An invalid assumption
Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, August 29, 2006
William McAuliffe’s points on the lack of planning in regard to Iraq (“The War on Errorism,” Aug. 25) are occasionally well made, if a bit rhetorically overstated. And though I appreciate the fact that a more benevolent attitude toward the Middle East problem is attractive, I would suggest that he fails to take into account two major issues and involves an assumption that is invalid.
First, McAuliffe seems to suggest that the fact that the Muslim world hates us is our fault. This is historically incorrect. The Muslim world first invaded Christendom as early as the ninth century. The Muslim world has been opposed to the West as long as it has existed. Though U.S. foreign policy may exacerbate this animosity, it in no way causes it.
Second, McAuliffe suggests in essence, that the liberalization of the Middle East will bring about changes necessary to end the above conflict. Assuming that the Muslim world even wants this, which is highly doubtful, I would offer both Iraq and Palestine as evidence that when given the opportunity to democratically choose a government, they tend to choose reactionary and backward-looking governments.
The assumption made is that the Muslim world is, at root, a sane, rational civilization that should be dealt with in the same way that, say, Canada, Britain, or Germany should. Any time spent reading the statements of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should cast serious doubt on that assumption.
Though I too believe that our current solution for dealing with Islamofascism is sub-optimal, I also believe that this is a conflict in which diplomacy and other “soft power” projections are of less value than they would be if dealing with more civilized nation-states. We cannot “gain the trust” of a region that views us as infidels who need to be converted or killed. Any serious foreign policy suggestion for the region must take that into account.