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On the origins of Anti-Americanism

Psy: Why does he want to kill Americans?

Psy: Why does he want to kill Americans?

Glenn Greenwald has a long rant about anti-Americanism in The Guradian, inspired by reaction to the revelation that Korean comedy-pop sensation Psy once rapped about killing and torturing Americans.

He says that Americans shouldn’t be surprised by such expressions of hatred towards them. He catalogues the crimes America has perpetrated during its war on terror, as well as the ire it has drawn for its support of Israel, and then seems to use this as an explanation, if not a justification, for terrorism.

In response to a story about US forces capturing children on the battlefield in Afghanistan, he has this to say:

Imagine if a foreign army were imprisoning American teenagers on US soil for years without any charges or due process. Would anyone have difficulty understanding why there were extreme levels of hostility and a desire for violence against the country doing that?

Similar arguments arose in the wake of 9/11. Had America brought this on itself? The answer then, as now, is an unequivocal, No.

Rejecting terrorism is not the same as defending the war on terror. Indeed, it’s hard to condemn the US for murdering civilians if you then express sympathy for extremists who are doing exactly the same thing.

More important, Islamic extremists are not fighting for a cause. What was their cause in 2001? What was their cause in Bali?

Greenwald has a few thoughts.

Prior to the 9/11 attack, the US had spent decades propping up and arming the most repressive dictators in the Muslim world with the clear intent to suppress the views of the populations and ensure subservience to US interests. It overthrew or blocked their democratically supported leaders. Its decade-long sanctions regime against Iraq killed hundreds of thousands of people while strengthening Saddam, its former ally, and a top US official coldly told the world when asked about dead Iraqi children that it was “worth it”. Its steadfast support of Israel shielded the civilian-killing aggression of that nation from all forms of challenge or accountability. It bombed and destroyed a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan that kept large numbers of people alive.

All of these facts are, and long have been, widely discussed in most of the world, where they have generated simmering, intense fury. As one small example: the Sudanese pharmaceutical factor destroyed in the Clinton years is now a shrine, accompanied by what the Christian Science Monitor’s Scott Peterson this year described as enduring “bitterness and anger at what is widely seen as an unjustified strike”.

But most of these facts are largely suppressed, at the very least steadfastly ignored, in establishment US media discourse.

It’s worth pointing out that most of the plotters and participants in the terrorist acts of 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia. The London bombers were from the UK. The Bali bombers were from Indonesia.

In short, these people were not responding to the suffering inflicted on their families by western armies.

They also don’t have any demands. Despite Greenwald’s tortured justifications for anti-American terrorism, the extremists aren’t asking to redraw Israel’s borders and they aren’t imploring the US to stop killing innocents in Afghanistan.

All of their goals are informed by a supposedly literal belief in the Quran — and death to anyone who doesn’t agree, which has mostly turned out to be liberal Muslims rather than westerners.

This is perhaps the biggest point that Greenwald ignores. Radical Islam is not engaged in a war with the west — it’s at war with everyone who doesn’t subscribe to its idiotic beliefs.

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