Why they hate us

Stephen M. Walt’s Taming American Power

Here is an excerpt from the 2005 book
Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy
by Stephen M. Walt.
Section and paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.

What is elided, especially in section 2.0, is mainly
a great deal of information, references, and tables
supporting Walt’s assertions.

Chapter 2
The Roots of Resentment

Chapter 2 explores the broad gap between
America’s perception of its own global role
the ways that role is perceived abroad,
focusing primarily on the reasons why other states
do not always welcome U.S. dominance.
Although Americans
tend to see the U.S. role in the world in positive and benevolent terms,
citizens elsewhere are far more skeptical.
Even states that are generally pro-American
worry about the concentration of power in U.S. hands,
and other states openly oppose it.
I argue that other states fear, resent, or hate the United States
(2.1) partly because of “what it is”,
(2.2) but also because of what it has done in the past and what it is doing today.
(2.3) I then consider why Americans
often fail to recognize the roots of this resentment, and thus
fail to understand why the global reaction to U.S. primacy
has ranged from ambivalence to resentment to overt opposition.

Chapter 2 Contents:

One month after the September 11 attacks
(and more than a year before the invasion of Iraq),
President George W. Bush told a prime-time news conference that
he was surprised to learn that there was
“vitriolic hatred” of America in other parts of the world.

Bush said he was
“amazed that there is such misunderstanding of what our country is about,
that people would hate us....
like most Americans, I just can’t believe it.

Because I know how good we are.”
To address the problem, the president concluded,
“We’ve got to do a better job of making our case.”

Bush’s comments undoubtedly stuck a resonant chord with most of his listeners,
because Americans tend to see their country
as a positive force in the world....
This self-congratulatory view of America’s global role
is routinely echoed by scholars and pundits alike,
thereby reinforcing Americans’ sense of their own benevolent global role.
[Walt quotes Samuel Huntington, Charles Krauthammer, and Niall Ferguson.]

Thus, U.S. leader, scholars, and public intellectuals routinely
cast U.S. primacy in a favorable light and
justify U.S. involvement overseas by pointing to
the benefits it brings to the United States and to others.
Not surprisingly,
most Americans view U.S. primacy in equally favorable terms.
[Here and below Walt gives a great deal of information,
sometimes in tabular form,
derived from various 2001 to 2005
Pew Global, World Values Survey, and BBC World Service polls.
See also World Public Opinion.]

Yet the rest of the world does not see U.S. primacy in quite the same way.

In other words,
there is a broad gap between how Americans perceive the U.S. role in the world
and how that role is understood by others.

Americans see their country as a positive force in the world,
but the rest of the world is decidedly ambivalent.

What is going on here?
If U.S. primacy is a force for good in the world—
as U.S. leaders proclaim and Americans overwhelmingly believe—
then why don’t other countries recognize this?
Is it
simple envy,
the product of irrational hatreds, or
a prudent and predictable reaction
to the asymmetry of power in Washington’s hands?

For some commentators, the problem is “who we are.”
According to President Bush,
“America was targeted for attack because
we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world.”

Or, as he later explained,
“The terrorists who attacked our country on September the 11th, 2001
were not protesting our policies.
They were protesting our existence.

Some say that by fighting the terrorists abroad since September the 11th ,
we only stir up a hornet’s nest.
But the terrorists who struck that day were stirred up already.
If America were not fighting terrorists in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and elsewhere,
what would those thousands of killers do,
suddenly begin leading productive lives of service and charity?”
From this perspective,

opposition to the United States
is an inevitable, and thus unavoidable, reaction either to
the concentration of power in U.S. hands
the specific political and cultural values that the United States represents.

And if that were the whole story,
there would be little the United States could do about it.

Other observers blame anti-Americanism primarily on “what we do.”
If is not just U.S. power or U.S. values,
it is also
the specific ways that U.S. power is used and
the specific ways that U.S. leaders justify America’s global role.
Thus, the late author Susan Sontag
saw September 11 as a direct response (however reprehensible)
to America’s own actions, asking
“Where is the acknowledgment that
this was not a ‘cowardly’ attack on ‘civilization’ or ‘liberty’ or ‘the free world’
but an attack on the world’s self-proclaimed superpower,
undertaken as a consequence of
specific American alliances and actions?”

Of course,

if America’s actions
are largely responsible for the rising tide of resentment,
then it might be possible to reduce these tendencies
by using U.S. power differently,
by adopting a different approach to dealing with the rest of the world.

[Representative examples of this view include
Chalmers Johnson, Blowback;
Clyde Prestowitz, Rogue Nation;
Ivan Eland, The Empire Has No Clothes.]

Which is it?
The answer (unfortunately) is: “Both.”
American power does worry friends and foes alike,
and America’s values can be a source of friction as well as admiration.
But that is not the most important part of the story.

Opposition to the United States is driven by
the ways that the United States uses its power,
both in the past and at present,
and especially
when the United States acts in an overweening or hypocritical fashion.

The remainder of this chapter explores these issues in greater detail,
focusing on two main themes.
I begin (section 2.1) by asking
why other societies might fear, resent, or hate us for “what we are,”
and then (section 2.2) consider
why such attitudes are affected even more by “what we do.”
I then (section 2.3) explain
why Americans often fail to these tendencies.
Why do we often underestimate the degree of foreign resentment,
and why do we overlook our own role in generating it?

Section 2.1
“They Fear (or Hate or Resent) Us for What We Are”

2.1.1: Fear of American Power

2.1.2: Resistance to American Values
[Paragraphs–8 are omitted.]

[T]he United States has not been content to be merely a “shining city on a hill.”
the United States actively seeks to spread its ideals abroad,
sometimes with a vengeance.
The combination of
a universalist political philosophy and
a strong evangelical streak
is understandable,
for if one genuinely believes
that one’s own political principles are universally valid,
then it is easy to conclude that one has an obligation to carry them to others.
John Quincy Adams [Adams-6] may have famously warned Americans
not to venture abroad “in search of monsters to destroy,”
but he was writing [in 1821]
when the United States was still a weak and isolated power
whose survival as an independent country was far from certain.
American leaders
have long seen the United States as a model for the rest of the world,
and their ambitions have grown as U.S. power has increased.
Upon joining the ranks of the other Great Powers,
the United States sought to combine the pursuit of power
with the loftier goal of recasting the world in America’s image. [Cf.]
Between 1900 and 2000, in fact,
the United States used force
to impose democratic institutions on other countries
at least twenty-five separate times,
albeit with varying degrees of success. [Cf.]

U.S. power is now unmatched,
and the belief that
primacy should be used to promote democratic ideals
enjoys broad support across the political spectrum.
Thus, neoconservatives such as William Kristol and Lawrence Kaplan ask,
“What’s wrong with dominance
in the service of sound principles and high ideals?”
and the Bush administration declares that
“the great strength of this nation must be used
to promote a balance of power that favors freedom.”

Nor is this ambition confined to conservative Republicans.
The Clinton administration also advocated
using U.S. power to “enlarge” the sphere of democratic rule,
and contemporary liberals remain as committed to this goal
as their neoconservative counterparts.
Michael McFaul of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
believes U.S. foreign policy should be guided by a “Liberty Doctrine,”
which in turn requires the United States
to maintain its current position of primacy.
“To effectively promote liberty abroad over the long haul,” he writes,
“the United States must maintain
its overwhelming military advantage over the rest of the world.”


the combination of
great power,
universal principles, and
a bipartisan consensus in favor of
imposing these principles on others

is bound to be alarming to other countries,

including some of our fellow democracies.
Even societies that admire certain U.S. values
may not want to adopt all of them—and especially
not at the point of a gun.
As noted at the beginning of this chapter, for example,
the world’s industrial democracies
share similar commitments to individual rights and the rule of law,
and many of their citizens
see the United States as a “land of opportunity”
and admire many of its achievements.
Yet these same populations
oppose the spread of American-style democracy and business practices and
regard the less-admirable features of American society
with a combination of fear and disdain.
In particular, although European publics (and especially European elites)
clearly believe “globalization” is a good thing,
sizable majorities reject the U.S. economic system as “too inequitable”
to be a good model for their own countries.
According to a 2002 study by the State Department’s Office of Research,
“Half or more in Britain, France, Germany and Italy say that
the U.S. economic system
‘neglects too many social problems because of
a lack of job security and few employment benefits for many workers.’ ”
Similarly, a Eurobarometer survey in spring 2003 showed that
French, German, and British citizens by overwhelming margins
rejected “copying the American economic model.”
There are many “varieties of democratic capitalism” in the world today,
and the inhabitants of other
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries
want to keep it that way.

Equally important, much of the world is not democratic at all.
For these regimes,
the combination of preponderant power and ideological zeal
that now drives U.S. foreign policy

is undoubtedly alarming.
When President George W. Bush [in his second inaugural address] declares that
“it is the policy of the United States
to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions
in every nation and culture,”

he is in effect saying that
the United States is committed to making the whole world
move toward the American vision of an ideal social order.

when his administration justifies regime change in Iraq
by claiming that
it will spark a wave of democratic transformation throughout the Middle East,
it is in effect declaring that
all nondemocracies are illegitimate
and deserve to be replaced.

[In an endnote Walt cites
Bush’s 2003-02-26 speech at the American Enterprise Institute annual dinner,
at which Bush said (but the emphasis is added):

The safety of the American people
depends on ending this direct and growing threat.
Acting against the danger will also contribute greatly to
the long-term safety and stability of our world.
The current Iraqi regime has shown
the power of tyranny to spread discord and violence in the Middle East.

A liberated Iraq can show
the power of freedom to transform that vital region,
by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions.

America’s interests in security,
and America’s belief in liberty,
both lead in the same direction:
to a free and peaceful Iraq.

The first to benefit from a free Iraq would be the Iraqi people, themselves.
Today they live in scarcity and fear,
under a dictator who has brought them nothing but
war, and misery, and torture.
Their lives and their freedom matter little to Saddam Hussein --
but Iraqi lives and freedom matter greatly to us.

Bringing stability and unity to a free Iraq will not be easy.
Yet that is no excuse to leave
the Iraqi regime’s torture chambers and poison labs in operation.
Any future the Iraqi people choose for themselves
will be better than
the nightmare world that Saddam Hussein has chosen for them.

Not surprisingly, the Bush administration’s “Greater Middle East Initiative”—
a program intended to promote democracy and good governance—
provoked a decidedly negative reaction in the Arab world
when it was announced in the spring of 2004.
Jordan’s foreign minister declared that
“our objective is for this document never to see the light,”
and a columnist in Egypt’s semi-official newspaper, al-Ahram,
commented that
“there is no difference
between what was said by the British, French, Belgian, and Dutch colonizers ...
and what the modern colonial empires are saying.”

it would be astonishing
if the leaders of nondemocratic states did not view
America’s efforts to spread democracy
as an imminent threat to their own positions.

It is hardly wrong, of course,
for Americans to favor
liberty, democracy, free markets, the rule of law,
or the vibrant diversity of American cultural life.
[Not that all Americans favor the last!]
Nor is it necessarily wrong for the United States to use its power
to encourage others to adopt these ideas.

the truths that Americans hold to be “self-evident”
are not “self-evident” elsewhere.


This is one more reason why American power worries others:
Not only can they not be sure what we are going to do with it,
some of the things we say we intend to do are deeply troubling.

2.1.3: Is It “What We Are” or “What We Stand For”?
[Walt argues that the answer to the above question is:
‘Neither, rather it is “What We Do”.’

At this point, it may be tempting to conclude that
foreign hostility is simply unavoidable, either because
other states are worried about American power (subsection 2.1.1)
or because
they are hostile to American ideals (subsection 2.1.2).
[Walt quotes from the 2005 National Defense Strategy and Max Boot.]

As one would expect, this interpretation is popular
among those who believe
the United States should pursue an ambitious global role,
as well as those who believe
the United States should pay little attention to the concerns of other countries.
Robert Kagan and William Kristol write that
“the main issue of contention between
the United States and most of those who express opposition to its hegemony
is not American ‘arrogance.’
It is the inescapable reality of American power in all its forms.”
Similarly, historian Bernard Lewis maintains that
“Muslim rage” is a response to the past failures of the Islamic world,
rather than a reaction either to past Western actions or current U.S. policies.

Neoconservative Arabist Fouad Ajami offers much the same view,
suggesting that
anti-Americanism is the “ ‘road rage’ of a thwarted Arab world—
the congenital condition of a culture
yet to take full responsibility for its self-inflicted wounds,”

and he recommends that
“there is no need to pay excessive deference to
the political pieties and givens of the region.”

[These remarks by Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami
amount to the assertion that Islam is a “failed civilization”.]

If anti-Americanism extremism is primarily
a reaction to perceived weakness and past humiliation,
then the United States should do what it thinks is right
and not worry very much about whether the rest of the world agrees.
[Walt rejects that hypothesis at the end of the chapter.]

A milder version of the same argument
sees European opposition to American unilateralism
(and especially its opposition to preventive war in places like Iraq)
as a reflection of
European resentment at their own impotence and
envy for America’s current global dominance.
[Walt quotes Robert Kagan again and Charles Krauthammer.]

As the previous pages have suggest,
there is a grain of truth in these arguments.
Some degree of foreign opposition to U.S. primacy is a reaction to
America’s dominant material position and
the alien and potentially threatening effects of American values and culture.
Such attitudes are reinforced by the destabilizing effects of globalization,
for, as Benjamin Cohen puts it [page 300 here],
“Globalization is seen by many as not benevolent but malign ...
[and] since America is identified with globalization
as its patron and its principal beneficiary,

that view means that America is the enemy too.”
To an extent, therefore,
anti-Americanism is “hard-wired” into the system
as long as the United States remains number one.

Yet it would be a grave error to see this as the whole story,
or even the most important part.

this interpretation
cannot explain the downward trend of the past decade,
and especially
the deterioration of America’s international position after 2000.
The United States has been the “unipolar power”
since the early 1990s (at the least),
but its international standing remained high throughout the entire decade....
If U.S. power were the main source of the problem,
America’s image in the world should have declined much sooner.
the chief source of contemporary opposition
is global reaction to specific U.S. policies—
and especially the actions of the Bush administration—
and is not simply a response to U.S. power or American values.

the belief that it is just “who we are” ignores
the testimony of some of America’s most fervent opponents.
Take Osama bin Laden, for example.
Although bin Laden is sometimes critical of American culture,
his actions throughout his career have been inspired primarily by
opposition to the specific policies of particular states.
In the 1980s,
he went to Afghanistan to aid the mujaheddin resistance to the Soviet Union.
In the 1990s,
he organized al Qaeda
in response to the U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf—
and especially in Saudi Arabia—
and in opposition to U.S. support for Israel.

It is not simply America’s existence that fuels his hatred.
It is also his belief that the United States
“has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places ...,
plundering its riches,
dictating to its rulers,
humiliating its people,
terrorizing its neighbors, and
turning its bases in the [Arabian] Peninsula into a spearhead
through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.”

Indeed, bin Laden emphasized in October 2004 that
he and his followers were not at war against “freedom,”
which is why they did not strike countries like Sweden.

he attacked the United States
to “punish” it
for its “unjust” actions
in the Middle East.

[Quoting this part of bin Laden’s 2004-10 message to America;
some translations use “unjust one” instead of “oppressor.”]

His [Osama bin Laden’s] enmity, in short, is
a reaction to U.S. foreign policy,
not to
U.S. power per se or
America’s underlying values.

[Former CIA terrorism expert Michael Scheuer
has offered a very similar answer to the question “Why do they hate us?”
in items 2 and 3 in the preface to his Imperial Hubris.]

Bin Laden’s opposition is extreme, of course, but he is not alone.
According to the Pew Global Attitudes Survey [summary, full report; see also],
for example,
“antipathy toward the United States is shaped more by
what it does in the international arena
than by
what it stands for politically and economically.
[Original emphasis.]
Similarly, an authoritative 2004 study
by the [Task Force on Strategic Communication
of the] Pentagon’s Defense Science Board
concluded that

“Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’
but rather
they hate our policies,”

noting further that in the eyes of the Muslim world,
the “American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq
has not led to democracy there,
but only more chaos and suffering.”

In particular,

the most violent forms of anti-American terrorism
seem to be inspired primarily by
reactions to U.S. actions and policies
rather than by
a fundamental animosity to U.S. values or culture
or even U.S. power itself.

For example, a 1997 study by the Defense Science Board found
“a strong correlation between
U.S. involvement in international situations and
increased terrorist attacks on the United States.”

Prominent examples of these essentially reactive attacks include
Libya’s hijacking of Pan Am flight 73 in September 1987 and
the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103,
the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, and
a rocket attack on U.S. military facilities in Japan in 1991.
the terrorist attack on the Madrid subway system in 2004
was not inspired by antipathy toward Spanish values or culture;
it was a deliberate response to
Spain’s support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq and
its continued presence among the occupying forces.

In other words,
international terrorists have not attacked the United States or its allies
because they are opposed to U.S. values,
or even primarily because they are worried about U.S. power.


they have targeted the United States because
they oppose
its global military presence
the policies that presence is supporting.

[Endnote 76 adds:
The connection between U.S. activities and terrorist attacks
appears to hold in every part of the world.
the Libyan bombing of Pan Am flight 103
was an act of retaliation for the 1986 U.S. bombing raids;
al Qaeda’s attack on the USS Cole in 1999 2000
was a response to the continued U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia; and
a July 1991 rocket attack on a U.S. military base in Japan
was inspired by opposition to the U.S. military presence there.
For these and many other examples, see Ivan Eland,
Protecting the Homeland: The Best Defense Is to Give No Offense,”
Policy Analysis 306 (Washington, DC: Cato Institute, May 1998).]

And even here, the vast majority of terrorist groups
are not attacking the United States directly;
they are primarily motivated by local grievances
target Americans only when
U.S. power is actively engaged in their neighborhoods.

It is not just “who we are,” in short, it is
what we do and where we do it.

[For specific, concrete examples
of what the terrorists themselves say about their motivations,
see my post “Root causes of Islamic terrorism”.]

the claim that foreign opposition stems solely from “who we are”
is simply too convenient.
Americans find it an appealing thesis, of course, because
it absolves us of any responsibility
for the fear, hatred, or resentment that others direct at the United States.

In this view, it is not our fault that we are so powerful,
and we have nothing for which to apologize
if our democratic values pose a threat
to corrupt and oppressive dictatorships around the world.
The appeal of this interpretation
was repeatedly demonstrated in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks,
when government spokesmen (and especially the president)
repeatedly portrayed them as an assault on “liberty,”
and anyone who suggested that the attacks
might also be a reaction to prior U.S. activities
was likely to be condemned for being unpatriotic.

[Walt cites the post-9/11 Charles Krauthammer column
“Voices of Moral Obtuseness” [alternative location],
but perhaps an even clearer example is the pre-Iraq-War David Frum article
“Unpatriotic Conservatives”.]

Unfortunately, once we embrace this explanation for foreign opposition,
we cease asking
how the United States can act
in ways that might make its position in the world either better or worse.

If they hate us solely for what we stand for,
and what we stand for is basically good,
then there is nothing we can or should do about it,
and the only question is how we can win the inevitable struggle.

To recognize the U.S. role in generating foreign opposition
is not to imply that U.S. foreign policy is necessarily wrong,
and it certainly does not mean that anti-American terrorism is justified.
Rather, the point is that

opposition to the United States
is not based solely on concerns about U.S. power
does not arise primarily from
some abstract opposition to U.S. values
(including its support for “freedom”).

Instead, anti-Americanism is the price the United States is paying
for its current global position and the specific ways it uses its power,
and the real question is simply whether the benefits outweigh the costs.

[Endnote 79 adds:
For a provocative but careful argument
suggesting that the costs exceed the benefits,
see Ivan Eland, The Empire Has No Clothes.]

In short,
anti-American attitudes and anti-American behavior are not just
a defensive reaction to America’s superior power or
a reflection of some fundamental rejection of U.S. values.

Instead, we must also consider
what the United States has done to other countries (subsection 2.2.1), and
what it is doing today (subsection 2.2.2).

Section 2.2
What the United States Has Done and What It Is Doing

2.2.1 Historic Grievances: The Legacy of the Past
[Paragraphs–9 are omitted.]

These examples show that past behavior
is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition
for the emergence of anti-Americanism.
There are at least four other conditions that will affect
whether or not past U.S. behavior
will be a powerful source of present-day resentments.

U.S. actions will provoke greater fear, hatred, and resentment
when the United States uses force and
when its use of violence is seen as unprovoked.
As the examples of Germany and Japan suggest,
other states are less likely to resent what the United States has done
when they recognize that
their own actions were at least partly responsible
for the damage U.S. power ultimately inflicted upon them
Although many Germans and Japanese died as a result of American military action,
these societies also understood that
the United States was retaliating for their own acts of aggression.
Although Germans and Japanese have been critical of certain U.S. actions,
they do not see U.S. participation in World War II as a historic crime.

[Endnote 89 adds:
Postwar reconciliation was also fueled by geopolitics,
insofar as Germany and Japan
both wanted U.S. protection against the Soviet Union.
[For a possible reason, see this.]]

By contrast,
U.S. interventions in Latin America
have generated enduring anti-American attitudes
because these actions were rarely (if ever)
a response to Latin American aggression against the United States....
Although Americans usually regarded them as justified,
the victims of U.S. intervention saw them as unwarranted interference.

Arab and Muslim hostility toward Israel and the United States
has similar origins.
The Zionist movement was a response to
centuries of anti-Semitism in the Christian West,
and its ultimate success was partly a response to
the tragedy of the Nazi Holocaust in World War II.

The Arab inhabitants of Palestine
were not responsible for European anti-Semitism or the Nazi genocide,
it was their land that was lost
when Israel was created.

Moreover, the establishment of Israel
involved considerable violence and atrocities on both sides, including
officially sanctioned “ethnic cleansing” during the War of Independence and
organized terrorist attacks by Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Israelis (and many Americans) may regard the creation of Israel
as a miraculous solution to an enduring historical problem,

Palestinian Arabs understandably resent
having to pay the price for other people’s crimes.

[Note that this is precisely a point that the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made,
and been savagely criticized in the American press for,
as if the statement was either false or anti-Zionist, if not anti-Semitic.
Why is it acceptable for a professor at Harvard to make this statement
(as it surely is),
but not acceptable for the president of Iran to make it?]

Second, and following from the first point,
historic grievances are more likely to fester into long-term hostility
when the United States either
does not recognize that its actions were wrong
refuses to admit that its policies have harmed others.

Third, this tendency will be compounded
when the United States
takes some action that harms another state,
and when doing so
violates principles that the United States
had previously declared to be important.

This sort of hypocrisy suggests that the United States
regards the victims of its policies as inherently inferior,
because it is acting as if its own cherished principles do not apply
when its own behavior is involved....
[M]any people in the Arab and Muslim world cannot understand
why the United States supports self-determination
in places such as Eastern Europe or the Balkans
yet continues to support Israel’s occupation of the West Bank ...
and maintains close ties with assorted Arab dictatorships.

As the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board noted
[in September 2004],
“When American public diplomacy
talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies,
this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.”


U.S. actions will provoke greater resentment
when they harm others without leading to some greater good.
When the United States does something that harms others
but also brings clear and significant benefits,
foreign resentment (including the anger of the victims)
will be tempered by the recognition that
this policy was motivated by laudable aims
and ultimately led to a more desirable state of affairs.
In the minds of others, at least,
desirable ends can justify costly means.
when the United States harms another country
solely to advance its own narrow self-interest,

when its actions harm others
but do not produce any compensating benefits,

then the victims (and possibly onlookers) are more likely
to harbor a powerful sense of historical grievance.

Here it is useful to compare
NATO’s 1999 intervention in Kosovo
America’s subsequent invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Although NATO’s military campaign
killed a number of innocent civilians in Kosovo and Serbia,
many residents in Bosnia and Kosovo saw the intervention as necessary
to end a festering civil conflict and
to help remove a brutal and dictatorial regime.
Although some countries were critical of NATO’s actions—
and especially its decision to intervene
without authorization from the UN Security Council—
awareness that
NATO was not acting for selfish reasons,
and that
intervention had improved the lives of many local residents,
helped mitigate foreign concerns somewhat.

The situation in Iraq is quite different.
For Americans,
the costs of toppling Saddam Hussein appeared to be justified by
the benefits of eliminating a brutal dictator,
the eradication of Iraq’s alleged WMD programs, and
the concern that Hussein might be collaborating with al Qaeda.
Even if the invasion did entail some degree of suffering (mostly for Iraqis),
these costs might have been justifiable if the occupation
removed an imminent threat,
led to a rapid improvement in the lives of the Iraqi people, and
sparked positive political developments elsewhere in the region.

For the rest of the world, however, this calculus of means and ends
was not very convincing before the war
and has grown more dubious over time.
Hardly anyone is sorry that Saddam is gone from power, but
the failure to find WMD and
the growing conviction that
the Bush administration misled the world about the nature of the Iraqi threat
has reinforced global opposition to the U.S. action.
Nor have the war and the occupation
led to a rapid improvement in the lives of ordinary Iraqis.
Unless the United States can point to
significant and unmistakable improvements in the lives of Iraqis
in the years ahead,
this invasion will appear increasingly illegitimate
and foreign condemnation will perforce increase.

[For Walt’s views in 2008 on the Iraq war, click here.]

[ is omitted]

2.2.2 What We Are Doing Today

2.2.3 Democracy and Double Standards

Section 2.3
Why Don’t Americans Understand This?

Unfortunately, most Americans do not fully understand
why the rest of the world is
worried about U.S. primacy and
alarmed by specific U.S. policies.
Although U.S. officials
are aware that many states worry about U.S. power
and know that some states (or groups) are deeply hostile,
Americans still underestimate
the degree of fear, resentment, and hostility
that the United States provokes
do not fully comprehend its origins.
As National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice replied
when asked why Germany and France had opposed U.S. policy on Iraq,
“I’ll just put it very bluntly.
We simply didn’t understand it.”

2.3.1 The Consequences of Asymmetric Power

2.3.2 Historical Amnesia
As noted earlier [ et seq.],
if other states believe that the United States has hurt them in the past,
and especially if U.S. actions were unprovoked and cruel,
they are likely to be suspicious of future U.S. behavior
and prone to resent U.S. power.
The memory of past humiliations and suffering fades slowly,
and victims are likely to remember their sufferings
long after the perpetrators have forgotten them.
In extreme cases,
a prior history of U.S. interference
can create a deep reservoir of ill will
and make it extremely difficult to build a positive relationship.

Unfortunately, the same events that others remember
are the ones
that the United States has probably gone to considerable lengths to forget.
All countries sanitize their own history, of course,
and are prone to downplay or deny their worst transgressions.
Even when states recognize that they have committed egregious acts,
they tend to portray them as necessary for their own security
and as justified by the equally egregious actions of the other side.
Open societies such as the United States
may be less prone to the worst forms of historical falsification,
but they are hardly immune.

For example,
U.S. leaders have routinely justified their own actions
by claiming they were provoked by others,
while downplaying the possibility that
the United States might have been partly responsible
for the alleged provocation.

During the Korean War, for example,
the United States interpreted China’s entry into the war
as a case of deliberate communist aggression
and failed to recognize that
it was primarily a reaction the U.S. advance to the Chinese border.
The result was two more years of war,
and the conflict helped harden Sino-American hostility for nearly twenty years,
yet U.S. citizens never recognized that U.S. policy
had helped produce this result.
In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson
used a North Vietnamese attack on U.S. naval vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin
to justify escalating the war,
but key U.S. officials
failed to tell the U.S. Congress (or the American people) that
the alleged North Vietnamese attack
was itself a response
to a series of covert U.S.-led raids on North Vietnamese territory.
we see global terrorism as motivated by radical animosity to U.S. values,
and we discount the possibility that
certain U.S. policies
might be of equal (or greater) importance
in provoking violence against us.

In each of these cases (and there are plenty of others),
U.S. leaders claimed that
the use of force by the United States
was a defensive reaction
to someone else’s unprovoked aggression.

In each case,
this interpretation was at best debatable and at worse simply incorrect.
The issue is not whether U.S. policies were correct or not;
the issue is that
Americans were being told a false version of events.
As a result, the targets of U.S. actions—
that is, the foreign populations who were attacked by the United States—
were certain to come away from these events
with a very different understanding of what happened
than Americans had.
By portraying these incidents as examples of foreign aggression,
and by justifying the American response as purely defensive,
the United States had in effect blinded itself
to how these events appeared to others.

But the problem is even broader than
the ways in which U.S. leaders justify specific applications of military force.
As in most countries,
U.S. textbooks and public rhetoric tend to
glorify our past achievements,
give the United States too much credit for positive international developments,
and omit or immunize the nation’s worst foreign-policy transgressions.

[Endnote 110 adds:
On this general phenomenon, see
Stephen Van Evera, More Causes of War.
(Walt, in 2005, listed this as “forthcoming.”
Apparently it, as of 2008, has not yet come forth;
perhaps its antecedent, Causes of War, will do almost as well.)

See also
Frances Fitzgerald, America Revised: History Textbooks in the 20th Century;
James Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me:
Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
; and
E. H. Dance, History the Betrayer: A Study in Bias.]

As a result,
U.S. leaders—and the general public—
are often simply unaware of
what the United States has actually done to others.

The consequences of this sort of historical amnesia can be severe,
especially in an era when countries around the world
are even more attentive to U.S. behavior
and even more worried about what the United States might do.
When the United States teaches a false version of the past,
it is unable to understand why other societies
may have valid reasons to be suspicious or hostile.
Many Americans may have “forgotten” about
their many interventions in Latin America, for example,
but the inhabitants of these countries have not.
The anti-American attitudes of Castro, the Sandinistas, and Hugo Chavez
did not emerge solely from the misguided wellsprings of Marxist theory;
they were also produced by
the historical legacy of prior U.S. occupations
and prolonged U.S. support for the Batista and Somoza dictatorships.
Similarly, the sense of bitterness expressed by Mexican President Vicente Fox—
which helps explain Mexico’s refusal to support the invasion of Iraq—
reflects both his disappointment at being ignored by the Bush administration
and the legacy of 150 years of U.S. dominance.

by portraying its international role
as uniformly noble, principled, and benevolent,
the United States teaches its citizens
that the rest of the world should be grateful
for the many blessings that Americans have (allegedly) bestowed upon them.
When others do not offer us the gratitude we think we deserve, however,
we conclude that
they are either innately hostile
or inspired by
some sort of anti-American ideology, alien culture, or religious fanaticism.
And once we have reached that conclusion,
it is but a short step to believing that
such groups deserve harsh treatment in return.
By exaggerating our own virtues (and forgetting our past mistakes),
we become less able to comprehend
why others may mistrust or resent us
and more likely to react in ways
that will make existing conflicts of interest worse.

Section 2.4

This chapter has identified the main reasons
why U.S. primacy arouses concern, fear, and resentment around the world.
Few countries seem willing to confront the United States directly,
but many are increasingly uncomfortable with U.S. primacy
and some are openly opposed.

But does any of this really matter?
Those who favor the unilateral exercise of U.S. power
sometimes acknowledge that others may not like it,
but they quickly conclude that
there is nothing that others can do about it.
... [Walt quotes Andrew Sullivan and Niall Ferguson.]
As long as the United States is strong and resolute,
so the argument runs,
the fear of U.S. power will keep everyone else in line.
... [Walt quotes Paul Wolfowitz.]
If other nations cannot be cowed, in short,
then they can be ignored or crushed.
This view of U.S. foreign relations
assumes that hostile states can do little to harm us,
so there is little reason to worry about anti-Americanism abroad.
President Bush himself downplayed the danger of U.S. isolation
by noting that in the war on terror,
“at some point we may be the only ones left.
That’s okay with me.
We are American.”
From this perspective,
the United States is strong enough to take on its remaining opponents
and fashion a world that is conducive to U.S. interests
and compatible with U.S. ideals,
even if forced to act alone.

This view also assumes that
most states have interests that are compatible with our own,
and it ignores the possibility that
these states are in fact trying to use U.S. power
in ways that may benefit them but could harm the United States.
In effect, it assumes that
pro-American countries are fully supportive of U.S. foreign-policy goals,
either because they genuinely share them
or because they know that resistance is futile.

The next two chapters will show that
this smug overconfidence is misplaced.
Both friends and foes have many ways of dealing with American power,

the United States is neither so powerful nor so wise
that it can afford to disregard
what others may do.

[Some excerpts from the final chapter, “Foreign Policy in the National Interest,”
of Taming American Power appear here.]

Here is an excerpt from the 2007 book
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,
by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt.
Section and paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.

Chapter 2
Israel: Strategic Asset or Liability?

Section 2.3
“Partners against terror”: the new rationale

[The part of the section strictly dealing with “why they hate us”
is the second half, paragraphs 12 et seq.,
but the entire section is of related interest,
so here it is in its entirety.]

In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks,
the main strategic justification behind U.S. support for Israel
became the claim that
the two states were now “partners against terror.”
This new rationale depicts the United States and Israel as threatened
by the same terrorist groups
and by a set of rogue states that back these groups and seek to acquire WMD.
Their hostility to Israel and the United States is said to be due to
a fundamental antipathy to
the West’s Judeo-Christian values,
its culture, and its democratic institutions.
In other words, they hate Americans for “what we are,” not for “what we do.”
In the same way,
they hate Israel because it is also Western, modern, and democratic,
and not because it has
occupied Arab land, including important Islamic holy sites, and
oppressed an Arab population.

The implications of the new rationale are obvious:
support for Israel plays no role in America’s terrorism problem
or the growing anti-Americanism in the Arab and Islamic world,
ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or
making U.S. support for Israel more selective or conditional
would not help.
Washington should therefore give Israel a free hand in dealing with
the Palestinians and groups like Hezbollah.
In addition,
Washington should not press Israel to make concessions
(such as dismantling settlements in the occupied territories)
until all Palestinian terrorists are imprisoned, repentant, or dead.
the United States should continue to provide Israel with extensive support
and use its own power and resources to go after countries like
the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Bashar al-Assad’s Syria,
and other countries believed to be supporting terrorists.

Instead of seeing Israel as
a major source of America’s troubled relationship
with the Arab and Islamic world,
this new rationale portrays Israel as
a key ally in the global “war on terror.”
Because its enemies are said to be America’s enemies.
As Ariel Sharon put it during a visit to the United States in late 2001,
after the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon:
“You in America are in a war against terror.
We in Israel are in a war against terror.
It’s the same war.”
According to a senior official in the first Bush administration,
“Sharon played the president like a violin:
‘I’m fighting your war, terrorism is terrorism’ and so on.”
[Sounds like Scowcroft.

M+W go on to provide similar quotes from
former and current Israeli Prime Ministers Netanyahu, Barak, and Olmert,
and cite “A Marriage Cemented by Terror” by Nathan Guttman.]

Israel’s American supporters offer essentially the same justification.
[M+W quote
WINEP’s executive director Robert Satloff,
Senator Charles Schumer, AIPAC, and PNAC.]

This new justification has a certain prima facie plausibility,
and it is not surprising that many Americans equate
what happened on September 11 with attacks on Israelis.
Upon further inspection, however,
the “partners against terror” rationale unravels almost completely,
especially as a justification for unconditional U.S. support.
Viewed objectively,
Israel is a liability in both the “war on terror”
and in the broader effort to deal with so-called rogue states.

To begin with, the new strategic rationale depicts “terrorism” as
a single, unified phenomenon,
thereby suggesting that
Palestinian suicide bombers are as much a threat to the United States
as they are to Israel itself,
and that
the terrorists who attacked America on September 11
are part of a well-organized global movement that is also targeting Israel.
But this claim rests on a fundamental misconception of what terrorism is.
Terrorism is not an organization or a movement
or even an “enemy” that one can declare war on;
terrorism is simply the tactic of
indiscriminately attacking enemy targets—especially civilians—
in order to sow fear, undermine morale,
and provoke counterproductive reactions from one’s adversary.
It is a tactic that many different groups sometimes employ,
usually when they are much weaker than their adversaries
and have no other good option for fighting against superior military forces.
Zionists used terrorism when
they were trying to drive the British out of Palestine
and establish their own state—
for example, by bombing the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946
and assassinating UN mediator Folke Bernadotte in 1948,
among other acts—
and the United States
has backed a number of “terrorist” organizations in the past
(including the Nicaraguan contras and the UNITA guerillas in Angola).
American presidents
have also welcomed a number of former terrorists to the White House
(including PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, and
Israeli Prime Ministers Menachem Begin [IZL] and Yitzhak Shamir [LHI],
who played key roles in the main Zionist terror organizations),
which merely underscores the fact that terrorism is a tactic
and not a unified movement.
Clarifying this issue in no way justifies attacks on innocent people—
which is always morally reprehensible—
but it reminds us that groups that employ this method of struggle
do not always threaten vital U.S. interests
and the United States has sometimes actively supported such groups.

In contrast to al Qaeda, in fact,
the terrorist organizations that threaten Israel
(such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah)
do not attack the United States
and do not post a mortal threat to America’s core security interests.
With respect to Hezbollah, for example,
the Hebrew University historian Moshe Maoz observes that
it “is mostly a threat against Israel.
They did attack U.S. targets when there were American troops in Lebanon,
but they killed to oust foreign forces from Lebanon.
I doubt very much whether Hezbollah will go out of its way to attack America.”
The Middle East expert Patrick Seale agrees:
“Hezbollah is a purely local phenomenon directed purely at the Israelis,”
and the terrorism experts Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon echo this view
with respect to Hamas, noting,
“Thus far, Hamas has not targeted Americans.”
We may believe that all terrorist acts are morally wrong,
but from the perspective of U.S. strategic interests,
not all terrorists are alike.

There is no convincing evidence linking Osama bin Laden and his inner circle
to the various Palestinian terrorist groups,
and most Palestinian terrorists do not share al Qaeda’s desire
to launch a global Islamic restoration or restore the caliphate.
In fact, the PLO was secular and nationalist—not Islamist—
and it is only in the last decade or so, as the occupation has ground on,
that many Palestinians have become more attracted to Islamist ideas.
Nor are their activities—however heinous and deplorable—
simply random violence directed against Israel or the West.
Palestinian terrorism has always been directed solely at
their perceived grievances against Israel,
beginning with resistance to the original Zionist influx
and continuing after
the expulsion of much of the Palestinian population in the 1948 war.
Today, these actions are largely a response to Israel’s prolonged campaign to colonize the West Bank and Gaza Strip
and a reflection of the Palestinians’ own weakness.
These territories contained few Jews when Israel captured them in 1967,
but Israel spent the next forty years colonizing them with
settlements, road networks, and military bases,
while brutally suppressing Palestinian attempts to resist these encroachments.
[M+W cite Tanya Reinhart’s
Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948 and
The Road Map to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine Since 2003.]

Not surprisingly, Palestinian resistance has frequently employed terrorism,
which is usually how subject populations strike back at powerful occupiers.
[M+W cite Robert Pape’s
Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism.]

And while groups like Hamas have to publicly accept Israel’s existence,
we should not forget that Yasser Arafat and the rest of the PLO did,
and that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
has reiterated that commitment on numerous occasions.

More important,
claiming that
Israel and the United States are united by a shared terrorist threat
has the causal relationship backward.

The United States did not form an alliance with Israel
because it suddenly realized that
it faced a serious danger from “global terrorism”
and urgently needed Israel’s help to defeat it.
In fact,
the United States has a terrorism problem
in good part
because it has long been so supportive of Israel.
It is hardly headline news to observe that
U.S. backing for Israel is unpopular elsewhere in the Middle East—
that has been true for several decades—
but many people may not realize how much America’s one-sided policies
have cost it over the years.
Not only have these policies helped inspire al Qaeda,
but they have also facilitated its recruitment efforts
and contributed to growing anti-Americanism throughout the region.

Of course,
those who believe that Israel is still a valuable strategic asset
often deny that
there was any connection between
U.S. support for Israel and the terrorism problem,
and especially not the September 11 attacks.
They claim that Osama bin Laden seized on the plight of the Palestinians
only recently,
and only because he realized it was good for recruiting purposes.
[M+W quote Robert Satloff, Alan Dershowitz, Dennis Ross, Martin Kramer,
and Norman Podhoretz.
In their endnote they cite Dershowitz’s 2006-04 response to their original LRB paper,
which in turn is thoroughly discussed by M+W in their 2006-12 essay
“Setting the Record Straight” (~70 page PDF file).]

It is not surprising that some of Israel’s defenders offer such claims,
because acknowledging that U.S. support for Israel
has fueled anti-American terrorism
and encouraged growing anti-Americanism
would require them to admit that unconditional support for Israel
does in fact impose significant costs on the United States.
Such an admission would cast doubt on Israel’s net strategic value
and imply that
Washington should make its support conditional
on Israel adopting a different approach toward the Palestinians.

Contrary to these claims, there is in fact abundant evidence that
U.S. support for Israel
encourages anti-Americanism throughout the Arab and Islamic world
and has fueled the rage of anti-American terrorists.

It is not their only grievance, of course, but it is a central one.
[M+W cite Abdallah-2003.]
While some Islamic radicals are genuinely upset
by what they regard as the West’s materialism and venality,
its alleged “theft” of Arab oil,
its support for corrupt Arab monarchies,
its repeated military interventions in the region, etc.,
they are also angered by
U.S. support for Israel and
Israel’s harsh treatment of the Palestinians.
Thus, Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian dissident
whose writings have been an important inspiration
for contemporary Islamic fundamentalists,
was hostile to the United States
both because he saw it as a corrupt and licentious society
and also because of U.S. support for Israel.
[M+W cite Haddad’s essay in Esposito-1983.]
Or as Sayyid Muhammed Husayn Fadlallah, spiritual leader of Hezbollah,
put it in 2002,
“I believe that America bears responsibility for all of Israel,
both in its occupation of the lands of [19]48
or in all its settlement policies [in the lands occupied since 1967],
despite the occasional utterance of a few timid and embarrassed words
which disapprove of the settlements …
for it gives solid support and lethal weapons to the Israelis,
but gives the Arabs and the Palestinians [only] words.”
One need not agree with such sentiments
to recognize the potency of these arguments in the minds of many Arabs
and to realize how
unquestioned support for Israel
has fueled anger and resentment against the United States.

An even clearer demonstration of
the connection between U.S. support for Israel and anti-American terrorism
is the case of Ramzi Yousef,
who masterminded the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993
and is now serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison.
Not only did Yousef mail letters to several New York newspapers,
taking credit for the attack
and demanding that the United States terminate aid to Israel,
he also told the agents who flew him back to the United States
following his arrest in Pakistan in 1995 that
he felt guilty about causing U.S. deaths.
But as Steve Coll recounts in his prizewinning book Ghost Wars,
Yousef’s remorse was “overridden by
the strength of his desire to stop the killing of Arabs by Israeli troops”
and by his belief that
“bombing American targets was the ‘only way to cause change.’ ”
Yousef reportedly also said that
“he truly believed his actions had been rational and logical
in pursuit of
a change in U.S. policy toward Israel.”
According to Coll, Yousef
“mentioned no other motivation during the flight
and no other issue in American foreign policy
that concerned him.”
[These and other relevant quotes from Coll’s book are here.]
Further corroboration comes from Yousef’s associate Abdul Rahman Yasin,
who told the CBS news correspondent Lesley Stahl that
Yousef had recruited him by telling him that acts of terrorism would be
“revenge for my Palestinian brothers and my brothers in Saudi Arabia,”
adding that Yousef “talked to me a lot about this.”

Or consider the most obvious case: Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.
Contrary to the declarations [¶10] of Satloff, Dershowitz, Kramer, and others, considerable evidence confirms that
bin Laden has been deeply sympathetic to the Palestinian cause
ever since he was a young man
and that
he has long been angry at the United States for backing Israel so strongly.
According to Michael Scheuer,
who directed the CIA’s intelligence unit on al Qaeda and its founder,
the young bin Laden was for the most part gentle and well behaved, but
“an exception to Osama’s well-mannered, nonconfrontational demeanor
was his support for the Palestinians
and negative attitude towards the United States and Israel.
[Through Our Enemies’ Eyes, paragraph 6.5.1]
After September 11, bin Laden’s mother told an interviewer that
“in his teenage years he was the same nice kid ...
but he was more concerned, sad, and frustrated about
the situation in Palestinian in particular,
and the Arab and Muslim world in general.”
[Wright, Looming Tower, pages 75–76.]

bin Laden’s first public statement intended for a wider audience—
released December 29, 1994—
directly addressed the Palestinian issue.
As Bruce Lawrence, compiler of bin Laden’s public statements, explains,
“The letter makes it plain that Palestine,
far from being a late addition to bin Laden’s agenda,
was at the centre of it from the start.”

Bin Laden also condemned the United States on several occasions prior to September 11
for its support of Israel against the Palestinians
and called for jihad against America on this basis.
According to Benjamin and Simon,
the “most prominent grievance” in bin Laden’s 1996 fatwa
(titled “Declaration of War
Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places”)
is “bin Laden’s hallmark: the ‘Zionist-Crusader alliance.’ ”
Bin Laden refers explicitly to Muslim blood being spilled “in Palestine and Iraq”
and blames it all on the “American-Israeli conspiracy.”
When the CNN reporter Peter Arnett asked him in March 1997
why he had declared jihad against the United States,
bin Laden replied,
“We declared jihad against the U.S. government,
because the U.S. government is unjust, criminal, and tyrannical.
It has committed acts that are extremely unjust, hideous, and criminal,
whether directly or through its support of
the Israeli occupation of the Land of the Prophet’s Night Journey [Palestine].
And we believe the US is directly responsible
for those who were killed in Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq.”
[M+W cite several of bin Laden’s messages
from Bruce Lawrence’s Messages to the World:
1997-03: “From Somalia to Afghanistan”
1996-08: “Declaration of Jihad”
1998-02 : “The World Islamic Front”
1998-12: “A Muslim Bomb”.]

These comments are hardly anomalous.
As Max Rodenbeck, Mideast correspondent for the Economist,
writes in a prominent review of two important books about bin Laden,
“Of all these themes,
the notion of payback for injustices suffered by the Palestinians
is perhaps the most powerfully recurrent in bin Laden’s speeches.”

The 9/11 Commission confirmed that
bin Laden and other key al Qaeda members were motivated
both by Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinians and by U.S. support for Israel.
A background study by the commission’s staff notes that
bin Laden tried to accelerate the date of the attack in the fall of 2000,
after Israeli opposition party leader Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit
(accompanied by hundreds of Israeli riot police)
to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem,
the site of the al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the three holiest sites in Islam.
According to the staff statement,
“although bin Laden recognized that
[Mohamed] Atta and the other pilots had only just arrived in the United States
to begin their flight training,
the al Qaeda leader wanted to punish the United States for supporting Israel.”
The following year,
“when bin Laden learned from the media
that Sharon would be visiting the White House in June or July 2001,
he attempted once more to accelerate the operation.”
In addition to informing the timing of the 9/11 attacks,
bin Laden’s anger at the United States for backing Israel
had implications for his preferred choice of targets.
In the first meeting between Atta, the mission leader, and bin Laden in late 1999,
the initial plans called for hitting the U.S. Capitol because it was
“the perceived source of U.S. policy in support of Israel.”
[Some truth to that.
Beyond the 9/11 Commission staff statement, M+W also cite
Nathan Guttman, “Al-Qaida planned attacks during PM´s visit to White House” and
Marc Perelman, “Bin Laden Aimed To Link Plot to Israel”.
Note that none of these references are to items in the MSM.]

In short, bin Laden and his deputies
clearly see the issue of Palestine as central to their agenda.

[For a really clinching confirmation of this,
straight (evidently) from the mouth of bin Laden himself,
see his alleged remarks on 2008-05-16.]

The 9/11 Commission also notes that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—
whom it described as “the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks”—
was primarily motivated by the Palestinian issue.
In the commission’s words,
“By his own account,
KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed
not from his experiences there as a student,
but rather from
his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”
It is hard to imagine more compelling evidence of
the role that U.S. support for Israel played in inspiring the 9/11 attacks.

Even if bin Laden himself were not personally engaged by the Palestinian issue,
it still provides him with an effective recruiting tool.
Arab and Islamic anger has grown markedly since the end of the Cold War,
and especially since the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000,
in part because the level of violence directed against the Palestinians
has been both significantly greater and more visible.
[For the First Intifada, M+W cite, among several sources,
Chapter 12 of Benny Morris’s Righteous Victims.]

The First Intifada (1987–92) was much less violent,
and there was relative calm in the Occupied Territories during the Oslo years (1993–2000).
The development of the Internet and
the emergence of alternative media outlets such as Al Jazeerah
now provide round-the-clock coverage of the carnage.
Not only is Israel inflicting more violence upon its Palestinian subjects,
but Arabs and Muslims around the world can see it with their own eyes.
And they can also see that it is being done with
American-made weapons and with tacit U.S. consent.
This situation provides potent ammunition for America’s critics,
which is why the deputy leader of the Hezbollah, Sheik Naim Qassem,
told a Lebanese crowd in December 2006,
“There is no longer a political place for America in Lebanon.
Do you not recall that the weapons fired on Lebanon were American weapons?”

These policies help explain why
many Arabs and Muslims are so angry with the United States
that they regard al Qaeda with sympathy,
and some are even willing to support it, either directly or tacitly.
A 2004 survey of Moroccans reported that
8 percent had a “favorable” or “very favorable” image of President Bush,
but the comparable figure for bin Laden was 45 percent.
In Jordan, a key U.S. ally,
the numbers were 3 percent for Bush and 55 percent for bin Laden,
who beat Bush by a margin of 58 percent in Pakistan,
whose government is also closely allied with the United States.
The Pew Global Attitudes Survey reported in 2002—before the invasion of Iraq—
“public opinion about the United States in the Middle East/Conflict Area
is overwhelmingly negative,”
and much of this unpopularity stems from the Palestinian issue.
According to the Middle East expert Shibley Telhami,
“No other issue resonates with the public in the Arab world,
and many other parts of the Muslim world,
more deeply than Palestine.
No other issue shapes the regional perceptions of America
more fundamentally than the issue of Palestine.”
[M+W also cite Ami Eden,
“9/11 Commission Finds Anger at Israel Fueling Islamic Terrorism Wave”.]

Ussama Makdisi agrees, writing that
“on no issue is Arab anger at the United States more widely and acutely felt
than that of Palestine ...
For it is over Palestine that
otherwise antithetical Arab secularist and Islamist interpretations of history converge in their common perception of
an immense gulf separating official American avowals of support for freedom
from actual American policies....
No account of anti-Americanism in the Arab world
that does not squarely address the Arab understanding of Israel
can even begin to convey
the nature, the depth, and the sheer intensity
of Arab anger at the United States.”
[The last sentence is actually quoted by M+W in an endnote.]
U.S. support for Israel is not the only source of anti-Americanism,
of course,
but it is an important one,
and it makes winning the war on terror and advancing other U.S. interests
more difficult.

Other government studies and numerous public opinion polls
offer the same conclusion:
Arab populations are deeply angered by America’s support for Israel,
which they regard as insensitive to Arab concerns
and inconsistent with professed U.S. values.
Although many Arabs have somewhat favorable views of
U.S. science and technology, U.S. products, American movies and TV,
and even surprisingly positive views of the American people and U.S. democracy,
their views of American foreign policy—and especially U.S. support for Israel—
are strongly negative.
[M+W cite
pages 3–5 of this from Zogby,
page 4 of this from Zogby and
page 8 of this from the CRS.]

As a visiting Yemeni physicist remarked in 2001,
“When you go there, you really love the United States ...
but when you go back home,
you find the US applies justice and fairness to its own people, but not abroad.”
A 2004 report by the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board
concluded [page 40] that
“Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather they hate our policies,”
and the 9/11 Commission acknowledged [page 376] that
“it is simply a fact that
American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and
American policy in Iraq
are dominant staples of popular commentary
across the Arab and Muslim world.”

Similarly, when the respected polling firm Zogby International
asked citizens of six Arab countries if their attitude toward America
was shaped by their feelings about American values or by U.S. policies,
“an overwhelming percentage of respondents indicated that
policy played a more important role.”
When asked open-ended questions about
their “first thought” when they think of America,
the most common answer is “unfair foreign policy.”
And when asked what the United States could do to improve its image,
the most frequent answers are
“change Middle East policy” and “stop supporting Israel.”
[M+W cite
Impresiions of America 2004 by Zogby,
Arab Public Opinion (2003) by Shibley Telhami,
Ten Nations “Impression of America” Poll (2002) by Zogby, and
“Arab Attitudes towards Political and Social Issues, Foreign Policy and the Media” (2005) by Shibley Telhami.]

Not surprisingly,
after Congress directed the State Department to establish an
“advisory group on public diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World”
in June 2003,
the group’s report [page 18] found that
“citizens in these countries
are genuinely distressed at the plight of the Palestinians
and at the role they perceive the United States to be playing.”
[Also see Pew Global’s Views of a Changing World 2003:
War With Iraq Further Divides Global Publics

Prominent Arab leaders and well-informed public commentators confirm that
unconditional U.S. support for Israel
has made the United States increasingly unpopular
throughout the Middle East.
UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi,
whom the Bush administration enlisted
to help form an interim Iraqi government in June 2004,
said that
“the great poison in the region is
the Israeli policy of domination and
the suffering imposed on the Palestinians,”
adding that people throughout the Middle East recognized the
“injustice of this policy
and the equally unjust support of the United States for this policy.”
In 2004,
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned,
There exists a hatred [of America] never equaled in the region,”
in part because
Arabs “see [Israeli Prime Minister] Sharon act as he wants,
without the Americans saying anything.”
King Abdullah II of Jordan offered a similar view in March 2007,
telling a joint session of Congress that
the denial of justice and peace in Palestine ... is the core issue.
And this core issue is not only producing severe consequences for our region,
it is producing severe consequences for our world.”

Not surprisingly,
these pro-American regimes want the United States to change a policy
that reinforces popular discontent over their own ties to the United States.

U.S. support for Israel
is hardly the only source of anti-Americanism in the Arab and Islamic world,
and making it more conditional would not remove all sources of friction
between these countries and the United States.
Examining the consequences of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians
and tacit U.S. support of these policies
is not to deny the presence of genuine anti-Semitism in various Arab countries
or the fact that groups and governments in these societies
sometimes fan these attitudes
and use the Israel-Palestine conflict
to divert attention from their own mistakes.
Rather, our point is simply that
the United States pays a substantial price
for supporting Israel so consistently.
This posture
  • fuels hostility toward the United States in the Middle East,
  • motivates anti-American extremists and aids their recruiting,
  • gives authoritarian governments in the region
    an all-too-convenient scapegoat
    for their own failings, and
  • makes it harder for Washington to convince potential supporters
    to confront extremists in their own countries.

When it comes to fighting terrorism, in short,
U.S. and Israeli interests are not identical.
Backing Israel against the Palestinians
makes winning the war on terror harder, not easier, and
the “partner against terror” rationale
does not provide a compelling justification for unconditional U.S. support.

Michael Scheuer’s Marching Toward Hell

Here is an excerpt from the 2008 book
Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq
by Michael Scheuer.
Section and paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.

The heavy use of emphasis is really not warranted by this text itself,
but rather is in response to various articles I have been reading
in the mainstream media (e.g., “Lady Gaga Versus Mideast Peace”) which, still,
sadly do exactly what Scheuer has been warning us against
since at least 2004:
Misstating (more precisely, lying about)
the motivations of the Islamists
who persist in attacking both the U.S. homeland
and the American expeditionary forces in Islamic lands.

Chapter 6
“The bottom is out of the tub”
Taking Stock for America in 2008

Section 6.3
Not Even in the Race for Hearts and Minds

[6.3.1 is omitted]

To date,
much of the U.S. public diplomacy has been conducted so as to avoid
the issue of the Islamists’ motivation.
For example,
U.S. officials have placed great emphasis on the
bin Laden-has-hijacked-and-distorted-Islam gambit.
We have therefore tried to win Muslim hearts and minds
by debating theological points, citing hadiths and passages in the Koran,
or by backing one Islamic scholar’s interpretations over those of another.
None of these tacks, however, address the main issue,
which is the Muslim perception that
U.S. foreign policy is an attack on Islam.
Our hearts-and-minds voices claim that
the renowned Salafist scholar Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi has disavowed
the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s justication for killing civilians,
and Muslims respond,
that is interesting,
but why are you giving $3 billion a year to that butcher Mubarak?
We say that Ayman al-Zawahiri is not a trained Islamic scholar
so he cannot legitimately call for a jihad,
and Muslims say,
interesting point,
but why are you helping Catholic Filipinos kill Moro Muslims in Mindanao?
Theological challenges do not get at the main motivation of anti-U.S. muslims,
we cannot out-Islam the Islamists.
The concept itself is, at best, rickety;
it is like arguing we could have won hearts and minds in the Soviet Bloc
by claiming that
Moscow’s understanding of Marx and Lenin was way off target
and that
Washington had a better take on what Karl and Vladimir Ilyich really meant.
Or, from the other side, for Brezhnev or Gorbachev to tell Americans that
the Soviet Academy of Political Science had a better handle
than Thomas Jefferson
on the natural-law theory that informs the Declaration of Independence.

Ten years into the war declared by bin Laden, then,
official Washington
refuses to address
the Islamists’ true motivation;
only a single member of America’s governing elite—
representative Ron Paul (R-Texas)—
has publicly indicated that he has caught on to the reality that
our enemies are motivated by U.S. foreign policy.
U.S. government officials,
and the leaders of both political parties,
simply and reflexively repeat that
the Islamists hate America
and are waging war against it
because of our freedoms, liberty, and gender equality,

not because of what the U.S. government does in the Islamic world.
This claim is a blatant lie,
bad for that reason alone but worse because
it keeps Americans from clearly gauging
the enemy’s motivations and intentions,
or bin Laden’s enormous potential appeal
among the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims.

Frankly, persisting in this lie amounts to a death wish.

Not that bin Laden and his ilk are admirers of American freedoms;
they are not,
and no society they govern, be it Saudi Arabia, Jordan, or Afghanistan,
will even remotely resemble ours, although
each is likely to be a more efficient and less corrupt government
than the one they replace.

it is a lethal mistake for Americans to assume that
because the Islamists would not adopt our society lock, stock, and barrel,
they must surely be fighting to destroy it.

Though incorrect in every conceivable way,
this assumption is the one on which our governing elite is operating,
and it is one, when boiled down to its essence,
that concludes that
the Islamists and their supporters are warring against the United States
because they hate Americans as Americans,
as well as everything they stand for in the political and social spheres,
and in the end intend to eradicate our society from the planet.

[Note added 2010-05-04 by KHarbaugh:
Frankly, our fiscal policies seem to be about to do a pretty good job of that
without any assistance from the Islamists.]

Not, if this assumption were true,
there would be no point in considering
how best to conduct a public diplomacy campaign
to change the hearts and minds of Muslims.
If Americans are hated simply because they are Americans,
the choice is black and white simple:
we can completely abandon our beliefs, our lifestyles,
and how we behave in the domestic, political, and social arenas
to appease our enemies,
or we can undertake the task of killing every last Muslim
because that is what they intend to do to us.
This is an unpalatable choice
between ingesting strychnine and ingesting arsenic, but there it is.

Fortunately, there is a third option open to Americans,
notwithstanding the seemingly permanent obtuseness of their elite.
A careful review of the speeches, statements, and interviews
that flow like a torrent
from bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, and other Islamist leaders
shows that
they pay no more than lip service
to what might politely be called our civilization’s failings.

[For someone who disputes that message, see Bret Stephens on Lady Gaga et al.]
That we have such failings they leave no doubt,
but they are never the focus of attention.
These men, however, are all children of the era of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini,
and they all saw how
the dour old Iranian failed utterly to initiate a global jihad
based on the supposed threat from what he described as
the debauched and degenerate society of the American Great Satan.
Having witnessed that
almost no Muslim was motivated to become a suicide bomber
because American women compete with men in every field
or because we have presidential primaries,
bin Laden and his colleagues focused on
what the U.S. government does in the Islamic world.
By doing so, they have produced a motivational message
that appeals to and, to a gradually increasing extent, unites
the extraordinarily diverse and fragmented Islamic world.
It also is producing a steadily growing flow of volunteers
for jihadi activities, suicide and otherwise.
The success of bin Laden et al. in this regard
would have made the late Ayatollah salivate with envy.

If U.S. leaders would recognize that
bin Laden has much more effectually defined Great Satan-ness
as U.S. actions overseas
and not as the lifestyle of Americans at home,
they would be able to begin constructing a hearts-and-minds strategy
that would slowly start to narrow
the commanding lead that Islamists now enjoy among Muslims worldwide.
Such a grasp of reality and common sense, however,
would be out of character for our elite.
It also would require
senior members of the last three [41, 42, 43] presidential administrations to
  1. recant most of what they have sworn to be true
    about our Islamist enemies’ motivations,
  2. take on the politically powerful Saudi and Israeli lobbies,
  3. begin to destroy the energy-policy status quo
    that works so much in favor of the U.S. oil industry
    and against American interests.
It is a tall order indeed,
and as is typical in the post-Cold War world,
the U.S. government does not have a lot of time in which
to recognize reality and begin to make these changes.
Time is running out for the United States
if it wants to start clawing back
some of the vast amount of ground it has lost to the Islamists
in the hearts-and-minds competition.

How to proceed?
First, we have to admit to ourselves
that we have been trumped and cornered by Osama bin Laden,
who as the years pass increasingly emerges as a genius
in waging the war of ideas and setting its parameters.
While paying lip service to
damning the decadence and ungodliness of U.S. and Western societies
and regularly raising the banner of the new and blessed caliphate,
bin Laden has shown relentless consistency in
keeping the Muslim world tightly focused on
U.S. foreign policies and
their impact on Islam and its believers.
With the aid of al-Jazirah, al-Arabiyah, and the Internet,
bin Laden has kept these policies and their visible impacts
before Muslims on a daily basis.

In this environment,
the United States is almost never given the benefit of the doubt
in what is, to be sure,
a very limited public square in the Islamic world.
Because this battle of ideas is not like that of the Cold War,
“free society” versus “non-free society,”
our efforts to sell
the freedom-liberty-democracy product that worked against the Soviets
are feckless.
Polls by Pew, Gallup, BBC, and Zogby all show that
in most Muslim countries polled our way of life is admired;
this finding is validated by the seemingly endless numbers of Muslim families
who want to immigrate to the United States.
when our hearts-and-minds voices say that
American society allows parents to feed, educate, and provide health care
for their children,
Muslims say, that is great, we admire that and applaud you,
but why the hell are you protecting
those corrupt, apostate criminals who rule Saudi Arabia?
When our voices say, Americans are generous,
look how much we helped after the tsunami and the Pakistani earthquake,
Muslims say, thanks and God bless you for that,
but why have you supported, armed, and protected Arab police states
that have oppressed and tortured us and our children for the last half-century?

Americans frankly have no hearts-and-minds product to sell
that will get us a hearing or the benefit of the doubt in Islam’s public square.
As noted, the positive beneficial aspects of U.S. society
are not being contested.
Because bin Laden has successfully made U.S. foreign policies
the center of the war of ideas,
any Muslim who publicly argues that
America should be given the benefit of the doubt
is implicitly acquiescing in
U.S. support for Israel,
manipulation of oil prices, and
support for Russia in Chechnya.
This is the reason why Americans hear so few “moderate Muslim voices”
opposing bin Laden and the Islamists;
the moderates are out there
and often do not approve of the Islamists’ military actions,
but they hate U.S. policies with just as much venom and passion as the Islamists,
per the polls by Pew, Gallup, BBC, and Zogby.

The need to correct American misperceptions
of what motivates our Islamist foes
is obvious, mandatory, and easy to carry out:
our elites simply must stop lying and tell the truth.
The hatred being generated by
Guantanamo Bay, rendition, and killing Iraqi and Afghan civilians, moreover,
is an unavoidable price of fighting a war against
a nonuniformed, nonstate actor
under the terms of international agreements, treaties, and traditions
that can accommodate only nation-state-vs.-nation-state conflicts.
But we need to be mindful that their cost is more than
mere public relations fallout;
that hatred for Americans as well as for their government
is growing in the Muslim world,
and the solution to this problem lies in winning—and winning soon.

A final handicap problem for the United States in the hearts-and-minds arena
emanates from Bernard Lewis’s book
What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response.
My own view is that Dr. Lewis did not intend the book to be
a final, definitive, and unreserved condemnation of
the worthlessness of Muslim civilization.
For many Americans and Westerners, however,
the book has been portrayed as making that case,
and many appear to have adopted that view as their own.
To serve their own war-mongering purposes, for example,
the neoconservatives most strongly broadcast this description of the book,
but President Bush [43] and his colleagues,
Democratic Party leaders, media commentators,
academics, generals, and many everyday Americans
have stated much the same view in one form or another.
Protestant evangelicals and Israeli leaders and pundits have give the argument
the added and powerfully offensive negative twist of describing
Islam as a religion of evil and wickedness,
the Prophet as a murderer and a pedophile,
and those who believe themselves to be defending Islam—
and implicitly tens of millions of Muslims—
as mad, nihilistic, and apocalyptic gangsters.
Through this interpretation of Dr. Lewis’s book,
be it merited or exaggerated,
we now have an increasingly widespread, common-wisdom type of criticism
of Muslims and Islam as
evil, warlike, medieval, antimodern, woman-hating, archaic, and inhuman.

Standing against these negative assumptions and judgments
is a reality that seems contradictory.
Today Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world,
a fact that suggests that
the best answer to Dr. Lewis’s “What went wrong?” question is that
the evolution of Islam is not working out
the way elite Westerners wanted it to work out.
“The constant media refrain about ‘what went wrong’ with Islam—
to paraphrase Bernard Lewis,”
William Dalrymple has commented in The New Statesmen,
“ignores its self-evident success and its increasing popularity.”
Much of this growth clearly is due to
the much higher fertility rates of Islamic countries,
but as Dalrymple notes in Britain, France, and the United States
it has “as much to do with conversion as immigration.”
In Britain, for example, it has been estimated that by 2025
the number of converts in the British Muslim population
will overtake the number of immigrants.
Islam, it seems, is attractive to an increasing number of non-Muslims,
who, we must assume, find in it spiritual solace,
a means of understanding the world,
and guidance for how a decent life should be lived
by individuals, families, societies, and nations.
Now, some analysts will contend that Western converts
are the dregs of Western society,
and no doubt U.S. and European prisons are places where
such conversions occur at a brisk pace.
the rapid, natural, and by-conversion growth of the world’s Islamic population
must be the result of something more than
a sudden willingness to adopt a war-mongering, medieval, and inhuman religion.
Common sense would suggest, I think,
that most people are unlikely to seek solace and direction
from that sort of faith.

My point here is not that the neoconservatives,
and many others who echo what may be
an extreme interpretation of Dr. Lewis’s book,
are wrong (though I think they are)
but that the deliberately added portion of denigration
they inject into the Western-vs.-Muslim debate
is further obstacle to
any successful hearts-and-minds campaign
by the United States and its allies.
Already faced by a difficult-to-overcome substantive issue—
the near-unanimous belief of Muslims
that U.S. foreign policy is meant to humiliate Muslims and attack Islam,
and that Washington regards Muslim lives as cheap and expendable—
Washington’s would-be hearts-and-minds warriors
must overcome a blanket and scabrous Western condemnation
of an increasingly popular religion.
This condemnation can be expected to enrage Muslims
who both love their faith and
oppose violence against the United States and the West,
and thereby contribute to their silent acquiescence
in the face of the Islamists’ arguments and military actions.


[6.3.18, the final paragraph in Section 6.3]
[Several themes] are heard today in what is verging on
a blanket Western condemnation of Muslim society:
the Prophet Muhammad and Islamic society are “degenerate”;
Muslims are in revolt against modernity and progress;
secular Westerners are “morally superior” to pious Muslims; and
Muslims are inferior because they oppose the separation of church and state.
At bottom, the impact of such denigration is hard to quantify, but
all Muslims share the heritage of Islam,
tend to spring to the defense of their faith, society, and brethren, and
bristle at the “humiliation” they perceive in Western criticism.
the shaping of Western thought and rhetoric toward wholesale denigration
by the popularization and perhaps distortion of
Dr. Lewis’s what-went-wrong thesis
further reduces the already slim chance that
any U.S. hearts-and-minds arguments will get a fair hearing among Muslims,
radical, conservative, moderate, liberal, or otherwise.

[End of Section 6.3]

Miscellaneous References and Articles


U.S. Foreign Policy, Not Islamic Teachings Account for al-Qaeda’s Draw
by Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D. and Alejandro J. Beutel
The American Muslim, 2008-03-13

[This is an excellent article, written by Muslims,
concerning “why they hate us.”
It incorporates specific, extensive analysis of
what bin Laden has actually said,
and includes the most significant quotes.
It is in direct contradiction to
the Zionist-approved “party line” which flows almost without exception from
America’s misleading, misinforming politicians and media.

Here is an excerpt; emphasis is added.]

[Michael] Scheuer observes that
a new generation of middle class, well-educated Muslims
are taking up arms to fight for Al-Qaeda.
Furthermore, he points out
the main reason why America is unable to defeat Bin Laden
is because
the US government refuses to acknowledge–and tell the American people–

its longstanding policies toward the Muslim world
the root of the problem.

[As I said above, the article goes on to provide
copious material directly from the horse’s mouth, bin Laden himself
(gee, I hope I don’t get in trouble with the Muslims for that bit of irreverancy),
backing up Scheuer’s assertion.]

Al-Qaeda's Growing Online Offensive
By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post, 2008-06-24

[All of this article is of limited relevance to the topic of this document,
except for this excerpt from its end (emphasis is added):]

Some U.S. officials and analysts ... warn against
underestimating Zawahiri’s skill at
keeping the debate focused on U.S. policy in the Middle East,
a subject that strikes a chord with millions of Muslims,
even those otherwise unsympathetic to al-Qaeda.

Perhaps his most effective video, they said,
is an 80-minute documentary released last September titled
The Power of Truth.”

In the film, Zawahiri and other al-Qaeda leaders offer
a long narrative of alleged offenses by the U.S. government against Muslims,
using video excerpts of U.S. leaders and commentators [how dastardly!]
to bolster their argument.

“It’s beautifully crafted propaganda, and it’s a huge problem for us,”
said Jarret Brachman, research director at
the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
“You’re left shaking your head and saying,
‘Yeah, I guess they’re right.’ ”

(Cf. his document.)

[A key problem with the American leadership since 2001
is that they absolutely refuse to confront what the real issues are
in the ongoing Muslim/Zionist conflict.
In particular,
we should understand the arguments being made in that video,
and either
refute those arguments or
modify our policies to address those arguments.
Avoiding those arguments,
conjuring up straw-men for “why they hate us”,
and using U.S. military and intelligence assets in an effort
to stem the resulting on-going conflict,
will lead to an unending war which can only lead to
the financial and demographic exhaustion of what remains of
what was once a superpower.]

How Democratic, GOP platforms differ on Israel
By Bradley Burston
Haaretz, 2008-09-09

On first reading, the language of
both the Republican and Democratic and Party platform planks on Israel
may seem curiously similar.

But there are significant differences in tone and, to an extent, in substance
over such issues as
the fate of Jerusalem,
future borders, and
Iran policy,
modalities that may become important
as the major parties wrangle over the Jewish vote in battleground states.

Herewith, a comparison of the two platforms on Israel-related issues,
highlighting the differences between them.


REPUBLICAN: We support Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel
and moving the American embassy to that undivided capital of Israel.

DEMOCRATIC: Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.
The parties have agreed that Jerusalem
is a matter for final status negotiations.
It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.

Israel’s future borders

DEMOCRATIC: All understand that it is unrealistic to expect
the outcome of final status negotiations to be
a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.

REPUBLICAN: Israel must have secure, defensible borders
and we support its right to exist as a Jewish state
able to defend itself against
homicide bombings, rocket and mortar fire, and other attacks against its people.

The Palestinian refugee issue

REPUBLICAN: At the heart of any peace process must be
a mutual commitment to resolve all issues through negotiation.
Part of that process must be a just, fair, and realistic framework
for dealing with the Palestinian refugee issue.

Like all other elements in a meaningful agreement,
this matter can be settled only on the basis of mutually agreed changes
that reflect today’s realities as well as tomorrow’s hopes.
[No mention of past history.
History is only important when
its consideration is beneficial to the interests of the Jews.]

The creation of a Palestinian state through final status negotiations,
together with an international compensation mechanism,
should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.


DEMOCRATIC: The world must prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
That starts with tougher sanctions and
aggressive, principled, and direct high-level diplomacy,
without preconditions.

We will pursue this strengthened diplomacy alongside our European allies,
and with no illusions about the Iranian regime.
We will present Iran with a clear choice:
if you abandon your nuclear weapons program,
support for terror, and threats to Israel,
you will receive meaningful incentives;
so long as you refuse, the United States and the international community
will further ratchet up the pressure, with
stronger unilateral sanctions;
stronger multilateral sanctions inside and outside the U.N. Security Council, and sustained action to isolate the Iranian regime.

The Iranian people and the international community
must know that it is Iran, not the United States,
choosing isolation over cooperation.
By going the extra diplomatic mile, while keeping all options on the table,
we make it more likely the rest of the world will stand with us
to increase pressure on Iran, if diplomacy is failing.

REPUBLICAN: We oppose entering into a presidential-level, unconditional dialogue with the regime in Iran
until it takes steps to
improve its behavior, particularly with respect to
support of terrorism and suspension of its efforts to enrich uranium.

At the same time, the U.S. must retain all options
in dealing with a situation that gravely threatens
our security, our interests, and the safety of our friends.

We affirm, in the plainest words we can use, that the U.S. government,
in solidarity with the international community,
will not allow the current regime in Tehran to develop nuclear weapons.

We call for a significant increase in political, economic, and diplomatic pressure to persuade Iran’s rulers to halt their drive for a nuclear weapons capability,
and we support tighter sanctions against Iran and the companies with business operations in or with Iran.


REPUBLICAN: We urge the continued isolation
of groups like Hamas and Hezbollah
because they do not meet the standards of the international community.

DEMOCRATIC: The United States and its Quartet partners
should continue to isolate Hamas until it
renounces terrorism,
recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and
abides by past agreements.

Palestinian statehood

DEMOCRATIC: It is in the best interests of all parties, including the United States, that we take an active role to help secure a lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a democratic, viable Palestinian state dedicated to living in peace and security side by side with the Jewish State of Israel.

To do so, we must help Israel identify and strengthen those partners who are truly committed to peace, while isolating those who seek conflict and instability, and stand with Israel against those who seek its destruction.

REPUBLICAN: We support the vision of two democratic states living in peace and security: Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital, and Palestine.

For that to become a reality, the Palestinian people must support
leaders who reject terror, embrace the institutions and ethos of democracy, and respect the rule of law.

The security of Israel

REPUBLICAN: We reaffirm America’s commitment to Israel’s security and will ensure that Israel maintains a qualitative edge in military technology over any potential adversaries.

DEMOCRATIC: “Our starting point must always be our special relationship with Israel, grounded in ... a clear, strong, fundamental commitment to the security of Israel, our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy.

That commitment, which requires us to ensure that Israel retains a qualitative edge for its national security and its right to self-defense is all the more important as we contend with growing threats in the region - a strengthened Iran, a chaotic Iraq, the resurgence of Al Qaeda, the reinvigoration of Hamas and Hezbollah.

We support the implementation of the memorandum of understanding that pledges $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade to enhance and ensure its security.

Why They Hate Us (I): on military occupation
by Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2009-11-23

Why they hate us (II):
How many Muslims has the U.S. killed in the past 30 years?

by Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2009-11-30

Tom Friedman had an especially fatuous column in Sunday’s New York Times,
which is saying something
given his well-established capacity for smug self-assurance.
According to Friedman,
the big challenge we face in the Arab and Islamic world is “the Narrative” --
his patronizing term for
Muslim views about America’s supposedly negative role in the region.
If Muslims weren’t so irrational, he thinks,
they would recognize that
“U.S. foreign policy has been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims
or trying to help free them from tyranny.”
He concedes that we made a few mistakes here and there (such as at Abu Ghraib),
but the real problem is
all those anti-American fairy tales that Muslims tell each other
to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions.

I heard a different take on this subject
at a recent conference on U.S. relations with the Islamic world.
In addition to hearing a diverse set of views from different Islamic countries,
one of the other participants (a prominent English journalist)
put it quite simply.

“If the United States
wants to improve its image in the Islamic world,”

he said,
“it should stop killing Muslims.”

Now I don’t think the issue is quite that simple,
but the comment got me thinking:
How many Muslims has the United States killed in the past thirty years,
and how many Americans have been killed by Muslims?

Coming up with a precise answer to this question is probably impossible,
but it is also not necessary,
because the rough numbers are so clearly lopsided.

Here’s my back-of-the-envelope analysis,
based on estimates deliberately chosen to favor the United States.
Specifically, I have taken the low estimates of Muslim fatalities,
along with much more reliable figures for U.S. deaths.

To repeat:
I have deliberately selected “low-end” estimates for Muslim fatalities,
so these figures present the “best case” for the United States.
Even so,
the United States has killed nearly 30 Muslims for every American lost.
The real ratio is probably much higher,
and a reasonable upper bound for Muslim fatalities
(based mostly on higher estimates of “excess deaths” in Iraq
due to the sanctions regime and the post-2003 occupation)
is well over one million,
equivalent to over 100 Muslim fatalities for every American lost.

Figures like these should be used with caution, of course,
and several obvious caveats apply.
To begin with,
the United States is not solely responsible for some of those fatalities,
most notably in the case of the “excess deaths”
attributable to the U.N. sanctions regime against Iraq.
Saddam Hussein clearly deserves much of the blame for these “excess deaths,”
insofar as he could have complied with Security Council resolutions
and gotten the sanctions lifted or used the “oil for food” problem properly.
Nonetheless, the fact remains that the United States (and the other SC members)
knew that keeping the sanctions in place
would cause tens of thousands of innocent people to die
and we went ahead anyway.

Similarly, the United States is not solely to blame for
the sectarian violence that engulfed Iraq after the 2003 invasion.
U.S. forces killed many Iraqis, to be sure,
but plenty of Shiites, Kurds, Sunnis, and foreign infiltrators
were pulling triggers and planting bombs too.
Yet it is still the case that the United States
invaded a country that had not attacked us,
dismantled its regime,
and took hardly any precautions to prevent
the (predictable) outbreak of violence.
Having uncapped the volcano, we are hardly blameless,
and that goes for pundits like Friedman
who enthusiastically endorsed the original invasion.

Third, the fact that people died as a result of certain U.S. actions
does not by itself mean that those policy decisions were wrong.
I’m a realist, and I accept the unfortunate fact that
international politics is a rough business
and sometimes innocent people die as a result of
actions that may in fact be justifiable.
For example, I don’t think it was wrong to expel Iraq from Kuwait in 1991
or to topple the Taliban in 2001.
Nor do I think it was wrong to try to catch Bin Laden --
even though people died in the attempt --
and I would support similar efforts to capture him today
even if it placed more people at risk.
In other words,
a full assessment of U.S. policy would have to weigh these regrettable costs
against the alleged benefits to the United States itself
or the international community as a whole.

Yet if you really want to know “why they hate us,”
the numbers presented above cannot be ignored.
Even if we view these figures with skepticism and discount the numbers a lot,
the fact remains that
the United States has killed a very large number of Arab or Muslim individuals
over the past three decades.
Even though we had just cause and the right intentions in some cases
(as in the first Gulf War),
our actions were indefensible (maybe even criminal) in others.

It is also striking to observe that
virtually all of the Muslim deaths
were the direct or indirect consequence of
official U.S. government policy.
By contrast, most of the Americans killed by Muslims
were the victims of non-state terrorist groups such as al Qaeda
or the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Americans should also bear in mind that
the figures reported above
omit the Arabs and Muslims killed by Israel
in Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank.

Given our generous and unconditional support for Israel’s policy
towards the Arab world in general and the Palestinians in particular,
Muslims rightly hold us partly responsible for those victims too.

Contrary to what Friedman thinks,
our real problem isn’t
a fictitious Muslim “narrative” about America’s role in the region;
it is mostly the actual things we have been doing in recent years.
To say that in no way justifies anti-American terrorism
or absolves other societies of responsibility
for their own mistakes or misdeeds.
But the self-righteousness on display in Friedman’s op-ed
isn’t just simplistic; it is actively harmful.

whitewashing our own misconduct
makes it harder for Americans to figure out
why their country is so unpopular
and makes us less likely to consider
different (and more effective) approaches.

Some degree of anti-Americanism may reflect ideology, distorted history,
or a foreign government’s attempt to shift blame onto others
(a practice that all governments indulge in),
but a lot of it is
the inevitable result of
policies that the American people have supported in the past.

When you kill tens of thousands of people in other countries --
and sometimes for no good reason --
you shouldn’t be surprised when people in those countries
are enraged by this behavior and interested in revenge.
After all, how did we react after September 11?


Israel and Islamic Terrorism
A study in symbiosis
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2010-01-25

The most recent audio missive from Osama bin Laden,
claiming responsibility for the attempted Christmas bombing
of Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit,
rationalizes Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab’s act
in the name of the suffering of the people of Gaza:

“America will never dream of living in peace
unless we live it in Palestine.
It is unfair that you enjoy a safe life
while our brothers in Gaza suffer greatly.
Therefore, with God’s will, our attacks on you will continue
as long as you continue to support Israel,”

avers the Muslim Pimpernel.


[In the remainder of his article,
Raimondo seems unable to credit bin Laden with being sincere
in his statement of his motives.
I see no reason to doubt bin Laden’s sincerity:
the actions of Israel would, to anyone not infused with the Zionist story line,
seem to clearly call for some attempt to reverse them.
Obviously, resorting to terrorism against Israel’s biggest backer
isn’t very acceptable to that backer.
But even so, I think, unless there is good reason to do otherwise,
we should take bin Laden’s words at face value.
There really is no reason to do otherwise.
Why should we think Zionists are sincere and honest, while Muslims are not?
Especially since Israel has a well-documented, if not very publicized, record
of making promises to American policy-makers which they then proceed to ignore.
It is the shame of the American “elite” that they ignore Israel’s perfidy.
For an informative account of Israel’s deceptions regarding its occupation, by Israelis,
see Lords of the Land by Zertal and Eldar.]


Weekly Standard, Rove Make the Case for Israel-al Qaeda Linkage
by Jim Lobe
lobelog.com, 2011-01-05

[T]he neo-conservative Weekly Standard and former top Bush adviser Karl Rove
have been indirectly making the case that

the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
is the single, most important recruitment tool of Al Qaeda

and presumably other violent Islamist groups based in
the borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan.


... Thomas Joscelyn,
a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD),
performed a quantitative analysis of key words that appeared in
the “translations of 34 messages and interviews [delivered] by
top al Qaeda leaders operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan,
including Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, since January 2009.”
Guantanamo, he found, was “mentioned in only 3 of the 34 messages.
The other 31 messages contain no reference to Guantanamo.”
Within those three messages, Guantanamo was mentioned a mere seven times,
according to Joscelyn’s findings.

To show just how ignorant or misleading Obama was,
Joscelyn naturally went on to compare that paltry total with
the number of other key words used during the period:
“By way of comparison,
all of the following keywords are mentioned far more frequently:
Israel/Israeli/Israelis (98 mentions),
Jew/Jews (129),
Zionist(s) (94),
Palestine/Palestinian (200),
Gaza (131), and
Crusader(s) (322).
(Note: Zionist is often paired with Crusader in al Qaeda’s rhetoric.)

Naturally, al Qaeda’s leaders also focus on
the wars in Afghanistan (333 mentions) and Iraq (157).
Pakistan (331), which is home to the jihadist hydra,
is featured prominently, too.
Al Qaeda has designs on each of these three nations
and implores willing recruits to fight America and her allies there.
Keywords related to other jihadist hotspots
also feature more prominently than Gitmo,
including Somalia (67 mentions), Yemen (18) and Chechnya (15).”


And Hate Begat Hate
New York Times Sunday Review, 2011-09-10

LAHORE, Pakistan

IN their shock after Sept. 11, 2001, Americans frequently asked,
“Why do they hate us so much?”
It wasn’t clear just who “they” were —
Muslims, Arabs or simply anyone who was not American.
The easy answer that many Americans found comforting was equally vague:
that “they” were jealous of
America’s wealth, opportunities, democracy and what have you.

But in this part of the world — in Pakistan, where I live,
and in Afghanistan next door, from which the Sept. 11 attacks were directed —
those who detested America were much more identifiable,
and so were their reasons.
They were a small group of Islamic extremists who supported Al Qaeda;
a larger group of students studying at madrasas,
which had expanded rapidly since the 1980s;
and young militants who had been empowered by years of support from Pakistan’s military intelligence services
to fight against India in Kashmir.
They were a tiny minority of Pakistan’s 150 million people at the time.
In their eyes, America was
an imperial, oppressive, heathen power just like the Soviet Union,
which they had defeated in Afghanistan.

Now, with the United States about to enter
the 11th year of the longest war it has ever fought,
far more of my neighbors in Pakistan have joined
the list of America’s detractors.

The wave of anti-Americanism is rising in both Afghanistan and Pakistan,
even among many who once admired the United States,
and the short reason for that is plain:
the common resentment is that
American plans to bring peace and development to Afghanistan have failed,
the killing is still going on, and to excuse their failures
Americans have now expanded the war into Pakistan,
evoking what they did in the 1960s when the Vietnam war
moved into Laos and Cambodia.
Moreover, while Pakistanis die for an American war,
Washington has given favored deals to Pakistan’s archenemy, India.
So goes the argument.

The more belligerent detractors of America will tell you that
Americans are imperialists who hate Islam,
and that Americans’ so-called civilizing instincts
have nothing to do with democracy or human rights.
A more politically attuned attitude is that
the detractor doesn’t hate Americans,
just the policies that American leaders pursue.

But both groups feel trapped: Afghanistan is still caught up in war,
and my country is on the brink of meltdown.
And so now there is something beyond just disliking America.
We have begun to ask the question of 9/11 in reverse:
why do Americans hate us so much ?


[Strangely, the word “Israel” appears nowhere in this article.
Other, quite reliable, sources make it plain that
American support for Israel’s uncompromising stance towards the Palestinians
is a large motivator for many Muslims
(and, I might say, for many others who feel
Israel has given the Palestinians nothing resembling justice).

It should also be emphasized that
the harsh policies towards the nationalistic resistance to
America’s attempt to force conservative Muslims to adopt
the policies favored by Western “elites”,
which as Rashid points out have provoked so much push-back,
have been very strongly and consistently pushed by
the Washington Post editorial board
(along with its equally consistent support for
Israel’s uncompromising stance towards the Palestinians).]

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