Sunday, February 18, 2007

Puzzling choices:

Hearts and minds: Why the USA is admired in Eastern European countries while it is scorned in Arab lands:

Al Hayat 28.01.2007 (Lebanon)

A special supplement addresses the relationship between the Arab World and the USA. The Syrian dissident Yassin al-Haj Saleh asks why the USA enjoys such a good reputation in Eastern Europe while it is finds no sympathy in Arab countries. "While the USA supported the liberals in Eastern Europe against the Soviet camp, it supported the conservative and radical Islamic groups in the Middle East. Thus the USA helped to promote the 'terror', the combating of which in a five year American war has cost the Arab World more than everyone else. While the Cold War was drawing to an end in the late 1980s, the security, political, and ideological 'regimes' of this era lived on in our part of the world until September 2001. It was then replaced by nearly imperialistic politics. It is not insignificant that the new American policies in the Middle East revolve around the war against terror with all the military and security priorities that this implies, whereas in its policies on Asia and Europe, the USA makes globalisation the central focus."

An unholy alliance:

In an excerpt from his book "What's Left?" Observer columnist Nick Cohen asks why the Left is willing to support a fascist regime as long as its anti-Western. For example, Saddam Hussein. His regime demonised the European Left for as long as the West supported it – and now that the war has ended? "I waited for a majority of the liberal Left to offer qualified support for a new Iraq, and I kept on waiting, because it never happened - not just in Britain, but also in the United States, in Europe, in India, in South America, in South Africa ... in every part of the world where there was a recognisable liberal Left. They didn't think again when thousands of Iraqis were slaughtered by 'insurgents' from the Baath party, which wanted to re-establish the dictatorship, and from al-Qaeda, which wanted a godly global empire to repress the rights of democrats, the independent-minded, women and homosexuals. They didn't think again when Iraqis defied the death threats and went to vote on new constitutions and governments. Eventually, I grew tired of waiting for a change that was never going to come and resolved to find out what had happened to a Left whose benevolence I had taken for granted."

In the justapposition between Haj Saleh's and Nick Cohen's respective puzzlements, lies a potential for an answer and a recovery of the benevolent Left whose demise Cohen laments.

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