Why do they hate us ?

by Edward S. Herman

CovertAction Quarterly magazine, Fall 1998


Imagine this scenario: A major U.S. newspaper publishes an extensive interview with long-time Cuban refugee terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, in which Posada claims that his terrorist acts against Cuba over the past severaI decades have been funded by the Cuban American National Foundation, located in Miami. Posada, trained by the CIA for the Bay of Pigs invasion, asserts that he retains very good relations with U.S. officials, who look the other way as he organizes his terrorist operations. The paper describes several recent assassination attempts against Castro organized by Posada, and several weeks after the interview, the paper reports that a further assassination attempt by Posada had fallen through because of resentment by his collaborators at his "confession." As a result of the interview, and based on other information on terrorist sites in Miami, the Cuban government carries out secret bombing raids on Miami, knocking out the CANF building and damaging other sites, with only a modest number of "collateral" casualties. The Cubans claim the right of self defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, noting the ongoing activities of Posada and his own admission that the United States tolerates, if it does not encourage his terrorist activities. President Clinton, Secretary of State Albright, and Defense Secretary Cohen, after considering the Cuban claims, acknowledge their justice and U.S. guilt and say that the United States will not retaliate but will instead clean out the terrorist sites...

Pretty far-fetched, isn't it? We would be outraged, and Cuba would be immediately bombed in retaliation. And in fact Cuba would never attack Miami, because it would expect such retaliation. But in terms of the logic of their case for bombing Miami, it is exactly that of the United States in bombing Afghanistan and the Sudan, and possibly more compelling because the terrorist attacks emanating from Miami have been going on for several decades.

The difference is that, as a superpower, we have taken upon ourselves the right to exercise force, and to ignore legal processes, that seem grotesque when applied by others. This superior right is so ingrained that the public doesn't see the gross double standard involved, and they don't see that it is self- serving. The media cause the public to think that our behavior abroad is disinterested and generous. This applies to other matters. For example, we claim to be boycotting Cuba in the interest of "democracy," and even passed a "Cuban Democracy Act." But there is no "Saudi Democracy Act," and for 32 years we were closely allied with the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia. Suharto was referred to by a Clinton administration official in 1995 as "our kind of guy." What has driven us in these cases has hardly been generosity or a devotion to democracy; it has been the importance of oil and the access to and favorable climate for investment provided by the dictators. In both Saudi Arabia and Indonesia our policies have put us into an antagonistic relationship to popular and democratic forces in those countries.

Nevertheless, the media here do not focus on this double standard and our de facto support of convenient tyrants (for many years, even decades, including Mobutu, Marcos, the Somoza family, the Duvaliers, and Trujillo).

Our double standards and opportunism go farther. In the deeply troubled Middle East, the United States not only protects the Saudi and other family dictatorships, it imposed the dictatorship of the Shah on Iran by a U.S.-organized coup in 1953, and in the 1980s it actively supported Saddam Hussein, even helping him obtain and use "weapons of mass destruction," as he fought Iran and attacked his own Kurds. The discovery that he was a bad man by invading Kuwait in 1990, and the subsequent war and extended boycott imposed on Iraq in the 1990s, may strike others as hypocritical and opportunistic. Similarly, the fact that the U.S. allows Israel alone to maintain a nuclear arsenal, and protects each and every one of its incursions into Lebanon, and steady dispossession of Palestinian homes, land, and water, arouses immense anger in the Middle East.

The American people are largely protected from understanding why large numbers hate us by politicians and pundits who demonize our enemies, stress the positives-and we do decent things, and support democracies, when not in conflict with business demands - and refuse to admit the elements of self-interest, opportunism, and double standards in our actions, that are so obvious to many people abroad.

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