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We Don't Understand Our Enemies (Again)

The Pentagon, in a report prepared for Donald Rumsfeld, has concluded that, "Muslims do not 'hate our freedoms', but rather, they hate our policies." Really? I, for one, am shocked. I mean did anyone really believe that they hated us for our freedoms? I mean anyone whose middle initial isn't "W"? If you did, or if you still do, let me ask you this simple question...why did Osama bin Laden hate the Soviets when he fought them in Afghanistan? Was it all the freedom those Soviets enjoyed while under the oppressive thumb of communism? Of course not. He hated the fact that a foreign invader was occupying a Muslim country. This simple fact seems to have escaped our Great Leader.

The report goes on to point out that many Muslims see our attempts to force our style of democracy on them at gunpoint as something less than honest, given our continued support of dictatorial, oppressive governments in place like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Pakistan.

Now either the Bush administration has a very simple view of the Arab world, or they are simply feeding the American people a very simple view of the Arab world, I'm not sure which is worse, but neither is acceptable.

Of course this isn't the first time we have failed to understand our enemy, and with tragic results. The popular view of Ho Chi Minh then and now is that he was a Communist for the sake of being a Communist, that he actually believed in world communist domination. That after a victory in Vietnam he would help the Soviets export communism to the rest of Southeast Asia. The famous (or infamous) domino theory. What was missed then, and to some extent even today, is that Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist first and simply used communism as a means to that end. He wanted the United States, and before that France, to simply leave his country. He accepted aid from the Soviets because they offered it. He called himself a communist in order to gain the support he needed to drive America out of his country. Of course we clung to the misguided belief that if we lost Vietnam the rest of Southeast Asia would necessarily fall to the communists as well. In the end this was simply not true. Again, we have a fatal flaw when it comes to understanding our enemies. We try to make them fit into a box that we understand, that makes sense to us.

There seems to be a new domino theory now, sort of a reverse domino theory. If we make Iraq a democracy the rest of the Middle East will necessarily follow. It wasn't true of communism in Southeast Asia, so be wary of anyone telling you it will be true of democracy in the Middle East.


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