Why They Hate Us
Because the population stands by its government and war machine, despite years of continuing murder, torture and unspeakable spectacles of inhumanity like this. If you don’t have the stomach to see the photos, here’s a bit of prose from the Rolling Stone feature to digest:
[A] review of internal Army records and investigative files obtained by Rolling Stone, including dozens of interviews with members of Bravo Company compiled by military investigators, indicates that the dozen infantrymen being portrayed as members of a secretive “kill team” were operating out in the open, in plain view of the rest of the company. Far from being clandestine, as the Pentagon has implied, the murders of civilians were common knowledge among the unit and understood to be illegal by “pretty much the whole platoon,” according to one soldier who complained about them. Staged killings were an open topic of conversation, and at least one soldier from another battalion in the 3,800-man Stryker Brigade participated in attacks on unarmed civilians. “The platoon has a reputation,” a whistle-blower named Pfc. Justin Stoner told the Army Criminal Investigation Command. “They have had a lot of practice staging killings and getting away with it.”
Despite the provocative title of this blog, “they” don’t really hate “us.” Much of the Muslim world still looks fondly upon American culture. As Ivan Eland noted in 2003:
If the U.S. government really wanted to find out what the people in Islamic countries really thought about America, rather than commissioning a study, it would have been much cheaper to have asked John Zogby, a prominent pollster and study group member, and other prominent independent pollsters for the results of their numerous polls in those nations. Those polls show that people in those countries like American culture and political and economic freedoms, but despise U.S. foreign policy toward the Islamic world.
Somehow many in the Muslim world have been generally able to separate the American people from our government, even more charitably than many Americans seem to distinguish foreigners from their rulers. It is so easy for the common victims of U.S. wars to become dehumanized, whether by rogue soldiers or an indifferent political culture. While the premeditated slaughter described in the Rolling Stone story is widely seen as immoral, most of the inevitable deaths of tens or hundreds of thousands in America’s elective wars are dismissed as “collateral damage.”
Foreigners should be forgiven if they resented “the American people” far more than they actually do. Most of us seem to care nothing of the atrocities committed in our name. Even worse, many of us actively support the politicians and military who bring these horrors to other people. We implicitly celebrate these acts of slaughter in parades for veterans. We “support our troops.” We name streets and buildings after presidents who ended the lives of literally millions of innocent people. In the name of humanitarianism abroad, we enlist the help of a state that jails without trial, claims the right to do anything to anyone on earth, and has tortured hundreds or thousands of detainees to death.
By “we” I am referring, of course, to the American people as a group, which is problematic. Even worse is considering the government an extension of the popular will. American voters fight over which sociopath should run the war machine, condemning other nations for nuclear ambitions and human rights abuses while sitting comfortably amidst the largest prison population on earth and an unsurpassed arsenal of inherently aggressive weapons, including tens of thousands of nukes.
We argue seriously about what “we” should do to stop Iran from one day obtaining nuclear weapons, almost all in agreement that this is the U.S. government’s business, even as we do not stand up and demand our government, the only one ever to intentionally murder civilians with atomic bombs, disarm unilaterally and unconditionally. We debate endlessly about the most minor details of domestic politics as a bipartisan empire financed with our tax dollars and central bank lays waste to countries, destroys the most priceless archives of cultural records, deliberately poisons foreigners by the thousands, prevents people from getting food and medicine, and drops terroristic death from the sky, perhaps more than all other governments in history combined.
Then there are those troops on the ground, chopping off body parts, shooting helpless kids for sport, gleefully playing with the remains of some of the millions of casualties of America’s post-9/11 killing spree. The military apologizes for the photos, but not for the war that makes these atrocities inevitable. This is the rot at the soul of the American empire. When its leaders claim that their last round of bombing in intended to and will effectively secure human rights, why on earth would anyone in his right mind believe them?