The blinkers of the West
John Wight writing in the Morning Star
When will the West ever learn? Given the explosion of anger over the anti-Islamic film produced and posted on YouTube by a US bigot, it appears never.
The shock in Washington which has met the killing of the US ambassador to Libya along with members of his staff in Benghazi calls to mind the words of former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld who, in response to the widespread looting and lawlessness that enveloped Iraq during the heady initial days of the US-led invasion, said: “Stuff happens … and it’s untidy and freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.” Indeed.
A decades-long policy of military and political intervention throughout the Arab and Muslim world lies at the root of these events.
And, crucially, this is not and never has been a policy motivated by the desire to spread freedom and democracy, or by the objective of upholding human rights, but by a desire and determination to retain an iron grip on the region’s natural resources and ensure strategic hegemony as part of an overarching global reach.
It is a policy that has demonstrably failed and will continue to fail to achieve anything other than instability and a growing reservoir of anger over the West’s double standards and hypocrisy.
In Iraq there is chaos. In Afghanistan there is chaos. In Libya there is chaos. In Syria there is chaos.
Wherever the West intervenes, either directly or indirectly, chaos is the result.
The historical charge sheet is too long and damning for any amount of propaganda to refute in this regard.
The insult felt by the Muslim and Arab world through what for most looking on from outside seems a relatively trivial attack on a particular religion reflects the deep sense of humiliation and powerlessness in the face of this long history of military and cultural domination by the West, led by the US.
It has driven more and more Muslims to embrace religion as a protective blanket, a shield against the many and manifold depredations of Western domination over their lives in various ways.
Compounding this process is the ongoing injustice of Israel’s dogged refusal to budge one inch from its policy of apartheid, occupation and expropriation of Palestinian land, which it is only able to do with the unconditional backing of the US.
It is in this context that the raw anger we’ve seen unleashed has to be considered and understood.
Yet for all that the blinkers will no doubt remain fixed firmly in place when it comes to dealing with the fallout from this latest eruption of anti-Western sentiment.
When Barack Obama was elected in 2008 hopes for a new approach by Washington to the Arab and Muslim world were great.
His grandiose words and pledges to the region suggested they were entirely justified.
Yet four years on the first black US president has proved less a reincarnation of Martin Luther King as Al Capone, with his weekly kill lists and regular drone attacks on suspected militants in Pakistan slaughtering hundreds of innocent people – men, women, and children – while maiming and terrorising many more.
Judicial murder, the violation of sovereignty and a blatant disregard for the lives and human rights of innocent people in Pakistan’s tribal areas is the Obama administration’s contribution to peace during his first term in office.
Yet compared to Mitt Romney, his rival for the White House in November, he appears like Gandhi.
Romney and the Republican Party he leads are committed to joining with hawks within the Israeli political and security establishment in pursuing a hard-line policy towards Iran, making the prospect of full-scale war more likely than it is now if he’s elected.
The Republicans believe there is no problem that can’t solved with cruise missiles.
The idea of diplomacy is anathema to a party of right-wing, God-fearing extremists in a political culture that has grown increasingly polarised over the past decade between the mad and bad.
When are governments in the West going to wake up to the fact that the only way to prevent terrorism is to cease practising or supporting it?
State terrorism begets non-state terrorism, yet there seems little appetite on the part of those in positions of power to do anything other than repeat the same old lies and justifications for the West’s self-evident manifest destiny, as the “decider,” in the word of George W Bush.
It means that nothing will change any time soon. One set of extremists have forged another set of extremists, with the scale and scope of the carnage caused by the former exceeding that of the latter by a gigantic margin.
These violent protests and scenes of uncontained anger are not only in reaction to a bigoted, anti-Islamic film. They are the latest manifestation of a world in which the doctrine of might is right is lent legitimacy by the word democracy.