Why do the hate us?
I keep hearing that Muslims, especially in Middle-Eastern countries hate the US. The world-wide protests recently over an obscure anti-Muslim video seems to confirm prejudices in the West of intolerance and anti American sentiment but is it really that simple?
An article in the Atlantic by Robert Wright titled Hidden Causes of the Muslim Protests points to the real reasons for the popular anger we are seeing:
Drone strikes. Obviously, President Obama doesn't want to say anything bad about the gobs of strikes he's authorized. Neither does Mitt Romney; if you're going to spend your whole campaign calling Obama a hyper-apologetic girly boy, you can't turn around and complain that he kills too many people! But American drone strikes--which seem to always target Muslim countries, and sometimes kill civilians--are famously unpopular in the Muslim world. Note which countries tend to cluster toward the bottom of this graph from the Pew Global Attitudes Project. And watch the one-minute-clip below of my conversation on BhTV with Robert Becker, an American who lives in Cairo, taped after the protests had started.
Israel-Palestine. That's the second issue Becker mentions in the video clip, and it is also cited in a recent Atlantic piece by Middle East expert Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations. Again, don't expect to hear about this from Romney or Obama. During an election campaign, especially, neither man wants to dwell on the downside of America's essentially unconditional support of Israel even as Israel pursues policies that violate both international law and basic principles of justice, such as the expansion of settlements in the West Bank. But rest assured that the Israeli-American relationship gets plenty of airtime in Muslim, and especially Arab, nations. And, while some of this assumes the form of wild conspiracy theories, the core fact that American support helps sustain highly objectionable Israeli policies is not a figment of anyone's imagination. Neither is the fact that when President Obama did try to get Israel to freeze settlement expansion, he encountered so much blowback in Israel and America that he had to give up.
American troops in Muslim countries. Though American soldiers have left Iraq, they remain in Afghanistan. Noting the downside of this fact doesn't fit into either Obama's or Romney's game plan as they try to out-hawk each other. But, while they stay silent, there are people who are happy to talk about American troops in Afghanistan: Jihadi recruiters. And the reason is that they know this subject strikes a chord among young Muslim men who for various reasons (including local ones such as unemployment) are unhappy campers to begin with. This demographic played an important role in many of the protests last week.
Sadly, as Wright points out, neither corporate candidate will talk about these issues in any meaningful way. Both are part of the problem in a government run by the CIA for the global corporatocracy.