[Reader-list] An Iraqi Dissident Viewpoint

Jo and Tarun jotarun at yahoo.co.uk
Wed Oct 10 08:13:58 IST 2001


 Fighting Islam's Ku Klux Klan 
The Muslim world cannot forever attribute all its ills to the Great Satan, America, writes the Iraqi dissident, Kanan Makiya


Kanan Makiya
Sunday October 7, 2001
The Observer 
The Arab and Muslim worlds suddenly find themselves facing a civilisational challenge such as they have not had to face since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. For, in the years to come, the greatest price of the madness that was unleashed upon New York and Washington on 11 September will be borne by them and by all individuals of Arab or Muslim origin, wherever they might live in the world. 
I am not talking about the next war in Afghanistan or greatly redoubled efforts to hunt down Muslim and Arab terrorists from Boston and Hamburg to Cairo and Karachi. The price I am talking about is not paid in blood or by being the victim of the kinds of humiliating slurs and racist attacks that are everywhere on the rise in the West. It is the much greater price brought about by continuing to wallow in the sense of one's own victimhood to the point of losing the essentially universal idea of human dignity and worth that is the only true measure of civility. 
Arab and Muslim resentment at the West is grounded in many grievances, some legitimate, others less so. Without question, the West has blundered in its dealings with the Arab world. The United States has in recent years behaved unjustly towards the Palestinians. The Allied victory in the Gulf War of 1990-1991 was a lost opportunity to rectify this record, to show that the West, and the United States in particular, was capable of reaching out the hand of friendship and support to the peoples of the Arab world, to their democrats and civil libertarians, not merely to a host of tyrannical and unrepresentative regimes. 
Like Germans after the First World War, Arabs felt they deserved a different lot after the Gulf War. They thought of themselves as having tried to change the ways they did politics in the past, and got nowhere. Palestinian living standards have actually declined since the Oslo accord in 1993, and Iraqi society (much less its polity and economy) is in a state of steady disintegration. So Arabs grew more resentful and angry at the West than at any other time in modern Arab history. This resentment can be felt everywhere; it has taken root in the most Westernised sections of the Arab population, among businessmen and students of science and engineering, and even among the sons of the mega-rich like Osama bin Laden. 
However, grievances alone do not explain the apocalyptic act of fury that was unleashed upon New York and Washington. Arabs and Muslims need today to face up to the fact that their resentment at America has long since become unmoored from any rational underpinnings it might once have had; like the anti-Semitism of the interwar years, it is today steeped in deeply embedded conspiratorial patterns of thought rooted in profound ignorance of how a society and a polity like the United States, much less Israel, functions. 
Attribution of all of the ills of one's own world to either the great Satan, America, or the little Satan, Israel, has been the driving force of Arab politics since 1967. As a powerful undercurrent of Arab culture and politics, it has been around much longer than that. After 1967, however, it became the legitimising cement upon which such murderous regimes as Saddam Hussein's Iraq were built. 


More information about the reader-list mailing list