Victor Davis Hanson:
But such a legitimate and necessary rationale depends also upon general empathy for the Middle East. We are embarking on this new course in the hopes that the American lives sacrificed and our treasure spent are for a friendly people that appreciates our efforts. I think they do, and that the record of brave Iraqi reformers is worth the effort — both for the sake of our future security and so as to adopt a new moral posture that respects Arab self-determination. But, again, most Americans now don’t think it is worth it — and not just because of the cost we pay, but because of what we get in return. Turn on the television and the reporting is all hate: a Middle Eastern Muslim is blowing up someone in Israel, shooting a rocket from Gaza, chanting death to America in Beirut, stoning an adulterer in Tehran, losing a hand for thievery in Saudi Arabia, threatening to take back Spain, gassing someone in Iraq, or promising to wipe out Israel. An unhinged, secular Khadafi rants; a decrepit Saudi royal lectures; a wild-eyed Lebanese cleric threatens — whatever the country, whatever the political ideology, the American television viewer draws the same conclusion: we are always blamed for their own self-inflicted misery.
Fostering democracy in Iraq is called imperialism. But then so is the opposite of backing a strongman in Pakistan or Egypt. Billions sent to Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine goes unmentioned or is considered too paltry. Millions of Muslims saved in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Indonesia, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Somalia means nothing. One Koran wrongly said to be flushed is everything.
A sense of imbalance is everywhere. Imams call Jews “pigs and apes.” The Pope is threatened for his dry recitation of history. Cartoonists, novelists, filmmakers, and opera producers are all promised death or beheading, while the worst sort of racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Christian hatred is broadcast and published in state-run Arab media.
Sobering, as always.