This is one of the great fallacies in dealing with such people: that what the West does influences how they think and their course of action. It is a self-seduction when we in the West believe that acts of kindness, generosity and "evenhandedness" will change people who believe we are infidels, bound for hell and deserving of that final destination (and some think they have been divinely appointed to send us and the Israelis there). We should be kind, generous and humane because that is who we are. But we should not labor under false assumptions that such values alone will change minds and hearts poisoned by years of political and theological propaganda.
Some Arab commentators are repeating the myth that the West has, once again, humiliated Muslims. If there has been humiliation, it isn't the fault of the West. It is Muslims' fault. They took trillions of dollars in oil money, and instead of building a culture dedicated to elevating their people, including women, they have squandered it on agendas and adventures that had the opposite result. Like communism, which blamed the West for its failure to produce a better life for people forced to live under that system, Arab dictatorships must have an external enemy to keep people from blaming their leaders for the misery they have created.
Before universal condemnation of British and American forces goes any further, consider the comments of columnist Barbara Amiel in the May 3 Daily Telegraph of London: "The first casualty of war, it is claimed, is truth. I'd say the first casualty is context. Demanding that troops, who are subject on a daily basis to roadside bombs, suicide attacks, ambushes and rocket-propelled grenades, should respond without any cruel or unprofessional incidents would be a demand for sainthood. These troops face resentment and hatred from some of the very people they came to liberate and did liberate. Most coalition troops feel, mistakenly or not, that they are doing a favour to people with a personal animosity and primitive methods not usually found in Western warfare."
That's the best way to look at these pictures.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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