Written on: 8 March 2008
Why They Dislike Us?
Our world is changing very rapidly since the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 in Manhattan New York. New allies, new regimes and new movements are taking place around the globe. Are we waiting for another world war, or is it the second cold war? People are asking. Every day in the news, more killing and more bombings are headlines. Every so often we see people protesting against the United States. The numbers of anti American protest are not surprising any more but instead the number of people participating in those protests is quite shocking. While all this is happening many Americans in particular and westerners in general often wonder, if not ask, why they dislike us so much.
The whole world was sympathetic to United States when planes hit the twin towers in New York, yet today the United States is facing fierce opposition not only by some banned groups but by mass populations from far east countries like Indonesia to far west countries of Africa. The day after this tragic event, Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Britain, after talking to “several world leaders” confirmed by saying “we all agreed that this attack is an attack not only on America but on the world, which demands our complete and united condemnation, our determination to bring those responsible to justice…” (Silberstein13). Then on September 20th in Address to a Joint Session of Congress and The American People in Nation’s capitol, President Bush while describing what Afghanistan looks like under Taliban regime, Osama Bin Laden and his links with terrorist organizations, said to Muslims “I want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith…its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah” (Silberstein 24). President Bush used these words to address the Muslim world that America is not about to fight against them but it is Terrorist who they are after. The Muslim World in general was sympathetic with American people and many including Iran confirmed that sympathy. Iran’s supreme jurist-ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on September 16 was reported by Islamic Republic News Agency saying “Killing of people, in any place and with any kind of weapons…is condemned…it makes no difference whether such massacre happen in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Qana, Sabra, Shatila, Deir Yassin, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq or in New York and Washington” (MAS). It didn’t end at fervent speeches by political leaders across the world but also religious figures contributed their part. Late Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, a well-known Pakistani cleric who taught at Madarasa Jamia Binoria and strongly supported Taliban, gave his religious verdict condemning 9/11 terrorist attack saying “its wrong to kill innocent people…its also wrong to praise those who kill” (MAS). It might be quite shocking that a keen supporter of Taliban gave verdict in favor of Americans, when America was planning to overthrow Taliban and Al-Qaida. Many do fail to notice that this shows how much the world was sympathetic towards America. What measures where taken to fight back in fact made people take opposite sides than of United States.
Many welcomed the end of Taliban regime when NATO forces invaded Afghanistan but there were people from a conservative side that look at it as America’s invasion. Many also recalled the invasion of Soviets, their failure to control Afghanistan, and compared it to America. Recently in the Intelligence report it was said that Hamid Karzai, the Prime Minister of Afghanistan, has only Kabul in control while warlords are governing the rest of the whole country. Today again Afghanistan is back to the stage where Soviets left Afghanistan and warlords took over. At that moment it was Taliban movement that was able to crush the tribal differences and had a strong national government but now when Taliban are gone, will democratically elected government be able to control the State? In 2003 the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society issued a joint report saying “Unless the situation improves, Afghanistan risks sliding back into the anarchy and warlordism that prevailed in the 1990s and helped give rise to the Taliban. Such a reversion would have disastrous consequences for Afghanistan and would be a profound setback for the US war on terrorism”(Carter G. 25). Due to lack of strong federal government many Muslims in the east are furious and buying the opinion of conservatives that US instead of fighting terrorism further divided Afghanistan. The mission announced to the world is abandoned and Afghanistan has been left alone to deal with the crisis. Whatever the results were expected form invasion, it is now evident that they are not yet being fulfilled but instead the radical ideology of Taliban is being exported to Pakistan. The Iraq war has diverted the attention from Afghanistan. The base of Taliban is being forgotten and the stability of Iraq and construction of Green Zone in Baghdad is some how has become a priority. In a 2004 UN Development Program’s report stated that aid “has been much lower than expected or promised…In comparison to other conflict or post-conflict situations, Afghanistan appears to have been neglected” (Carter 24). The report also said “citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina get 3.7 times more per capita in foreign aid than Afghans” (Carter G. 25) If America wants to accomplish the incomplete mission to achieve the goals of war against Terrorism, then United States government has to find a way to solve the problems of Afghanistan. Afghanistan should be helped not by bases of NATO forces but by building an infrastructure, aid and education.
General Pervez Musharraf, a key ally of President Bush in war against Terrorism, faced strong opposition when he supported US forces in Afghanistan. Many Pakistanis saw this as a hypocritical movement by the United States as Bush supported a General, who violated the constitution of Pakistan and overthrew the elected Prime Minister Nawaz Shareef in a coup. For eight years Musharraf ruled Pakistan as a President and as an Army General and during his rule Pakistan has started facing series of radical movements. General Musharraf was criticized nation wide when he ordered Military raid on Red Mosque and its School. Anti American sentiments has increased and series of Suicide bombings has griped the State of Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto, former leader of Pakistan People’s Party, died in a suicide bombing. Very recently senior medical officer of Pakistani Army, General Baig, along with his two men were bombed in Pakistani Army base city Rawalpindi, which is not very far from the capitol. Then there was another bomb at the funeral Prayer of General Baig in which several other innocent lives were taken. Pakistan is now facing series of suicide bombings and various radical clerics are fighting back.
Imran Khan, the former Pakistani Cricketer and the leader of Tehreek-e-Insaaf, Movement for Justice, has demanded President Bush to stop supporting Musharraf. Owais Ghani, the governor of Balochistan Province of Pakistan, when interviewed about where Bin Laden is hiding he said “It is the CIA and not Pakistan that should be asked where Osama Bin Laden is, since it was the CIA that recruited, trained and shepherded the future chief of Al Qaida during Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the ensuring conflict…In fact Bin Laden always hated Pakistan” (Hassan). Despite all the efforts of Pakistani government facing people’s opposition, when every now and then some American officials give a statement of Pakistan not doing enough in this war, it gives a strong leverage to anti American sentiments. One latest incident is when Barack Obama gave a statement that if he becomes president he will send American troops in tribal regions of Pakistan and will root out the militants. The Washington Post reported him saying, “…If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will”(Balz) and even worse when Republican Tom Tancredo and Barack Obama both said that the only way to defend America from possible Nuclear Terrorist attack is by threatening to bomb Muslim holy cities Mecca and Medina (USA Today). Students of various institutions took streets along with clerics, political parties (secular, religious and nationalist), burned American flags and heavily chanted Anti American slogans. What lies ahead in Pakistan is not sure; intelligence report keeps changing every now and then, and there is a climate of fear for getting Nuclear Power of Pakistan in wrong hands. Pakistani generals including former Army Chief General Musharraf assured America many times that the security of nuclear weapons should not be the concern as Pakistan have strong security measures. Talking about Pakistan, the first and the only Muslim Atomic Power country yet, America came very close to having a physical conflict on nuclear issue with Iran.
All states, interested in becoming regional powers are participating in nuclear arms race. First it was just between the United States, Russia and Germany, and since then many countries have developed this technology. Having nuke technology symbolizes influence in the region. There is a non-continuous cold competition between India and Pakistan in this particular field. Both countries launch test missiles to cover greater area efficiently. In Middle East, Israel is the only country that is Nuclear power. Iran now wants to have nuclear facility for peaceful purposes because of 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty but US government is fearful of Iran producing nuclear technology. The situation worsened when President Bush mentioned invading Iran for not cooperating on nuclear issue and that Iran has developed Nuclear weapons, which later found out was not true by International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspection. There came another spark further solidifying anti American sentiments. Not too long ago President Bush himself signed a nuclear technology transfer treaty with India that disbalanced the power in South Asia. Former US president Jimmy Carter quotes Former secretary of defense Robert McNamara on this issue saying, “I would characterize current US nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary and dreadfully dangerous” (Carter 136).
Hating America is not something that can be stopped by having troops in one country or having military operations in another. It’s an ideology that is getting stronger by getting fame from the media. The American public should start notice what is happening in their own country and should actively participate in the decision making process by raising their voices. There is still much time to recreate the good image of America, it will take time and probably a different administration now but more importantly that might mean, tolerating things, which are against American interests and negotiating with countries that are now stronger and influential than before. For the sake of peace America will need to go back to its core values of democracy and liberties. Halting militancy and terrorism can only be possible by not having double standards in our foreign policy, by sticking to one idea and that is Democracy and helping people in aid around the world.
Balz, Dan. “Obama Says He Would Take Fight To Pakistan”. Washington Post 2 Aug. 2007. 11 March. 2008
Carter, Graydon. What We’ve Lost: How the Bush Administration Has Curtailed Our Freedoms, Mortgaged Our Economy, Ravaged Our Environment, And Damaged Our Standing In The World. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.
Carter, Jimmy. Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis. New York: Simons & Schuster, 2005.
Hassan, Khaled. “CIA not Pakistan should be asked about Osama’s whereabouts: Ghani”. Daily Times. 4 Aug. 2007. 11 March. 2008
“Islamic Statements Against Terrorism”. MAS. 29 July 2005. Muslim American Society. 11 March 2008
“Pakistan: Obama remark irresponsible”. USA Today 3 Aug. 2007. 11 March. 2008
Silberstein, Sandra. War of Words: Language, Politics and 9/11. London: Routledge, 2002.