Thursday, May 23, 2013

Why do they hate us? The dispute between the West and the Muslim world

To the question of what causes what Westerners call Islamic terrorism, George Bush famously and stupidly issued the answer: "They hate us because of our values." In the wake of the accused killing of a soldier Lee Rigby by Michael Adebolago and Michael Adebowale in England, we may ask, what is the real answer to that question?

There is a real dispute between the world's more than one billion Muslims and the West, led by the United States and the office of the US presidency held by Barack Obama. In that dispute, the West is really on the side of bigotry and racism while the Muslim world is really on the side of human equality. It is a dispute Westerners usually do not think about, but when they think about it, they lie to themselves and each other. Westerners lie because in this dispute, the West is opposing its own claimed values and ideals.

The object of the dispute is the question: Should there be a majority Jewish state in Palestine? Barack Obama believes the answer is yes. When that question has been directly put to non-Jewish populations in Israel's region, most non-Jewish people in the region answer no.

Here is a poll of Iran taken in 2009, for example:

18. Level of agreement - The state of Israel is illegitimate and should not exist.

Strong Agreement: 51.9%
Mild Agreement: 14.6% (total agree, 66.5%)
Neutral: 21.1%
Mild Disagreement: 4.6%
Strong Disagreement: 3.9% (total disagree 8.5%)
Barack Obama believes there should be a Jewish state in Palestine in much the same way Ronald Reagan believed there should be a white state in South Africa. In both cases, that was a disagreement with most of the people in the respective regions.

South Africa created a fiction where it described territory under its control as bantustans, formally independent states where Africans could vote, but that would leave the South African government with a white political majority even if it allowed a small number of black voters to remain in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela's ANC took the position: no political majority white state in South Africa. White South Africans will have to live under majority Black rule. Any white South Africans for whom living under Black rule would be such an indignity as to be impossible should leave.

Ronald Reagan sided with White South Africans as they tried to transition their system of denying the vote to Black people to one in which Black people would be allowed to vote, but in subjugated states that for security purposes would be dominated by a state whose government was to have a designed white majority.

Today Barack Obama sides with Jewish Israelis in their attempt to create and pressure the Palestinians to accept that situation rejected by Nelson Mandela and the ANC. A subjugated, controlled, and for security purposes, non-sovereign non-Jewish state created to formally allow non-Jews to vote while maintaining by design a Jewish majority state.

The core disagreement over the question of should there be a Jewish state in Palestine leads the West, the United States, Barack Obama to policies that are unconscionable by supposed Western values, even if necessary to maintain a Jewish state in a region where most people do not believe there should be a Jewish state.

Hamas - an organization that, like most Palestinian voters and most people in the region, does not believe Israel is legitimate and should exist - won the most recent Palestinian election. To punish the people for voting for Hamas, Israel's leadership announced that territory under Hamas control would be put on a diet.

Barack Obama supports limiting Palestinian access to food and uses US political and diplomatic resources to limit Turkish efforts against it and to coerce Egypt to cooperate with the embargo over Palestinian territory. Children in Gaza are hungry today because of the diet Barack Obama supports on behalf of Israel. Most people in Western countries that support that policy are comfortably unaware of the ongoing pain the West is imposing on that large population of civilians.

The United States is directing the distribution of weapons to a civil war in Syria that now that has killed tens of thousands of people.

One of the directors of US policy in the region, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman favors removing Bashar Assad from power claiming Assad plays an "extremely negative role in the region". What is this extremely negative role? According to Feltman, Syria under the Assad government supports Hezbollah, which with its allies won the popular vote in Lebanon's elections and is an ally of Iran, which Israel has identified as its primary strategic threat because of Iranian policies that are supported by the Iranian population.

Supporting a civil war in Syria, when it was first contemplated, would have been expected to lead to tens of thousands of deaths. As it has. Barack Obama has decided that reducing support for Hezbollah and Iran, despite the popularity of Hezbollah's and Iran's anti-Israel policies, is worth tens of thousands of lives in Syria. Most Westerners are totally oblivious to these deaths, promoted by their governments ultimately on Israel's behalf.

Everything Iran and Syria do to play, using Feltman's words, an extremely negative role in the region, would be done, with more resources and at least in some ways in concert with Iran and Syria by many of the states in the region if their governments were accountable to their own people. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and others would support anti-Israel groups and would work to end Israel's military dominance of the region. The United States supports dictatorships over these countries to prevent them from taking popular measures that Barack Obama and Jeffrey Feltman would consider negative but that their own people would consider positive.

Outside of Israel's region, the United States is able to achieve its strategic and political goals with governments that have some degree of popular accountability. Israel's region, and Israel's inherent strategic vulnerability uniquely requires US ongoing support for the world's last remaining string of dictatorships directly descended from the colonial era.

Saudi Arabia in particular could base modern air defense systems on its territory that could reach Israeli airspace and deny Israel air superiority in any conflict. It could quickly reach a Japan-like nuclear posture that without actually building nuclear weapons would neutralize Israel's regional nuclear monopoly. It could also supply anti-Israel fighters with levels of armaments greater than those currently available to anti-Syrian fighters which would probably make living under Arab rule preferable for most Jewish Israelis than continuing to fight an active and indefinite insurgency.

The US' express commitment that Israel must alone have military superiority over all of its neighbors put together by itself requires a pro-US dictatorship in Saudi Arabia. That country must be ruled by a government that, unlike the people of Saudi Arabia accepts Israeli military superiority. Saudi Arabia spends more than three times as much on weapons as Israel every year. A Saudi Arabia which was accountable to its people rather than to the US would not cooperate with this open commitment by the US and would be impervious to some of the tools of coercion such as IMF loans that the US is now trying to use to control Egypt's policies after Hosni Mubarak, its pro-US dictator has been removed.

Saudi Arabia under its current pro-US colonial style dictatorship does not pose even as great a threat to Israel as Iran does because the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia is determined by people accountable to Barack Obama and Jeffrey Feltman but not accountable to the nearly 30 million people of Saudi Arabia. For Obama, dictatorship for those 30 million Arabs is an acceptable price to maintain an ethnic majority for fewer than 6 million Jewish people in Israel.

Barack Obama and Jeffrey Feltman disagree with the people of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and other countries on a key question: should there be a Jewish state. Because of that disagreement they work for the West to maintain hegemon-subordinate relationships with these countries that are remnants of the colonial era. Most Westerners are not aware of the string of effective colonies the US supports ruling tens of millions of Arab people on Israel's behalf.

The United States uses drones to attack in their homes people in organizations that oppose Zionism and the string of colonial-style dictatorships the US maintains on Israel's behalf. Victims of these attacks include US citizens and hundreds of children. Westerners are largely aware of the drones, but not that the children dying from them have been killed to ensure that fewer than six million Jewish people in Israel never suffer the indignity of living under non-Jewish rule.

The United States is supporting hunger, death and dictatorships throughout the Middle East ultimately on behalf of Israel. The dispute over whether or not there should be a Jewish state extends to be a dispute about whether or not civil war should be imposed on populations whose governments reflect their people's views on Israel. The dispute extends to whether or not Arab children should have limited access to food. The dispute extends to whether or not people in Israel's region in resourceful or strategic states should have governments accountable to them.

Barack Obama has taken the thoroughly racist proposition that fewer than six million Jewish people avoiding the fate of White South Africans is worth tens of millions of people who are not Jewish being ruled by dictatorship, millions of people going hungry, tens of thousands of people being killed in civil war, hundreds of innocent people being directly killed by American airstrikes and many other forms of damage and destruction that the US is committed to in the region on Israel's behalf.

The position that a designed Jewish majority state in Palestine is worth the misery continuously imposed on non-Jews, mostly Muslims, in the region to maintain its viability is no more defensible within the value system Westerners claim to uphold than the position that a designed White majority state in South Africa was worth the required misery for non-whites.

Westerners routinely ignore, lie about and evade issues related to Israel in the Middle East because their positions cannot be defended according to the values they themselves claim. George Bush and Barack Obama have never openly asserted that Jewish lives and interests are vastly more important than those of people who are not Jewish in the Middle East. They have consistently harmed huge numbers of people in accord with that belief that they do not admit they hold. But people are continuously dying over this Western bigotry whether Westerners openly state those views or not.

That is the real dispute between the West and the Muslim world. In that dispute, the West, even according to the values it claims to hold, is wrong.

If Barack Obama and George Bush were smarter and more honest they would have answered, "They hate us because we - supposed liberals or conservatives, democrats or republicans - are sanctioning, killing, starving, maintaining dictatorships and sanctioning millions of Arabs and Muslims on behalf of Israel."


George Carty said...

In your opinion, why have the apologists for Zionism been so much more successful than the apologists for South African apartheid?

Just as Zionist propagandists today claim that Israel shields the West against Muslim aggression, the propagandists of apartheid South Africa claimed to be protecting the West against Communism. And apartheid's apologists did have a point in that the ANC was indeed dominated by Marxists, for two reasons:

a) The Sharpeville massacre and the ruthless crushing of the civil rights movement that went with it forced black South Africans to turn to armed revolutionary struggle (which required help from the Soviet Union), and
b) South Africa was a mining-based economy, and such an economy naturally lends itself to state control. The "capitalism" of the racist regime was really a whites-only Peronism paid for by black semi-slavery (compare with the Gulf Arab states with their horribly exploited immigrant workers).

Nevertheless, by the mid-1980s the only people who were still buying South Africa's "anti-Communist" propaganda were a small number of (usually racist) American and British reactionaries. In 1986 the US Congress was able to override President Reagan's veto in order to impose sanctions on South Africa. Since the Republicans controlled Congress at the time, and since Congress needs a 3/4 majority to override a presidential veto, that implies that almost all the Democrats plus over half of the Republicans supported sanctions.

What do you think would be required for Israel to find itself in a similar situation w.r.t. American (and wider Western) public opinion and political support as South Africa was in the mid-1980s?

lidia said...

George, please, stop repeating Bushist words - "they hate us because of our freedom" ...of speech.

Your theory about Islam is just ...I want to be charitable- baseless
1) Islam was and is no less proselytic than Christianity - just look into history of a tiny sect turned into world religion
2) In itself 1) would be enough to ruin your "theory", but I could add that Judaism was quite proselytic too - or there would be not so many Jews in Europe and not only. Islam was based on info Muhammed got from Arabic tribes - Christian and Jewish.
Could you please think about the long and sordid history of Western (no, not freedom of speech) colonialism in Muslim lands? Is it not enough to foster hate? Have you read Orientalism by Said. I recommend it, even though I do not agree with him 100%.

George Carty said...

Bush and the more soft-line neocons (eg Paul Wolfowitz) were damned fools, thinking they could implant secular democracy in the heart of the Middle East by force of arms.

My point is that Westerners are uniquely afraid of Islam because Muslims are pretty much the only people in the world who have largely managed to avoid being seduced by Western culture. Even China abolished its imperial dynastic system and replaced it with a Western model (Marxism).

When Khomeini called the US the "Great Satan" he wasn't attacking the US as an oppressor, but rather as a seducer. He was actually willing to have diplomatic relations with the US (which refused due to resentment over the storming of the embassy in Tehran). Iran did refuse to have relations with the two countries it saw as true oppressors (Zionist Israel and Apartheid South Africa).

And there is actually a link between Western colonialism and the anti-proselytization aspects of Muslim culture. Much of sub-Saharan Africa was so poor that imperialists motivated
solely by greed would have left it alone (not enough wealth there to pay
for the cost of garrisoning it -- think "Roman non-conquest of the
Scottish Highlands" for an analogy). Instead, colonial conquests there were often justified in terms of making the area safe for Christian missionaries (who would otherwise be murdered by local Muslims).

lidia said...

George, you are very ...naive if you believe that Bush and co wanted to "implant secular democracy in the heart of the Middle East by force of arms" They were just continuing colonial wars of their predecessors. The Western imperialism attacked Iran in 1953 NOT because Iran was non-secular and non-democratic.
As a matter of fact, West took a lot from East (Christianity included :)). Islam is based on Christianity and Judaism and proved to be able to cohabit with them relatively good not only in the East, but in Spain, for ex.

You also have a very strange notion about Africa of gold, ivory, diamonds and then of rubber, and then of oil and then...was too poor to rob it. What of it there was in Scotland to rob for Romans?

And one more time - "justifications" are NOT reasons. Not mentioning Rhodes and other very openly colonialist types.
Regarding South Sudan the British were just using their usual "divide and rule" colonial method.

I wonder how many Westerners still believe in what their rulers tell them, and even more wonder - WHY they do it. I have read a lot of self-prize for Western supposed "critical thinking" being taught from the childhood unlike the brainwashed Muslims (or Soviets, for such matter)

George Carty said...

While Muslims did not (for the most part) try to force Christians and Jews under their rule to convert to Islam, they ruthlessly suppressed any attempt by Christians to convert Muslims to Christianity (which is why "protection of missionaries" was a common pretext for colonial conquest in 19th century Africa).

As for sub-Saharan Africa in general, it has been backward for practically the whole of human history because its very geography is inimical to development:

* The relative simple shape of its coastline (only a third as long as Europe's, to serve three times the land area of Europe), with very few natural harbours to facilitate trans-oceanic shipping
* The mesa-like form of the continent, which makes most of its rivers un-navigable due to waterfalls or rapids near the coast.
* The tropical wet-and-dry climate and lack of alpine snowfields means the river water levels are strongly seasonal.
* Sleeping sickness spread by the tsetse fly kills draft animals. This is why the Boers couldn't settle north of the Limpopo, why many 19th century expeditions had to use human porters, and why native African states rarely developed cavalry (except for the Islamic kingdoms of the Sahel, which were inherently limited by the poor agricultural productivity of their land).

lidia said...

And Western Christians were only happy to let others (even other Christains) to convert them? Pretexts notwithstanding.

Sub-Saharian Africa had their big civilizations. Other parts of it were NOT "backward", just not living in developed class society, Not mentioning role of Western (and also Arab, but less) slaver trade, which corrupted .local leadership, just as they did elsewhere, from India to the ME.

The idea of tropics being unsuitable for "civilization" came from people who lived in the bogs :) And if such people could not grab such lands it does not mean the lands are bad.

lidia said...

Even while not being happy with prospect of ONE MORE open Obama war, Cole still could not help it. He lies about "success" of NATO rape of Yugoslavia, not mentioning Libya. In short, the only problem with imperialist wars for Cole is that some of them are riskier than he would like. Cole's praise for Clinton on domestic issues is just an icing on the cake.

Tom said...

A problem with this article is that islamic violence predates the existence of israel.

No doubt israel has many faults and should be criticised, but to blame support for its existence as the core of the problem is factually wrong.

Tom said...

>He lies about "success" of NATO rape of Yugoslavia, not mentioning Libya.

Do you have evidence that most libyans feel that the war was wrong?

Im genuinely curious.

lidia said...

A problem with Zionist crimes is that they predate the existence of israel. The problems with hasbara is that it always repeats the same nonsense. Colonization of Palestine by Zionists began more than 100 years ago. So, Tom should look for another way to whitewash Zionism.

lidia said...

Does Tom have any evidence that NATO bombings were "revolution"? Of course, for imperialists NATO bombings are OK,

By the way, after USA puppets/generals in Egypt toppled elected president and killed a lot of protesters (really killed unarmed protesters, unlike in Libya), Cole has nothing to say but ask nicely those generals please not to be so rash. Mind you, the USA puppets could do much more than Qaddafi and still Cole is NOT calling them even a half of names he called Qaddafi, not he demands USA to bomb them (or at least to stop arming them)

Of course, Cole one more time whitewashes the condition of Libya after NATO "revolution", but nothing new here.

tom said...

Islamic extremism and violence even predates ziomism itself.

By trying to imply otherwise arnold and yourself and swimming against a currents of facts and evidence.

Its not a good move.

tom said...

I asked for evidence and you failed to provide it.

Lidia -1, im afraid.

As for evidence to the contrary it has been shown to you on a number of occasions.

Polling shows most libyans see the intervention as being right.

Yet even though the evidence shows one thing you still support an alternative scenario in which a greater number of libyans suffer.

Not cool lidia, this is the same type of mentality we often get from criminals like rapists or other sociopaths who in the face of evidence support a scenario which causes a large amount of harm, but then tell themselves that its ok and that the victims see it the way they see it.

Again lidia, try to have some morals, look at the evidence, see which scenario causes the least harm, and then go for that one.

tom said...

Arnolds analysis unfortunately has quite a number of holes in it.

Islamic violence predates both israel and even zionism.

Holding it to be responsible is sloppy analysis.

I hope arnold considers this to be constructive criticism and walks away a more enlightened person.

tom said... no evidence.

Im also curious as to why a number of my posts were deleted?

George Carty said...

I'd argue that there were two reasons for Operation Ajax -- one being oil of course, but the other was that the West feared Mossadeq was too friendly to the Soviets (who were on Iran's northern border), and preferred to install a reliably anti-Soviet puppet dictator.

AFAIK the only colony in tropical Africa that actually turned a profit for its colonizer was the (downright genocidal) Congo Free State of King Leopold II.

The Africans couldn't use gold, ivory or diamonds for much themselves, so the only way they could substantially benefit from them is if they traded them for something more useful.

However, given the backwardness of transportation in Africa (due to the geographical factors I mentioned in my post below) any trade with the outside world would inevitably be entirely on the outsiders' terms.

George Carty said...

Which big civilizations in pre-colonial tropical Africa? The only really advanced one I can think of is Ethiopia in its various guises, as its high altitude made it less disease-infested than the rest of the continent. (Not just sleeping sickness, but also human diseases. Humans evolved in Africa, and so did our diseases. Note that European colonialism in tropical Africa was restricted to small trading outposts until the discovery of quinine,)

The Sahel region was also free of the tsetse fly, which allowed Islamic kingdoms with powerful cavalry armies to arise there, but while they had some impressive cities, they were still very backward beneath the surface, depending on hoe agriculture or primitive herding (which meant such kingdoms tended to rise fast and fall fast). And their trade -- being primarily across the Sahara -- was limited to commodities like gold and ivory which had a very high value-to-weight ratio.

Temperate southern Africa south of the Zambezi was a much better bet for an advanced civilization (more fertile soil, plentiful minerals and a healthier climate) but it was too isolated. The original Bantu expansion failed to populate it because the Bantu had no temperate-climate crops (they only eventually moved in after the Boers had introduced temperate crops -- when the Boers first arrived they found it inhabited by Bushmen hunter-gatherers).

George Carty said...

In the United States, the Christian Zionist lobby is probably even stronger than the Jewish Zionist lobby. In Europe, support for Zionism is probably driven more by Islamophobia and "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".

lidia said...

I rec you to read something about Mali during Europe Dark ages. It was a very interesting even though not very assured type of development.
Of course, colonizers could not just want a profit (and they could be mistaken about the opportunity), they also want not to let rivals to have colonies in strategic places and such.

lidia said...

see my post re Mali. And one more time, why call climate "temperate" only because you happened to live in it? What is temperate in cold and rainy and sunless UK climate?

lidia said...

In Europe support for Zionism is driven by European colonialism and imperialism. Islamophobia is not a reason, but a result, just like anti-Black racism. On the other hand, EU rulers have no problem with Saudis and other paragons of "moderate" Islam as they call it. Just NOW EU is arming the most crazy Islamists in Syria.

George Carty said...

The word "temperate" is not a moral judgment.

While the climate of Northern Europe may be depressing at times for its lack of sunshine and summer heat (hence the popularity of Mediterranean holidays among people living there) its reliable rainfall is a major advantage as it means no drought-induced famines!

As for Mali, I thought it was at its greatest during Europe's High Middle Ages, not the Dark Ages.

lidia said...

But is there a threat of "drought-induced famines" in tropics? And famines could be induced by other reasons, not only droughts. Irish famines were not due to lack of water.
Anyway, Mali was great without The White Men "help".

George Carty said...

The Malians got rich as middlemen sitting astride the overland trade routes by which West African gold and ivory made its way to Europe and the Middle East. They were doomed to collapse economically as soon as someone (historically the Portuguese, but it didn't have to be them) ended their monopoly control by finding an alternative route to West Africa.

lidia said...

And Portuguese got rich by robbing America and so on. Were they doomed? Anyway, they collapsed.
Florence got rich by wool manufacture - were they doomed? But they collapsed. And so on.

slim said...

In fairness the point is accurate, violence does predate israel, whats-more violence from islamic extremists existed before the 19th century ideology of zionism.

The articles position really doesnt hold up.

lidia said...

Zionist hasbara is a lie, as usual. Zionist colonization DOES predate Palestinian resistance to such colonization. More than that, ALL kinds of Palestinians resisted, not only Muslims. And colonialist violence against Muslims is sure older than Zionism, and Jewish extremist violence existed long before Zionism as well.
Slim's stale hasbara and Islamophobia really does not hold up.

George Carty said...

No, the Spanish got rich by robbing America (and then squandered their new-found riches trying to exterminate Protestantism in Europe). The Portuguese got rich first by accessing West Africa directly by sea (and thus cutting out the Malian middlemen), and later by forcibly monopolizing the trading routes of the Indian Ocean.

George Carty said...

Why sub-Saharan Africa (except Ethiopia) was so backward -- simple version:

The Sahel: too many droughts
South of the Zambezi: too isolated*
Rest of sub-Saharan Africa: not enough working animals because the tsetse fly killed them

*The Portuguese were the first civilized people to reach the far south of Africa, because the Bantu migration was stopped by the change in climate (that's Jared Diamond's rationale for why Eurasia's east-west orientation made it especially favourable for development) and because the Agulhas Current (which curves away from the African coast and east to Australia) made it suicidal (at least according to all the peoples of the medieval Indian Ocean, including the Arabs) to try to sail south of Mozambique.

lidia said...

They just were not capitalist or feudalist. But they managed OK, thank you, before European colonizers started to mass-murder and rob them.
Of course, geography could be very important. Material factors are basic to understanding the human development, not some "drive to Chistianize".

lidia said...

Portuguese robbed America too - see Brazil. But I have mentioned "and so on" :)
And Spanish contra-Reformation was only a form of power struggle. They wanted to get rid of rivals.

But I see that we get way too off the topic. Even though in process we did mention some of reasons for non-Whites (victims of imperialism) no to be too fond of Whites (imperialists).

lidia said...

One just has to admire Cole. I beg you to look into his writings against 2009 Iran elections and demos, and then his writings about what it is now done in Egypt. See, how he accuses Iran in "stealing" election without much proof and in killing protestors, and then look into kid gloves' treatment he gives USA puppets - mass-murdering coup generals in Egypt.
Of course, in both cases Cole is a faithful servant of USA rulers.
And some in USA still wonder, "why do they hate our democracy" (irony)

Arnold Evans said...

I held my nose and went over there.

Cole is who is he is. The United States is a fundamentally racist nation that believes fewer than six million Jews in Israel outweigh hundreds of millions of people who aren't Jewish, including more than 80 million Egyptians who should not be able to vote for their own leadership unless the US maintains control over aspects of Egypt's policy that it selects. Cole is just a usual part of the United States.

Cole has this crazy idea that it is cheating to ask to be put on a ballot, so even if the voters choose who they favor, Cole has decided that regardless of the expressed will of Egypt's voters, he knows there should have been fewer Islamists in Egypt's parliament.

So while we see article after article about how running for election is a coup by the Muslim Brotherhood, I've still never seen an article by Juan Cole expressing even mild disapproval of the governments of the effective US colonies of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain and others.

That just is who Juan Cole is. Dictatorships directly descended from the colonial era receive no scrutiny at all as long as they perform their needed duty of preventing Israel's opponents from gaining control of strategic resources. The Muslim Brotherhood is orchestrating a coup when the military government puts their names onto ballots and Egyptians vote for them.

Fewer than six million outweighs several hundred of million in Israel's region because the United States is racist and Islamophobic. And because Juan Cole is racist and Islamophobic.