Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Lee Smith, author of The Strong Horse, on Middle-East anti-Americanism, from an interview by Michael Totten:
Arab anti-Americanism, as I point out in the book, did not begin with the Bush administration, but goes back to the very beginning of our presence in the region and becomes the pre-eminent channel for anti-colonial sentiment after the Suez Crisis of 1956. The irony is that as President Eisenhower asserted the US’s anti-imperialist credentials and demanded that the French, British and Israelis withdraw from Egypt and leave Nasser alone. We had effectively ruined France and Great Britain’s position in the Middle East and it was not long before they left entirely--France left Algeria and Great Britain abandoned its position in the Persian Gulf. Hence, we were the only remaining Western power in the region and all the anti-colonialist sentiment was directed at us, even if our presence there has never resembled anything like that of a classical colonial power.

There is also a tribal element behind the anti-Americanism that I detail in the book, but it dovetails nicely with the once reigning anti-colonial sentiment articulated by the Arab nationalist intelligentsia, a theme encouraged at the time by our Cold War rivals in Moscow. Of course it was nonsense: Colonial powers extract wealth from their holdings for their own sake, as Syria did during its 15-year-long occupation of Lebanon; they don’t typically go in and produce wealth for the sake of the locals, like the Americans did in discovering oil in Saudi Arabia, marketing it, and protecting it and the Saudi Royal family for some 65 years at the expense of the American taxpayer. The money we’ve spent over the years protecting the Gulf, including the outlay for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, dwarfs the figures we've provided Israel and Egypt, the two top US aid recipients.
(via Linkiest)

1 comment:

Marc said...

Let's not forget the Barbary Wars

Here's a very good short history from Fred Thompson:


And this longer piece from Christopher Hitchens that ran in TIME in 2004


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