In Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, which first appeared under anonymous authorship, CIA analyst Michael Scheruer offers his explanation why so many Arabs hold the United States in contempt, and why Osama bin Laden is nearly a cult hero. It’s intriguing and disquieting. He says they don’t dislike us because we’re free, they dislike us because of what we do in their part of the world. We extract oil that keeps despots in power. We overlook human rights abuses among some of the most corrupt governments anywhere. And we continue to tilt toward Israel and ignore the desperate pleas of the Palestinian people. They dislike our policies, not our freedom nor even our society. Mostly, he claims they would like us to leave them alone rather than make their lives worse.
Osama bin Laden has been adept at exploiting the
raw wounds that fester in corrupt Arab societies and pouring salt into them. As
a result, he has built a following in the Arab world that views him as a hero.
Scheruer is scathing in his critique of right-wing evangelical Christians who,
viewed from the ground level in Arab societies, represent the entire Christian
community. These folks have made statements that are not only insensitive, they
are inflammatory. Instead of helping us understand each other, such statements
lead to deeper division, according to Scheruer. While it’s not necessarily his
point, it leads me to the conclusion that the teaching organizations in the
U.S., the schools and churches have a significant responsibility to carry out
global education. And the voices of moderation and understanding, from all
perspectives must make even greater effort to be heard. We need to cut through
the rhetoric and get to real conversation that holds the promise for mutual
understanding and respect. That’s not an impossibility and its strategic
advantage is that it could help us find a way to peace.