Why do other nations hate the United States? Why does the Middle East hate the United States? I do not believe that the hatred that would spur suicide bombers to sacrifice their lives is based purely on a jealousy for the freedoms and “greatness” of America. We are at risk of terrorist attacks mainly because of our interventionist, unconstitutional foreign policy. In an exchange that I believe is very typical of the views of citizens of other nations, Etan Thomas learned from Kenyans why America is hated. Here is a somewhat lengthy quote from Thomas that I think is worthwhile to include in this discussion:
They [Kenyan students in Kenya] began listing different aspects of U.S. foreign policy that causes Americans to be hated around the world …Another young man referred to Ron Paul in a recent debate. I thought that was very interesting in that many young people here don’t even know who Ron Paul is. But he told me how he stood as the only Republican willing to admit that our lengthy involvement in Middle Eastern affairs, in particular the bombings of Iraq in the 1990s was at least part of the rationale in the terrorists attacking us…This war definitely did not help the way America is viewed across the world. It in fact increased the resentment and anger many countries feel toward the U.S. and all allies, therefore making innocent people in these countries targets to terrorism. This was the case with the bombing at the U.S. embassy they were referring to in Kenya, the deadly attacks in Madrid on March 11, 2004, and London on July 7, 2005. Bush [and others] will tell us the reason why they hate us is because they ‘are jealous of our way of life’ or they ‘hate our freedom’ but in reality, they disagree and despise the impact the policies of the U.S. has not only on their lives but on the entire world.
The image of America is often one of a bully intervening in the affairs of other, mostly Middle Eastern, countries. One senior Taliban intelligence officer asked a poignant question: “The Americans are attacking us in our country, our villages, and our houses, so why shouldn’t we attack them in their country?” (Hosenball, et al, 2010). I think it is unreasonable to not expect attacks on our nation when we are invading other nations and killing innocent civilians in the process (unintended or not). If, for example, another nation invaded America because a group of extremists from Texas killed their citizens, how would we respond? Surely, we would fight them and sacrifice our lives to remove them from our soil. We must understand that citizens of other nations have just has much right to defend their soil as we do to defend ours.
William Beeman, an anthropologist and Middle Eastern researcher, wrote the following for Brown University:
All of this meddling only confirms the century-old assertion that the West was out to rob the people of the Middle East of their prerogatives and patrimony. The current revolutionaries in the region, including bin Laden, have political pedigrees leading directly back to the original reformer, Al-Afghani. Willy-nilly, the United States keeps reinforcing these old stereotypes. It is essential that we find a way to break this pattern, or we will be mired in these troubled relations forever.
I cannot agree more: it is essential that we find a way to break this pattern. And the only way to begin that process is to admit that our meddling in the affairs of Middle Eastern countries is at the heart of why America is hated abroad. Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. wrote the following for the Ludwig von Mises Institute:
All during the 1990s, the US attempted to starve the population of Iraq, with the result of hundreds of thousands of deaths. Madelyn Albright said on national television that the deaths of 500,000 children (the UN’s number) was ‘worth it’ in order to achieve our aims, which were ostensibly the elimination of non-existent, non-US built weapons of mass destruction. Yes, that annoyed a few people. There were constant bombings in Iraq all these years. And let us not forget how all this nonsense began: the first war in 1991 was waged in retaliation for a US-approved Iraqi invasion of its former province, Kuwait. Saddam had good reason to think that the US ambassador was telling the truth about non-interference with Kuwait relations: Saddam was our ally all through the Iran-Iraq war and before.
America’s involvement overseas sometimes seems so corrupt and contradictory that many American people may find it too complicated to follow. Instead they usually assume that their interests are being protected and America is “doing the right thing.” We befriend a dictator and then declare war on him and use the propaganda of defeating an evil leader as good reason to wage a war. As long as America’s leaders continue this immoral practice of invading other nations without being attacked and without a declaration of war, we will continue to be one of the most hated nations in the world—not because we are free and prosperous, but because we use our strength to interfere in other nations, all for the sake of “American interests.”
Under the guise of freedom and democracy, American leaders have sent thousands of young Americans to their deaths in “wars” in the Middle East. Americans are fed the lie that we are fighting for our freedom overseas. I think that is misleading. In fact, the more we get involved overseas, the more we fight unconstitutional wars, the more we invade other nations, the more our freedoms are put at jeopardy—both from outsiders and from those within our own government. I do not mean to suggest that everything America does overseas is wrong, rather I think it is important for us to be honest about what is really going on. I want what is best for America, and I do not think continuing a course of involvement overseas is beneficial for our nation.
We’ve come a long way from John Quincy Adams’ statement about America: “But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” It is a shame that some of our political leaders have advanced unnecessary wars in the name of “promoting democracy.” As a military veteran, I support the troops and respect the sacrifices they make. It is a shame that the careless foreign policy of the United States has cost us many lives (both of U.S. soldiers and foreign civilians).
Hosenball, M., Thomas, E., Linzer, D., Rotella, S., Dickey, C., Klaidman, D., & … Moreau, R. (2010). BLOWBACK. Newsweek, 155(25), 26-29.
Rockwell, L.H. Jr. (2007, May 17). Ron Paul on blowback. Mises Daily. Retrieved from http://www.mises.org
Thomas, E. (2007, July 23). They are not jealous of our way of life. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com