Anti-Americanism Abroad

“I cringe when I see America cry to denounce terrorism when just 10 years ago the Americans were welcoming Jerry Adams and Martin McGuiness into their country like homecoming heroes,” Charlie, a British professional and friend wrote me. “I have mourned the death of three male colleagues who died at the hands of the IRA during the early 80’s. Why the hell should I want to support the US on terrorism . . . why didn’t the US support the UK on her fight to beat terrorism?”

Charlie continued, “GW said ‘if you actively support or sponser terrorism, then you are a terrorist and we will root you out.’ What a load of rubbish!”

At the recent international film festival in Venice, Italy, it was reported that the longest applause was for British filmmaker Ken Loach’s segment, which features an exiled Chilean living in Britain who writes a letter to the families of the Sept. 11 victims. He tells them that in Chile on Sept. 11, 1973, a U.S.-supported coup d’etat ushered in an era of torture and death.

And, Nelson Mandela, one of the world’s most-respected statesmen told Newsweek that, “the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace.”

While there is a consistent media focus on anti-Americanism in the Arab and Islamic Worlds, it is clear that such sentiments are rooted throughout the world. The US State Department recently sponsored a two-day conference about this phenomenon and invited experts to explain why there is such hatred in so many parts of the world. For those of us who have travelled abroad and/or who read the international press reports, the announcement was somewhat amusing as it is easy to figure out why there is such hatred: US FOREIGN POLICY.

Some like to say that the events of 9/11 were about jealousies of our liberties. But if freedom was the issue, then why isn’t Holland — arguably the freest nation on earth — the target of terrorist attacks?

In the Middle East, we have given Ariel Sharon, the ‘Butcher of Beirut’, unqualified support to do as he wishes to the Palestinian people. Israel has the fourth most powerful army in the world, and the Palestinians have no army, yet we expect the Palestinians to stop the violence despite home demolitions, unprecedented poverty, land confiscation, assassinations, explusions, and denial of basic human rights.

Elsewhere in the Arab World, there is an understanding that the brutal regimes remain out of support by the US. While democracy and development flourish throughout the Third World, the Arab World is stuck in a time warp, largely due to the policies of US-supported Arab regimes. Opposition figures and intellectuals are often jailed to prevent any viable opposition from forming. Our “allies” are among them.

We say we want democracy in the Arab World, but couldn’t a democratic majority opt to use the oil as a weapon for national gains? And couldn’t that mean jacked-up prices at the pump? Or does this potential scenario scare us into supporting a status quo that we claim to hate so much? When one thinks about it, oil is really the only interest we have in the Arab World, so wouldn’t it be better to have control over the current Arab leaderships?

Our government has supported Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, Pol Pot, Augusto Pinochet, death squads in Central America. We have hindered investigations in Haiti by refusing to return materials seized from the Haitian military in September 1994 and failing to disclose documents detailing atrocities. We also hindered the investigations in Rwanda, by refusing to expose those who were providing arms to the killers. We even refused to call genocide “genocide.”

As Americans, we are generous and loving . . . when we know what is going on. We abhor human rights violations, and evil leaders. We usually root for the underdog in conflicts. In a nutshell, morality tends to be our compass.

As Americans, we are generous and loving . . . when we know what is going on. We abhor human rights violations, and evil leaders. We usually root for the underdog in conflicts. In a nutshell, morality tends to be our compass.

Clearly, there is no justification for the evils that awaited the victims of 9/11/01, but while banners read “We will not forget” at so many ceremonies and public events, we must keep in mind that others are not forgetting their 9/11s either.

Sherri Muzher, who holds a Jurist Doctor in International and Comparative Law, is a Palestinian-American activist and free lance journalist.

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