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49 thoughts on “On Obama’s Trip To Jordan And The Charade

  1. It’s good to read this through your zoomed out lens. I wonder if there are any statistics of the percentage of personnel income in Jordan that depends directly or indirectly on American entities like USAID and others!
    “more affected by American foreign policy in the region, than anything else” certainly true and can be seen from very minor market demands shifts that flows with the flow of agreements and policies to huge businesses that takes advantage or fails due to these agreements as well… Apart from the more essential issues like energy …….

  2. the Fox news people have always been right *****

    and “we” are america’s mindless followers to some extent… ill stop there so as not to break into another political rant =p

  3. I believe that the current US elections have been more of a global ‘stage’, as you described it, than all the recent ones I’ve witnessed. The reason behind it is, in my humble opinion, the two very different foreign policies each candidate will take on as a president.
    One calls for an immediate (or a quick scheduled) withdrawal of troops from Iraq, whilst the other doesn’t give it much importance and further threatens neighbouring countries of possible invasions. These two extreme situations that the middle east might be facing, have vast economical and political consequences in the region. Hence the relatively higher importance given to this race compared to the ones in the past.
    Excuse my memory, I was just 12 years old at the time mind you, but I don’t recall George Bush giving the Middle East a formal visit as a presidency candidate in 2000.
    It says a lot doesn’t it?

  4. You got the whole thing wrong Naseem. Obama’s international mania has nothing to do with the US and everthing to do with Obama as a person. McCain the other candidate in the race was in Jordan few months ago and he did not recieve 1 % out of the attention that Obama got. All this attention has to do with his elequance , intelegence and his exotic background, A half Kenyan-half American, interratial kid whom his father came from Islamic famiy in Kenya.

    In Chris Mathew words, Obama has been the World’s gift to America instead of the other way around. It is amazing story, that a regular guy with a funny name and with this background can hold the most powerful office in the world. Say whatever you want to say about America but only in America that story not only can be imagined but actually can become true.

  5. Good observations. It is amazing that the guy has to come all the way over here for what, my vote? Ha ha. Doesn’t he know we get CNN? Those are my tax dollars at work. Allah yahdina.

  6. Issan, from my American perspective I could not agree with you more. I also agree with Cris Mathew. Putting Obama’s intelligence andspeaking ability aside for a second, the fact that he is so multi-cultural is reason enough to think that you would be a wonderful US president.

    I supported Gore back when GWB first came to power. Like many Americans and people from all around the world I have become increasingly disgusted with GWB. We are hoping that Obama can lead America from its self-destructive neocon path, that also endangers the rest of the world. Put this hope together with Obama’s intelligence and speaking abililty is the reason of his reception around the world?

  7. Nas, interesting post. While I do think that not every American Senator could come and get the red carpet treatment, it is more of a statement about how Jordan views itself, I’m afraid. I’m saddened by the NGOs in town that rely wholly or primarily on aid from the US. There seems to be no concept locally of giving, but rather we’ll wait on Americans to give us handouts. That sets Jordan up to continue having to follow everyone else around. Until the country can 1) generate its own revenues, 2) give to its own causes locally from local funding, and c) value local talent by paying appropriate prices I fear Jordan will fail to move forward… And, as long as it fails to move forward, it will continue to have this type of dysfunctional relationship with the US.

  8. Elections use the world as a stage because they affect the world. Decisions this country make directly affect its suppliers, consumers, and trend-followers i.e. the rest of the world.

    Jordan is a prime example of a puppet country that acts as the official hotel of choice for U.S. troops and charity donations like the infamous fleet of police cars generously dumped throughout the country as a gesture from the U.S.

    Teenagers at my Jordanian high school, myself included, were hungry audiences for American music and television.

    Amman, now more than ever, is turning into a clean, culture-free slate that is shaped and run by American trends.

    That is why Amman is in no position to criticize the U.S. for using anyone as a prop, because it’s first in line to suck up anything the U.S. throws at it.

  9. I agree with MommaBean and Amer.

    Jordan is not a passive victim in all this. It is an active participant to the extent that it continues to overrely on foreign aid so it can live far beyond its means, lose some of its best and brightest to other countries because of the entrenched wasta-fication of the country, not develop a greater culture of philanthropy, and appreciate that, in part, this is what globalization entails (i.e., it’s not a one-way street, where one country does all the giving while the other sits back and receives).

  10. I’ve just discovered your blog, but I’m already intrigued.

    We Americans are often blind to our privilege and position and we do things that often rub people the wrong way (to beg a tired metaphor) and that can be culturally insensitive. I do think, however, that sometimes an even is simply what it is. I would hope that this trip is an attempt by Obama to show the world that even though the current President took 50 years of diplomacy and alliance-building and destroyed it, the United States – part of it, at least – is dedicated to becoming a good citizen of the world. Too many of us haven’t gotten past the easy days of the Cold War where everything was so simple in comparison. Obama represents those of us who have gone past that old mindset, those of us who want to come to the table to discuss issues ranging from international security to our lingering imperial legacy around the world.

    I would like to say something to ameliorate the perception you have of this issue but I recognize that I am not you, that I have not lived your life, that my experiences are in many ways fundamentally different. I know that I can only see this from the American side of the ocean and that as much as I think I may understand, my understanding is lacking and likely superficial, at the very least colored by my American-ism. Because of that, all I can do is hope along with you that Obama really does represent a better America, one that isn’t violently intolerant and exploitative.

    I know. It’s too much to expect of a single man. Obama speaks to many people who once felt too disenfranchised to care about the political process in the United States. People are excited; they care, they are starting to believe that we can be greater than we have been, not through violence and exploitation, but by being productively engaged members of the world community.

    Obama’s trip abroad is, I believe, a message to the world that we want a different America as much as (and hopefully more than) you do.

    I like your blog. Peace.

  11. Thanks everyone for the comments. To generally address some of the things mentioned…

    Yes, there is a bit of Obama-fever abroad, specifically on the heads-of-state level and perhaps on the street level in european nations, but you’ve either got to be kidding me or at best naive to think and/or believe that the average person in the third world, especially the Arab world, gives a damn about Obama’s “cultural background”. I mean seriously. This is a topic that may make for an interesting tv movie one day, but it’ll only be shown in the US. The Arab world (for one) could care less about who he is or what he is: the office remains the same. the politics remain the same.

    Moreover, when it comes to American politics, the Arab world knows two things are true, and these are two things that Americans tend to forget (especially around voting time)…a) candidates campaign in poetry and govern in prose. b) no matter what the poetry is, no matter how different it may sound like, the prose remains the same. Especially, especially, especially foreign policy with regards to the Middle East.

    Now, I understand that Obama “represents” change. I understand what someone like him represents to the American people. He is completely different from any type of leader they’ve ever had to experience. But this has nothing to do with America’s relationship towards the Middle East, which, mark my words, will remain undoubtedly the same. I understand the American perspective, and I understand that now, more than ever, there is a need for them to invest their hopes and dreams in someone or something. They’ve been drained of all that for the past 8 years and Obama represents something new and different and uplifting. But that’s the thing, the Arab world has been drained for much longer than 8 years, to the extent that everything is just deja vu at this point. The elements have not changed for over half a century. So unless Obama-fever is an airborne virus, it’s a tall order to expect the Arab masses to catch it.

    The general perception that Bush undid decades of diplomacy in the region is also a bit strange to me. Ask the average Arab and he’ll tell you: what diplomacy? At worst, the policy has been to invade or fund conflict, and at best, it’s been a policy of duck and cover rather than diplomatic engagement and leadership (and please, for all that is holy, do not come back to me with oslo and taba and i dont know what. if the US was serious in brokerage then resolution 242 would’ve gone into effect long ago).

    Much of the damage caused by Bush today is just building on decades of destruction by previous US administrations. Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine; they’ve all been done before and like any good American president, Bush just hit the “repeat” button. Sure, he’s taken the US and the region to a heightened state of self-destructive enlightenment, but it’s not like everyone before him was attempting to do anything different, it’s not like they didn’t already want to go there.

    He was just better at it.

    And you can’t blame him for that.

  12. Nas,

    As far as 242 goes, here is the impartial? view from wikipedia:
    ————————————————————————————————————————-
    “Broadly speaking, Israel interprets Resolution 242 as calling for withdrawal from territories as part of a negotiated peace and full diplomatic recognition. The extent of withdrawal would come as a result of comprehensive negotiations that led to durable peace.

    Initially, most of the Arab world rejected Resolution 242. Today, the general Arab position is that the Resolution calls for Israel to withdraw from all the territory it occupied during the Six-Day War as a precondition to the start of peace negotiations.

    Both parties point to the wording of the resolution to back their claims.

    Supporters of the “Israeli viewpoint” focus on the operative phrase calling for “secure and recognized boundaries” and note that the resolution calls for a withdrawal “from territories” rather than “from the territories.” This finds support from the resolution’s drafters, this means Israel need not withdraw from all territory. Further, the United Nations had never recognized the West Bank as [de jure] Jordanian territory nor the Gaza Strip as Egyptian territory and could not enforce their claims to sovereignty.

    Supporters of the “Palestinian viewpoint” focus on the preambulatory phrase emphasizing the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,” and note that certain, albeit unofficial, translations of the resolution include the word “the” in the phrase “from the territories.” For instance, if one translates the phrase from its official English into French and then back again, the definite article “the” will be necessarily added.

    Supporters of the Israeli viewpoint note that this phrase would also apply to Israeli territory in the Jordan Valley captured by Syria in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, which Israel recaptured during the Six Day War. Syria believes that 242 requires that Israel return that territory to Syria. Furthermore, the second part of that same sentence in the preamble recognizes the need of existing states to live in security.”
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    ————————————————————————————————————————

    The Israel Palestine issue is complicated beyond belief. From my secular point of view I wish the state of Israel was never created. Still, the fact is that it was. Is Israel’s interpretation of 242 so unreasonable…. guaranteed peace first, land second? And from a theological point of view the Torah, Bible, and Quran agree that Israel should belong to Jews?

    Putting the Israel question aside for a moment what could Obama or the US do in the future to help Jordan in particular and the Middle East in general? Should US foreign aid be done away with? What policies should be undertaken?

    “Much of the damage caused by Bush today is just building on decades of destruction by previous US administrations. Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine.”

    True. Much of this “decades of destruction” was because of the Cold War. I would argue that it was the Soviets how started with their occupation of Eastern Europe. Then the Soviets supported the Communist Chinese and Western powers decided not to get involved. When the Communist came to power in China this caused a panic attack among western powers and so began the cold war. The rules were sadly simple: support any government no matter how evil as long as that government did not support the other guys. For example support the Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein because they were anti-Soviet. Thankfully the cold war ended, but we are still living with its repercussions.

    Under the first Bush and the Clinton years was there not a change in US policy in the middle east? Because the cold war was over it gave America more freedom to support human rights over just being anti-communist. For example America could view Saddam Hussein as the evil dictator that he was. Total support for Israel was lessened. Then 9-11 happened and this all changed. It gave GWB the political currency necessary to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. Without 9-11 this would have been impossible.

    What should Obama and the USA do to make things better, given the above geo-political realities?

  13. If current trends continue and American / European global power is eclipsed by Chinese power would this be better for Muslims and the Middle East? Of course this would take a generation or more, if it ever happens.

  14. Salaam:

    //But that’s the thing, the Arab world has been drained for much longer than 8 years, to the extent that everything is just deja vu at this point.//

    Here’s the thing. Whose condition changes? You don’t have to be a Muslim to believe in the principle. For Muslims, it’s God changes the conditions of those who change themselves. For other people, change comes when you become the change you want to see in the world. Everywhere I go, I see people imitating, hungry for anything American. Believe me, the average American doesn’t know and doesn’t care about this. Who is jettisoning whose culture here? Don’t we make the beds we lie in — or at least help muss them up a bit?

  15. Nas’s prediction that the next administration will give us more of the same the way it has been giving us since the start of the cold war is nothing more than a wishful thinking. Perhaps it used to be more of the same, now it is do it or else.

    The era of carrots and sticks is over and done with; this is the dawn of the new era the one that gives you a stick without the carrot. The only thing impressive that Obama had said so far and I sort of concur with him on it is that a McCain administration is tantamount to a Bush’s third term. This means that the doctrine of preemption will not only continue to be in effect it will be solidified and strengthened.

    Remember a while back when McCain said Bomb. Bomb.. Bomb Iran. The next administration will be the kind that is going to tell Hezbollah you have one of two choices, you either disarm or we are simply going to have to use whatever necessary force to disarm you, it will tell Syria that you need to change your present regime with another one that is less acrimonious to the United states or we are going to have to find our own way to device a regime change, it will tell Hamas that your friends in Iran and Syria are fighting for their very own survival and unless you join hands with Abbas and company we are going to have no choice but to disarm you the way we are planning to disarm your brothers in South Lebanon. It will tell the Saudi that we are giving you six months to declare the Wahabi sect of Islam null and void or we simply are going to bomb your Mecca into a heap of rubbles the way we bombed Belgrade & Baghdad few years ago.

    It will tell the Iraqis you better sign here on the dotted lines permitting the establishment of permanent military basis similar to the ones that were established in Germany and Japan after World War II

    You are no better breed than the Japes’ and the Germans, and you happen to have that oil that we can’t live without and honestly need to stay close to it and guard it so no one else but us think about getting it.

    These are the types of scenarios that I’m envisioning from the next administration, the president whoever may that be may yield a lot of power but still he is usually and fully controlled by the special interests groups, the lobbyists, congress, and the elders of his own party.

    If he decides to veer too much too soon he will be stopped, by pressure, by scandal, or by one of many other ways and means available for impeachment. I really wish that things will remain the same because they aren’t, they are getting much worse, we even may experience one of the worst periods ever during the next administration. I’m strictly talking here about US relations with the Arab world, notice I didn’t say the Muslim world since this pertains to the Arabs and the Muslim/Christian Arabs and not the non Arab Muslims.

    Let’s hope and pray that Nas is right and I’m wrong, only time will tell and time unfortunately isn’t on our side.

  16. Dear Hatem,

    “The era of carrots and sticks is over and done with; this is the dawn of the new era the one that gives you a stick without the carrot.”

    With 9-11, the London bombings, the Madrid bombings, the death threats against the Danish cartoonists, the Muslim Lebanese rapists in Australia, the Muslim rapists in Scandinavia, the killing of Theo Van Gogh, the French Muslim riots, the constant bombing all around the world done by Muslim extremists (in the last week : Turkey, Pakistan, India, China, and Iraq)…. there is a growing trend in western countries to give less benefit of the doubt to all Muslims in general. Only time will tell, but yes there is a definite possibility that this will translate in only the sticks and no carrots. Take Denmark for example. Before the cartoons Denmark was one of the best friends the Muslim world had in the western world, that is no longer the case.

    “You are no better breed than the Japes’ and the Germans, and you happen to have that oil that we can’t live without and honestly need to stay close to it and guard it so no one else but us think about getting it.”

    First off Japan and Germany has two of the best economies in the world, some of the highest standards of living, and two of the strongest democracies in the world as well. Would that be such horrible future for Iraq?

    Second, the entire world economy depends on oil. This is as true for America as it is for Jordan, or any country in the world.

    “If he decides to veer too much too soon he will be stopped, by pressure, by scandal, or by one of many other ways and means available for impeachment.”

    The two US presidents that have been impeached were Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson (in 1868). Both were cleared of all charges. Impeachment is only when congress decides if they should have a trial to remove a president from power. No US president has ever been removed through impeachment proceedings. The only president ever to lose power, and that was only on threat of impeachment, was Richard Nixon. This was not because of the politics of Richard Nixon, but rather because he spied on his Democratic opponent for president. Therefore, I do not understand the point you are trying to make here.

  17. What is interesting is that all current leaders wanting to be associated somehow with Obama. Shifaa(shifaa.blogspot.com) has interesting article about simialrities betwwen the King and Obama, I do not see any simialritis my self but others seem to poroject their simiarilies with him based on his celeb status.

  18. Austin,

    The United States could have done the same thing it has always been doing minus the 35 or so interventions that it has committed in various parts of the world since 1949. See this link for details Buy Cialis Online Canadian

    You see the main problem is the huge American hubris, they not only think that they are God’s chosen people on earth, they want to prevent any society from ever rising to the level of the American level. They want to stay afloat with no competition around.

    In my opinion America would be much more loved and respected if and when it stops intervening in countries of the world, most notably in country that never did and nevel will cause any threat to America, that is all ; is this too much to ask for. You label yourself as someone neutral, do you believe that the American intervention is necessary for the safety and security of America itself, or is it solely based on the huge American hubris? I want an honest answer.

  19. Hatem,

    Countries like people are not perfect. Both make mistakes. Yes, America has made some mistakes. Still compared to the previous world’s strong countries (UK, France, Omottan Empire, Russia, ect) I would argue that America is not nearly as bad. All strong countries have done bad things, still historically speaking it would seem America has done more good than bad.

    “they not only think that they are God’s chosen people on earth”

    Sadly, a good point. Some Americans do believe this. Many Americans, including myself, are bothered by this part of American culture. No country or culture is perfect, and this is a bad part of mine. In this day and age this is something that I believe most Americans no longer believe. America is not alone in this. Do not Muslims and Jews believe that they are God’s chosen people? Not the same thing, but the name for China in Chinese is the Middle Kindom, or the center of the earth.

    “they want to prevent any society from ever rising to the level of the American level. They want to stay afloat with no competition around.”

    Historically this is simply not true. America did a lot to help its former enemies Germany and Japan. Back then America could have tried to punish these countries like Germany was after the WWI, but this did not happen. On the contrary America did a lot to rebuild these economies. In many ways we turned two of the most violent oppressive governments ( a lot worse than America) the modern world has know into strong democracies that have proven to be tolerant of their neighbors. While Korea was not an enemy of the America during WWII, America did a lot to foster the economy of South Korea. Today Germany, Japan, and South Korea have among the highest standards of living in the world, and are major competitors for American industry. As a point of fact South Korea and Japan have been very successful in out-competing American corporations in the fields of electronics and cars. Today Germany is the strongest economy in Europe.

    “In my opinion America would be much more loved and respected if and when it stops intervening in countries of the world, most notably in country that never did and nevel will cause any threat to America, that is all ; is this too much to ask for.”

    Most of the intervening that America has done was during the Cold War. Cold or hot war is always bad. Soviet Russia did start this war, and much of what America did was in response to this agression. I will come back to this point later on.

    In recent history the two main examples of this has been Afghanistan and Iraq. My hometown is New York City, so in this way I am biased. It would seem that prior to 9-11 Bin Laden and Alcada were functioning as a part of the Taliban government. For example Alcada would assinate members of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. What happened on 9-11 was an act of war. The Taliban choose to have an alliance with Alcada so therefore the American invasion of Afghanistan was justified. On a side note, true America did do it for its own self-interest because of the Cold War, but the fact is America helped the Taliban defeat the Soviets. To the Taliban, this is the way that you repay our previous help? Thanks a lot.

    Iraq has proven to be a huge cluster-f*uck. It would seem that GWB put pressure on the CIA to give the answers he wanted, that Iraq had nuclear weapons and selling / giving them to Alcada was a real possibility. This in turn would put all the major US cities in danger of a nuclear attack. I have to admit after 9-11 this argument was compelling. This was how the Iraq War was sold to the American people. When it turned out Iraq had no real weapons of mass destruction was when GWB changed the rational of why America invaded Iraq. GWB’s actions in regards to Iraq is one of the main reason why so many Americans are disgusted with GWB. The majority of Americans and myself agree with Obama: Iraq was a huge mistake, and real target should have been Afghanistan.

    If it was not for 9-11 there would be no American troops in either Afghanistan or Iraq. Both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars was a response to America being attacked on 9-11. In fairness the possibility of a nuclear weapon being used against an America city is a possibility. That is one reason why America and the Western powers are so fearful of Iran developing nuclear capacities.

    I know the conspiracy theories in regards to 9-11. I have found their logical arguments defective, but that is getting off topic.

    “American hubris”

    Prior to World War II America was for the most part an isolationist country. It was only after World War II when we were the only industrialized not ravaged by war that we became heavily concerned with international issues. A lot of that had to do with the Cold War, in response to Soviet agression. Many in the west were fearful that after the fascist governments of Germany and Japan had been defeated the next threat to democracy and freedom was Soviet Russia. Given the puppet states that Soviet Russia created in Eastern Europe and their support of Communist China this was not a naïve thought. I have met Czechs who lived under Soviet control, and people who lived through the Chinese Cultural Revolution that can attest to this fact. So began the Cold War as well as America being an international power. As far as hubris goes…. yes that is a part of American culture. Still given the world would have been a lot worse off if the dictatorships of Nazi Germany, Imperialist Japan, or Soviet Russia had won this hubris is not totally undeserved. America has done some bad things, but nothing compared to the above three regimes. America did more than its share in saving humanity from the above three governments. Do you think the world would have been a better place if America and its allies had lost World War II or the Cold War?

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    China, 1945-49:
    The amount of support America gave to Chaing Kai-shek was nothing compared to help that Soviet Russia gave to the Mao. Chaing Kai-shek implored the government of America to send more help, but Washington said no. I have had Taiwanese friends of mine express frustration with America because America refused to help China in this vital point in their history. During the Yalta conference (just prior to the end of World War II) Soviet Russia promised to have democratic governments in Eastern Europe. They broke that promise. By doing this Soviet Russia had proven itself to be a dictatoral empire like Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan. It was Soviet Russia installing dictatorships in Eastern Europe and helping a dictatorship come to power in China is what started the Cold War.

    A point of fact: life in Taiwan has been a whole lot better than life in China over the last 50 years. America has given its support to Taiwan so it was not conquered by Mainland China. If it was not for America the people of Taiwan would have shared the same horrible fate of the Mainland Chinese. Do you know what happened during the Cultural Revolution in China? Even today do you know how ruthful the Beijing government is with its own people?

    Italy, 1947-48:
    True. This was only temporary. The western powers did make sure that the Communist did not come to power for fear that it would join the Soviet bloc. The western powers only did this once, and then Italy was left to chart its own destiny. Compare this to Eastern European countries that were totally controlled by Moscow until the end of the Cold War.

    Greece, 1947-49:
    True. Again this was only temporary to stop the spread of the Soviet Block.

    Philippines, 1945-53:
    The actions of America in the Philippines are some of the most deplorable in American History. No arguments.

    South Korea, 1945-53:
    Again this was only temporary. As far as “corrupt, reactionary, and brutal governments”, North Korea is incomparably worse than anything South Korea ever was. I lived for two years in Seoul. South Korea has a great economy and human rights, in a large part thanks to America. If it was not for America the South Koreans would have the same lives of North Koreans. Cheers to America.

    Albania, 1949-53:
    Given what happened to Albania under Soviet rule, it is unfortunate that this was not successful. The actions undertaken by the US and the UK was nothing compared the oppression done to the Albanian people under Soviet rule.

    Germany, 1950s:
    It was the Cold War. Both the CIA and KJB “orchestrated a wide-ranging campaign of sabotage, terrorism, dirty tricks, and psychological warfare”. Again Soviet Russia broke its promise of having a free democracy in Germany, and it was them not the US that started the Cold War.

    The Berlin Wall was not created to keep the CIA out… that makes no sense. It was created to keep the East Germans in because it was politically embarrassing to have Eastern Germans defecting to West Germany to have a better standard of living and freedom.

    Iran, 1953:
    True, what America and Britain did in Iran was bad. This was the Cold War, and the rules of game (as started by the Soviets) was to support any government no matter how evil as long as it did not support the other guys. Sadly Iran, and so many other countries, got caught in the middle of the Cold War. Again, war is bad, no argumens about that.

    Guatemala, 1953-1990s:
    Again this falls under the Cold War. Especially after the Cuban missile crisis where the Soviets tried to ship to Cuba nuclear weapons Washington was very scared of any government in this part of the world coming under Soviet control.

    Middle East, 1956-58:
    Compare South Korea to North Korea, Taiwan to Mainland China, Albania to Italy, West Germany to East Germany. Life under the Western sphere of influence was incomparably better than under the Soviet one. America has done some real good in the world?

    ‘The English translation of this was that no one would be allowed to dominate, or have excessive influence over, the middle east and its oil fields except the United States, and that anyone who tried would be, by definition, “Communist.”’…. No, the English translation was : ‘the United States “is prepared to use armed forces to assist” any Middle East country “requesting assistance against armed aggression from any country controlled by international communism.”’

    The Syrian government and Nasser’s government choose to be pro-Soviet. It was a war, a cold one, but still a war. In a war bad things happen.

    Indonesia, 1957-58:
    What America did to Sukarno is nothing compared to what Sukarno did to East Timor.

    British Guiana/Guyana, 1953-64:
    It was the Cold War. War is bad, no argument there.

    Vietnam, 1950-73:
    Fact : America was invited by the South Vietnamese government to help in its civil war with the north. I am in Vietnam right now. I have been here 4 months. So far I have not felt a single anti-American feeling. Much to my surprise when I tell someone I am American, all I get is “OW, good country”. I have met one Vietnamese person that wished America and South Vietnam had won the war. Given the examples of South Korea, Taiwan, and West Germany there is little doubt that the lives of South Vietnamese would have been better in the long run. He wished his country could have shared the fates of South Korea and Taiwan instead of what happened in Vietnam. Before the Vietnamese War Saigon was one of the richest cities in Asia. After the war when the communists came to power Vietnam experienced decades of economic stagnation and starvation (mostly because of the actions of Vietnamese Communist government). For example the government treating its farmers as economic slaves. It was when the farmers of Vietnam refused to be treated like that anymore that the current government decided to embrace capitalism. Vietnam like China is a capitalist dictatorship that pays nothing but lip-service to Communism. America is more socialist than the China and Vietnam of today. Still things are better in both Vietnam and China then they were before. Just ask a Chinese or Vietnamese person.

    Cambodia, 1955-73:
    Cambodia offers one of the best examples of why Communist dictatorships is just not a good idea. America should be praised for forcing Communist dictatorships into annals of history?

    The Congo/Zaire, 1960-65:
    To blame the misery that people of Congo experienced on America is just not fair. America’s stance on the Congo 99% of the time had been one of indifference.

    Brazil, 1961-64:
    Cuba had tried to arm itself with Russian nuclear weapons to used against America. President Goulart supported Cuba. America was acting out of self-preservation.

    Dominican Republic, 1963-66:
    I do not know enough about this to respond.

    Cuba, 1959 to present:
    The American stance towards Cuba was not so negative until Cuba became pro-Soviet and tried to arm itself with Soviet nuclear weapons. I am of the opinion that when the Soviet Union collapsed the Cuban sanctions should have been lifted.

    I do have to give Cuba credit because it is the only Communist government that really tried to help the people, instead of what happened everywhere else : where the Communist elite enjoyed good lives exploiting the people.

    Indonesia, 1965:
    The Cold War, like all wars are bad. Again, it was not America that started the Cold War.

    Chile, 1964-73:
    What Chile did to itself should not be blamed on America.

    Greece, 1964-74:
    What the Greeks did to themselves should not be blamed on America.

    East Timor, 1975 to present:
    The US should have supported East Timor independence. One of the reasons this did not happen was that Australia (a big ally of ours) feared antagonizing Indonesia. As an American this really frustrates me… America is evil when we get involved, and then we are evil we do not get involved.

    Nicaragua, 1978-89:
    Again, like all wars, the Cold War was bad. Yes, America was scared to have another Cuba so close to American territory. Again, Cuba had threatened America with a nuclear attack.

    Grenada, 1979-84:
    I am not a big fan of Reagan who was the president when this happened. I agree, America made a mistake in its invasion of Grenada.

    Libya, 1981-89:
    Libya almost definably financially supported the December 27, 1985 Rome and Vienna airport attacks, at the very least Libya praised it. This was an act of war against Italy and Israel, two allies of America. Therefore America was justified in attacking Libya back.

    Panama, 1989:
    Personally I think the Panama War was mistake. It was not done as part of Cold War, but rather as part of America’s War on Drugs. Personally I think America will never win this war and drugs should be legalized. I 100% agree America should never have invaded Panama.

    Iraq, 1990s:
    Yes war is bad. Iraq did invade Kuwait first. Was the way that Iraq treated Kuwait any better than how America treated Iraq? Given who Saddam Huisein was…. was it not better for the Kuwaiti people to remove SH?

    Free flowing oil is vital for the world economy. That is just the way it is. This is true for every country in the world, including America.

    Afghanistan, 1979-92:
    I do not understand…. Soviet oppression of a country is automatically good, but US oppression of a country is automatically bad. So, America is bad because it helped the Afghans overthrow the beneficial Soviet oppressors? Again, the degree that Soviets had control of Afghanistan was at a level that America (accept for right after World War II) never undertook.

    El Salvador, 1980-92:
    What the El Salvadorians did to themselves should not be blamed on America.

    Haiti, 1987-94:
    “After delaying his return for more than two years, Washington finally had its military restore Aristide to office, but only after obliging the priest to guarantee that he would not help the poor at the expense of the rich, and that he would stick closely to free-market economics. This meant that Haiti would continue to be the assembly plant of the Western Hemisphere, with its workers receiving literally starvation wages.”
    This is pure propaganda. The above is so wrong, I do not know where to begin. It is America’s fault that poor countries pay starvation wages?

    Yugoslavia, 1999:
    This was done in a large part to stop the genocide of Muslims by Serbians? How many more Muslims would have died if America had not done this?
    If this bombing was not done out of humanitarian reasons and to stop the genocide of Muslims…. then why else was it done?

    In summary, and getting back to American hubris:

    Sure America has made some mistakes, and like all powerful countries has done some evil things. Still all in all America has done a lot more good for the world than bad.

  20. The funniest thing about this global tour is that Americans really, really, really don’t care.

    Like Nas said, this is poetry before prose (excellent way to put it). However, this poetry is not for us in the U.S. It’s for you around the World.

    Foreign policy was not brought up in the last 15+ debates here. No one cares. The president hopefuls do because of the war situation but everyday people continue, as always, to refer to the U.S. as the world, and totally ignore that anything else exists.

    It’s wrong, shallow, idiotic, I know. But ask the most intellectual person you know about this issue here and they will tell you “so when is he getting back from that thing? What’s he doing about gas prices and the mortgage crisis?”

    To put it simply, we’re dealing with so much more than the war on the inside, and unfortunately, the war is the single item that makes this country look outside, nothing else.

    And the reason is even worse – tax dollars, not people.

    The mortgage system is collapsing and lenders are shutting down, there is a massive credit problem (all the invisible money being spent on cards is finally catching up with us), and immigration reform is costing us a fortune.

    Trust me, no one’s looking at what the world thinks.

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  21. I really do not understand why you are so angry! Obama was in a tour to prove to Americans, and no one else but Americans, that he is able to bring diplomacy back into the American agenda!!!! Yes, he is a candidate, and yes he is a senator, but will you please think for a second about McCain and if he will ever do the same? At least with Middle Eastern allies!?

    The Arabs attitude toward what could be a great chance for their benefit should change! Remember Clinton and how great the world was back at his time!? It is always for our benefits to have a democrat and for so many reasons, so la tgolly el Ke5 a5o el ……………!!

    Fox news is a big joke and if you couldn’t sense the humor then you should change the channel dude!

  22. You certainly gave us a lot of fodder to grist. Basically, I’m concerned about past, present, and future American interventions in Middle Eastern countries only. Colonialism scares the hell out of us, we have experienced it with Ottomans for a number of centuries, we have lived under its tutelage during the British, French, and Italian mandates, and we are still living under the occupation of the American & Israeli military might in Iraq and Palestine. We are very terrified of being colonized again; we don’t want to be colonized. Democracy and everything is great but it doesn’t work the way it works in the west. I’m not saying that there is something wrong with it I’m just saying it couldn’t be applied in its present format even when best intentions are taken into consideration. The Middle East more or less looks at Europe and probably aspires to mimic the European model not the American. That isn’t to say that Mid easterners don’t like a lot of the present American models especially in technology, education, human relations and what have you, they can deal with those with no problem, it is the political system that they can do without. Even the US knows that since they left the regimes deal with the people the way they see fit without any formal interference over the past fifty years or so. But now all of sudden the American wants the M/E countries to apply democracy just like that. The poor leaders tried their best to explain that your democracy or any form spawning out of it must come from within or otherwise it is going to look like that it was imposed by the Americans and it will be rejected but it seems that the Americans aren’t getting the clarion loud and clear. Now it is one thing to be concerned about the continuous flow of oil and it is totally different story when you send troops, invade, and establish permanent military basis in the M/E countries. Actually, part of the fame that Osama been Laden attained had come from his claim that the Americans were establishing permanent basis in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the American troops are corrupting the Islamic culture. I’m not arguing with his claim whether it is correct or incorrect I’m just saying that he used it as a pretext to climb into something else and in a way it worked for him. You see in the same manner there are a lot of Americans thinking that Islam and the west are incompatible and it is a cultural clash and so on and so forth a lot of people on the other side in the middle east think that the Americans are out to destroy Islam to annihilate all Muslims and render Islam null and void, and that scares them to death, and they are going to resist this notion with everything they got available at their disposable and yes this may include suicide missions and what have you. So the bottom line is that I wish the Americans would realize that the people of the M/E per say don’t have anything against the American people as Americans, they don’t have no problem with their life style, freedom, democracy, you name it. They just don’t want to see it imported and shoved down their throats or forced fed to them. You get your oil the way you been getting it from Saudi Arabia for fifty plus years or so, you have your life and I have mine. I respect your independence please respect mine, I respect your religion please respect mine, I can’t be like you and you sure can’t and probably won’t want to be like me. Sort of like long distance relationships, a marriage of mutual convenience if you will, but not a full fledged commitment to your democracy, culture, and governing style is a no no. The success that you alluded to in Japan and Germany will not be duplicated in Iraq, the Iraqis and all Arabs for that matter are different breed of people their DNA doesn’t in any way shape or form resembles that of the Germans or the Japanese, a quick look at their history would shed a lot of light on how they are before and how they are now. They will never accept things that are dictated to them from outside and that isthat. You can ask any Arabic person and he/she would tell you the same thing.

  23. BTW, do not tell me that Arabs or average people do not care! simply look at the number of comments you got on this post in comparison with the one about cell phone spammers in Jordan! Remember the old saying ” Keep your enemies close”??

  24. Dear Hatem,

    “You certainly gave us a lot of fodder to grist.”

    Shuk-ran. 🙂 Same here. 🙂

    “Basically, I’m concerned about past, present, and future American interventions in Middle Eastern countries only.”

    Ok, fair enough, especially considering this blog is about Jordan. This is the last time I will mention it: the way that America has dealt with defeated countries like Japan, Germany, and Italy as well as at the time weak countries like South Korea and Taiwan is unique in the history of strong countries. I think this speaks volumes that America is not nearly as bad as previously strong countries.

    “Colonialism scares the hell out of us, we have experienced it with Ottomans for a number of centuries, we have lived under its tutelage during the British, French, and Italian mandates”

    THE COLONIAL HISTORY OF AMERICA:
    With the exception of the conquest of what is now western and central USA (ending in 1848), the Philippines (1898-1946), Guam, and Puerto Rico; America has never tried to be a colonial power. In regards to the conquest of what it now the western and central part of the America I have two things to say:
    1. The way that America treated the Native Americans was unquestionably horrible.
    2. We had three wars with Mexico, and we won all three. There was no obvious “good guys or bad guys” in these wars. It was just two post-colonial countries fighting it out.

    I have already admitted that the actions of America in the Philippines was horrible. Today Guam and Puerto Rico citizens are happy with being part of America. For example there have been movements to make Puerto Rico a State of America, but this bet met with resistance from Puerto Rico because of the benefits it has a being a Commonwealth of the USA. There are no real independence movements in Guam or Puerto Rico.

    In any case, especially when compared to the history of the Ottomans, the British, the French, and the Italians, America does not do colonies.

    One of the most fundamental parts of American history is that we were once a colony of Britain. Our nation was born is a revolutionary war (1776 – 1781) against British tyranny. Because we were once a colony I believe is one reason why America has been so hesitant to create colonies of our own.
    America was one of the first European colonies, as well as the first to gain its freedom. This is something that both most Americans and most Middle Easterners can agree on, we both do not like colonialism.

    VERY IMPORTANT :
    1. America was a colony, and has never been a colonial power.
    2. Please do not blame America for European colonialism, we had nothing to do with it.

    “and we are still living under the occupation of the American & Israeli military might in Iraq and Palestine.”

    IRAQ
    I will try to deal with the easier of these two issues first, Iraq. Again, the rational that GWB made to the American people on why we should invade Iraq was that Iraq had nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and that they had ties to fanatical Islamic groups. GWB said that to stop these weapons being used against America we must attack Iraq first. I was in NYC during 9-11, and was still living there at time GWB was making this case. I have to admit, many other Americans including myself were partly convinced that GWB made sense. I am someone who voted for Gore and Kerry in the last two US presidential elections.

    The American people would never stand for Iraq being made into a colony like what was created under British, French, Ottomans, or Italians… it is just too much against our national character. What Americans do want is a stable Iraq (to supply oil that the entire world economy needs), and one that is at least not anti-America or at best pro-American so that the government does not help Islamic fanatics that would like to attack America.

    PALESTINE
    I have talked to Palestinians and Jews about this issue. From my perspective it seems complex in the extreme. I would argue that this is most complex and hardest geo-political question of the modern age.

    As I said before, from my secular view I wish the modern state of Israel was never created, but it was. From what I understand the state of Israel was created by Britain and France because they felt guilty about what happened to Jews under the Nazis. The British and French offered Jews at that time a homeland in any part of their colonies (somewhere in Africa) or a part of Germany. The Jews said they would prefer what is now Israel because of the Jewish theological claim to that land.
    A Palestine friend of mine played a song for me. I will try to remember its lyrics the best I can : “The Germans kill the Jews, so the Jews kill the Palestine, little wonder why the monkey laughs”. Here the monkey is supposed to mean humanity in general. I cannot disagree with the point these lyrics are making.

    America (as the next world power after the Europeans) inherited the Israel/Palestine problem, and had almost nothing to do with its creation.

    Some things to consider:
    1. Because of immigration Jewish culture (among other cultures of the world) is a major part of American culture in general. America will never turn its back on Israel.
    2. Israel is a modern democracy, so that is another reason why America will always support Israel.
    3. In America there had been growing sympathy for the Palestine cause, that has greatly diminished after 9-11. The infighting between Hamas and Fatah has also contributed to this change in views.
    4. In America, Israel is not viewed as a colonial power; but rather a country that is fighting for its own survival.

    As an American I really have no idea what should be done about the Palestine / Israel problem. I agree millions of Palestine’s had their land stolen to create the nation of Israel. At the same time there are now millions of Jews living in Israel that had nothing to do with that former crime.

    The view of the Palestine / Israel issue for many Americans can be summarized by the following joke : “Just two families fighting over what do with Uncle Abram’s farm.”

    I wish I could give you a better answer, but the above is the best I could do.

    “The Middle East more or less looks at Europe and probably aspires to mimic the European model not the American.”

    No problem there.

    “Even the US knows that since they left the regimes deal with the people the way they see fit without any formal interference over the past fifty years or so.”

    Sadly true, thanks to The Cold War.

    “But now all of sudden the American wants the M/E countries to apply democracy just like that. The poor leaders tried their best to explain that your democracy or any form spawning out of it must come from within or otherwise it is going to look like that it was imposed by the Americans and it will be rejected but it seems that the Americans aren’t getting the clarion loud and clear.”

    This sudden change has much to do with the end of the sudden end of The Cold War. I agree, maybe it was too sudden.

    There are some in the West who are debating whether or not democracy is practical in the Middle East.

    The West is very scared of fanatical Islam, and the global economy cannot afford M/E oil disturbances. There seems to be two solutions to this, from the Western perspective:
    1. Support democracy (i.e. Gaza Strip, and Iraq), and hope that Muslims do not vote in fanatical Islamic governments.
    2. Support dictatorships (i.e. Egypt) or monarchies (i.e. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait) and hope that these governments can keep control of fanatical Islam. – this would be a return to the tactics used during the Cold War.

    I do not know, is option #2 really the best option for the West? Is there an option #3?

    “Now it is one thing to be concerned about the continuous flow of oil and it is totally different story when you send troops, invade, and establish permanent military basis in the M/E countries.”

    The first and most of the US military bases built in the Middle East was to curtail Soviet influence.
    Again, I really think it is unfair to blame all of the evils of the Cold War on America. In many ways we were just reacting to Soviet aggression.

    For the record if there were US military bases in Kuwait it is very doubtful Saddam Hussein would have invaded in 1990.

    After the first Iraq-American War bases were set up in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as part of the containment strategy against Iraq. Since the end of the second Iraq-American War about half of these bases have been closed down. Given that they are no longer important this trend will probably continue. Given the historical animosity between Iraq and Iran would it not be wise to have US military bases in Iraq so that Iran-Iraq War does not start again? If Iran were to invade Iraq I doubt Iraq could put up much a fight. I know that the reason why Iraq could not put up much of fight is because the Iraqi military was destroyed by America. Still, that does not diminish the fact Iraq is in no position to defend itself against Iran.

    Just having US military bases in a country does not mean the US has control over the government. Take for example : on May 17, 2007 “Kuwait has abandoned pegging its currency to the US dollar and returned to linking it to a basket of currencies”.
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    The falling US dollar is a big problem for the US government, and for American citizens in general. This action of the Kuwaiti government made the situation worse. If the US government had control of the Kuwaiti government then this would never have happened.

    Selfish point here : Americans died and America spent a lot of US tax payer money to free Kuwait from Iraq. As an American I wish Kuwait could have helped us in return by not doing the above, but it is their right to do so.

    Now on to Afghanistan. Many Americans, including myself, are tempted to feel that after 9-11 we should have just bombed (non-nuclear) the hell out of all the government buildings of Afghanistan and left it at that. Instead we are trying to do for Afghanistan what we did for Germany, Italy, and Japan. To do this means having US military bases. Afghanistan is not important to US interests. The main reason why it is in America’s self interest to be so involved in Afghanistan is so it does not again become a safe country for Alcada. We are still in Afghanistan not out of colonial ambitions, Afghanistan’s wealth just does not make it worth it, but rather out of a sense of self-preservation.

    “Actually, part of the fame that Osama been Laden attained had come from his claim that the Americans were establishing permanent basis in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the American troops are corrupting the Islamic culture. I’m not arguing with his claim whether it is correct or incorrect I’m just saying that he used it as a pretext to climb into something else and in a way it worked for him.”

    I have heard about this before. I have also heard that the main reason why Osama been Laden attacked America on 9-11 was because we as an infidel country dared to have infidel troops in the same country as the holy cities of Media and Mecca. While this is not strictly racist, I would argue it is close…. maybe religiousist would be the correct term. It was not like US troops occupied these holy cities or would even think about doing so. They were there to protect Saudi Arabia against Iraq. It is not like Sadam Hussein was a big supporter of fundamental Islam. I would love to ask Osama been Laden if he would have preferred America do nothing as the comparatively more secular Muslim nation of Iraq took over the more Islamic nations of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. There was a good chance that after SH took over Kuwait he would next take over Saudi Arabia. If you would like me to defend this, ask and I will do so.

    “You see in the same manner there are a lot of Americans thinking that Islam and the west are incompatible and it is a cultural clash”

    Very true.

    “and so on and so forth a lot of people on the other side in the middle east think that the Americans are out to destroy Islam to annihilate all Muslims and render Islam null and void, and that scares them to death, and they are going to resist this notion with everything they got available at their disposable and yes this may include suicide missions and what have you.”

    I know about this. I really do not understand why Muslims think this way. Right now there are about 2 million Muslims in America, about 0.5% of the total population. Even right after 9-11 there was almost no attacks against Muslims in America. As an American I am impressed that my country showed so much restraint. Muslims in America are free to practice their religion. In my hometown of New York City there are lots of Mosques and Muslim restaurants. Hmmm… something to consider for those Islamic fanatics that would like to nuke NYC? One of my best friends in NYC was an Egyptian citizen studying in NYC. She had no problems being a Muslim in America.

    If America really wanted to “annihilate all Muslims” it could do the following:
    1. Put all Muslim-Americans in camps like what happened to Japanese-Americans during World War II. In an even more extreme situation emulated Nazi Germany and put all Muslim-Americans in death camps.
    2. Forget about setting up US military bases in Afghanistan, just nuke the country as revenge for 9-11.

    America has not done these things, nor will it. There is no support for option #1, and it would take many more 9-11s before option #2 could even begin to have any real support in America. Then again, if America was nuked…. option #2 might gain a massive increase in support. I hate to admit it, but if the 9-11 attack on NYC had included nuclear weapons… hmm…. if that was the case I would probably be dead…. if I was not dead I would 100% support the nuking of Afghanistan.

    A list of some of things America has done to help the Muslims of the world:
    1. Helped get the Soviets (who believed all religion is evil) out of Afghanistan.
    2. In winning the Cold War America did do a real service for Islam given a fundamental part of Soviet Communism thought was that all religions should be done away with.
    3. Bombed Serbia to stop the genocide of Muslims.
    4. Have tried our best to broker a peace between Israel and Palestine. We really have been trying our best when faced by this impossibly hard situation.
    5. Protected the more Islamic countries of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from the more secular country of Iraq.

    “So the bottom line is that I wish the Americans would realize that the people of the M/E per say don’t have anything against the American people as Americans, they don’t have no problem with their life style, freedom, democracy, you name it.”

    As an American I laugh with disgust with GWB says things like “Muslims hate us for our freedom”. GWB is an idiot.

    On the other hand the Muslim reaction to the Danish cartoons does concern me that Muslims do have problems with the Western value of freedom.

    “They just don’t want to see it imported and shoved down their throats or forced fed to them.”

    Fair enough. 🙂 Like many Americans, I wish America could return to our non-interventionist past. Also, in regards to the Danish cartoon issue, please do not force feed Muslim culture down Western throats.

    “I respect your independence please respect mine, I respect your religion please respect mine, I can’t be like you and you sure can’t and probably won’t want to be like me.”

    Yes, agree to be different. I could not agree more.
    Side note : Like many Americans, I am an agnostic.

    “The success that you alluded to in Japan and Germany will not be duplicated in Iraq, the Iraqis and all Arabs for that matter are different breed of people their DNA doesn’t in any way shape or form resembles that of the Germans or the Japanese, a quick look at their history would shed a lot of light on how they are before and how they are now.”

    You may very well be correct about Iraq.

    Side note : Arab DNA, culture and history is closer to German DNA, culture and history than Japanese DNA, culture and history is to German DNA, culture and history.

    I wrote above about from the western perspective there are only two options 1. Support democracy or 2. Support dictatorships. Because of the need of M/E oil and the threat of Islamic fanaticism doing nothing is not an option.

    I hope you are wrong about Iraq, I would hate to see the Western world return to the tactics used during the Cold War. Again, is there an option #3?

    What do you think should be done in regards to Iraq?

  25. Dear Austin,

    As an Arab person I’m very ashamed of the reaction toward the Danish cartoons, I wish that someone explains to those sanctimonious people that freedom of expression is priceless and it ought to be respected and even if you have something against it it should be channel led through diplomatic protest and not violence. Having said that I think that there are small minority voices from amongst the Muslims themselves are coming out of their moribund and starting to resist those fanatics and explaining to them that Islam must evolve in a way to meet the present state of the Art so to speak or else it will be considered a pariah, left behind while the rest of the world continue with its forward move. I’m not sure how successful this small cabal will be but in any event it provides a fresh breath that wasn’t present before 9/11.

    As far as the Iraqi situation is concerned, let me just say that I’m no expert on the Iraqi politics but I have an opinion as an Arab person and that is: Iraq should be left to the Iraqis to deal with their own internal problems. The US troops should withdraw to the out skirts of the Iraqi cities and not get involved in the day to day policing of the inner cities and slums. That would be step one, step two would be to withdraw altogether most of the US combat troops leaving behind a small contingent of US troops for training and providing consultancy services. If in the unlikely event that afterwords Iraq plunges into civil war so be it let them fight out, eventually they will get it straightened out. I seriously doubt the Iran will invade Iraq for the simple reason that most Iraqis or the majority of them are Shite, so why invade people who believe in the same thing that you believe in, it isn’t going to add anything to the equation. In addition, the Shiite in Iraq right now (thanks to US) have the upper hand over the Sunnis and there is no danger that they are going to be defeated or crushed by the Sunnis.

    As far the US/Arab/Israeli relationships, we aren’t asking for the US to turn its back on Israel because we are too smart to ask for pie in the sky, all we are asking for is a little more even handedness in the treatment. Presently, the US is one sided although it has the leverage to prod Israel more than what it is doing right now. The infighting between Fateh and Hamas is caused by the occupation and the difference of opinion as to how this occupation ought to end. So in my opinion if there was no occupation there wont be any more infighting.

    is there an option #3?

    Yes, there is, it is called hands off type of management style. Let the Arabs empower their own people, let them worship their own Allah, let them have decide about what type of relationships they want to have with the west. Don’t dictate to them, don’t tell them that they must convert into democratic type of governance system in the next 24 to 48 hours. Offer your advice and your services according to the way you offer to the American people and leave it up to them which products and service to use, and what other products and services to leave alone. Provided that they don’t exhibit any hostilities towards the US, or support other groups that will cause any type of harm to the US they should be left alone to fight their fight, to play their own game, to reform their own society in a way that they fit for them. For example there is a lot of talk in the west about the women in Saudi Arabia, the way they dress, the privileges that they are deprive of, and their whole life style over there resembling slavery, Notwithstanding, according to fact finding mission by some human rights groups and surveys by some other polling agencies, women in Saudi Arabia are satisfied with their life style the way it is, they have no problem with their dresses, they have no problem with not being able to drive, or having the male having a great deal of influence over them. So why speak on behalf of Saudi women when they are happy with their own status.

    Finally, I want to thank the owner of this blog for allowing this interesting exchange of ideas to continue unfettered. This would be my last reply and if you wish to continue with the discussion we can move it to my blog or your blog and allow this blog space to take some rest. I enjoyed this exchange as I haven’t had one for many years now.

  26. Dear Hatem,

    Thank you for your words about the Danish cartoons. It fills me will hope that the Western World and the Muslim World can live in peace given the consenious there seems to be on this blog in regards to this issue.

    “As far as the Iraqi situation is concerned, let me just say that I’m no expert”

    I am also not an expert on Iraq. For normal citizens of the Muslim and Western World, like us, to talk like this I think is good a good thing. 🙂

    In regards to your thoughts about Iraq, most Americans would agree with most of what you said.

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    For the last few years around 60% – 65% of Americans think the Iraq War was a mistake. Only around 30% of Americans think the war was a good idea. We want out of Iraq. Another indication of this is support of Obama, the most anti-war presidential candidate of all the major contenders.

    Here is a good article that reflects the frustration America has with the Iraq War from a purely financial point of view:

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    In regards to Iraq being part of some sort of American colonial empire…. this just does not make economic sense given the amount we have spent.

    Side note : a major reason why the US dollar is falling in value is because of the US national debt. The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have forced the US national debt to swell. In this way these wars have made America a less powerful country on the international stage, not more powerful.
    ——————————————————————————————————————————

    The civil war concern is where your views and the views of the majority of the American people diverge. From my watching American media and talking to Americans about this the four main reasons for this are:
    1. We broke Iraq, so it is our responsibility to fix it.
    2. The sadly reoccurring theme that the world economy needs Iraq oil… not that much is flowing given the chaos right now in Iraq. Still, if Iraq oil does start flowing this would be the best for both Iraq and the world.
    3. The fear that a broken Iraq would become politically united with Iran against the West.
    4. Without a US military presence to help moderate Iraqis, Iraq will become another Theocracy like Iran.
    ——————————————————————————————————————————
    I hope you are right that Iran has no intention of invading Iraq.
    ——————————————————————————————————————————

    This article is old (2002), but it still reflects how Americans view the Israel / Palestine problem:
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    “most (Americans) think the United States should try to be a neutral broker.”

    I agree, you have made a valid point about the infighting being connected to the occupation.

    ——————————————————————————————————————————
    “is there an option #3? Yes, there is, it is called hands off type of management style.”

    If this could work and at the same time not provide support to Islamic fundamentalist and keep the Middle Eastern oil flowing is something I believe the vast majority of Americans would prefer.

    “let them worship their own Allah”

    Religious tolerance is a founding principal of our country. It is only because we have been attacked by Islamic fanatics that mainstream American has a negative image of Islam. The vast majority of Americans really do not care if Muslim Americans, the Muslims of the Middle East, or the Muslims of the world worship Allah or not. I admit, America does have some ultra-Christian nut-cases …. our version of Islamic fanatics….. that see Islam as evil. They are a very small minority. Hmm… also in fairness there has been a secular ‘Islam is evil’ movement in America and The West in response to 9-11 and the other attacks. For example : Buy Cephalexin 500mg Without and Kamagra Upotreba Online

    Still, please consider this example:
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    In 2006 the first Muslim was elected to the US Congress. He used a Quran (owned by Thomas Jefferson, one of the founders of America) for his swearing in ceremony. Our ultra-Christian nut-cases tried to make this into a controversy, but with little success. This proved that America in general does not care if a US politician wants to use a Bible, a Torah, or a Quran to be sworn in.
    I would venture to guess that just about every religion there is in the world can be found being practiced in America, and that is no problem with the vast majority of Americans.

    “Provided that they don’t exhibit any hostilities towards the US, or support other groups that will cause any type of harm to the US they should be left alone to fight their fight, to play their own game, to reform their own society in a way that they fit for them.”

    I am confident that the vast majority of Americans would agree with you on this.

    “For example there is a lot of talk in the west about the women in Saudi Arabia, the way they dress, the privileges that they are deprive of, and their whole life style over there resembling slavery”

    True, At the same time there is virtually no support in America for America to do anything to force the Saudi Arabian society to change.
    ——————————————————————————————————————————
    I also would like to thank the owner of this blog. Cheers to Naseem. 🙂

    Hatem, what is the address of your blog?
    ——————————————————————————————————————————
    Back to the original topic of Obama:

    It is my opinion that the attack of 9-11 and GWB being the US president at that time caused a perfect storm. If 9-11 never happened or Gore had won, the US – Iraq War Part 2 would never have happened. Like many around the world and many in America, I was dumfounded that my country elected GWB for a second term.

    At every point in the history of humanity there have been powerful countries. America, for now, is the most powerful country in the world. Therefore, I would argue: who is president of America is important not only to America, but for the world as well. George W. Bush as president of the USA and the Iraq War has proven to be a disaster for all the citizens of the world. For me Obama symbolizes hope that this disaster can be healed. I am a non-Arab non-Muslim American, so therefore I cannot speak for the thoughts of Jordanians, Arabs or Muslims. All I want to do here is show how the world and history looks from my American perspective. Obviously how the Jordanians view Obama or America is up to the Jordanians. Thank you for letting me offer up my thoughts for consideration.

  27. I need to make an apology. I went back and checked my facts. In my above blogs I made some serious mistakes in regards to the creation of Israel. America did have a very large part in its creation.

    I feel that still does not diminish too much from modern reality that while America does support Israel, much of the American people and our government would prefer to be “a neutral broker”. The reason why we support Israel is because it is a democracy and rightfully or wrongfully, Israel is surrounded by people that would like to destroy it.

  28. Something else that just occurred to me, that I should have addressed before: Why does the West support western style democracies? True, there is the moral component. Still, there is a very pragmatic component as well, self-preservation. According to western history, democracy is the best check (we know of) against a person or small group of people gaining total power in a country. Often times when only a small group of people get control of a country that country tends to be very aggressive against its neighbors (i.e. Nazi Germany, Imperialist Japan, and Soviet Russia). From the American example, GWB time as president is almost over. If America was not a democracy someone like GWB could rule America forever. From the western perspective having as many countries as possible become democracies is the best way to create world peace.

  29. Austin,

    In reply to your older comment; unfortunately, you are a rarity. I wish more people with your mindset existed in this country, but the cold truth is – the everyday American definitely doesn’t know or care about what the world is saying.

    In fact, listen to all the college kids referring to things as “the best in the world” or “all over the world” where World = the United States.

    Even worse, my friends are constantly shocked when they go on trips to Europe and Asia (business or pleasure) and hear the thing the world is saying and thinking. They have no clue.

  30. Amer,
    No country, or culture is perfect, and I also wish my country was more concerned with things international. I have been to Europe and have lived all over East Asia. I do wonder how much “everyday people” of any country care or know much about the world around them? In my personal experience, Europeans are a lot better while East Asians are worse then or about the same as Americans. Still, I guess you would argue that Americans are the worst in the world on this issue?

    I 100% agree with you about the mentality held by some Americans that anything American by default is #1. That is stupidity of the highest degree. Possibly the one time in my life I was most ashamed to be an America was once when I was in bar in Montreal, Canada and these drunk US college kids started yelling the “USA number 1” chant. I hope they will grow out of this mentality… I admit maybe this is just wishful thinking.

    For what it is worth, just about all of the American friends I have had over my life have been concerned with things international.

    As an American another reason why I think Obama would make a great US president is because his life has been so multi-cultural. I hope that having such a president would wake up those sheltered Americans (i.e. GWB) to the fact that America is only one part of the global community.

    To quote Mark Twain, possibly the greatest of all the American writers:
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness… Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

  31. Austin,

    I agree with you. No nation is perfect.

    I’m a dual citizen in Jordan and the U.S. and I do feel like I have had the time (a decade there, a decade here) to make the observations across the two worlds.

    News agencies in the Middle East are not ratings-oriented, the public therefore tends to know about actual events, not “developing stories” as CNN calls them. There is no visible need to draw TV tuners like U.S. news stations. Many countries do not have that system in place.

    Also, news agencies are primarily public, not corporate, not private. This makes news extremely unbiased.

    Unfortunately, our news stations in the U.S. are very, very biased. They have stock tickers, investors, boards. They need business and attention, and they compete.

    A Palestinian woman gets raped and shot, her husband gets emotionally destroyed and goes on a rampage. You see the story about the woman in the rest of the world, and you see the Israeli “agony” in the streets by “a crazed malicious Palistian randomly killing people” all over the U.S.

    Why? More ratings, a story supporting an existing stereotype.

    Story titles are “juicy” when they read “crazed man bombs bus station”. They’re not as “juicy” when they read “man’s house explodes, killing 3 children, wife, and neighbors after gang rapes by Israeli military”. No one cares about that, personal sad stories don’t matter. Public displays do.

    Because there is a humongous filter on news here, unfortunately, the American public is extremely blind and misinformed.

    They travel outside the country thinking their cellphone CNN feed educated them about their destination, and they kicked out of bars and not served in restaurants and are SHOCKED to learn the world really hates us.

    What news are they seeing that we’re not?!

  32. Amer,

    ‘actual events, not “developing stories”’

    Still, sometimes an actual event has happened, but not all the facts are known. Therefore the total story is developing?

    “Also, news agencies are primarily public, not corporate, not private. This makes news extremely unbiased.”

    I have not noticed any major difference between private news agencies like MSNCB and CNN versus public news agencies like PBS (USA), BBC (UK) and CBC (Can.).

    A news agency needs money to function. Is it really so much better to get that money from just the host government of that news agency than from many many many many many different companies? If a news agency is just supported from one source (the government) then is not the danger that the news agency is just a mouth piece for the government?

    “extremely unbiased” … because they work for the government? I do not understand why that would be? Cheers to the British and the Canadians because their governmental news agencies (BBC and CBC) seem to not be mouth pieces of the government. Of course America also has PBS, which has government paid / private sponsor paid for news programs.

    “News agencies in the Middle East are not ratings-oriented”

    I know there must be a lot more, but the only Middle East agency that I know about is Al Jazzeera, which is rating-oriented… No?

    If not Al Jazzeera, then what would be some examples of good governmental Arab / Muslim news agencies? Please educate me.

    Side note : I wish I could, but I cannot read Arabic, I am too busy increasing my knowledge of Chinese and Korean to add a third language. Any of the above that offers the same information in English?

    “Unfortunately, our news stations in the U.S. are very, very biased. They have stock tickers, investors, boards. They need business and attention, and they compete.”

    When I can I try to compare US media to other countries media. True I am limited that I only compare English examples. Still, with the exception of Fox News I do not agree with you. I really do not understand why just because a news agency is going after ratings that would make it biased… maybe it would make its news sensational… but there is little incentive to be biased?

    “A Palestinian woman gets raped and shot, her husband gets emotionally destroyed and goes on a rampage. You see the story about the woman in the rest of the world, and you see the Israeli “agony” in the streets by “a crazed malicious Palistian randomly killing people” all over the U.S.”

    I did a quick search and could find no supporting evidence that the Palestinian man’s wife was raped. Can you support this claim? Who raped her?

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    Hmmm… in the above situation the rampage would be the first actual event, and then if the man’s wife was raped would be part of the developing story. 😉

    “a story supporting an existing stereotype”

    From Jordan to Saudi Arabia to Israel to USA to Spain to Russia to Britain to Philippians to Indonesia France to China to Thailand to India to Pakistan to Australia to Afghanistan to Iraq to various countries in Africa … SOME Muslims are going on the war path. SOME Muslims have declared war all around the world, this is not a stereotype, but a fact. We can debate on whether or not Muslim aggression is justified or not, but Muslim aggression is a reality on every continent of world except South America and Antarctica.

    Just in the last few days:
    8/6/2008 (Yala, Thailand) – A school principal is shot multiple times by Shahid while on his way home.
    8/6/2008 (Swat, Pakistan) – Islamic militants burn down several girls schools and kill two people, including a child, in separate attacks.
    8/5/2008 (Nazran, Ingushetia) – Muslim hardliners take down two local cops in separate Kalashnikov attacks.
    8/5/2008 (Basra, Iraq) – Fundamentalists shoot a barber to death for shaving beards.
    8/5/2008 (Kirkuk, Iraq) – al-Qaeda militants slit the throats of three Iraqis.
    8/4/2008 (Baghdad, Iraq) – Jihadis manage to kill two civilians with a roadside bomb.
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    “Story titles are “juicy” when they read “crazed man bombs bus station”. They’re not as “juicy” when they read “man’s house explodes, killing 3 children, wife, and neighbors after gang rapes by Israeli military”. No one cares about that, personal sad stories don’t matter. Public displays do.”

    Why did the man’s house explode? Was there a connection between the explosion and gang raping? I do not believe the Israeli army is in the habit of gang raping. Could you show some evidence for this?

    If the Israeli army was in habit of gang raping I am sure that would be very news worthy for CNN or MSNBC.

    Interesting, a common complaint from Americans about US news agencies is that they cover too many “personal stories”, and not enough hard news.

    “kicked out of bars and not served in restaurants”

    Where has this happened? In my life, only once was I told to leave a bar in Seoul, South Korea because I am an American.

    “SHOCKED to learn the world really hates us”

    US global approval figures where far higher back when Clinton was president… so yes much of the world does hate America… thanks to GWB. When GWB leaves office hopefully US global approval figures will go back to where they were.

    I do not know how shocked the average American should be… we have all grown up seeing our flag being burned all around the world, abet mostly in the Muslim world.

    Side point : Given all the attacks done by Muslims around the world, why are Muslims SHOCKED that many around the world hate Muslims?

  33. Austin: your comments are pretty long and detailed and it would take me a century to go through them point by point. suffice to say it is a pure American perspective and I give you credit for admitting that much. For even your questions of “why are Muslims shocked” are personifications of the same questions americans tend to ask, including the “Why?” question that was plastered on american magazines and publications right after 9/11.

    so i just wanted to address your final question or “side point”. the answer is fairly simple. a population of over 1.2 billion people will always get shocked that the world hates them for the actions of a few radicals.

    keep in mind that these radicals are small organizations, as opposed to the elected American government that is responsible directly and indirectly for the suffering of millions, most of whom happen to live in Islamic countries. meanwhile, the american people are very oblivious to the fact that most arabs and most muslims want democracy and free speech but they are oppressed by their governments. the very some governments which the US pays to support and keep functioning.

    hence, it can be argued that we have a better sense of who are real oppressors are.

  34. Nas,

    “Austin: your comments are pretty long and detailed”

    Thank you and I am sorry. I have tried to make my comments as short as possible, but these are very complex issues. 🙂

    “personifications of the same questions americans tend to ask, including the ‘Why?’”

    That was exactly the correlation I was trying to make. If Americans are the most hated group in the world, Muslims may be the second? For example, when I was in China (mostly Shanghai) I heard one anit-American feelings, but many anti-Muslim feelings.

    “so i just wanted to address your final question or ‘side point’”

    Yes, I should have used the term : side question.

    “a population of over 1.2 billion people will always get shocked that the world hates them for the actions of a few radicals.”

    Good point. I wonder if anyone has tried to guess at the percentage of practicing Muslims that are radical violent Muslims. I have had Muslim friends in my life. I have no problems with the majority of the world’s Muslims. Hmm… I do have problems with the Quran, as I do with most religious books, I am an agnostic after all … but that is getting way off topic. Still, the fact is that almost every day a radical Islamic does something violent somewhere in the world in the name of Islam?

    “keep in mind that these radicals are small organizations, as opposed to the elected American government”

    True, very good point.

    “that most arabs and most muslims want democracy and free speech but they are oppressed by their governments. the very some governments which the US pays to support and keep functioning.”

    I admit America did do many bad things fighting the Cold War. I have tried to make the case that this should not ALL be blamed on America, war is always bad. I have also tried to make the case that there was a shift in American foreign policy (during the Clinton years) after the end of the Cold War. Another example of this would be GWB, during his first run for president, saying that he wanted to have America less involved in international affairs. Sadly that changed with 9-11.

    The quagmire I am trying to deal with is what is to be done in the post-Cold War, post 9-11 days ahead. The world economy (including Jordan’s) is dependent on stability in the Middle East so that the oil keeps flowing. Because of this, the world economy cannot afford the Middle East breaking out into civil war. If the Western powers try to encourage democracies in the Middle East they are criticized as trying to culturally contaminate Arab culture. Not to mention, many Americans including myself, are tired of the Middle East blaming all their troubles on America. In a lot of ways, “people do get the governments they deserve”…no?

    For example take South Korea. They have had a huge US military presence (around 30,000 troops) for over 50 years to protect them from North Korea. Yet they have democracy, freedom of speech, a great economy, and political independence from America. Korean culture is as different or more different from American culture, than Arab culture is to American culture?

  35. “If the Western powers try to encourage democracies in the Middle East they are criticized as trying to culturally contaminate Arab culture. Not to mention, many Americans including myself, are tired of the Middle East blaming all their troubles on America. In a lot of ways, “people do get the governments they deserve”…no?”

    this is the thing, america is criticized because everyone who lives here knows full right that it has no interest in bringing democracy to this area. this was an obvious misconception that’s been marketed for the benefit of the american people after they stopped believing the fact that iraq had no WMD’s. and in any case, it’s kind of tough to convince us that the US invaded a country in order to bring democracy; the hypocricy and irony alone just makes us laugh.

    the arab world is interested in developing its own political destiny without american interference and that rarely seems to happen in the region because the US makes sure it doesnt. the US is interested in governments that are pro-american. full stop. whether it was during the cold war or post-911, this is the general foreign policy here and elsewhere, and anyone who thinks the US is interested in anything called democracy in the region has definitely never lived in the region.

    the US has a vested interest in that the oil in the region continue to flow and this objective has come at the expense of the region’s inhabitants.

    being the primary backbone of the oppressors makes one the ultimate oppressor. and unlike the average american, everyone in this region is aware of those realities and makes those connections.

    americans don’t, and if they did, they would truly begin to understand all the animosities that the arab world feels towards the american government.

  36. Austin,

    The two stories I used were not actual articles, they were examples of the type of thing that happens and the way it is reported.

    To be brutally honest, if you thought those example situations are outrageous enough to require evidence as if they are separate rare events, you know nothing about that region at all. That type of crime with that type of reporting on it (or lack thereof) is a daily occurence and I can’t believe it sounded remotely odd to you to ask for evidence – you really should read some regional news translated to English.

    It is known all over the Arab world that Israel complains when they’re hurt by someone they abused first. Down to the fundamental invasion that defines the country today.

    Simple, if you have the money and own media resources (Israel supporters are all over U.S. media boards), you have cameras and lights to show your wounds. If you don’t, you can’t broadcast your problems.

    There were 3-4 very famous campaigns protesting Ariel Sharon during his peak crime days (all his days were infested with innocent blood, hence “peak”), where he packaged murder with national defense and child killings with necessary discipline.

    Search for famous Arab child deaths in Israel, you’ll come across those campaigns.

    I’m not going to argue that stories on that country take one point of view, this is too obvious. Jazeera has translated versions of their articles, please find any related story in an archive on CNN.com then pull the same one on Al-Jazeera.

    Both authentic, both factual, both great – but one covers what the audience likes and one covers what happened regardless of where it’s running shop. This is truly not worth more explanation since you don’t seem to know of any other news stations than pop stations; CNN PBS and BBC? Seriously? That’s your global insight?

    I don’t mean to offend you, this is very typical among even the mixed/multinational/intellectual crowd I’m hanging out with lately. I go to CNN.com every morning and I trust that that’s my news for the day. I’m just saying; knowing very consciously that the stories you read are THAT STATION’s version is important.

    P.S. Electronic TV ratings systems currently used in the UK, US, India, Japan, Canada, Romania, Finland, and the Phillipines are not remotely similar to the system in place in the Middle East (content surveys, content ratings, versus TV tuner counts or visitor hits).

  37. As a jordanian American, I want to comment on both perspectives.
    As a Jordanian, I realize that Jordan does not enough resources and has to depend on a greater, more generous power for its livelihood. That has been going well for Jordan and I hope it will continue to do so. I give the credit to the late King of Jordan who had to walk a tight rope almost every minute. A credit goes to the current king also who continues his father’s legacy.
    As an American, I agree with Chris Mathew and I do think Obama is the world’s gift to the U.S.
    I also think we, Americans, can’t find a better president. His mixed back ground, his sensibility, his rock star charm (charisma), his knowledge and his sincerety, all contribute to his great personality and to his leadership abilities. I’m so gald that Obama was treated as a president, becuase he’s much better than our current president.

  38. I have had to change countries (from Vietnam to South Korea) for my job so I have not been able to post until now.

    Nas,

    “american people after they stopped believing the fact that iraq had no WMD’s. and in any case, it’s kind of tough to convince us that the US invaded a country in order to bring democracy; the hypocricy and irony alone just makes us laugh. ”

    GWB attempt to make the PR campain about being in Iraq to bring democracy when there turned out to be no WMDs is total b*llsh*t… made me laugh too.

    I never ment to say that America or any Western power would invade a country to bring democracy. Why would / should us or we be willing to have our troops die just to bring democracy to another country? Us / we do it for our own self interest.

    What western powers do is put diplomatic and economic presure on countries (ie Burma, Zimbabwe) in an attempt to bring democracy.

    Again, it is historical fact that America helped bring democracy to Taiwan, Germany, Japan, and South Korea.

    I have had Arab friends, but your point that I have never lived in an Arab country is valid. I have lived in South Korea for 2 years before now. Again, South Korea has had a huge US military presence for around 50 years. Yet, it is a democracy and has a great economy … so great that it has put many US companies out of business.

    “the US has a vested interest in that the oil in the region continue to flow and this objective has come at the expense of the region’s inhabitants.”

    … and Jordan does not have vested interest? … is not your last main post about how the high oil prices are hurting Jordan?

    “being the primary backbone of the oppressors makes one the ultimate oppressor. and unlike the average american, everyone in this region is aware of those realities and makes those connections.”

    Or maybe just Middle Easterners blaming America for its own problems? It is a common human trait that it is sometimes easier to blame someone else then to blame ourselves? Again, compare Arab countries to South Korea, Japan, Germany, and Taiwan.

    Amer,

    Can you give me some links?

    “Search for famous Arab child deaths in Israel, you’ll come across those campaigns. ”

    I will try.

    “one covers what the audience likes” = Al-Jazeera?
    “and one covers what happened regardless of where it’s running shop.” = CNN?

    “This is truly not worth more explanation since you don’t seem to know of any other news stations than pop stations; CNN PBS and BBC? Seriously? That’s your global insight?

    I trust the reputation of “pop stations”. They have something to lose if they get the facts wrong.

    “I don’t mean to offend you”

    No worries 🙂

    Please tell me some sources of news that are better than the “pop stations”. Hmm… I am from NYC… so I do also like the New York Times.

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