Why They Hate Us

(michaeltotten.com) Interview with Lee Smith by Michael Totten - The title of Lee Smith's The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations "comes from Osama Bin Laden's observation that when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse." "To say that Lebanon is held at gunpoint by an armed gang, or that Lebanese journalists are assassinated for their work, Syrian intellectuals and Egyptian rights activists are typically thrown in prison and tortured, and regional minorities like the Shia, Druze, Alawi, Christians, Kurds and Jews have often been the target of purges and political violence all in the name of Arab nationalism, a corporatist ideology that seeks to erase communal as well as individual difference, is not to say that Arabs only understand force, but that violence is a central factor in Arab political life and it is impossible to understand the region without taking this into account." "There is no doubt that Hizbullah despises Israel and would very much like to bring about its demise, but their deeper, perhaps existential, concern is not the some 5 million Jews on Lebanon's southern border, but the Sunni sea that has engulfed the Shia for more than a millennium. And so fighting Israel establishes this Shia militia's credentials as genuine Arabs." "The same holds true for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Why does Iran care so much about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? They don't share a border with Israel, they have not taken in Palestinian refugees like Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, nor are they even an Arab state....The reason Iran has inserted itself in the Arab-Palestinian crisis is in order to project power in the region by shaming Sunni states, like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. All of these states, U.S. allies, either have peace treaties with Jerusalem or have opted out of any active participation in the war against Israel. The Iranians calculate that the Arab masses prefer resistance to reform, accommodation and compromise, and so Tehran has picked up the banners of war that the Sunni states have put down....The main reason they are ratcheting up the noise is because they see resistance ideology as a way to get a leg up, as you put it, on their real regional adversaries, the Sunni Arab states."

2010-01-29 08:36:15

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