University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Anti Americanism in The Middle East
Anti Americanism in the Middle East is caused by various factors. Some causes are genuine and others are a result of peer pressure or influence by the leaders and radicals. Since the attacks on Washington and New York, the conventional concept and wisdom about the motivation that fuelled such deadly terrorism is gelled. This violence that we are often told is a reaction to misguided and misinterpreted American policies. For many years, some American actions such as its constant support for Israel and for the unpopular, oppressive and marginalizing Arab regimes has supposedly produced profound hatred and grievances throughout the people of Middle East. These grievances and hatred have come to a boil gradually over time, and this explains the constant Arabs attack on America and its allies by the Middle East nations. As much as anti-Americanism is largely spread among Middle East people and governments there is something that is highly misleading in this concept. Middle East’s Muslim and Arab hatred of America is not just, a response to the actual united states policies. The American policies have been highly pro-Muslim and pro Arab over the years. It is clear that such animus is obviously as a result of self-interested incite and manipulation by different influential groups within middle east countries, groups that employ anti-Americanism as a strategy and foil to shift public attention and interest from more serious issues within the middle east society (Katzenstein & Keohane, 2007).
Anti Americanism is sometimes blamed and associated to the former president George Bush. Bush is a lightning rod behind the anti American feelings in the Middle East. This is because of the multiple wars happened during his tenure in office. Another cause is the American policies systems and power fuel resentment in the world. People from the Middle East are annoyed by the fact that as much as America is a super power it does very little to solve world issues. America has a reputation of backing policies which increase the gap between the poor and the rich. Another cause of anti Americanism in the Middle East is the fact that they have put themselves above the law. The American soldiers have killed many innocent people in the Middle East and no action has been taken against them. When the Islam leaders kill innocent people America leaders arrests and even kill them. Amerce is always bulling the Islam nations by discouraging the building of nuclear yet they have nuclear bombs themselves. The American leaders like Bush have never been summoned ti the International Criminal Court for charges against Humanity despite the fact that they have caused the death of very many innocent people. The Americans have killed many people with drones which is very inhuman and no action has been taken against them (Hollander, 2004).
Anti Americanism in the Middle East is also caused by the fact that America has created a worldwide impression that people from the Middle East are terrorists. People from the Middle East are linked with terrorist activities by America. This has influenced people from other nation’s perception on the Middle East people. When American soldiers attack the Middle East countries they don’t expect them to fight back. The American soldiers kill innocent women and children and when the nations engage in war they are regarded as threat to security. Anti Americanism is caused by the relentless support America gives Israel. The American government has supported Israel in almost all its wars against the Middle East nations. This has proved that America is totally against the Middle East nation and consequently causing the constant hatred between the Middle East people and America. The Washington foreign policy seemed to support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (Rubin, 2002).
Americans prize personal empowerment and prize individualism more than the Arabs in the Middle East. The cultural values in America completely differ with the ones in America. Americans are Christians and the Arabs are Muslims. The countries don’t go along because some things that Arabs practices are considered irrelevant by the Americans. The religious and cultural difference between the two countries has also boosted the anti Americanism. Another factor that has led to the anti Americanism in the Middle East is the conflicting attitudes and policies toward military and security issues. The war in Iraqi and other countries in the Middle East has led to increased tension and negativism from the middle east people. Also the American foreign policy contributes to the hatred. The foreign policy seems to be selfish and against the Middle East. In the American foreign policy it is clear that America has no intention of working together with the Middle East. The foreign policy depicts Middle East as the threat to world security. Anti Americanism is also contributed by the elite politicians and leaders who incite and preach against the Americans. This makes the people to have hatred towards America without particular reason. The Muslim leaders consider America as the major national threat. This incitement increases anti Americanism as people are influenced by the leaders’ sentiments (Lacorne, 2010)
The Media has also contributed to the increasing anti Americanism in the Middle East. The media constantly programs which depict Americans as the enemies. The media portrays America as gods of war who are jealous of other nations. America does not support when the Middle East countries explore the nuclear weapons. The media keeps covering the programs which show the man less American drones roaming in the Middle East. This makes people to have continuous hatred against Americans. The drone issues have increased anti Americanism because it shows they are ready to kill people from Middle East at any time. The Arabs feel like Americans are denying them their freedom rights. They feel that they are always under threat and this makes them to be unsettled. Some tv reporters have been recorded inciting the general public against America. Recently the media majored on the coverage of the anti Muslim video that was released from America. This video clearly showed that some Americans hate the Muslims who are mainly found in the Middle East. The video has also been a major cause of anti Americanism especially with the media paying attention to it (Crockatt, 2003).
There is also anti Americanism in the Middle East because there are those children who have been left homeless and orphaned because of the killings and bombings made by the American soldiers. These children grow up with total hatred against the Americans. There are also many people who were victims of the wars and some are friends and family members to people who the American drones killed. This causes people to be bitter thus increasing anti Americanism. The children grow up knowing that America is the cause of their sorrows. They consider Americans as selfish nation which only focuses on its national interests and gains on the expense of innocent peoples life. Anti Americanism has become a culture in the Middle East children are told by their parents that America is bad and they grow up with fixed minds against Americans. This perception is passed from generation to generation in the Middle East (Crockatt, 2003).
For many years, anti-Americanism has become and served as a strategy of last resort which unsuccessful, failed political personnel, institution and movements in Middle East strive to improve their reputation and standing. America is accused for so much that goes bad in the Middle East and the general Arab world. This in most cases is used as an explanation or reason for social oppression, political and economic underdevelopment. By issuing responsibility and excuse for their own mistakes and shortcomings to America, Middle East leaders distract their people’s attention from internal differences and weaknesses that form their real grievances. And hence instead of pushing for equality for women, greater privatization, democracy, freedom of speech, due process of law , civil society or other relevant developments issues which are sorely needed in the Middle east, the leaders focus on hating America (Hollander, 2004).
Also during the Cold War it was popular for people in the Middle East to portray American policies as anti-Arab. This was despite the concrete evidence in the contrary. This rhetoric became a common convenient strategy for radical regimes and movements to create legitimacy of their own and to refer to their opponents as Western (American) puppets. The nationalist and Islamist Radical Arab regimes also accused America backed governments of ignoring human rights and being antidemocratic to its people, This is despite the fact that the radical regimes in the middle east such as Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Iran have worse records as much as human rights is concerned (Crockatt, 2003).
There are various explanations as to why the American actions have been disregarded in Middle East countries. First, whatever the level of U.S’ failure to comprehend Middle East, the Middle Easterners have greater inability to understand the Americans. Throughout the Middle East movements and leaders have always expect Americans to attack and kill them since they are enemies. This has caused greater tension between the Middle East and America. Secondly, it is vital to understand how tightly news and information is controlled in countries of the Middle East. It isn’t surprising at all those masses, which are shut off from the accurate information to constantly feed on biased antagonistic views which are always hostile and against the Americans. The people who have the capacity to present more accurate picture or information in this case are discouraged by censorship, peer pressure, and fear of being branded American agents.
There are also the efforts to reduce all the American policies to a single issue: America support for Israel. The policies and true nature of Israel are also distorted in this context. This element and issue is significant to the salience and anti-Americanism rhetoric. Some people radical Arabs believe that Israel as a country is an evil agent which seeks to dominate the entire Middle East by destroying Islam and killing Arabs. This explains why Arabs view America’s support to Israel as evil. However, the truth, is that America has merely assisted Israel survive constant efforts from Middle East forces to subdue it. The American-Israel relationship was most ambivalent during Israel’s first years of existence, the United States totally refused to supply ammunitions and other aid. This relationship only intensified during the occurrence of hostile actions from the Arab Middle countries, which aligned with Soviet Union to sponsor the anti-American terrorism. The radicals also want to ensure that America fails in its peace efforts. It also explains why terrorism is always increased by people from the Middle East whenever it seems that American diplomatic pursuit of unity and peace might become successful. This explains why when Israel withdrew from Lebanon, motivated by America, was rebuked as a sign of weakness and a mark that the Israel’s enemies should start violence against the state. Also The Attacks in September were planned and organized at a time when peace process seemed to be closest to success. According to political analysts it is not an accident that Middle East anti-Americanism was at its peak at the moment when America was proposed to back and support creation of independent Palestinian nation which had its capital in east Jerusalem (Ceaser, 2003).
Anti-Americanism is also useful in the oppressive Middle East’s Arab regimes It allows Middle East leaders to distract people’s attention from their own problems and failings. Instead of the leaders responding to important demands and issues such as, higher living standards; democracy, corruption, human rights, and incompetence, Arab rulers accuse America for their own ills and misfortune and refocus their anger against America. Middle east Arabic states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt have over the years obtained weapons and protection from America but the leaders still promote popular anti-Americanism by state controlled media and government policies . Iraq for example has used the anti-Americanism policy as a strategy in its efforts to; escape sanctions, get back to the Arab world, and rebuild its military strength. America is accused for murdering the Iraqis through sanctions, and no one remembers Iraq’s forceful seizure of Kuwait (Hollander, 2004).
The Middle East anti-Americanism has also proved very useful for other people besides the politicians. Anti Americanism allows journalists and intellectuals to vent and focus their anger against the government-approved enemy (America) instead of risking to criticize failure and injustices that they encounter at home. Anti-Americanism has also become useful for the general public. Holding America responsible and accusing them for everything that is wrong in their countries and lives helps them to explain how their world operates and why life seems not to improve for them (Revel, 2003).
The major reason behind the prevalence of Middle east anti-Americanism is that it has been a useful strategy and tool for the radical leaders, moderate regimes and revolutionary movements to build their domestic support and pursue personal goals which have no significant costs. As a strategy in the middle east, anti-Americanism seems to provide something for every person. For the radical Islamists in the Middle East, anti-Americanism has been a method of mustering popular favor from people despite all attempts to implement a theocratic revolution fail as a result of being rejected by the masses. The Islamists in the Middle East have focused on anti Americanism instead of fostering xenophobia or channeling their battle from one that is among the Muslims in the Middle East to a struggle between all Muslims and Americans who purportedly disagree with Islam and seeks to destroy the Muslims (Revel, 2003).
Anti Americanism in the Middle East is bound to get worse as the leaders and the elite use it as a tool for distraction or reason for underdevelopment and excuse of underperforming. America has tried to win out the heats and interest of the people of Middle East but their efforts have been in vain. Even when the Americans act in good faith or in favor of the Middle East people the radicals still find a way to demonize their actions and used it against them. The Middle East media system is also another major cause because the content covered is highly manipulated to show America as the enemy. The internal conflicts experienced in the Middle East countries have posed impossible challenge and dilemmas for American policy makers. When America helps some friendly Arab governments such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt’s, it is blamed of sabotaging revolutionary movements against them. When America pressures Middle East governments to improve their positions on human rights or democracy, it is blamed and accused of imperialism. Anti Americanism is there to stay in the Middle East since it has grown into and accepted public culture and believe system. It is also supported my religion differences, Where majority of Americans are Christians and people from the Middle East are Muslims (Gentzkow & Shapiro, 2004).
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