I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Winning hearts and minds

As you may recall, one of the primary "justifications" for invading Iraq was that we were going to reduce anti-American resentment in the Middle East -- which fuels terrorist recruitment -- and therefore make the world safer for our country. They were going to so appreciate everything we did for Iraq and Afghanistan that they would realize how great we were, like us much more, and therefore not want to attack us anymore. How is that going?

Attitudes toward the U.S. from those in the Arab world have suffered greatly as a result of American foreign policy in the region, according to an Arab American Institute/Zogby International poll released today . . .

In 2002, the favorability rating of the U.S. among Moroccans was 38%. Now it's 7%.

In 2002, the favorability rating of the U.S. among Jordanians was 34%. Now it's 5%.

In 2002, the favorability rating for the U.S. among Saudis and Egyptians was already so low -- 12% and 15% -- that it basically could not go any lower. And it has not, but it certainly has not improved either after four years of our grand wars of "liberation."

In particular, support for our "Iraq policy" commands 2% of the Saudi population (96% disapprove), 6% of Moroccans (93% disapprove), and 7% of Jordanians (86% disapprove). Those approval numbers are slightly higher -- slightly -- in Lebanon (16-73%) and Egypt (25-50%).

It is worth recalling here that the idea of winning Muslim "hearts and minds" in the Middle East was not the solution invented at an International Solidarity Conference sponsored by Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, Kofi Annan, and Fidel Castro. This was the paramount goal which warmonger neoconservative insisted justified our invasion of Iraq and which President Bush himself has repeatedly identified as the central objective in our Epic Worldwide War of Civilizations.

In his best neocon-ese, the President recently attributed the September 11th attacks to "conditions where anger and resentment grew, radicalism thrived, and terrorists found willing recruits. We saw the consequences on September the 11th, 2001, when terrorists brought death and destruction to our country, killing nearly 3,000 innocent Americans." And in the same speech, he warned:

The experience of September the 11th made it clear that we could no longer tolerate the status quo in the Middle East. We saw that when an entire region simmers in violence, that violence will eventually reach our shores and spread across the entire world. The only way to secure our Nation is to change the course of the Middle East -- by fighting the ideology of terror and spreading the hope of freedom.

Maybe the lesson to learn is that people do not like you better when you send your military into the middle of their region and invade, bomb, and occupy the country which is one of the most important to them religiously, geopolitically, culturally and historically. Doing that is more likely to increase your unpopularity rather than decrease it.

But I'm sure this problem will be solved once we start bombing Iran. Muslims will definitely appreciate our pro-democracy bombing campaign and their hearts and minds will finally be ours.

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