America's Pro-Arab Past

America's Pro-Arab Past

The world has too quickly forgotten America's long legacy of pro-Arab and pro-Muslim policies.

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“The Real Roots of Arab Anti-Americanism”
by Barry Rubin, in
Foreign Affairs class="text14"> (Nov.–Dec. 2002), 59 E. 68th St., New York,
N.Y. 10021.

The 9/11 terrorist attack was “undertaken as a
consequence of specific American alliances and actions.” So asserted
Susan Sontag—and the first lady of American if anything, have been
remarkably pro-Arab and pro-Muslim over the years.”

Of the dozen major conflicts during the last
half-century that have pitted Muslims against non-Muslims (e.g., Turkey
versus Greece, Pakistan versus India, Bosnia versus Yugoslavia), Muslims
against secular forces (e.g., Saudi Arabia and other monarchies versus
Egypt), or Arabs against non-Arabs (Iraq versus Persian Iran), the United
States almost invariably has sided with the Muslims or Arabs. The only
important exception has been U.S. support for Israel, says Rubin, and
“the United States has merely helped Israel survive efforts from Arab
neighbors to remove it from the map.” In 1973, at the end of the
October War, the United States forced a cease-fire on Israel, rescuing
Egypt. “Washington then became Cairo’s patron in the 1980s,
providing it with massive arms supplies and aid while asking for little in

Throughout the Cold War, writes Rubin, the United
States “maintained its pro-Arab policy,” fearing that Arab
regimes would side with the Soviet Union. Washington “wooed Egypt,
accepted Syria’s hegemony over Lebanon, and did little to punish
states that sponsored terrorism.” U.S. forces long stayed out of the
Persian Gulf in order to avoid giving offense, finally entering “only
when invited in to protect Arab oil tankers against Iran and to save Kuwait
from Iraq. In Somalia, where no vital U.S. interests were at stake, the
United States engaged in a humanitarian effort to help a Muslim people
suffering from anarchy and murderous warlords.”

Why the prevalence of Arab anti-Americanism? Everybody
from radicals to “moderate regimes” finds America-bashing a
very useful, low-cost way of rallying support and distracting attention
from their own shortcomings. Why the terrorist attacks? It’s the
perception that America is not just a bully but a “ paper
tiger,” Rubin says, “that has encouraged the anti-Americans to
act on their beliefs.”

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