests as part of “a fight, a struggle in the Arab world between the Islamists and the forces of moderation. And they want America disengaged.”

    Liz Cheney believes the problem is that no one is scared of us anymore. “In too many parts of the world, America is no longer viewed as a reliable ally or an enemy to be feared,” she wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “Ask the mobs in Cairo who attacked our embassy, or the Libyan mobs who killed our diplomats at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Ask the Iranians, who make unhindered daily progress toward obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

    As the blog the Daily Dolt noted, “There were twelve terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities abroad during George W. Bush’s tenurethe most of any president in history.” Presumably, when America was invading and occupying Iraq we were “engaged,” as McCain would define it, and yet our Middle East woes were worse. And there’s no overstating the extent to which America’s rash and incompetent adventure in Iraq undermined our international partners’ view of us as a reliable ally. As Bush left office, Freedom House released its annual survey, which noted that“2008 marked the third consecutive year in which global freedom suffered a decline” after years of precisely the sort of “engagement” that McCain and Cheney favor. Yet all of this seems forgotten.

    A more interesting critique is offered by David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter who gave the world the phrase “Axis of Evil,” who suggests it may have been a mistake by the Obama administration to accept the entrance of Islamist parties into the political fray of the Middle East. “The central test of the engage-political-Islamists policy is post-Mubarak Egypt,” Frum wrote. “Nobody remembers now, but after Mubarak’s fall there was much debate whether the Muslim Brotherhood should be allowed to participate in Egypt’s new political system. It is hardly illiberal to ban a party that aims at the overthrow of a liberal state.”

    Perhaps, but to which liberal state is Frum referring? Not Egypt, which spent the majority of the last fifty years under an emergency law which sharply limited political activities and saw thousands of political activists imprisoned. And note Frum’s use of “allowed” here, as if it were possible, in the wake of Mubarak’s exit, for the U.S. to simply deny political access to the country’s best-organized and most deeply rooted movement. Despite the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, these critics still haven’t shaken the idea that America can simply pull levers to create outcomes that we like.

    … McCain, Cheney, and Frum were all high-profile supporters of Bush’s freedom agenda. Their criticisms raise a question: Just what did they think greater freedom and more democracy in these countries was going to look like? …

    Like

  20. 20 September 2012 2:17 pm

    As an example of the thinking of the folks leading America over the cliff:

    North Carolina State Seator David Rouzer, the GOP candidate in the state’s 7th congressional district, in a speech at a Tea Party Express rally in Wilmington on Sunday (from ThinkProgress):

    ROUZER: When we get [Romney and Ryan] in you are going to see a big change, you’re going to see number one that America is going to be respected again around the world. You’re going to see all this turmoil that’s taking place, you’re going to see them look up and say guess what, the American people have spoken and maybe we need to cut it out a little bit, maybe we need to tone it down a little bit, because now we have real men in the White House.

    AUDIENCE MEMBER: No girly men!

    ROUZER: That’s right, no girly men.

    .

    Like

  21. Thomas More permalink
    21 September 2012 1:45 am

    FM appears to have no actual evidence to support his assertion that Moslems around the world are rioting because of a century of oppression by American/European forces. It’s certainly true that first Britain and then America have humiliated and brutalized and repeatedly invaded and massacred and bombed and slaughtered and tortured the peoples of the middle east. The question is not whether this has happened, but whether there exists a direct causal relation twixt this history of oppression of the peoples of the middle east by first the British empire, and then the American empire, and the current terrorism and riots and 9/11 and so on.

    I have previously cited the evidence of polls showing that people throughout the middle east list as their number one grievance not that America has bombed or invaded or brutalized or tortured or imposed dictators on the peoples of the middle east, but that America “disprespects Islam” a charge vague at best and tendentious at worst (what does “disrespect” mean? It sounds like a prison gang leader’s excuse for killing a rival, doesn’t it?).

    FM chose to ignore this evidence and has produced none of his own. So now it’s time to cite some more evidence and use more logic, all of which FM will predictably dismiss or ignore.

    If as FM claims the terrorism of Islamic extremists is truly due to America’s century of oppression of middle eastern peoples, then we would logically expect other peoples who have been oppressed by America even longer to become even more inflamed, and to use terrorism even more widely against America. Now, as it happens, America has been oppressing one particular group for more than two centuries: America has tortured and murdered and brutalized this population more savagely than any of the peoples in the middle east,. These people are known as “native American indians.”

    So here’s the question: why didn’t native American indians fly a pair of jets into the Twin Towers on 9/11? Why don’t native American indians strap on suicide bombs and blow up Americans in shopping malls and pizza parlors? Why didn’t native American indians try to bomb the basement of the World Trade Center in 1996?

    The only reasonable answer is that a history of oppression is not sufficient to explain the action of middle eastern terrorists. We must also take into account their religion and their culture.

    For that matter, many nations have been brutally oppressed for at least as long as America has oppressed the Moslems of the middle east — starting in 1903, Teddy Roosevelt overthrew the government of Panama and installed a puppet dictator. Americans swarmed ashore in the Phillipines in the late 1890s and wrought untold torture and murder, first using waterboarding as torture against the Filipino insurectos. America murdered almost 2 milliion Cambodians with its genocidal bombing campaign during the Vietnam War. America murdered untold hundreds of thousands of North Vietnamese in that war. America stole the entire southwest, including Arizona, New Mexico (ever wonder why it’s called NEW Mexico? Maybe it used to be part of Mexico?) and Arizona and California, from Mexico. Ulysses S. Grant considered the American war against Mexico a heinous crime and predicted “God will punish us for this transgression.”

    So why didn’t Mexican terrorsts fly jets into the Twin Towers? Why aren’t Filipino terrorists bombing American office buildings?

    America has a long history of oppressing and brutalizing a lot of peoples around the world. But only Islam seems to react with terorrism against us. This suggests that it’s the religion and culture, not the h istory of oppression, that explains these Moslem riots.

    Like

    • 21 September 2012 3:08 am

      This is shadow-boxing, as More’s mind appears fixed in prejudice and hatred. There’s no point talking with such people, and I doubt anyone else bothers to read this foolish discussion. But here are a few comments.

      (1) “I have previously cited the evidence of polls showing that people throughout the middle east list as their number one grievance not that America has bombed or invaded or brutalized or tortured or imposed dictators on the peoples of the middle east, but that America “disprespects Islam” a charge vague at best and tendentious at worst”

      More cited nothing. He asserted that there were such polls. No doubt he can find one, but I doubt that’s a common finding — except in polls run specifically probing to find that answer. Here is a more common finding, by Gallup Pakistan: “Pakistanis see US as biggest threat

      (2) Where is his explanation for the absurd theory in his previous comment that Islam is more violent than Christianity? He continues this truly nutty theme in this post. In fact they’re beginners. The Islamic hordes More hates and fears will have to do lots and lots of killing before they qualify to join the big leagues with Western peoples, and those other nations that have adopted western ideologies (eg, communism in China).

      (3) “Why aren’t Filipino terrorists bombing American office buildings?”

      Like the rest of this, too dumb to answer. Think about the history of the Philippines, or spend two minutes reading Wikipedia. You’ll find the answer there.

      Like

    • 21 September 2012 3:13 am

      I forgot this, even more idiotic than the rest. Or perhaps a tie (tough competition that comment).

      (4) “So here’s the question: why didn’t native American indians fly a pair of jets into the Twin Towers on 9/11?”

      The American Indians (in the US) were roughly 90% exterminated by the multiple plagues unleashed simultaneously on them with the arrival of Europeans. Then they fought for 4 centuries, to the complete destruction of their societies. It’s an amazing story of determination across a score of generations in a hopeless war. But most conflicts eventually burn out.

      Like

    • 21 September 2012 4:36 am

      Why do they hate us (ie, those that do in the Islamic nations)? No need to guess (of course, hatred and bigotry require making stuff up, then asserting it as fact). They’ve told us quite clearly.

      (1) Listen to a man who’s become a hero to many in the Islamic nations: Quotes From Bin Laden Speeches. He’s quite specific.

      Various US intelligence reports have come to conclusions quite similar to bin Landen’s. Without, of course, the jihadist overlay.

      (2) PEW Global Attitudes Project

      (a) Survey about the role of Islam in their societies, and their values, 10 December 2010

      (b) Most Muslims Want Democracy, Personal Freedoms, and Islam in Political Life“, 10 July 2012 — “The United States is not seen as promoting democracy in the Middle East.”

      (c) Some revealing qustions which they’ve asked over time in many Islamic nations. The answer show some of the roots of their hostility to the US:

      • In general, do you think the U.S. government favors or opposes democracy in the Middle East? [1455]
      • Overall, do you think of the U.S. as more of a partner of (survey country), more of an enemy of (survey country), or neither? [793]
      • Do you think these drone attacks are a very good thing, good thing, bad thing, or very bad thing? [225]
      • For each of the following statements about the drone attacks, please tell me whether you agree or disagree…they kill too many innocent people.
        In making international policy decisions, to what extent do you think the US takes into account the interests of countries like (survey country) – a great deal, a fair amount, not too much, or not at all?
      • Which comes closer to describing your view?…I favor the US-led efforts to fight terrorism, OR I oppose the US-led efforts to fight terrorism [1045]
      • Do you approve or disapprove of the United States conducting missile strikes from pilotless aircraft called drones to target extremists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia? [1401]
      • Please tell me if you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable opinion of…the United States [844]
      • Does our government cooperate too much, not enough, or about the right amount with the United States government? [1245]
      • Do you think that relations these days between Muslims around the world and people in Western countries such as the United States and Europe are generally good or generally bad? [193]

      You can find the answer to these — and hundreds of similar questions — in their Question Database.

      (d) One source of antagonism towards the US is our relationship to Israel, a searing hot issue in these polls. Two revealing questions, from the many:

      • What’s your opinion of U.S. policies in the Middle East – would you say they are fair or do they favor Israel too much or do they favor the Palestinians too much? [1028]
      • Why do you think the US is conducting the war on terrorism? Is…To protect Israel…an important reason why the US is doing this or not? [1148]

      (3) For more information about attitudes of people in Islamic nations towards to the US

      Gallup Center for Muslim Studies

      Like

  22. A 2004 DoD report explains why they hate us permalink
    25 September 2012 1:43 pm

    There is a large body of research explaining why so many people in so many foreign lands hate us so strongly. Such as the Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication, December 2004 (large PDF here)

    Page 15:

    Negative attitudes and the conditions that create them are the underlying sources of threats to America’s national security and reduced ability to leverage diplomatic opportunities. Terrorism, thin coalitions, harmful effects on business, restrictions on travel, declines in cross border tourism and education flows, and damaging consequences for other elements of U.S. soft power are tactical manifestations of a pervasive atmosphere of hostility.

    Page 40:

    American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.

    • 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 Israel and 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 Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. U.S. 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.
    • 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 — the United States today is without a working channel of communication to the world of Muslims and of Islam. Inevitably therefore, whatever Americans do and say only serves the party that has both the message and the “loud and clear” channel: the enemy.

    Like

  23. "Living Under Drones Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan" permalink
    25 September 2012 1:52 pm

    Living Under Drones Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan“, September 2012

    A project of the Stanford Law School’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, and the NYU School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic

    Opening of the Executive Summary:

    In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.

    This narrative is false.

    Following nine months of intensive research — including two investigations in Pakistan, more than 130 interviews with victims, witnesses, and experts, and review of thousands of pages of documentation and media reporting — this report presents evidence of the damaging and counterproductive effects of current US drone strike policies. Based on extensive interviews with Pakistanis living in the regions directly affected, as well as humanitarian and medical workers, this report provides new and firsthand testimony about the negative impacts US policies are having on the civilians living under drones.

    Like

  24. Pew asks the world's peoples how they feel about US drone strikes permalink
    26 September 2012 1:22 pm

    More about why they hate us

    Global Opinion of Obama Slips, International Policies Faulted“, Global Attitudes Project of the Pew Research Center, 13 June 2012

    .

    Like

  25. The Nation: "'Muslim Rage' & US Policy" permalink
    27 September 2012 2:22 am

    ‘Muslim Rage’ & US Policy“, Editorial in The Nation, 8 October 2012

    Conclusion

    {T}he deepest wellsprings of resentment lie in US policy on the region. From backing dictatorships, to the strangulation by sanctions and eventual evisceration of Iraq, to drone strikes across the Muslim world, to steadfast support for Israel’s occupation of Palestine, now in its fifth decade—the list of grievances is long (see Adam Baron, “Yemen Inflamed,” for insight into the roots of the latest protests in one country).

    And Muslims are well aware of the Islamophobia permeating American society and government (for more, see our special issue “Islamophobia: Anatomy of an American Panic,” July 2/9). The video is just one particularly nasty example of a bigotry that has become pervasive throughout the Western world. Mitt Romney’s attack on President Obama for “sympathizing” with those who attacked the US consulate in Benghazi was, of course, a grossly opportunistic slander. But his ridicule of those who would “apologize” for America reflected an all-too-common cultural insensitivity toward Muslims—a bigotry many would not tolerate if leveled against Christians or Jews.

    Washington’s support for the Arab Spring was too inconsistent and came too late to outweigh America’s troubled history in the region. The collapse of longstanding dictatorships has allowed antipathy against the United States to surface more visibly; it has also left weapons and money in the hands of Islamist radicals, many of them funded by the Persian Gulf monarchies. Indeed, Washington must finally confront the fact that our oldest regional ally, Saudi Arabia, happens to be controlled by Wahhabi fundamentalists who have spent billions spreading their ideology throughout the Muslim world.

    We should hardly be surprised when it blows back in our face.

    The United States needs a radically new Middle East policy, based on respect for the democratic aspirations of Arabs and Muslims, with economic assistance focusing on jobs and justice, and an end to military solutions that seek control rather than cooperation. If we want a change in attitudes, we need a change in policy.

    Like

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