Cliff May

Of course, it might help if reporters like Slackman mentioned to his interlocutors that there is no evidence the U.S. has stolen so much as a drop of Iraqi oil. Evidently, it did not occur to him to ask those he interviewed whether they are equally angry over the serial bombings of Iraqi civilians by al-Qaeda terrorists, and the assassinations carried out by Iranian-backed militias. Or do they think those murders, too, were masterminded by the CIA and the Mossad? And he didn’t bother to ask them if they are aware that such atrocities have dramatically diminished thanks to the efforts of the American military working hand-in-hand with their Iraqis comrades-in arms.

He might have elicited some interesting responses had he pointed out that Americans in recent years have repeatedly sacrificed blood and treasure to rescue Muslim communities.

Americans intervened in the Balkans to protect Bosnia and Kosovo from hostile Christian neighbors. Americans saved Kuwait from the savagery of Saddam Hussein. America liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban, an al-Qaeda proxy. He could have mentioned, too, the billions in aid that American taxpayers have given to the Palestinians.

Instead, Slackman tells us that “experts here” say that Americans might better understand the region “if they simply listen to what people are saying – and try to understand why they are saying it – rather than take offense.” He adds: “The broad view here is that even before Sept. 11, the United States was not a fair broker in the Arab-Israeli conflict and that it then capitalized on the terror attacks to buttress Israel and undermine the Muslim Arab world.”

Yes, it all comes back to Israel: Supporting the idea of a secure Jewish state living in peace next door to an independent Palestinian state, is just not fair! So, in response, it must be expected that extremists will slaughter innocents, while those of a less activist bent blame Israelis and Americans for the crimes, and the “experts” accuse Americans of exploiting their dead. After listening carefully to that, who could take offense?

Slackman concludes by saying: “Trying to convince people here that it was not a quest for oil or a war on Muslims is like persuading many Americans that it was, and that the Sept. 11 attacks were the first steps.”

And who can say which is true and which is a deranged conspiracy theory? Seven years after 9/11, clearly not Slackman and the International Herald Tribune.

Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.