WHY DO THEY HATE US?

The Muslim Militants are Nothing New

FUTURECASTS online magazine
www.futurecasts.com
Vol. 6, No. 1, 1/1/04.

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Aggressive despotism:

  Once again, people who hate the United States have attacked it. Incredibly, there are people in the United States so detached from reality that they are confused by this. They ask: "Why do they hate us?" The answer is obvious.
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The United States must continue to stand for the alternatives of freedom and liberty.

 

This is not an uprising of Islam against the west - or of the poor against the rich. It is a power grab by theocratic fanatics.

  They hate the United States because it stands in their way!
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  They hate the United States because it stands in their face!

  •   They want to tell people what they must do.

  •   They want to tell people how they must act.

  •   They want to tell people what they must think.

  •   And they want to do this in as many countries as they can come to dominate.

  Nothing has changed. They hate the United States for the same reasons that the Nazis hated the United States. They hate the United States for the same reasons that the Japanese militarists hated the United States. They hate the United States for the same reasons that the Communists hated the United States.
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  As with these 20th century aggressive despotisms, the United States stands in their way - the United States stands in their face - the United States stands for the alternatives of political and economic freedom, individual liberty and civil rights.
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  And that is exactly where the United States should be standing. That is exactly where the United States must stand.
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The rejoicing of the Afghan people as they were freed from the scourge of theocratic despotism cuts through all the propaganda to reveal the true nature of the despots confronting the United States. It reveals the absurdity of the assertion that the militants are acting for Islam. It reveals the absurdity of the assertion that the militants are engaged in an uprising of the poor against the rich.
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  The theocratic fanatics are engaged in a power grab. And wherever they want to grab power, it's the United States that stands in their way.
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God help us - God help this world - if the United States ever stops standing in the way - if the United States ever stops standing in the face - of such aggressive despots. As always, the United States must continue to stand for the alternatives of freedom and liberty.
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It is the Muslim peoples, themselves, who ultimately - inevitably - will become the primary targets and victims of the terrorists - since it is the oppression of Muslim peoples that is their primary aim.

 

The strength of unpopular despotic regimes may sometimes be hard - but it is always brittle.

  Once again, the United States is at least fortunate in the stupidity of its opponents.
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  They have again underestimated the United States. Yet once again, its adversaries have mistaken liberty for decadence. Yet once again, its adversaries have mistaken a reluctance to engage in warfare with weakness.
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  In Afghanistan, they have again facilitated the formation of alliances against themselves. They have incredibly initiated conflict and/or otherwise incurred enmity with China, Russia and the United States at the same time, as well as with five of the six nations bordering Afghanistan (including China). (He who attacks everything everywhere gains nothing anywhere!) Even the patron state - Pakistan - had reason to become worried about its destructive client.
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  It is the Muslim peoples, themselves, who ultimately - inevitably - will become the primary targets and victims of the terrorists - since it is the oppression of Muslim peoples that is their primary aim. It is the Muslim peoples themselves who ultimately must provide the margins of victory in this conflict.
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  Ultimately - as a theocratic despotism - the Taliban were at war with the Afghan people whom they sought to dominate. The ideological attractiveness for some of theocratic and other absolutist despotisms never long outlives the reality of their rule when such despotic groups succeed in taking power. In Iran, over 75% of the people have been voting against the clerisy in that country - anxious to get out from under that theocracy.
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  Thus, once again, the United States finds many allies - some of whom are of substantial assistance - while its adversaries fight alone or with unreliable allies. In Afghanistan, the Afghan people gleefully abandoned the Taliban regime - which crumbled as soon as effective force was brought against it. The strength of unpopular third world despotic regimes may sometimes be hard - but it is always brittle.
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  However, the military campaign in Afghanistan was the easy part. Now, the conflict enters more difficult, and messy phases - inside Afghanistan as well as outside Afghanistan.
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  By relying on indigenous militias in Afghanistan to supply all the ground forces, the U.S. achieved many objectives. It frustrated its adversary's primary objective of inflicting casualties on U.S. soldiers - avoided the appearance of occupation - and strengthened the hand of alternative local leaders. However, it also limited U.S. control over the battlefields and influence over political developments. At least a few of the terrorists who thus escaped from Afghanistan will cause trouble later. The level of political discord in Afghanistan may again undermine the possibilities for peace and progress. From now on, it is going to be much harder to tell the "good guys" from the "bad guys."
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  Diplomatic results even when apparently favorable can be far more problematic than military results. Pakistan is an obviously weak link in the alliance, and terrorists operating from its territory are a problem not yet solved. Future military efforts may be required in jungle or major urban areas. These will be far more difficult than in the open deserts or among mountains and valleys denuded of vegetation where superior technology and firepower can dominate miles of terrain. Guerilla warfare is far more potent where there is no substantial winter that ties guerilla forces to supply bases that they cannot protect. Attacking the sources of political and financial support is inherently more complex than a military campaign.
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Iraq:

  In Iraq, we see much of the same thing, but in a much larger and more complex theater than in Afghanistan.
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Technological advantages are much diminished when it is difficult to distinguish the "bad guys" from the "good guys."

  In Iraq, too, an aggressive despot - albeit secular rather than theocratic - was at war with most of his own people and had ambitions to expand beyond his borders. The vast majority of his people rejoiced at his fall. However, a significant segment of the population - chiefly among the minority Sunni peoples - grieve for the loss of their privileged position under Saddam Hussein, and actively support insurgents attempting to regain that lost position.
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  In Iraq, too, dealing with the irregular forces opposing the allies after the end of the military campaign is proving far more difficult than the military campaign itself. Technological advantages are much diminished when it is difficult to distinguish the "bad guys" from the "good guys."
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 Fears of Sunni domination may just succeed over time in molding the rest of Iraq into a viable nation. Fear of the wider implications of failure strengthens U.S. resolve. As so often in the past, the attractiveness of modern ideals and possibilities is on the side of the West.

  However, the Western allies do have significant advantages. As so often in the past, the opponents of the Western alliance provide its greatest strength. The fears created by despotic forces are a primary asset for the U.S. and its allies.
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  Fears of Sunni domination may just succeed over time in molding the rest of Iraq into a viable nation. Fear of the wider implications of failure strengthens U.S. resolve. As so often in the past, the attractiveness of modern ideals and possibilities is on the side of the West.

  • The Kurds in the north are cooperating with the U.S. and - more surprisingly - among themselves, for fear that anything less may undermine U.S. resolve to protect them from revival of Sunni domination.

  • The majority Shia peoples intensely dislike the Western presence in their lands, but fear the Sunnis more. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." The extent of Shia cooperation and peaceful tolerance of the Western presence is a mark of their fears of renewed Sunni domination. Most also seek protection from the threats of their own militants.

  • Against the ideals of previous Iraqi nationalism and growing Muslim militancy, the Western allies ultimately offer the economic opportunities and political freedom of relative modernity and the attractiveness of a new Iraqi nationalism based on more progressive ideals. This is a long term proposition, of course, but it would be wrong to underestimate the strength achievable by the progressive alternatives.

Ultimately, it will be the alliance that the U.S. achieves or fails to achieve with the majority of the Iraqi people that will be most important.

  Nevertheless, the Western occupation in Iraq is a wasting asset even among cooperating groups. The U.S. and its allies must do what they can do to put Iraq on a more progressive path, and then put increasing power and responsibility into Iraqi hands.
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  Ultimately - as important as the support of the U.S. and its allies is and will remain - it is the Iraqi people who will either win or lose in Iraq. Ultimately, it will be the alliance that the U.S. achieves or fails to achieve with the majority of the Iraqi people that will be most important - far more important than the lack of alliance with France or Germany.
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Hopefully, sufficient acceptance of realities and possibilities in the new Iraq will spread amongst the Sunni peoples to make acceptable power-sharing arrangements possible and undermine support for the insurgents.

  A civil war of as yet unknowable proportions will face the Iraqi people and their Western supporters right from the start. They must fight this conflict with unwavering determination, since they cannot afford to lose. The U.S., of course, has vast experience in the fighting of such a civil war - and the extraordinary brutality required to win such conflicts. It may well be essential for the Iraqis to find their Gen. Sherman - their Gen. Sheridan - to successfully resolve this conflict.
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  For the U.S., too, defeat is not an option. Support for the Iraqi people must be sustained regardless of the brutality of the conflict. Retreat from Iraq will quickly come back to haunt the U.S. Hopefully, sufficient acceptance of realities and possibilities in the new Iraq will spread amongst the Sunni peoples to make acceptable power-sharing arrangements possible and undermine support for the insurgents.
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  The Sunnis must understand that they can never put that Humpty-Dumpty Saddam Hussein regime back together again. Continued efforts to regain dominance will simply enmesh them in interminable Civil War with larger population segments that will have the continued support of the U.S. As long as the U.S. and the substantial majority of the Iraqi people are determined to prevent renewal of Sunni domination, the Sunnis are on the losing end of this conflict and on a course for widespread disaster.
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  The wealth of the Iraqi oil fields will never again flow predominantly into Sunni hands.
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Democracy in the Middle East:

 

Every effort at democracy, no matter how flawed or unsuccessful, constitutes a great victory for progressive modernity.

 

Victory for modern progressive political and economic systems will be a generational process rather than one achievable in mere years or even a decade.

  Initial efforts at democracy in both Afghanistan and Iraq will inevitably be flawed and most likely will fail. Democracy isn't easy, even without the obstacles faced in the Middle East. See, "Middle East Futurecast." It must be kept in mind that almost every major nation and most minor nations have suffered failures in efforts to establish systems of political freedom.
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  The U.S. initially failed under its Articles of Confederation. France is in its Fifth Republic. In Latin America, many nations have made an art form out of failed democracies. It may be that only democracy works in the modern world, but perfect democratic systems can't work The weaknesses of democracy must be recognized. The challenge is to create practical forms of democracy rather than politically or ideologically desirable forms of democracy.
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  However, every effort at democracy, no matter how flawed or unsuccessful, constitutes a great victory for progressive modernity. Having once experienced political freedom, peoples naturally come to appreciate it. This, over time, provides the essential support for further efforts.
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  The U.S. and the modern world are playing for very high stakes in the Middle East. Success in Afghanistan and Iraq cannot come quickly. Indeed, a victory for modern progressive political and economic systems will be a generational process rather than one achievable in mere years or even a decade. Like the Cold War during the last half of the 20th century, this must be a long term commitment.

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Copyright 2004 Dan Blatt