Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Frightened America is Frightening the World?

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi

"America is afraid of us Muslims and especially of you, the Arabs,” veteran Kashmiri leader Sardar Abdul Qayyoum said after a recent visit to the United States. “It's a real fear. I have felt it during my meetings with the American president, congressmen, businessmen and journalists," he added,

I heard the same words from Thomas Friedman when I met him about a year ago. He told me he had failed to convey to us the fear of what he called the Arab and Islamic terror that arrived at their doorstep in September 2001.

The Arab writer Mohammed Hussein Haikal explained America’s state of mind in his book "The American Age: From New York to Kabul.”
The US does not know, he wrote, "the concept of security" -- because it was established on the concept of interests. America has not been as affected by wars as other parts of the world, even when it participated in the two world wars. None of its cities were ever threatened, although its soldiers were killed abroad."

After the Sept. 11 crisis, I wrote an article "Fearful America Frightens the World". It was an attempt to understand what is happening and what will happen after the US saw the largest and fiercest attack in living memory on its own soil.
It created a feeling of insecurity among Americans inside their own country. Suddenly, Americans were as exposed to death and destruction at home as other people in the world.

Recently, I spoke with a group of friends to a visiting American journalist. He told us that his newspaper had sent him to Wales, UK, to attend an intensive training course on how to deal with dangers in war zones, and that all his friends and relatives called to warn him when they heard he was traveling to Saudi Arabia. They even advised him to make a will in case he did not come back alive.

We heard and felt similar comments and sentiments from visiting journalists regarding unfortunate incidents and events in the US. But the death of a small number of people from anthrax or 10 people at the hand of a gunman are events that could occur anywhere in the world without raising much of an uproar. If they happen in the US they are front-page news and daily concern for every citizen.

This again reaffirms my point that the US is spearheading a destructive and costly war against terrorism because it is afraid. But fear on the part of a superpower is a dangerous weapon that can backfire.

And on top of the fear, there are other considerations. Christian and Jewish extremism are also pushing for war. And Washington wants to realize strategic interests by establishing military bases and allied governments.
Afghanistan is surrounded by three regional powers -- China, Russia and India -- as well as countries with the capability to produce nuclear weapons such as Pakistan, Iran and the Central Asian republics.

There are also petroleum producing countries near the Caspian Sea. Iraq, more conveniently, is located in the center of the Middle East and in the Gulf region, which has the world's largest oil reserves. Iraq also happens to be close to America's 51st state, Israel.

But as a French thinker has put it: Empires collapse when they start exploiting others, and feel no need to consider their points of view.

*Managing Editor, Al Madina Daily

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