By Dr. Muzaffar Iqbal
Anti-Americanism is a global phenomenon: from the proverbial Arab street to the remote regions of Chile—the loneliest country of the world, as Pablo Neruda called his homeland—and from the tree-lined streets of Paris to those of desiccated Qandhar, there is no place on earth where Americans are not passionately hated. There is nothing sensational in this statement and Americans are the ones who are most aware of this global reality. Consequently, they have devised mechanisms to deal with it.
Like all things American, this is not an ad hoc arrangement brought to bear on certain incidents; it has a fully institutionalized policy, with its own budgetary head. Americans know that they cannot eliminate anti-Americanism, so the job of the American strategists is to keep anti-Americanism within a “comfort zone”.
The comfort zone of anti-Americanism is clinically defined along with a convoluted premise: anti-Americanism is a fact of life, its existence to America is not a threat per se as long as it is kept from bringing about any change which will threaten American interests. If it can be managed, anti-Americanism is actually good for America.
The global hatred against America thus transforms from a genuine and legitimate response of helpless people against overt and covert American actions and policies to a strategic management issue. Management requires direct and active American participation in the ebb and flow of anti-Americanism around the world. Americans long ago decided that the most economical way of doing so is to divide the world into regions or zones, based on the reasons, frequency, and historical patterns of anti-Americanism. South America is one zone, Europe another; the two American neighbors, Canada to the north and Mexico to the south, form yet another region. Non-Muslim parts of Africa are of least interest to Americans in this regard, both because of the low impact factor in global affairs and because of relatively low geo-strategic importance. For the purposes of managing anti-Americanism, the entire Muslim world is taken as one large zone within which there are several smaller regions.
Former American President Richard Nixon advised America’s policy makers to tackle the Muslim world with utmost attention. In his influential 1992 book, Seize the Moment: America’s Challenge in a One-Superpower World, he strategized the American plan to manage anti-Americanism by construing this global phenomenon as pressure in a boiling pot and he explained that this pressure needs safety release valves so that, from time to time, its destructive power can be dissolved. Destructive power, as far as Americans are concerned, would be the ability of this pressure to bring about a genuine change in the leadership of the country where anti-Americanism has reached dangerous levels.
One of the most important pieces of advice he gave to American policy makers was to orchestrate such political action within these countries which would provide vents for the release of built-up anti-Americanism before it exploded and become out of hand. This is widely practiced. Thus, from time to time, one sees mass rallies against America in countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen, and even American-occupied Afghanistan. The purpose of these rallies is to provide an emotive release to the pressure so that it remains ineffective.
In most of these rallies, fiery speeches are made against America. Threats are given to immediately stop this or that policy or otherwise such and such action will be taken. Masses show up in these rallies by the thousands. They are then let loose on streets. They break traffic signs, loot banks and stores, break windows, destroy cars, security forces beat them, and then all becomes calm. Most of the leadership which orchestrates these rallies is paid by Americans in various ways. Sometimes a few innocent newcomers join these shows, but mostly it is master-minded by American managers. Over the decades, this strategy has worked wonders for Americans. Death and destruction caused by such rallies is, of course, mere collateral damage.
Seen from the American lens, there is nothing in this. Whether it is drone attacks in Pakistan, which continue to this day, the indiscriminate bombing of cities like Baghdad and Kabul, the use of lethal, radioactive ammunition in the Gulf war, or the scorch earth policy in Vietnam, Americans see nothing wrong on their part; anti-Americanism for them is other people’s problem; it has nothing to do with what they do.
What is utterly immoral in this whole affair is the American denial of the genuine response of the oppressed people of the world to a global power which has so much blood on its hands that no other power in history can match it. The world has paid a heavy price for America’s rise to become the lone superpower of the world during the last sixty years. The history of American crimes against other people has yet to be written, but just the main events of this global crime are enough to condemn this rouge state to become the object of perpetual hatred of people from around the world. Americans have killed more people in the world than any other country in covert and overt operations which have covered continents, not just countries.
South America is now coming out the dark era of bought military generals, and its people are slowly discovering the damage done to their environment and how their natural resources were plundered. The Muslim world is nowhere close to the emancipation from America which the South Americans have achieved through a series of revolutions which have brought the next generation of leadership to the forefront.
As opposed to the politically enlightened South Americans, most of the Muslim world is still ruled American-appointed kings and Amirs or emotionally charged mass-politics where pseudo religious leaders whip up anti-Americanism in mass rallies on behest of their masters in Washington, let up on the release valves, and then go back to their comfortable villas bought with American money. It may take another generation before Muslims can begin to understand and use the genuine response of masses to American actions and bring about a permanent change in their countries.