Thursday, December 02, 2004

Who We Are, What We Do

There seems to be an argument developing in the US, roughly along partisan lines, about whether the US has incurred the wrath of so much of the Muslim world because of our actions and policies or whether it is simply because of who we are and the principles we stand for. It's no secret that Bush takes the latter point of view, espousing the much-derided post-9/11 view that "they hate us for our freedom." Sidney Blumental, bolstered by a new study by the Pentagon, adheres more to the former view. Many scoundrels on the right would no doubt argue that such a viewpoint is tantamount to justifying terrorist actions against us, which it in no way is; in fact, such criticisms perfectly exemplify the weakness of the neoconservative conversation in the US. Think of Fukuyama being labelled an anti-semite by Charles Krauthammer for arguing that many neoconservatives see US foreign policy through the lens of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and you begin to understand that such a movement - the neoconservative movement - has ceased to be a serious intellectual school of thought when merely broaching such topics is considered at best taboo and at worst deserving of such personalized scorn and hatred.

As far as the issue of why many Muslims see the US they way they do, I think it is something of a cop-out to say they hate us solely for who we are. It suits the right-wing agenda to say that that is the case, because of course when someone hates you for who you are there is nothing you can do to change that relationship, there is no way you can lessen that hatred because it supposedly stems from something inherent in you; thus there would be no need for self-reflection. I am completely supportive of the war on terror (not to be confused with the war in Iraq) and believe that there is much anti-West sentiment in the Muslim world that is not related to such tangible issues as the Palestinian conflict, but to pretend that terrorism is never motivated by policies or actions taken against Muslim populations is simply naive and, of course, dangerous.

No comments: