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"Why Do They Hate Us?" (Part1) The Pakistani And Iraqi Answer

If you immerse yourself in the current wave of conservative intellectual opinion as to why much of the Islamic world dislikes the United States of America, you will get very weak answers that serve to massage the ego of the lovers of Western civilization more than they embody the truth. Generally speaking, conservatives want the world to believe that the Islamic world "hates" the West because of its vast political, economic and scientific achievement in the face of the Islamic World's material poverty. To a measure there does exist a degree of accuracy to that charge. But that kernel of truth is just that - a kernel, and not the stuff that a well-thought out thesis on inter-civilization relations should produce. But, to be sure, many in the Islamic World do in fact hold an illegitimate degree of animosity toward the West and in particular, the United States of America. Any self-reflecting Muslim, any Believer who performs the thorough introspection required of them as servants of a Supreme Being and adherents to Divine Law should recognize that some blame for the condition of the Islamic World is being placed where it does not belong - at the foot of the United States of America - when it should be assigned to the fact that the Muslim world, in a great many respects, has deviated from the path of Muhammad of 1,400 years ago. Muhammad himself did in fact say that "three generations after me would not be of me". And the split in the Muslim world, which manifested, in a dramatic way, after the death of the Caliph Ali bears witness to the accuracy of Muhammad's prediction. Today, we are nearly 1400 years removed from the genesis of that fracture. Serious consideration should be given to the principles that the Muslim world has violated since immediately after the death of Muhammad, onward through the Caliphate, and down to today.

The degree to which the current problems between the the Islamic World and the West are understood is largely dependent upon the level and quality of historical research performed as well as the availability, accuracy, balance, and intelligence with which the results of such research are communicated and explained. Essential to an effort to promote understanding between people of different civilizations is the removal of all harmful presuppositions, assumptions, stereotypes and prejudices which are quite often the byproducts of a propaganda effort serving a narrow interest whose power may not be rooted in truth, freedom, justice or equality.

There are important shortcomings, legitimate grievances and forms of hypocrisy that have to be weighed if one's goal is to produce the understanding that leads to improved relationships and eventually total peace. This process in our estimation has not yet taken place, at the level that it could in the ongoing discussions regarding Islam and Western Civilization since September 11th 2001. There are notable exceptions, in our opinion. Representing the Lost-Found Nation of Islam in the West, Minister Louis Farrakhan has addressed the issue of the supposed "clash of civilizations" with great balance and clarity. Conservative intellectuals, especially those advising President Bush, and Islamic scholars, especially those advising the Muslim world's political leaders, should carefully examine what Minister Farrakhan has offered on this vast subject, over the years, and specifically his September 16th , 2001 address - given only a few days after the events of September 11th. The Minister made his address in the United States of America. The major media outlets were invited to hear what the Minister had to say. The event was webcast and a transcript of the event was made available and publicized but few made the Minister's remarks known or analyzed them to the public, yet they read them for themselves. We know this to have been especially true among conservative intellectuals and editors of publications, who have been the most strident, in their writings, in their opposition to aspects and members of the Islamic world. Indeed, it has been the conservative community that has jumped out front of other intellectual groups in posing a rhetorical question before the American public - "Why do they hate us?"

What has struck us, in particular, in the commentary provided by the most prominent conservative intellectuals is the nature of their denial over the legitimate aspects of the dissatisfaction that Muslims have toward the United States of America. Their "critique" of such dissatisfaction is woefully wanting in its consideration of the reasons that Muslims, themselves, offer for the why and what of their grievances with America. In effect what most conservative intellectuals have done is use Ussama Bin Laden to set up the classic strawman argument which allows them to avoid dealing with clearer, and more articulate explanations of the specific problems that Muslims have with the United States of America, for example. They re-state portions of what Ussama Bin Laden states and then beat up on what they frame of his remarks. No, there are serious, legitimate and detailed reasons why the Islamic world feels the way that it does, which the most prominent conservative intellectuals ignore or are woefully unaware of. Here is a look at a few of these issues, from different parts of the world that in the past and present are almost unanimously ignored by the conservative elite when they attempt to "explain" the popular topic embodied in the phrase, "why do they hate us?"

Pakistan. The attacks occurred on September 11th, 2001. It was not until Saturday, November 10, 2001 that we saw any major media outlet prominently address the fact that the United States government had, for nearly a decade, held onto tens of F-16 fighter jets and the over $600 million that Pakistan, in advance, had given in payment for them. That paper was the supposed paper of record New York Times. Because of nuclear testing violations and the Pakistani handling of a U.S. DEA agent operating in Pakistan (without the knowledge of the Pakistani government) the U.S. held the planes and the money, and even charged interest for the storage of the planes, for over 10 years. The lead paragraph in the Times story began, " President Pervez Musharraf said yesterday that he has come to the United States in search of major gestures from the Bush administration, including the release of American and F-16 fighters sold to Pakistan when it was an ally against the Soviet Union..." By November 12th, Musharraf's efforts were answered, with a flat rejection by the Bush administration. Pakistan would be seeing its planes no time soon, if ever. Earlier in the year we wrote an editorial which explained the F-16 issue and how it has affected the public opinion of the United States in Pakistan General Musharraf echoed what we wrote when he explained to The New York Times why he was so interested in getting the fighter jets. Mr. Musharraf said, " I did take up this case, frankly, not because that much of it was significant from defense point of view. It has its significance, certainly, but not as much as I should have highlighted it. It's more for public perceptions in Pakistan.". The Times followed with an assessment of what would happen if Musharraf's initiative was turned down, "Having his {Musharraf's} request turned down flat was an embarrassing setback that he said would 'be received negatively' in Pakistan." But that is just how the Bush administration responded, by turning down the request flat, in effect, leaving Musharraf hanging out to dry.

Now some have tried to act as if the United States has fully compensated Pakistan for the loss of the planes. But this is not true. There were very murky reports, that the Clinton administration privately and belatedly sent cash and commodities to Pakistan to "compensate" for the financial and military loss, but upon further inspection, we have discovered that the so-called compromise was another betrayal of Pakistan by the United States. In December of 1998, 8 years after receiving hundreds of millions of dollars and delivering no planes, a deal was reached between the United States and Pakistan that would require the United States to return only $467 million of the $658 that Pakistan had paid in advance for the planes. The United States agreed to return $327 million in cash and the remaining $140 million was to be paid in the form of goods and benefits, to be determined, over the next two years. By September 1999 the U.S. had handed over 300,000 tons of wheat worth $60 million.

General Musharraf believed the wheat to be part of U.S. aid to Pakistan, independent of the F-16 matter but the United States later forcibly deducted the $60 million wheat provision from the F-16 account debt it owed to Pakistan. In fact the wheat came from an account and law that the United States had already used to provide food aid to Pakistan in previous years. The United States' bookkeeping fancywork came after a March 2000 meeting between President Clinton and General Musharraf where the U.S. President agreed that he would work to give Pakistan the balance of the $140 million in cash and not in the form of goods and services as was originally discussed. The United States arbitrarily determined that it would switch the categorization of wheat aid to Pakistan to an F-16 account credit. The problem was not the $60 million in wheat which Pakistan may have accepted on its own but the manner in which the United States unilaterally handled the books in Washington to execute the agreement in a way that was favorable to itself. The matter became a scandal in Pakistan and remains one to this day.

Those who think it was Pakistan who misinterpreted the December 1998 agreement should consider the Clinton administration's own role in interpreting, altering and undermining the original agreement. In April and then in June of 2000, the United States pressured Pakistan to take the remaining $80 million of the $140 million in the form of soy bean and soy bean oil, rather than wheat, which Pakistan, by this time had preferred. Pakistan acquiesced and by September 2000 an agreement to that effect had been signed. But in early 2001, Pakistan told the U.S. that importation of soybean would destroy its own fledgling group of local oilseed producers who were struggling that season. The U.S. bluntly told the Pakistanis that if they did not take soybean that they would not receive another penny regarding the F-16 debt. To make matters worse, the United States charged Pakistan above market prices for the commodity as well as shipping costs, with the U.S. selling the soybean to Pakistan at $250 per ton when the commodity was earning only $200 per ton on the international markets. The soybean oil costs were 34% above market prices. In addition Pakistan was told that instead of normal freight charges of $11 per ton it would have to pay exorbitant rates of upwards of $27 per ton for wheat and $24 per ton for soybeans.

Iraq Few conservatives in their railing against Iraq bring up the bombing, without provocation, of a French-built Iraqi nuclear facility by Israel in 1981. Interestingly, the facility was similar to one that Israel itself already possessed. Economist Jude Wanniski, a registered Republican, persuasively argues not only that the Iraqi plant was a facility not designed for making nuclear weapons but also that Iraq was totally and legally justified in building its plant while Israel was not. The United States sided with Israel in the matter and no compensation from Israel to Iraq in order to replace the facility was ever demanded by the United Nations. That Iraq resents the apparent double-standard and toleration of the destruction of property that it paid millions for is still not a matter worthy of recognition by conservative intellectuals, like George Will, who publicly applauded the Osiaraq bombing in a recent article.

And then, of course, on the subject of Iraq's dislike for the West there is the matter of sanctions and the effect of the Gulf War - a war that began as the result of the U.S. winking at Mr. Hussein's expressed desire to invade Kuwait. That's correct, Saddam Hussein received no resistance from the U.S. when he indicated, in 1990, to the U.S. Ambassador at that time, April Glaspie, his desire to invade Kuwait, a nation that used to be a province of Iraq until the British divided the area and established new borders for the establishment Kuwait.

Iraqi doctors say that the country has experienced a 100% rise in leukemia among children below the age of 15 from 1990 to 1998 which Iraq attributes to the use of depleted uranium in Western weaponry during the Gulf War conflict. It is a charge that some in the U.S. believe and continue to investigate along with inquiries regarding the mysterious Gulf War Syndrome experienced by U.S. Soldiers and the possibility that the U.S. used biological and/or chemical weapons in Iraq. Iraq, to support its claims cites a dramatic clustering of cancer victims in Basra, which has been confirmed by international observers. Iraq argues that in Basra alone, that 400 to 500 tons of depleted uranium was used during a major battle of the Gulf war. If the amount of the alleged usage of depleted uranium sounds high, one should consider that during the Gulf War almost 100,000 tons of weapons were dropped in less than 45 days on the country of 23 million people.

Sanctions are credited with even more Iraqi deaths than that which Iraq and the West say occurred as a direct result of the war. Western researchers believe that as few as 350,000 and as many as 600,000 Iraqi deaths are believed to be the result of sanctions. The most devastating aspect of the sanctions has been their provisions which has disallowed the country to import, build or accumulate badly needed machinery and chemicals necessary to the building of energy, sanitation and medical facilities. During the Gulf War, sanitation, water and nearly 20 electricity generating plants were destroyed. Although the U.S. military stated that it aimed for military targets, Iraq's civilian infrastructure was largely destroyed. The results have been horrific. In south-central Iraq, a UNICEF study says that child mortality rates have risen from 56 per 1,000 to 131 per 1,000.

Cedric Muhammad

Tuesday, December 4, 2001

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