Fury at the American Raj
by Eric Margolis: Murder
of the US ambassador to Libya and angry demonstrations across the
Muslim world over a tacky anti-Islamic hate video have produced
the usual flood of wrong-headed commentary from our so-called foreign
affairs experts and assorted media propagandists.
land comes the cry, "why do they hate us?" That any Americans
can in this day and age can still be surprised their nation is hated
by many people from Morocco to Indonesia to Nigeria is by far the
biggest surprise. We have learned little from 9/11.
Muslims are not rioting and burning because they hate Christianity,
fast food, America’s consumer society, democracy, or feminism, as
we are endlessly misinformed by politicians and media.
The fury does
not come because Muslims are somehow irrational, primitive, violent
Nor is the
hate video, which was actually seen by only a limited number of
the world’s one billion Muslims, the real cause of the violence
we have been witnessing: it is merely the spark that ignited the
combustible haze of anti-Americanism that overlies over much of
the Muslim world.
believe they are innocent bystanders in the Muslim world, or involved
there on an altruistic "mission" to uplift the benighted
natives, to selflessly shoulder the heavy burden of policing the
unruly globe, or abroad to wage an unending struggle against the
dark forces of what we call "terrorism." What they do
not at all understand is that the American imperium’s goal is to
advance its own strategic, economic and political goals and keep
much of the planet under its sway.
In the last
century, such ambitions and behavior used to be called "imperialism,"
a practice that became synonymous with the British Empire. At its
apogee, Britain’s Empire ruled one quarter of the globe and most
of the world’s seas and oceans. At the heart of this vast empire
lay its "jewel," India. Britain’s rule over India was
known as the British Raj (raj meaning rule in Hindi).
In 2008, I
published my second book, American
Raj. I sought to distill my fifty years of experience in
the Muslim world to explain to Americans what was really going on
in the troubled region, why it was so violent and unstable, and
our role in fostering this problem. I tried to show what a positive
role America could play.
The more I
examined the historical parallels between the British Empire and
today’s American dominion over most of the Arab and greater Muslim
world, the more I understood that the United States had inherited
the British Empire in 1945 and was copying its highly successful
Raj" analyzed how the United States ruled the Arab world in
a fashion very similar to the way the British Empire ruled India:
divide and rule, using petty princes and potentates as surrogates,
building armies of native troops known as "sepoys," forcing
the subcontinent into economic subservience and serving as captive
I entitled my book, American Raj. In it, I examined the way
Washington controlled most of the Arab world’s regimes, how it promoted
dictatorship and its handmaiden, often corruption, and how the US
used native armies to maintain control.
I warned that
the Mideast was seething with anti-Americanism, fury over the plight
of Palestinians, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and rage against
the corrupt, brutal rulers imposed by the United States, Britain
and France. In "Raj," I urged the United States to practice
the values it preaches and help build real democracy in the Arab
world before it was too late. The first and major step, I asserted,
was imposed a just settlement for Palestine – which I termed "sand
in the eye of the Muslim world."
Not a single
American publisher would touch "American Raj." It was
simply too heretical in challenging the myths of benign American
foreign policy or predicting an explosion was coming. My book was
published in Canada and Europe, but not in my own country.
2010, two years after "Raj" came out, the Arab world began
to erupt against dictatorship, corruption, and oppression. The revolt
began in little Tunisia but soon spread to the bulwark of America’s
Mideast Raj, Egypt, where the exceptionally brutal, corrupt US-backed
dictatorship of Husni Mubarak was toppled. For 40 years, Washington
had sustained military dictatorships in Egypt whose principal raison
d’etre was making Israel comfortable and keeping the lid on a restive
We must understand
that the angry demonstrations still flaring across the Muslim world
are not a manifestation of some primitive Muslim fanaticism or free-form
detestation of the West. They are a volcanic eruption of anger at
America. They are not terrorism or religious fanaticism, though
numbers of religious fanatics are indeed involved. They are anti-Americanism
in full flame. As I tried to explain in "American Raj,"
what we call "terrorism" is in many cases virulent anti-Americanism
aroused by our domination of the Muslim world – which has been battling
first Euopean, then American domination for the past two centuries.
are fighting back, just as they did under the British Raj. As America’s
wrings its hands over attacks by our Afghan "sepoys" on
their American and British advisors (read "white officers"),
those who know India’s history will recall the great 1857 Indian
Mutiny in which native sepoy regiments turned on their British officers.
Is it any wonder
the Muslim world is so angry? The agony of Palestine continues,
with America’s politicians, led by Mitt Romney, adopting an openly
anti-Palestinian policy. His cynical words about kicking the Palestinian
question down the road echoed across the Muslim world, as had virulently
anti-Muslim statements by Republican presidential challengers like
Newt Gingrich, a socket puppet for pro-Israel casino billionaire,
or the egregious Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. Or the constant
Muslim-bashing of Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the rest
of the Murdoch empire.
forces and CIA are now waging military operations and assassinations
in six Muslim nations: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Mali,
and, most recently, Libya. US troops are heading into East and North
Africa. Iraq has been destroyed as a society and functioning state.
are nine million Palestinian refugees, two million Afghan refugees,
two million Iraqi refugees, and now Syria is being torn apart by
a US and Saudi-backed insurgency. Washington ardently supports some
of the world’s most reactionary and odious regimes, notably medieval
monarchies in Arabia and the sinister military regime that rules
Algeria. Let’s not forget, either, the ugly little despots of Central
Asia who are supported and financed by Washington.
In short, there
are a multitude of reasons for people in the Muslim world to be
angry at America. And, of course, at themselves: youth unemployment
and the economic, social and political backwardness of much of the
Muslim world, endemic corruption and near total lack of real justice,
powerlessness and hopelessness. Our so-called ally, Pakistan, offers
an alarming example of a broken-down society ruled by thieving officials
and above-the-law feudal landlords.
be blamed for many of these social and political problems, but it
is not doing enough to alleviate them. Instead, Washington clings
to its overseas empire with the same tenacity as Britain’s imperialists
at a time when the United Kingdom’s postwar economy lay shattered
and drowning in debt. Britain could no longer afford its globe-girding
empire then, and America can no longer afford its global imperium
today. Both Raj’s had feet of clay.
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2012 Eric Margolis
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