Saturday, September 17, 2016

Scorched earth and scorched souls

Hisham Melhem, "Scorched earth and scorched souls,"

image (not from article) from

Fifteen years after many Americans asked “why do they hate us”? The answer, if there is a compelling one, is still illusive. Thirteen years after the US invasion of Iraq, many Americans, Iraqis and others in the region are still grappling with the reasons that led to the invasion and wondering why such a traumatic endeavor could be undertaken in such cavalier fashion and why not a single senior American official was held accountable? Fifteen years after 19 angry young Muslim Arabs killed almost 3 thousand US citizens, America’s relations with some Arab states, including ostensible allies are strained and tense. Many Arabs still entertain conspiracy theories about America’s real intentions in the Middle East, and many Americans, judging by opinion polls and support for the Republican candidate Donald Trump fear and distrust Arabs and Muslims. And the candidate of a major party, publicly calls for banning Muslims from the US and advocates still, the theft of oil from Iraq and Libya. So much for American “Public Diplomacy,” the struggle to win Arab hearts and minds and the bygone Bush era promotion of the “Freedom Agenda” in the Arab world along with the naïve belief that elections are the key to the success of such agenda. After those tumultuous years, one can discern American fatigue of things Arab and Muslim, of resentment over the tendency of Arab officialdom (and many intellectuals) to blame outsiders for their failings, to wallow in victimhood and Arab resistance to engage in introspection or self-criticism. Many Arabs believe that when the United States acts as omniscient and omnipresent in the region, invades a country and tries to re-create it, as it did in Iraq, or lead (even from behind) an international coalition to topple the Libyan despot, and when it deploys tens of thousands of troops in the region, then it cannot and should not act as if it did not contribute to the current unraveling of some Arab states. There is a growing sense, in some Arab countries, particularly in the Gulf and in Egypt, that the region may have entered the post-American era.  [JB emphasis]...

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