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November 12, 2006

Dealing With Anti-American Rhetoric
Posted by Ali Eteraz

Who will be the global footsoldiers in Progressive American Hegemony ("PAH")? I ask this question because under Old School Realism, with respect to the Muslim world and Third World Countries, the "footsoldier" question was eliminated completely by total and absolute reliance on the puppet Tyrant. Today, the PAH crew believes that reliance on tyrants no longer servers its function. In other words, it seems that the PAH crew wants to undermine the tyrants in favor of the populist underbelly of Muslim and other Third World countries. I recall Shadi suggesting -- by way of an example -- that we needed to open up dialogue with the populist Islamists of Egypt and Jordan. Skeptics say: can we even accomplish such a dialogue? Isn't it the case that the populist Islamists draw their legitimacy from their Anti-Americanism? How can we support people who don't like us? (They also add, how can we support people who don't share our values, but I addressed that in my first post already).

My response is that: part of the reason Islamists of today are anti-American has been because of their experience where we supported those tyrants who in turn  repressed the Islamists. In Pakistan, during the 80's, we supported the Islamists (by supporting a tyrant who supported them), there wasn't much anti-American rhetoric coming out of Pakistani Islamist circles. Let's say the Democratic Congress passes a resolution in favor of the populist Islamists of Egypt tomorrow. Immediately they come to our side. At this point we can dangle our $2 billion a year over them (as we currently do with Mubarak). (Pakistan is a more difficult situation because we have no leverage with the Islamists).

In short, if Islamists come to power without our assistance, or without having needed our legitimization, they will remember that. They will know that they did it on their own -- "without America" -- and then they will work with an agenda that makes no consideration for our views.

There remains one major problem: the moment there is any indication to any of the dictators that he has lost favor with the US, he will turn to a massive project of internal repression. It is here that I hesistate because now the question becomes: would the American public be prepared to take military action? If not military, what could be done?


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The hungarian government suppressed all opposition with soviet help. When the soviets stopped helping they got swept away pretty quick.

How effective would arab dictators be at repression without our aid? I suppose it would vary with circumstance, and I don't have the special data to predict in any particular case.

Marcos fell even with our covert aid. Noriega didn't fall until we grabbed him, apparently he had considerable public support because he stood up to us. I guess it depends.

That last leads to a prediction, though. If we dump an arab dictator we can expect him to make a big display of being anti-american to get support. Unless we're real blatant about suddenly dumping him, he might make it look like we're dropping support *because* he came out against us.

Well, Allah knows we need a new policy.
Some recent news reports:

Vice-Admiral Patrick Walsh, commander of US naval forces in the Persian Gulf, which include the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Enterprise, the destroyer U.S.S. McFaul, the war frigate U.S.S. Nicholas, the battle cruiser U.S.S. Leyte Gulf, the attack submarine U.S.S. Alexandria and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (2,200 Marines) said recently that Iran's recent "Great Prophet" military maneuvers were "a message of intimidation and fear".

The U.S. vetoed a United Nations condemnation of an Israeli artillery barrage in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun that killed 19 people Wednesday, and in a separate announcement branded Iran and Hezbollah as a "global nexus of terrorism" and applauded an Argentine court for seeking the arrest of former Iranian officials in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center.

On October 19, Alia Ansari, mother of six, was walking to school to pick up some of her children. Ansari was wearing a hijab. “Ansari was walking in a residential neighborhood when a gunman pulled up in a car and fired at her before driving away,” AP reported. “Her three-year-old child witnessed the shooting but was unharmed.” Ansari, who was killed, was born in Afghanistan, but the killing didn't occur there. It happened in Fremont, California.

It's worth pointing out that

(1) Intimidation is generally the point of military maneuvers, and

(2) it would be much more of a strange news report if putting on a hijab made you immune to violent crime. Stating that veil-wearers suffer crime is like stating that water is wet and fire hot; everyone suffers from crime.

Evan, while of course there's nothing unusual about a mother getting killed in a drive-by shooting waiting at the bus stop for her children etc -- it happens almost every day in almost every american community -- the hijab makes the woman a little more anonymous. It increases the chance that she wasn't being shot for who she was, but just because she was a random woman wearing a hijab. But then no doubt a large fraction of the other women killed picking up their children at achool are also just random anonymous shootings.

We mustn't draw any conclusions from this until we get solid statistics. Compare the various targets of drive-by shootings and see if we get some sort of statistically-significant differences among groups. Also we need to catch the perpetrators and look for statistically-significant differences among them and their claimed motives etc. Until then we can consider it only anecdotal evidence with no particular meaning.

Just another dead woman on the street. Move along, nothing to see here.

Evan, as my first grade teacher used to say: "Put on your thinking cap."

(1) The point of the military maneuvers bit is that here we have the captain of a mighty US armada sailing off the coast of a far-away country, and when that country's military forces conduct maneuvers said captain calls it intimidating. While amusing, it also says a lot about the double standards the US applies to what the US does versus what other countries do. Now do you get it?

(2) The Afghani woman wearing the hijab while walking with her child on a residential street in Fremont did not just "suffer crime"--she was brutally and wantonly murdered in a society where the people are constantly subjected to US propaganda from the highest level railing about "Islamic fascists," and where arabs (since 9/11) are routinely maligned and abused, all of which naturally gives extremist skinheads a reason to "do something" for the fatherland. Now do you get it?

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