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"Double Standards Make Enemies" - Rushdie on Anti-Americanism [Comments?]

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  • liquidmice
    Double Standards Make Enemies By Salman Rushdie The Washington Post Wednesday, August 28, 2002; Page A23 On Sept. 5 and 6 the State Department will host a
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 11, 2002
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      "Double Standards Make Enemies"
      By Salman Rushdie
      The Washington Post
      Wednesday, August 28, 2002; Page A23

      On Sept. 5 and 6 the State Department will host a high-powered
      conference on anti-Americanism, an unusual step indicating the depth
      of American concern about this increasingly globalized phenomenon.
      Anti-Americanism can be mere shallow name-calling. A recent article
      in Britain's Guardian newspaper described Americans as having "a bug
      up their collective arse the size of Manhattan" and suggested
      that " 'American' is a type of personality which is intense,
      humourless, partial to psychobabble and utterly convinced of its own
      importance." More seriously, anti-Americanism can be contradictory:
      When the United States failed to intervene in Bosnia, that was
      considered wrong, but when it did subsequently intervene in Kosovo,
      that was wrong too. Anti-Americanism can be hypocritical: wearing
      blue jeans or Donna Karan, eating fast food or Alice Waters-style
      cuisine, their heads full of American music, movies, poetry and
      literature, the apparatchiks of the international cultural
      commissariat decry the baleful influence of the American culture that
      nobody is forcing them to consume. It can be misguided; the logical
      implication of the Western-liberal opposition to America's Afghan war
      is that it would be better if the Taliban were still in power. And it
      can be ugly; the post-Sept. 11 crowing of the serves-you-right
      brigade was certainly that. However, during the past year the Bush
      administration has made a string of foreign policy miscalculations,
      and the State Department conference must acknowledge this. After the
      brief flirtation with consensus-building during the Afghan operation,
      the United States' brazen return to unilateralism has angered even
      its natural allies. The Republican grandee James Baker has warned
      President Bush not to go it alone, at least in the little matter of
      effecting a "regime change" in Iraq.

      In the year's major crisis zones, the Bushies have been getting
      things badly wrong. According to a Security Council source, the
      reason for the United Nations' lamentable inaction during the recent
      Kashmir crisis was that the United States (with Russian backing)
      blocked all attempts by member states to mandate the United Nations
      to act. But if the United Nations is not to be allowed to intervene
      in a bitter dispute between two member states, both nuclear powers of
      growing political volatility, in an attempt to defuse the danger of
      nuclear war, then what on Earth is it for? Many observers of the
      problems of the region will also be wondering how long Pakistani-
      backed terrorism in Kashmir will be winked at by America because of
      Pakistan's support for the "war against terror" on its other
      frontier. Many Kashmiris will be angry that their long-standing
      desire for an autonomous state is being ignored for the sake of U.S.
      realpolitik. And as the Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf seizes
      more and more power and does more and more damage to his country's
      constitution, the U.S. government's decision to go on hailing him as
      a champion of democracy does more damage to America's already
      shredded regional credibility.

      Nor is Kashmir the only South Asian grievance. The massacres in the
      Indian state of Gujarat, mostly of Indian Muslims by fundamentalist
      Hindu mobs, have been shown to be the result of planned attacks led
      by Hindu political organizations. But in spite of testimony presented
      to a congressional commission, the U.S. administration has done
      nothing to investigate U.S.-based organizations that are funding
      these groups, such as the World Hindu Council. Just as American Irish
      fundraisers once bankrolled the terrorists of the Provisional IRA,
      so, now, shadowy bodies across America are helping to pay for mass
      murder in India, while the U.S. government turns a blind eye. Once
      again, the supposedly high-principled rhetoric of the "war against
      terror" is being made to look like a smoke screen for a highly
      selective pursuit of American vendettas.

      Apparently Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are terrorists who
      matter; Hindu fanatics and Kashmiri killers aren't. This double
      standard makes enemies.

      In the heat of the dispute over Iraq strategy, South Asia has become
      a sideshow. (America's short attention span creates enemies, too.)
      And it is in Iraq that George W. Bush may be about to make his
      biggest mistake, and to unleash a generation-long plague of anti-
      Americanism that could make the present epidemic look like a time of
      rude good health.

      Inevitably, the reasons lie in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Like
      it or not, much of the world thinks of Israel as the 51st state,
      America's client and surrogate, and Bush's obvious rapport with Ariel
      Sharon does nothing to change the world's mind. Of course the suicide
      bombings are vile, but until America persuades Israel to make a
      lasting settlement with the Palestinians, anti-American feeling will
      continue to rise; and if, in the present highly charged atmosphere,
      the United States does embark on the huge, risky military operation
      suggested Monday by Vice President Dick Cheney, then the result may
      very well be the creation of that united Islamic force that was bin
      Laden's dream. Saudi Arabia would almost certainly feel obliged to
      expel U.S. forces from its soil (thus capitulating to one of bin
      Laden's main demands). Iran -- which so recently fought a long,
      brutal war against Iraq -- would surely support its erstwhile enemy,
      and might even come into the conflict on the Iraqi side.

      The entire Arab world would be radicalized and destabilized. What a
      disastrous twist of fate it would be if the feared Islamic jihad were
      brought into being not by the al Qaeda gang but by the president of
      the United States and his close advisers.

      Do those close advisers include Colin Powell, who clearly prefers
      diplomacy to war? Or is the State Department's foregrounding of the
      issue of anti-Americanism a means of providing hard evidence to
      support the Powell line and undermining the positions of the hawks to
      whom Bush listens most closely? It seems possible. Paradoxically, a
      sober look at the case against America may serve American interests
      better than the patriotic "let's roll" arguments that are being
      trumpeted on every side.

      Salman Rushdie is the author of "Fury" and other novels.

      © 2002 The Washington Post Company
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