Mark Zepezauer’s book “Boomerang!: : How Our Covert Wars Have Created Enemies Across the Middle East and Brought Terror to America” (Excerpt) is a good primer to the question, “why do they hate us?” The first reason President Bush thought of was after 9/11 was the tried and true, “they hate our freedoms”.
White House News Release, September 20, 2001:
Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber — a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms — our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.
They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. They want to drive Israel out of the Middle East. They want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa. (link)
No, they don’t “hate our freedoms”, they hate that we have supported the very “self appointed” dictators that kill their people, they hate us because we send in the military to get what we want, and they hate us because for better or worse, that we support Israel even when they are bombing Lebanon or Gaza and killing their people. They hate our economic sanctions. They wonder why we don’t promote the freedoms we purportedly have in the United States in the Middle East.
“We are not hated because we practice democracy, freedom, and human rights. We are hated because our government denies these things to people in third world countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations. And that hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism — and in the future, nuclear terrorism.”
We spend billions each year on weapons and intelligence to prop up dictatorships and in an attempt bolster our security. Has supporting the dictators of the past with military support made us more secure?
Representative Dennis Kucinich agrees with Republican Ros-Lehtinen (and others) on Egypt. “One of Congress’ most strident doves said Friday evening that he agrees with the hawkish chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee on her statement on the upheaval in Egypt.” (link)
As usual when Washington backs corrupt regimes in the name of its war on terror, democracy suffers and things slowly deteriorate.
History of U.S. backed Dictatorships that had Dire Consequences
The Dictators the United States has supported can fill up volumes of books.
These dictators were often mass murders and always anti-democratic. A short list follows with the consequences. And when I say, “Backlash” I don’t mean to say U.S. support of dictators was the only cause, but that is was a major contributor, to revolution, terrorism, war and animosity against the United States.
1. Shah of Iran—1941-1979. One of the most infamous dictators backed by the U.S. in the Middle East who killed thousands of those opposed to his rule. Backlash—the overthrow of the Shah and the Islamic revolution. Islamic revolutionaries took over the U.S. embassy in 1979 and held U.S. citizens hostage. The Islamic Republic of Iran destabilized the region and has been a breeding ground for anti-American and anti-Israeli terrorist organizations.
2. Western Educated President Diem of Vietnam—1955-1963. Although Diem was considered a weak ruler, the U.S. saw him as the best and only alternative to prevent communism from taking over Vietnam and thus all of Southeast Asian. During the presidential election in 1955, Diem posted his supporters at the polling booths, told them to throw away the ballots of Emperor Bao Dai (anti-Democratic monarch), and thus “won” with 92% of the vote. The citizens protested, so he promptly had 100,000 of them arrested and put in prison. Backlash—a united front against the United States in Vietnam and the Vietnam War that killed over 100,000 U.S. troops and over a million Vietnamese, costs the U.S. billions of dollars and further embedded the military industrial complex in the U.S. government. (http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/vietnam/vietnamwar.htm)
3. Chiang Kai-shek 1928-1949 Under Chiang, his Nationalist party in China killed millions of peasant farmers. Numbers are hard to obtain for Chiang’s rule, but estimates of 5-18 million murders can be found for the Nationalist Party itself, much of the time under Chiang’s rule.
During Japanese occupation in China, the Nationalist party would conscript poor peasants fleeing from the Japanese and the communists and send them off to kill peasants that were allegedly supporting the communists or the Japanese. Backlash—the successful 1949 communist revolution against he hated Chiang Kai-shek dictatorship, a communist antagonist in the most populous nation in the world that would oppose us in conflicts in the East such as Vietnam and Korea and an increase in the arms race. Again, we backed the loser in this conflict and China became communist anyway. Suffice to say, many in the United States couldn’t fully back the murderous Chiang Kai-shek regime and opposed spending much time, money or political capital saving it.
4. Support for the Afghan “freedom fighters”, the Mujahideen—1979-1992 The U.S. armed Muslim fundamentalist forces against the Soviet invasion in 1979. I am not here to argue whether fighting the Soviets was good or bad. Backlash—the Mujahedeen turned into the Taliban, the Saudi funded and manned terrorist group that brought down the world trade centers in New York City on 9/11/2001. Perhaps fighting the Soviets was the best thing, but at what cost. What would have been the worst outcome if the Soviets propped up their communist regime in Afghanistan and we had not given people of questionable motives rockets, M-16s and other weapons of war that lead them to power as the Mujahideen reformed into the Taliban in 1996. Taliban run Afghanistan was the perfect haven and training ground for terrorist attacks around the world. That was made possible by the U.S. (CIA) backed Mujahedeen takeover of the nation.
5. Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq from 1979-2001. The United States backed Hussein militarily and financially in his war against the Islamic Republic of Iran with billions of dollars in weapons. The reason Iran was such a problem for the United States was the Islamic Revolution over the U.S. backed Shah of Iran. The murderous Saddam Hussein was used a bulwark against the rising Iranian power. Backlash—Hussein killed thousands of his enemies. During a U.S. encouraged uprising against him, he killed over 250,000 enemies, many of then Iraqi Kurds. He developed a strong military in the region and used his power to invade and take control of Kuwait, bringing on the first gulf war. We supported a dictator to fight a nation, Iran, which rose to power after it overthrew a dictator we had supported. Hussein was so hated in the United States that George W. Bush had to fabricate intelligence, that he had weapons of mass destruction, to justify a second war against the nation.
6. Batista in Cuba—1940-1944, 1952-59. Many Americans think of Cuba and only know about Fidel Castro’s dictatorship. We should not forget that under Batista elections where rigged, opposition was jailed, and the economy was sold off to the highest bidder in the United States with little benefit to the Cuban people. Backlash—the Cuban revolution to overthrow the Batista regime, the exportation of Cuban criminals to Florida, both violent and mafia supported criminals from the Island, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis and the fear of nuclear missiles 90 miles from Florida. And the revolution led to the most enduring and misleading smear campaign against another nation in United States history. Is Castro a saint? No. But at least under his rule, Cuba eliminated diseases and the people are more literate than people are in the United States. Perhaps that is why we hate them. We hate them for their literacy rates.
7. Anastasio Somoza, Sr. and Jr.—1934-79. The Somoza family controlled Nicaragua for the United States corporations for 45 years. And of course, the United States taxpayers foot the bill so corporation could make profit off of Nicaragua’s markets, cheap labor, and cheap farm products. Corruption, torture and murder were the standard practice for the Somozas when faced with any known opposition. Backlash—The Sandinista revolution overthrew the Nicaraguan government. At first, the new Sandinista government in Nicaragua was recognized by the Carter administration in the U.S. However, Reagan was hell bent on changing that. Reagan broke several international and U.S. laws by mining Nicaraguan harbors, funding death squads called the Contras to fight the Nicaraguan government using torture, murder and terror (yes, we fund terrorists too), and setting up bases in Honduras to fight the Nicaraguan forces. Was overthrowing the government of a small Central American nation worth the price of an estimated 30,000 Nicaraguan lives and political reputation? I am sure some corporations benefitted. I don’t see how the average American did.
8. Morena Manuel Antonio Noriega—1983-89. Noriega was on the payroll of the CIA when he went rouge. They CIA didn’t mind paying him to illegally spy on, arrest, and pass on intelligence to the United States. But when it was discovered that he was spying, arresting people illegally, and passing intelligence onto Cuba, the U.S. suddenly saw all the illegal activity he was involved in. Backlash—a war against a tiny Central American nation, a precedent that makes intelligence gathering in the region harder and Cuba making us look like fools.
9. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt—1981-? Mubarak came to power after President Anwar Sadat was killed by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1981. Mubarak suspended elections almost immediately after coming to power. The U.S. of course supported this for they fear the Muslim Brotherhood would come to power. He has at least 20,000 political prisoners in jail, has anti-terror laws that allow the police to arrest people for voicing opposition to his rule and has suspended legal rights for the accused. Backlash—pent up anger against the United States has translated into anger against Mubarak who has done little to deal with inflation, unemployment and the economy. In fact, while the Egyptian economy expanded, wages stayed flat. Now people have taken to the streets and the United States is calling for Democratic changes and increased wages. Egypt is considered a key ally in the Middle East, thus, the U.S. has ignored the undemocratic policies while we have ousted or killed democratically elected leaders in Chile, Guatemala, Haiti, Iran and elsewhere when they didn’t fully back the global dominance of the United States. As long as Mubarak supported us, we supported him. Now that forces on the ground are mounting to remove him, the U.S. is suddenly calling for democratic reform.
Our meddling in foreign governments and nations has not made us safer. We have had to pay the price not only on 9/11 but also for other terrorist attacks against us, on our embassies, on our ships and planes and in our cities. Is the financial gain for our corporations and the myth of increased world security really worth the price we pay in lives and treasury? Should the U.S. continue to act counter to our democratic ideals or will we realize that long-term security isn’t possible at the barrel of a gun? And while we pay for this security with our blood and treasure, our real security concerns, food, housing, infrastructure, having an educated populous, respect and cooperation with other nations, continues to erode.