"He was struck crossing at the light, but readily admitted that it was his fault as he had been hit before." So read one of those cute filler items in Readers Digest culled from actual insurance forms.
That hapless victim’s willingness to accept all blame increasingly characterizes elite opinion in the United States. Hatred of America becomes in this mindset proof positive of President Bush’s villainy. Thus the New York Times’ London correspondent, Warren Hoge, told Reuters, prior to President Bush’s recent visit, that America "is now something of a rogue state, a pariah nation." Lest there be any doubt upon whom the blame rests, Hoge continued, "It is amazing to think where we were the day after September 11 and how much of that goodwill has been squandered."
Another Times eminence, Princeton economics professor Paul Krugman, explained why former Malaysian leader Mahatir Mohamad had no choice but to rail against Jews in his valedictory address to the Islamic Summit Conference. The "rising tide of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism in the Moslem world" caused by the war in Iraq and America’s unconditional support of Sharon left him no choice. Krugman’s charge of American pro-Israel bias was echoed almost word for word by St. Jimmy at Geneva. Never mind that planning for September 11 began during the Clinton administration, the most multilateralist and pacifist that America has known, and while Ehud Barak, not Ariel Sharon, was prime minister of Israel.
The price of placing such a high premium on the good will of others is too high. If it takes another September 11 to win the sympathy of the world, most Americans, I suspect, would be prepared to forego that sympathy (which, in any event, lasted only as long as it took some Frenchman to write a bestseller "proving" September 11 was a hoax.)
As Golda Meir once put it in the Israeli context, "Jews are used to collective eulogies, but Israel will not die so that the world will speak well of it." (Today we have to make do without even eulogies.)
The hatred of the "Moslem street" or the European Left tells us no more about the justice of those hated than being beaten up by the playground bully reveals about the victim. Given the lesser-of-two-evils choice between America in Iraq and having Saddam Hussein "feeding his subjects into the industrial shredder for another decade or three," the European Left, as Mark Steyn points out, has made its choice clear: "Crank up the shredder." Large majorities in the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and Indonesia, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, express confidence in Osama bin Laden "to do the right thing regarding world affairs." The Moslem world has produced the most deformed societies in human history – societies in which the highest aspiration of youth is to become a human bomb sowing death among innocents, including one’s own people.
The hatred of such people is a badge of honor. It should trouble Americans no more than Israelis are troubled by the routine condemnations of a U.N. in which Syria chaired the Security Council, and Saddam’s Iraq and Qaddafi’s Libya, chaired the commissions on nuclear proliferation and human rights, respectively.
The obsession with the hatred directed at America treats that hatred as if it dictates self-evident policy prescriptions. Thus the introduction to the Pew Report stresses that the war in Iraq "has widened the rift between Americans and Western Europeans" and "further inflamed the Muslim world." The implication is clear, writes Fouad Ajami in Foreign Policy: "The United States was better off before Bush’s `unilateralism."’ Similarly the State Department panel on improving America’s image in the Arab and Moslem world, headed by former State Department Arabist Edward Djerijian, and including some of the Middle East academics pilloried by Martin Kramer in Ivory Towers in the Sand, predictably attributed much of the Moslem hatred to America’s identification with Israel, with the equally predictable policy implications.
Such thinking overlooks the fact that both America and Israel are hated for what they are more than for what they do. America because its very success and power humiliates failed Moslem societies, which, in the words of Zuheir Abdallah, have contributed "almost nothing" to the world since the industrial revolution; Israel because it exists on Dar-al-Islam, land claimed by Islam.
Those who focus on the hatred never even bother to explain why it is important for America, the world hegemon, to calibrate its every action to the reaction of the Moslem or European street, even as Al Qaeda shows no parallel worry about the response of the American street. As Bernard Lewis has reminded us, "Hatred of America is less significant than contempt – the perception that America is a `paper tiger."’ Better that America should be respected than loved, better even that the terror masters in Teheran and Damascus lie awake at night trembling over what the "crazy" Americans might do next.
The only thing protecting the world against what Fritz Kraemer once termed the "provocative weakness" of those excessively worried about the good opinion of others is one "simplistic" cowboy. The moral relativists have not managed to shake President Bush’s naïve belief that all men deserve to live free and helping them to do so is not only noble and just but the best guaranty of the world’s security.