When 9/11 happened, I remember wondering why most Americans were surprised. Having recently returned from living abroad, foreign resentment was obvious to me. I had observed it in half a dozen countries over a period of forty years.
Surely it’s no coincidence that American embassies in the Muslim world are being targeted soon after the 11th anniversary 9/11. What is utterly beyond belief is the way in which the daily and spreading escalation of hostile acts toward the United States are reported and commented.
It’s as if the events of the last few days are located in a different mental drawer from the drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, the special forces advising rebels in Syria, the troops in Afghanistan (increasingly the brunt of ‘blue on green’ attacks), the victims of a senseless war in Iraq, the continued refusal of Israel to accept a Palestinian state, etc., etc.
What is surprising is not that Muslims are demonstrating violently against the United States and its allies such as Germany, it’s that this hasn’t happened sooner. As the country that sells more arms than all others combined, that has close to one thousand foreign bases, that ‘sends in the Marines’ when Others refuse the neo-liberal package we would press on them, our indignation at their violence can only be feigned.
We ‘give’ them all that money, cry our representatives. How dare they? Really? We ‘give’ them billions to spend where and as they please? I don’t think so. The foreign policy version of corporate socialism consists of sending money to weak foreign governments so they can buy our products - including our arms.
Eleven years after 9/11, we still don’t have a clue about the rest of the world. Several commentators today seemed to believe that the current violence would die down ('Friday after prayers is the time when Muslims are most likely to vent their anger'). This is to ignore both the irreversibility of the arrow of time and the increased flow of energy within the system called Islam.
The last few days represent a watershed in the history of Western/Islamic relations. Thanks to the advances of digital technology, more and more individuals around the world - particularly Muslims - are realizing that they can reject our ‘message’, and stand up to our implicit and explicit threats.
Instead of arguing over whether to apologize for our own wanton behavior, our presidential candidates should consider the wisdom of abandoning it. Alas, the irreversibility of the arrow of time suggests that this is not going to happen.