Friday Foray
Iraq Observations - 002

The Cost of Humiliation

Why do they hate us?

Who am I talking about? Well, lots of people, it seems lately. All over the world.

This is a bit longer than most posts here so please bear with me for a few minutes. I hope I won't waste your time.

I used to have an email Newsletter before the blog. It started when I was working on Senator John McCain's presidential bid. After the primaries, it turned a different course and I would send it out weekly. One of the topics back in April this year was about the feeling of humiliation that the Muslim world feels from experiencing the Western world.

The Washington Post had an article titled "Humiliation Follows Baghdad's Collapse" that I quoted. Here is some of it:

"In Baghdad, the Iraqis had weapons. They had an army. If you fought only with your hands, you could last two weeks. They didn't fight," said Ahmed, 37, a Jordanian architect, shaking his head. "It's humiliating."

Humiliation is the word used across the Arab world these days to describe the war in Iraq, in particular the dramatic collapse of Baghdad's defenses. The dismay is shared not only by anti-American radicals, but also by those who have felt kinship with the West.

People like Ahmed, who spent three years studying architecture at the University of Texas and is raising his two young daughters to speak English. "It's not whether you were pro or anti-America," he said. "Baghdad was a symbol. It was suddenly gone."

...The unexpected resistance in Umm Qasr during the first week of the war started to erase the stigma of Arab impotence. Over the following days, Arab spirits rose further with the Iraqi capture of several U.S. soldiers during an ambush on the U.S. Army's 507th Maintenance Company near Nasiriyah and the downing of an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter south of Baghdad.

"People fed themselves spontaneously on that resistance. It was a kind of catharsis for the humiliation of setbacks over the last 50 years," said Abu Odeh. "It was a catharsis cut short by the fall of Baghdad."

..."Baghdad means a lot to Muslims and Arabs," said Abeer Bakel as she and two friends sat at a window table at the Chili House in Amman's upscale Abdoun neighborhood. Wearing a traditional white Muslim headscarf revealing only the oval of her face, the 22-year-old pharmacist said she blames Iraqis for failing to mount a better defense.

"We expected more from the Iraqi people," she said. "In the days before Baghdad fell, nothing indicated it would happen this quickly. When they said Baghdad had fallen, I felt like I wanted to cry."

Labib Kamhawi, a Jordanian political analyst, watched much of the war on the television set in his spacious Amman office. During an interview this week, the BBC was playing in the background until, in apparent disgust with the news, he turned it off.

"Enough. Whatever we do, we lose," he said. "Failure after failure after failure. There must be something wrong with us after all these defeats. We always defeat ourselves. We should look inside to see why and have the guts and courage to say why."

Kamhawi said that intellectuals and activists across the region increasingly question why Arab societies have repeatedly produced weak, despotic governments.

"Every time I talk about Iraq, I feel sad. I feel tired. I feel angry. I feel so drained on the inside," he said. "I feel so angry at Saddam Hussein and I blame America equally."

He paused, suddenly choked up, before continuing.

"This is Iraq. This is Baghdad," he said. "This is one of the strong pillars of the Arab world."

Kamhawi went silent again.

"Let's not talk any more," he said.

I am sure that got your blood boiling, but wait! The Mad Ogre had similar commetary today about Europe and linked to this article by Ralph Peters in the NY Post and it got me thinking about the same subject that I wrote about over 7 months ago. Here are some bits from the Peters article:

Bush is worse than Saddam, you see, because he refused to look the other way. His resolve is an embarrassment.

American wars of liberation humiliate the complainers on the left. We've seized their professed ideals and made them a reality. We fought for freedom, while they only chattered. Their protests are the result of wounded egos.

During the Cold War, America was mocked for its ill-judged support of dictators because they were "our dictators." Now our government has left the distortions of the past behind and returned to America's traditional role of championing freedom. And look how the tables have turned.

Europe's left so hates America and all it stands for that the dictators have become "their dictators." Of course, European intellectuals supported Stalin, too. But it can only amaze anyone who believes in elementary human rights that America is pilloried for putting an end to a murderous regime.

On one level, the European left's protests against all things American are understandable. We won, they lost. All their cherished rhetoric led only to the Gulag in the East and to bankrupt welfare states in the West. Now, the East, where terror reigned, aligns with America, further angering the West Europeans who lived on credit for the past 50 years, loafing in the shade of America's might.

...No coward has ever been short of good reasons for doing nothing.

As with Islamic terrorism, European protests against our actions in Iraq are not so much about us as about the protesters' own demons. The current French and German gloating over their belief that we're trapped in a quagmire against which they oh-so-wisely warned us is as shabby as it's fundamentally wrong.

We aren't trapped in a quagmire in Iraq. But the European left is trapped in a quagmire of failure, mendacity and guilt.

How could they not hate the land of the free? Whether we speak of America or Iraq.

So, why do they hate us? Europeans and Middle Easterners...I'll hazzard a guess.

1. It's about the humiliation of not being the master of your own destiny. Think about the Muslim world ruled by despots and murdering dictators.

2. It's about the humiliation of having to be bailed out multiple times by a bunch of uncultured cowboys. Think about France and Belgium in WWI and WWII (and, in France's case, Viet Nam).

3. And it's about having the error of your ways pointed out to you time and time again. Think about Germany's nationalism and Russia's socialism.

I am not sure how to fix this. Should we lose the war in Iraq just to satisfy the egos of the humiliated? Will that change the wave of terror in the world? Would that change the arrogant French opinion of us?

Of. Course. Not.

But what I am sure about it is that, while he is not perfect, I am DAMN proud of our president and our allies. God bless them all.

I am proud of the moral resolve of our uncultured cowboy president. Who else, but a cowboy, could look at the Middle East, something that we have allowed to fester and call it what is was...wrong. Who else, but a cowboy, could take the hard road and ride it out? Political consequences be damned...Character-assassinations be damned...Obstructionists be damned.

We are on the right track and, politically and tactically, are giving more than we get.

Note to France, Belgium, Germany, Russia, and the Middle East:

President Bush, the uncultured cowboy, also has something more to give to you.

Humiliations Galore!