Further sign of a shift against the Bush/neocon Democracy Project

In the neocon New York Post, independent journalist Michael Totten asks a logical question it would never occur to a neocon to ask: The Arab League would like us to help them overthrow the mad dictator Kaddafi, but, given the way many Arabs have hated us and killed us for overthrowing the mad dictator Saddam Hussein, why should we? We’re always hearing about the need for us to win the hearts and minds of Muslims. But what about the need for Muslims to win our hearts and minds?

Which leads to another question: Given that many Muslims regard it as a capital crime against Islam for a non-Muslim country to send its troops to a Muslim country, a crime that justifies the jihad murder of the citizens of that non-Muslim country, even if the Muslim government requested and desired those non-Muslim troops to be stationed there, why should we send our troops to any Muslim country, even if its government says pretty please? This is a question that must be asked, not only of the democracy promoters, but of the Muslims who want us to help them out.

What about our hearts and minds?
March 15, 2011

As forces loyal to Libya’s cruel and de ranged tyrant Moammar Khadafy re conquer one rebel-held city after an other, the Arab League and the Arabic press are calling for a no-fly zone over the country to tip, or at least even, the odds. While I’m inclined to help the Libyans on humanitarian grounds and to advance our own national interests, the American public’s appetite is low for intervening on behalf of the rebels—and it’s largely the Arab world’s fault.

Last time Americans led a coalition to topple a mass-murdering dictatorship in the Middle East, the Arab League and the Arabic press hysterically denounced us as imperialist crusaders fighting a war for oil and Israel. Egged on by al-Jazeera, they cheerleaded the “resistance” that killed thousands of our soldiers with roadside bombs in the years that followed.

Here at home, liberals fear and loathe the very idea of another Iraq, which to them is “Vietnam” conjugated in Arabic—and many conservatives are hardly more willing to risk American treasure and lives for people who aren’t necessarily our friends, who may well take shots at us after they’re liberated and who might build a new aggressive regime of their own.

Few expected Iraq to transition smoothly to a stable democracy after so many years of repression, sanctions and war—but if Iraqis hadn’t responded with such a vicious campaign of violence against our soldiers and each other, the thought of helping Libyans who suffer under similar circumstances wouldn’t frighten or disgust quite so many of us.

Iraqis didn’t have to attack us after we toppled Saddam Hussein. Contrary to what some seem to believe, guerrilla warfare and terrorism weren’t the only options available. The Kurds in Northern Iraq certainly didn’t shoot at us—they like us and welcomed us. They are some of the most pro-American people on earth. Not one person in their autonomous region ever attacked US forces. Only Arabs in central and southern Iraq thought a violent insurgency was the right way to proceed.

The White House, Leon Wieseltier wrote in The New Republic a couple of days ago, “is so haunted by past Arab anger at American action in the Middle East that it cannot recognize present Arab anger at American inaction in the Middle East.” I think he’s right—but it’s not President Obama’s fault that the United States is damned in the Arab Middle East if it acts and damned if it doesn’t.

In the Arab world, the United States is just damned. This was true before Obama was president, and it will remain true after Obama is gone, no matter what he decides to do or not do.

Americans fret constantly about whether or not we’re doing the right thing to win the hearts and minds of the Arabs. That’s one reason Obama was elected (though I can’t help but wonder how many Libyans wish John McCain were in the White House right now). This may be a good time for Arab leaders and opinion makers to ask themselves what they can do to win over the hearts and minds of Americans.

They might find that if they treated us more like the Kurds do, more of us will be willing to help them in the future—rather than shun them as hostiles who deserve to be left to their fate.

Michael J. Totten is an independent foreign correspondent and foreign-policy analyst, and author of “The Road to Fatima Gate: The Beirut Spring, the Rise of Hezbollah and the Iranian War Against Israel.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 16, 2011 12:26 PM | Send

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