Blogs > Liberty and Power > It's the Policies that They Hate

Nov 25, 2004 7:31 am

It's the Policies that They Hate

The Defense Science Board, a Pentagon advisory body, says what some of us have been saying all along: U.S. policy is what has made radical Muslims hate us to the point of wanting to harm us. According to a board report,"Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies." This echoes the thesis of Michael Scheuer, the former CIA expert on al Qaeda, who published the book Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror under the name “Anonymous” while still working at the agency.

According to the report, there is"a fundamental problem of credibility. Simply, there is none...."

The report goes on:

The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states.

Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.

The report also says that the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have made things worse, uniting extreme Muslim factions by giving them a common enemy. Another consequence is that the extremists have found new respect among mainstream Muslims.

The board recommends, among other things, that the U.S. government do a better job of explaining its policies and actions. Yeah, that’ll do it.

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Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

I rather tire of this "they hate our policies but not us" mantra. If they hate our policies, they surely hate those who support the policies, and if support for the current administration is taken as a proxy for support for the policies, couldn't it fairly be said that they hate a majority of those of "us" who voted in the last election? That's a lot of people to hate, I think, and it's perfectly consistent with saying that lots of "them" hate lots of "us".

What this study shows is that if you do a survey of Muslim people, they will often SAY that they hate American policies but not Americans. But that finding is consistent with lack of introspection and/or lack of candor from the respondents and lack of persistence and/or lack of psychological insight by the questioners. I have had any number of conversations with any number of Muslims over two decades where the target of their hatred was amply clear.

At any rate, supposing that Muslims did hate our policies but not us, that by itself would tell us nothing about our policies. If the reasons for their hatred are a seething cauldron of conspiracy theories, anti-Semitism, and plain ignorance, their hatred is not something to which we need to pander. I would be curious to see the present study integrated with studies describing that cauldron. There may be any number of reasons for changing our policies, but "winning popularity contests with the morons of the earth" is not one of them. I don't mean, incidentally, that all Muslims are morons. I mean that a study that can't differentiate between morons and non-morals people may as well be asking us to pander to the former for all that it matters.

I find it genuinely pathetic that libertarians think that the newfound respect of extremists among mainstream Muslims is not the responsibility of those mainstream Muslims but of non-Muslims. Are Muslims not moral agents? Are they just fated to "find respect" among murderers, torturers, rapists, and the like?

A little newsflash: the "respect" that moderate Muslims have for extremists is not new, not a product of the post 9/11 or Iraq environment, and not in the least our responsibility. I remember the Muslims around me cheering Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1991. I remember growing up among people in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s who didn't have a hard word for Arafat, Fatah, Tanzim, Hamas, Hezbullah, or Islamic Jihad. I also remember growing up among people who were willing to slaughter any number of Hindus over the "liberation" of Kashmir, who supported the Taliban from Day 1, who made excuses for Saudi theocracy, for the West Pakistani slaughter of the East Pakistanis, for the Rushdie fatwa, etc. etc. etc. And how many Palestinian activists have I run into who have a selective memory when it comes to atrocities?

This predates 9/11 by decades and in some cases has nothing to do with American policy. But having had a Muslim upbringing, and growing up among Muslims, the fact is: I cannot remember the Muslims around me EVER getting ANYTHING right as far as politics was concerned. The idea that we now have to kow-tow to "what they hate" is simply nauseating.

It's time that libertarians start grappling with the possibility that the Muslim world is in the grips of deep dysfunction, and ought to be dealt with accordingly. That is not something that has been captured by anything Mr Richman or the DSB study manage to say.

Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Sorry for a typo: in the last line of the third paragraph, I meant "can't distinguish morons from non-morons..."

Sheldon Richman - 11/28/2004

Of course, I wasn't suggesting that the policies be changed so we will be popular. Where did the come from? The policies should be changed because they are immoral.

I propose an experiment. Let's have 80 years or so of nonintervention by the U.S. government and see if they still hate us to the point of wanting to crash into our buildings. Any takers?