What makes two dozen British Muslims want to blow up thousands of innocent passengers on jumbo jets? Why does al-Qaida plan hourly to kill civilians? And why does oil-rich Iran wish to "wipe out" Israel?
In short, it's the old blame game, one that over the past century has taken multiple forms.
"Blame game?" Nice rhyme, Vic, but didn't you get the Administration memo? "Blame game" is soooo 2005. Keep up, man, keep up.
Once, a tired whine of Islamists was that European colonialists and American oilmen rigged global commerce to "rob" the Middle East of its natural wealth. But they were pretty quiet when the price of crude oil jumped from around an expensive $25 a barrel to an exorbitant $75.
Vic, haven't "conservatives" always liked the idea that the Invisible Hand of the Marketplace sets all prices exactly where they should be? The $25 and the $75 are market prices, aren't they? So what's all this socialist, central-planning claptrap about "expensive" and "exorbitant?" Of course, it may be that the normal operations of the marketplace have been a little distorted by all the "creative destruction" that your neocon chickenhawks have unleashed on the Middle East. But it would be hard to listen to you, of all people, complain about that.
Another old excuse for Islamist anger was the claim the West had favored autocrats - the shah of Iran, the House of Saud, the Kuwaiti royal family - in a cynical desire for cheap gas and to prop up strong anti-communist allies.
Some of that complaint was certainly accurate. But since Sept. 11, America has ensured democracy in Afghanistan, spent billions and more than 2,500 lives fostering freedom in Iraq, pressured Syria to leave Lebanon, and lectured longtime allies in Egypt and the Gulf to reform. For all this, we are now considered crude interventionists, even when our efforts may well pave the way for radical Muslims to gain legitimacy through plebiscites.
"Favored?" Installed, you mean. But don't complain about that, O Swarthy Ones. Just look at all the tons of bombs we've dropped on your ungrateful heads since then, so you can be all Free And Democratic! And yes, now radical Muslims might win elections; the actions of our Israeli masters in Gaza shows what the Imperial response to that will be.
Islamists gripe about Western infidels encroaching on Muslim lands. Osama bin Laden attacked because of American troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, or so he said. Hamas and Hezbollah resorted to terror to free Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon, or so they said.
Yet nothing much has changed since the United States pulled its combat troops out of Saudi Arabia, or after the Israelis departed Gaza and Lebanon, and announced planned withdrawals from parts of the West Bank. Meanwhile, the elected Iraqi government wants American soldiers to stay longer (while the latest polls suggest the American public doesn't).
Never listen to what any of the wogs say -- they are childlike and totally transparent to the neocon gaze of VDH, and he'll interpret them for you. And nothing has changed since the U.S. removed its legionaries from SaudiLand? Well, Vic, where did The Troops go? Back home? Well, no, they went next door, to Kuwait, Qatar, and ... oh, yes, to Iraq. But, if that doesn't pacify the towelheads, then screw 'em, says Vic -- nothing ever will make them happy.
Then there is moaning that the West treats its Muslim immigrants unfairly, despite evidence to the contrary. After all, Muslims build mosques and madrassas all over Europe and the United States; yet Christians cannot worship in Saudi Arabia or have missionaries in Iran. Western residents or immigrants in most Arab nations would not dare demonstrate on behalf of Israel. But in Michigan last week, largely Arab-American crowds chanted "Hezbollah" - despite that terrorist group's long history of murdering Americans.
I guess I haven't heard all this moaning, but if Vic says it's going on, then I'm sure it must be -- after all, Vic's a "classicist and historian," as we're told over and over, so he must be a really smart guy. Christians, he says, can't "worhip in Saudi Arabia or have missionaries in Iran." Checked on the status of Christians in Holy Israel lately, Vic? Besides, in a non-Imperial understanding, we'd probably foolishly say that America is our country, in which we can permit the free exercise of a large variety of religions if we so choose, while Saudi and Iran are their countries; they should run them as they see fit, and we should either go there or stay away, accordingly. But, of course, this is the age of the 'Murkan Empire, in which all countries are our countries, more or less, to the extent that they contain anything our rulers desire. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that "countries" are now a quaint anachronism on a nationless corporate globe where the only meaningful "culture" is material wealth.
Another Islamist grumble is that the West supports only Israel. Again, that's hardly true. The Europeans gave plenty of aid to Palestinian groups whose hostility to Israel is well-established. The United States makes no bones about aiding Israel, but it also has given huge amounts of money to the Palestinians, Egypt ($50 billion so far) and Jordan. And without the United States, Kuwait would be the 19th province of Iraq, the Taliban would rule Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein and his sons would still slaughter Kurds, and there might not be any Muslims left at all in Kosovo or Bosnia.
Why, of course the Empire has spent a little coin to
Notice the verbs Vic uses to describe towelhead speech. They don't "say" things. Instead they (in order): whine, gripe, moan, and grumble. I'm surprised Vic didn't give us direct quotes in their amusing wog tongues: durka-durka, baka-laka, muhammad jihad.
The one thing, however, that the United States cannot do to please Islamists is change its liberal character and traditions of Western tolerance. And isn't that the real story behind all these perceived grievances and phantom hurts: the intrusive dynamism of freewheeling Western, and particularly American, culture?
Both its low forms of girlie magazines and punk rock and its impressive literature, art, commerce and technology saturate the world. And why not? American radical individualism appeals to the innate human desire for freedom and unbridled expression. Instantaneous communications have also brought to an insecure Middle East firsthand views of how much wealthier, freer and more tolerant the outside world is when it is democratic and transparent.
But instead of providing a blueprint for reform, these revelations only incite envy and anger from millions who are advised that parity with the West is found instead by retreating further into seventh-century religious purity.
So never mind the trillions in petrodollars, billions in aid and concessions. Unless we change our very character, or the Middle East achieves success and confidence through Western-style democracy and economic reform, expect more tired scapegoating and violence from radical discontents, from Lebanon to London - and well beyond.
Yes, yes, they hate us for our punk rock and girlie magazines. Of course, we've had rock 'n' roll and smut books for a long, long time. Funny coincidence, isn't it, that the wogs only noticed all this fine Western culture when we commenced using their miserable, sandy little homelands for missile and bombing practice ranges. Now, of course, these places don't exactly look like the Imperial Valley, or Martha's Vineyard, and any reasonable person (like Vic) can easily see that military test ranges are all that these arid hellholes are really good for anyway -- apart from their numerous oil wells. But, you know, these childish Ay-rabs, these whiners, moaners and grumblers ... they unaccountably and irrationally think of these places as "home." And the stinking camel jockeys who get ripped to pieces by the bombs: well, they childishly think of them as "mothers" and "brothers" and "grandfathers" and "babies" and "uncles" and "sisters" and so forth. This could have something to do with their irrational resentment of our gifts of democracy that literally rain down on them from our airplanes in their skies.
But you won't hear that from Vic. There may be an entire elephant in the room, but Vic is not about to be distracted by such irrelevancies. He's got his eye on the Big Picture.