Why Many Muslims Hate the West

Exclusive: Many Americans and Westerners are baffled by the violent rage expressed by many Muslims, but the reasons for their anger are real, deriving from a “deep history” of anti-Islamic wars and colonial exploitation of the Middle East, as ex-U.S. diplomat William R. Polk describes.

By William R. Polk

The issue of terrorist attacks on America has been so politically sensitive that most commentators have simply wrapped themselves in the flag and closed their eyes and ears. Yet, even in fairy tales, ostriches were never saved by burying their heads in the sand. It is not a good defensive posture and it wouldn’t be wise for real-life Americans to behave like make-believe ostriches.

If we want to be safe rather than sorry in the dangerous world we now inhabit, we need to be clear-headed, logical and informed. Those characteristics do not arise from anger or impulsiveness. They can arise only from sober assessment of causes and intelligent evaluation of possible actions. Achieving these qualities has become ever more necessary because we face an uncertain and increasingly complex future.

An image of a Crusader killing a Muslim.

An image of a Crusader killing a Muslim.

So in this first of two essays I will put together and consider what motivates terrorists, what they remember and what we have done; in Part 2 I’ll look at what we can do and what we cannot do to achieve what I have called “affordable world security.”

I begin with a simple fact of human nature: human beings, like even puny and ill-armed animals, strike out when they perceive an attack or threat to their psychological, cultural or physical existence. Protecting what Freud called the “ego,” the intrinsic sense of being, is the ultimate form of self-defense. Whether the attack is real or not, intended or accidental, it is perception that triggers and shapes the response. The key word is “perceive.”

Legal or moral justification, while usually vigorously proclaimed, does not play a key initial role in determination of action. Justification is usually claimed by both sides. It is usually equivocal and can be “proven” only by a selective gathering of events. That selection, naturally, is governed by the mindset of each side.

Moreover, it is time sensitive: yesterday’s attack may justify today’s response, but what about events that occurred the day before yesterday? The clock starts at different points for each party and the flow of events cannot be “cherry-picked,” except for propaganda purposes.

If we wish to understand not to condone but to understand we need at least temporarily to put aside the issues of guilt and justification. Rather, we need to attempt to see whole patterns including the views of our opponents. This is not a simple procedure and is not undertaken with slogans in a sound bite. So, how to do it?

My answer is analogous to the procedure of physicians in their attempt to understand an illness taking a case history. That case history, by definition, cannot be just the events of the present or the immediate past. It requires digging into what I have called “deep history.” Only if the past is “squeezed” to bring out angers, hopes, fears and perceptions from their origins and through their mutations can a sensible approach be made to designing successful policies to deal with the present and the future.

Otherwise, we are likely to make snap judgments that may exacerbate rather than solve the problem. That, I will argue, is what we are now doing with insurgency, guerrilla warfare and terrorism.

Hardest Step: Understanding

The first step in moving toward understanding may be the hardest. To understand, we need to credit the fact that our opponents believe in the rightness of their cause, just as we believe in ours. It is puerile to ascribe to them trivial or inappropriate motivations.

The second step is to inform ourselves. As the great Chinese strategist Sun Tzu wrote nearly 3,000 years ago, “Know yourself. Know your enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.”

Despite his admonition, even such statesmen as Napoleon (in the Spanish guerrilla war against the French) and Churchill (in the Greek guerrilla war against the Germans first and then the British) denigrated their opponents.

As Churchill said of the Andartes, they were just “miserable Greek banditti.” Churchill got away with his blindness because America bailed out Britain’s Greek policy with the Truman Doctrine.

Napoleon was not so lucky. He lamented from his exile that the Spanish “little war,” la guerrilla, “destroyed me. All the circumstances of my disasters are bound up in that fatal knot.” Too late, Napoleon began to understand that the Spanish guerrillas were motivated by ideas similar to those that gave his own forces and his own people their unity and power.

Ideas mattered then. Impelled by them, farmers became guerrillas. Similar ideas today are turning tribesmen, farmers, fishermen, religious students, teachers, shopkeepers and even lawyers into guerrillas, terrorists and suicide bombers. So what are the ideas?

The ideas that matter today usually grouped under the headings of nationalism and religion have long pedigrees. They began to take shape at the dawn of animal life on Earth. How this happened is now a fairly well-known story, but it was not a widely known story at the beginning of my own academic career and still may not be entirely familiar; so at the risk of duplication, allow me to touch on the main points.

To live in what Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century philosophers Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu and Rousseau called “the state of nature,” early humans had to secure access to sources of food and water. So little groves of fruit and nut trees and patches of edible roots and legumes around a spring or pond became miniscule “states.” Among our remote ancestors, such “states” were no larger than a day’s walk across.

Living in them were miniature “nations,” usually composed of less than a hundred individuals whose survival depended on their defending, feeding and caring for one another. The tie that bound them together was kinship. But, because kinship erodes as generations pass, clans tended to sunder and move apart. Over about two million years, this process of continuous alienation populated the planet. Alienation is deeply “programmed” in all of us.

Then, about 10,000 years ago, people found ways to intensify their sources of food and to improve their means of collecting it. Doing so enabled them to gather together in unprecedented numbers. Hunters and gatherers became herders and farmers. Having more, they were less able to scatter.

Little bands settled into villages that grew into towns and then into cities. As they settled together and grew more numerous, kinship no longer was immediately evident and no longer provided a satisfactory means of defining their relationship to one another.

We don’t know exactly how it happened, but roughly 5,000 years ago, in various parts of the world, peoples independently discovered other sources of affinity. They became aware that even those they no longer recognized as cousins spoke in the same way, dressed in a similar fashion, ate the same foods and did not eat other foods and accepted as suitable shared customs and beliefs.

While they may still have thought of one another as somehow kindred, they began to enlarge that concept into the combination of custom and locality. Thus, they began to think of neighbors as surrogate kinsmen. As they grew closer together, they came to regard themselves as “the people” and to regard aliens as enemies or as virtually “non-people.” In fact, many of the words we use as names of primitive societies actually mean “the people” while some of the names of other societies mean “the enemy.” Fear of the foreigner is deeply ingrained in us.

As I have argued, perhaps the single most compelling force in the evolution of our social, political, commercial and military institutions has been the tension inherent in having to live contiguous to those who do not share “our” customs: that is, the dilemma of being simultaneously both neighbors and strangers. [See my book Neighbors and Strangers: The Fundamentals of Foreign Affairs (2000) for the results of this tension in the origins of all aspects of world affairs.]

“Imprinted,” generation after generation, century after century of warfare, with fear of foreigners, and despite sporadic and feeble attempts to achieve a sense of a common humanity, we still have trouble comprehending those whom we regard as “not us.”

This worldview is obvious in all our foreign relations and in many aspects of our domestic affairs. It is crucial in trying to reach an understanding of what I have called violent politics. [See my book Violent Politics (2008)].   So how are we doing in that quest?

Affinities and Animosities

Most of the books and articles I have read and practically all of the discussions I have heard, on insurgency, guerrilla warfare, terrorism and counterinsurgency, skip lightly over motivation to portray events. Many seem almost to revel in the ugliness of the conflict.  This obviously sells books but hardly enlightens us.

While individual reporters are often very good at describing events, they rarely offer much help in guiding us to an understanding of causes. The media does not have much time for analysis. But their reports at least make clear that the situation we face has not improved and in many aspects is getting more dangerous.

What we read in the press is not much improved by the advice offered to governments by “think tanks.” Not surprisingly, the available reportage and advice has led to a dead end. We, the French, the British, the Russians reached that dead end in Afghanistan. The Chinese in Tibet and Central Asia are also approaching it.

That is where the governments of all the major powers now find themselves. Despite huge expenditures of blood and money, the rich “North” has not been successful in subduing conflict in the poor “South.” Nor, do intelligence and security services believe we can prevent attacks from the “South” on our own homeland.

The sequence appears unending: insurgents hit; dominant powers respond; they respond; we respond; they re-respond And warfare becomes not only everlasting but ever more brutal and ugly.

As the great Nineteenth Century French student of war, Antoine-Henri Jomini, wrote on what he called “wars of opinion,” such wars “enlist the worst passions [of whole populations and] become vindictive, cruel and terrible” Attacks and reprisal without restraint become virtually inevitable.  [See: The Art of War (Précis de l’art de la guerre), which was first published in English in 1862 and was used as a textbook at West Point.]

In these circumstances, trying to suppress guerrilla warfare and terrorism by using lethal force has proved to have an effect similar to trying to douse a fire with gasoline. So what are the circumstances? What are Jomini’s “wars of opinion?”

A careful reading of history shows that what Jomini called wars of opinion are actions that whole societies come to believe aim at destroying not only their governments and institutions what is now called “regime change” but also their way of life and beliefs.

Feeling embattled, both sides believe themselves to be the victims; neither side is willing to understand, much less to excuse, the other. “Common ground” is demarcated by fear and hatred. “War” is transmuted from an issue one partly governed by law between governments into a deeper, unbridled, even primordial conflict among peoples.

And, as incident follows horrifying incident, this “opinion” comes to be shared ever more widely by both insurgents and counterinsurgents. Each side, virtually each person, comes to think of his opponent as intrinsically evil and himself as justified in taking any action, adopting any tactic, no matter how brutal or indiscriminate that is judged to be effective.

That cycle of hate, as I will illustrate is where we are today in the clash between “us,” the established nation-states of the “North,” and the Muslim insurgents of the “South.” (Ironically, when Samuel Huntington wrote “The Clash of Civilizations,” it was a gross simplification, but, inspired by it, governments have helped to turn the interpretation into reality.)

This conflict is not solely a matter of contemporary “opinion.” Rather there are deep and still vivid indeed constantly renewed memories that shape actions and beliefs today.

As with the physician’s case history, knowing and understanding them is crucial to our interpretation of our current dilemma and our possible choices of what to do about it. To elucidate them, I will touch on key elements in our past relationship that form the backdrop to the present. I begin where both insurgents and counterinsurgents begin, with religion.

Religious Certainty

Islam is the third and most recently announced of the great monotheistic religions, along with Judaism and Christianity. Each religion claims a direct and essentially unique relationship to the Divinity, but to a secular historian, the relationships among the three are obvious.

Judaism and Islam are particularly close and share many beliefs and customs. As the Quran defines Islam, it is “the religion of Abraham” from whose “true faith” Muslims believe the Jews strayed; to the contrary, Jews have always regarded Islam as an imperfect attempt to copy Judaism.

Islam and Christianity are less similar. Islam views Jesus as a prophet with a special relationship to God but holds that treating Jesus as “the son of God” or as a god himself is to commit the mortal sin of polytheism (Arabic: shirk). As viewed by the Christian Church Muslim denial is sacrilege. Even worse in Christian eyes was Judaism’s total rejection of Jesus.

So, despite or even because of their similarities, the three religions regarded one another as perversions. Each saw the very existence of the others as a sin against the true God-ordained faith which it alone held.

The attitude of each was partly shaped by geography and history. Christian Byzantium (East Rome) was the established world power defending against Islam. As the Islamic Caliphate expanded, conquering much of the Byzantine empire and all of the Sasanian Persian empire, it acquired resident Christian, Zoroastrian and Jewish communities. (And, ultimately, it acquired whole societies of Hindus whose polytheism it gradually came to ignore.)

Except in the heat of warfare, Islam incorporated these peoples into its system but left them free to practice their religions, engage in their distinctive diet and dress, enforce their own laws and customs and to govern themselves under their own authorities. This pattern of autonomous “nationhood,” (Arabic/Turkish: millet) grew out of the pagan Arab tribal custom of granting hospitality to a “protected stranger,” (Arabic: jar).

Both Christians and Jews generally lived securely in communities within Muslim states whereas both Jews and Muslims were always at risk and often persecuted, occasionally driven away or even slaughtered in Christian states.

Over centuries many Christians and Jews converted to Islam. That Islam forcibly converted them is a myth; actually, the Islamic states were keen that the conquered peoples remain non-Muslim because that status required them to pay an extra tax.

As Persian Zoroastrians converted, they continued to stress their non-Arab identity by a distinctive interpretation of Islam, Shiism. The development of Shiism within Islam, like Protestantism within Christianity, is complex but in part both were determined by ethnicity. The bitter relationships between Sunnism and Shiism today are reminiscent of the religious wars in early modern Europe. (And, as poorer Hindus converted to Islam, they escaped the tyranny of the caste system, exchanging the virtual slavery of being an “untouchable” (achuta or dalit) for the “brotherhood” (ikhwaniya) that is one of the most attractive aspects of Islam.) Historically, Islam has been the most tolerant of the three religions.

Judaism began, as we know from the Old Testament, as a far more militant and ruthless conqueror of the non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine. It offered no means for non-Jews to achieve safety comparable to the status of protected community in Islam: its God, Yahweh, authorized the massacre of all who stood in the way of the Jewish nation.

It was the Roman Empire that pacified the Jewish nation. Breaking out of Israel, Jews became among the most civilized and cosmopolitan of the Romans. They drew back from militarism and, although they continued to convert distant peoples in Africa, Asia and Europe, they became politically passive. For that they have paid a terrible price. It was this tradition of passivity against which Zionists revolted and returned Judaism to militarism.

Christianity has been generally intolerant and violent in its relationship with both Jews and Muslims. Christians forced European Jews into ghettos, made them wear distinctive dress and subjected them to all sorts of indignities and dangers. The Crusades began with attacks on Jews resident in Europe.

Except in what became Spain, which was partly Muslim for about 700 years, and areas of southern Italy and France, Muslims were effectively banned from Europe. Whereas Jews and Christians established trading posts through the Islamic world, Muslims hardly ever dared visit Europe and until the rise of the Ottoman empire in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth centuries none became residents. [One of the great contributions to medieval history is the multivolume portrayal of the Jewish communities in the Mediterranean and particularly in Egypt by S.D. Goitein, A Mediterranean Society (1989)]

Wars between Christians and Muslims began during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad. This was partly because Islam was founded on the frontier of the great Christian empire of Byzantium. The first Christian-Muslim clash was in 636 AD. Wars have occurred intermittently ever since.

In campaign after campaign, European Christians fought Spanish, North African, Middle Eastern, Balkan and Central Asian Muslims. The campaigns of what we think of as the Crusades lasted 176 years from 1096 to 1272. Among the victims were both European Jewish communities (the First Crusade started with an attack on them) and resident Christians in Palestine (who were burned to death in their Jerusalem church by the Crusaders when they finally reached Jerusalem).

Struggle became endemic in more modern times. And the nature of the conflict was partly transfigured from religion to imperialism. The record is both clear and asymmetrical: it was the Christian “North” that attacked the Muslim “South.” Here briefly are some of the key events:

The Wars on Islam

Portugal and Spain continued their moves against the “Moors” into Africa and then on to India while Russian tsars beginning with Ivan the Terrible moved south to crush kingdom after Muslim kingdom in Central Asia.

By the end of the Eighteenth Century, the French and the British had gained overwhelming military, commercial and organizational advantage. For them, as for the Russians, Muslim India was the ultimate prize. But the road to India was blocked by Muslim states that had to be subdued.

Relatively speaking these states lagged far behind Europe. Partly blinded by their vision of their past, the Muslim rulers and their medieval armies almost literally did not know what hit them. On the east, Peter the Great and Catherine defeated the horsemen of Asia one after another. The Russians were matched by the French on the west.

In one of the most colorful battles of all time, the gloriously dressed and splendidly mounted Mamluk horsemen of Egypt charged Napoleon’s artillery. They were not only slaughtered but humiliated. That was to be the fate of the Muslims in the centuries to follow.

In India, Britain first conquered Bengal and then set about destroying the great Mughal Empire. Already intent on blocking Russian expansion, the British then pushed toward Central Asia and the Middle East. They fought Afghan Muslims along the “Northwest Frontier” for generations; took over and ruled Egypt; defeated the Muslim revivalist movement, the Mahdiyah, in the Sudan; established hegemony in the Persian Gulf; dominated Iran; and ultimately acquired control over what became Iraq, Jordan and Palestine.

Some of these conquests were particularly violent: in Afghanistan, the British killed hundreds of thousands of Afghans (but lost a whole army in one of its three wars), and in Iraq, the British wiped out Arab tribesmen with poison gas. Only on the “Northwest Frontier” was warfare still at least partly a Great Game.

For the Italians, war was no game; in Libya it became genocide. They tried to wipe out not only the Islamic revival movement, the Sanusiyah, but also the entire tribal population. Everywhere, the colonial campaigns were ugly.

“Subduing the natives,” as the Dutch did in their wars in Indonesia were brutal affairs. They reached the nadir in Congo where the Belgians killed between 10 and 15 million Africans about twice the number of Jews killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust engaged in systematic rape, cut off the hands or feet of unproductive natives and stripped Congo of its raw materials.

[While these horrible crimes were not attributable to Americans, natives both there and throughout the colonial world tended to group Americans with Europeans as “whites” so we have been damned by association. On the Congo see Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost (1997). A summary was published by Andrew Osborn, “Belgium confronts its colonial demons,” The Guardian, July 18, 2002. Osborn points out that the scale of massacre was almost double that of the Holocaust yet Belgium has made neither apology nor restitution.]

Meanwhile, the French conquered North, West and Central Africa, killing hundreds of thousands of Muslims and destroying their social and religious organizations. The French invaded and brutally suppressed the people of Algeria, stealing their lands.

Having invaded Syria, they twice bombarded Damascus when the Syrians tried to prove that Europeans were wrong that they were “not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world”

The Covenant of the League of Nations proclaimed a more polite version of “the White Man’s burden,” the “sacred trust of civilization.” France espoused the words but violated them in deeds.

The European thrusts into the “Muslim world” were combinations of religious, nationalist, colonial and imperialist ventures. They were often brutal, frequently nearly continuous and uniformly destructive of civic and religious institutions.

Except for the Philippines, these were not American wars, but the American role in the slave trade that bought millions of Africans to America is now being reevaluated. No one knows much about the enslaved peoples of Africa, but certainly a large portion of them were Muslims.

In short, Muslim experience mainly with Europeans but also to a lesser extent with Americans has been a key element in their attitude toward the white, Christian “North.”

Even if we, the Northerners, choose to ignore the history of our relationship, the descendants of the victims will not. Muslims, like Jews, increasingly probe into and publicize their holocaust. The memory of the “deep past” already plays a significant role in the growth of Muslim sentiment toward the Christian North. It will play an important role in international affairs far into the future. [Further, as Graham Fuller pointed out, “there are a dozen good reasons why there is bad blood between the West and the Middle East today, without any reference to Islam or to religion.”]

Memory of the “deep past” is a cause in the growth of Muslim hostility today in such movements as the Taliban, Al Qaeda, various movements of Salafiyah and more recently, the Islamic State. [Salafiyah is a complex doctrine and has been generally misunderstood: It is roughly comparable to the Puritan movement in Protestant Christianity. That is, it sought to gain strength and purity, and so to advance, by returning to the “pure” religion at its origin. I have discussed it in detail in my 2013 essay.]

But, one may object, that is all so far in the past that it surely can be put aside. To consider that opinion, look briefly at the more recent past. What has been the recent relationship of the Christian “North” and the Muslim “South.”

The Modern Era of Warfare

Dividing history into periods is useful for analysis, but it is a simplification. For the vast majority of the “Southern” people there was no new era; they continued to live as their parents and grandparents had lived. More rapidly and more nimbly, their rulers often tried to copy the drill, the uniforms and the weapons of the European invaders. This military modernization was particularly marked in Egypt under Mehmet Ali Pasha and in the Ottoman Empire under Sultans Selim III and Mahmud II. They thought that if they looked modern, they would be strong.

Deeply disturbed by change but growing aware of their weakness, some religious leaders tried to gain strength by going back to draw on their heritage. None of these activities slowed Western penetration.

The Industrial Revolution had given the West irresistible power. Handicraft industries collapsed before cheap imported goods. Governments became enmeshed in debt they hardly understood. Food crops were replaced by cotton for export. Intermediaries proliferated. Traditional patterns of land ownership were overturned by changes that converted Indian, Iraqi, Palestinian and Egyptian farmers into serfs.

Even styles in dress changed so the turban gave way to the Fez. Local authorities from Morocco to Indonesia were replaced or became puppets of the new, European-imposed order.

Among the small elite, nationalism was espoused as it had been in Italy, Greece, Poland, Germany and France as the guide to liberty and dignity. It was thought to be the “secret” of Western power. For many younger Arabs, Caucasians and Indian Muslims, the “Young Turks” became role models.

Then, encouraged by the proclamations of the First and Second World Wars, nationalist movements gained momentum. Those were heady days of manifestos, marches and the first real political parties. A new day seemed to have dawned. And, step by step, nationalism itself was refined toward its apex, secular Baathism.

But, along the way many of those who protested, marched and organized would become willing agents of the European rulers or their native agents. After what were often sharp lessons of the danger of speaking truth to power, most leaders quickly traded youthful exuberance for adult calculation. This transition was made easy and financially attractive by the Western-installed or Western-tolerated monarchs of Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Libya and Morocco.

For both reformers and opportunists the issue of preservation of the cultural values of what had come to seem an archaic society became irrelevant. Soon it was overshadowed by the great new challenge of Communism, the dangers of resurgent Israel and the heady opportunities of the Cold War.

It was the Cold War that brought the United States into the Middle East. Taking over from Britain first in Greece and then generally throughout Africa and Asia, America assumed Britain’s role but played it with far more vigor and money and far less subtlety and skill.

Using the “façade rulers” whom the British had cultivated or creating new proxy rulers through subversion, bribery and threat became the strategy of the Dwight Eisenhower-John Foster Dulles-Allen Dulles period. Coups were organized and carried out in Iran, Iraq and Syria and help was given to prevent them in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Morocco. Seeing these events, many of the next generation redirected their anger from Britain and France to America.

The best known action of America was the 1953 overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadegh, an action proposed by the British to enable them to regain control of Iranian oil. Followed by the cooption of the Shah, the coup may be taken as the starting point for the Muslim reaction against America.

But already four years before in 1949, the CIA had engineered a coup d’état in Syria. In testimony in the U.S. Senate, it was shown to have tried to murder various Middle Eastern leaders including Prime Minister Qasim of Iraq and President Nasser of Egypt. A few years later in 1980, it helped to make a military coup in Turkey.

In the following years, America has intervened overtly or threatened invasion almost everywhere in the Middle East and parts of Africa. Additionally, it has imposed “crippling sanctions” that have impoverished and infuriated large numbers of people.

Arab, Pakistani, Kashmiri, Somali, Berber and other Muslim people, often led by secular rulers, have themselves engaged in a remarkable series of ugly violations of civil liberties, blunders and wars during this period. One after another, rulers have adopted the security state model: militarism without compensating civic institutions.

Generally speaking except for the oil-rich states, they have kept their people quiet by giving them little bread but many circuses. As a group the leaders and their cronies are known for their greed, corruption and brutality. Their records of torture and imprisonment are among the worst in the world. To the “man in the street,” there is little to distinguish the local tyrant from the foreign ruler.

In two crucial aspects, the Muslim states still suffer from the aftermath of imperialism: first, most of the governments have not grown from their own social “soil” but from foreign transplants. Consequently, civic institutions have rarely taken root.

Parliaments, law courts and the media remain, as they were under imperialism, tools in the hands of rulers. Military and security forces, the key legacy of foreign rule and the result more recently of subsidy and training, are the most often the only efficient, mobile and powerful organizations. They form autonomous states within nominal states.

A second heritage of the imperial period is disunity. Domestically, the older tradition of brotherhood (ikhwaniyah) and mutual responsibility has been largely replaced by individualism and selfishness. Those who can take, take; few any longer honor the Islamic obligation of tithe (Arabic: zakat). Enrichment by any means is avidly sought: “the Devil take the hindmost.”

As among individuals so among societies, there is little or no sense of unity. While rulers join interstate organizations and loudly proclaim their unity, they often bitterly and covertly work against what they publicly identify as common causes. Rulers connive in the overthrow of their peers and quietly make deals behind their backs.

This also is largely a heritage of imperialism. Each European state pulled its colonial elite into its own educational system. I observed this when, in 1953, the Rockefeller Foundation convened a meeting of the outstanding Arab intellectuals.

So “embedded” were they in the cultures of their former masters that some were comfortable only in French, others in English, one in Italian while none was able to express himself satisfactorily in standard Arabic. What was evident in language spilled over into law, politics, economics and bureaucratic organization.

The lack of unity has, of course, been heightened by subversion, espionage and foreign manipulation. Individuals have learned not to trust one another. And this sense of wariness has been heightened by the almost continuous wars with Israel and by the common belief that rulers and whole governments covertly collude with Israel. (In wars and other forms of conflict the more recent include 1948-1949, 1956, 1967, 1969-1970, 1973, 1982, 1982 1996, 2008, 2012 and 2014.)

Israeli intelligence operatives have been able to profit from this lack of cohesion. For instance, in 1970, I was asked by the chief of the office of the Israeli Prime Minister to negotiate a cease-fire on the Suez Canal with President Nasser of Egypt. To reassure me, the Israeli official casually mentioned that the Israelis knew Nasser’s opinion of me. There and elsewhere, Israeli intelligence had an often astonishing access to intimate information.

Failing the People

The bottom line is that a significant portion of Muslims and particularly of Arab Muslims believes that their governments have failed their peoples; they have not created institutions that are regarded as constructive, representative and honest; they have not created a sense of dignity which was their repeatedly proclaimed quest; they are generally believed to be corrupt, brutal and tyrannical.

Many believe that the governments we see today are only slightly veiled continuations of imperialism, installed either or both to protect such Western interests as oil, to underwrite American policy toward Israel or to bring about the complete subjugation of Islam. Many also would say that the few local rulers who tried to carry out an independent policy were deposed by force.

Nasser, Saddam and Gaddafi dictators as they certainly were were engaged in efforts to create a modern, progressive and self-sufficient society and to uplift their peoples. However unsavory they were politically, they did bring education, better health and security. We didn’t like them. We tried to kill Nasser and did kill Saddam and Gaddafi.

Nationalism and what was called “Arab Socialism” failed. All that was left was religion. To the forces now operating in the name of Islam, I will turn in the next essay.

William R. Polk is a veteran foreign policy consultant, author and professor who taught Middle Eastern studies at Harvard. President John F. Kennedy appointed Polk to the State Department’s Policy Planning Council where he served during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His books include: Violent Politics: Insurgency and Terrorism; Understanding Iraq; Understanding Iran; Personal History: Living in Interesting Times; Distant Thunder: Reflections on the Dangers of Our Times; and Humpty Dumpty: The Fate of Regime Change.

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68 comments for “Why Many Muslims Hate the West

  1. Abbybwood
    August 5, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    Muslims hate the West because we are imperialistic occupiers.

    And now the United States is ratcheting up our involvement in another act of militaristic imperialism in Syria by announcing that our air power will start targeting Syrian government air defenses against Al Queda/ISIL without a Security Council or Congressional authorization and the State Department is admitting as much:

    http://investmentwatchblog.com/does-us-have-a-legal-right-to-defend-syrian-rebels-with-airstrikes/

    • SD
      August 6, 2015 at 4:43 pm

      Islam is the bloodiest imperialistic power of all time.

      An estimated 80 million Hindus died during the Muslim conquest of India.
      The Muslim Pakistani army killed 1.5-3 million Hindus during the partition in 1947, and led a campaign of brutal rape.
      Muslims destroyed Byzantium completely on the orders of their prophet Mohammed.
      Muslims obliterated the entire Christian culture of North Africa.
      Arab Muslims have reduced the native Coptic people of Egypt to a sliver of their previous numbers and have nearly wiped out the native language of Egypt.
      The Ottoman Muslims practiced the sick tax on children, the “devshirme” in the Balkans, enslaving the healthiest and brightest children by force in large numbers.
      Arab Muslims, following the example of their prophet, enslaved up to 28 million Africans, dwarfing the European slave trade by millions.

      I call nonsense on you, Abbywood

      • Alamin
        August 6, 2015 at 8:17 pm

        SD: What an idiotic bunch of inaccurate statements….

        • SD
          August 6, 2015 at 9:29 pm

          “The massacres perpetuated by Muslims in India are unparalleled in history, bigger than the Holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis; or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks; more extensive even than the slaughter of the South American native populations by the invading Spanish and Portuguese.”

          Francois Gautier, French political writer and journalist based in India

        • SD
          August 6, 2015 at 9:40 pm

          “The cruel practice in what today can be called brain cleansing of the Christian population of the Ottoman Empire is perhaps the most inhuman Turkish legacy.”
          Andre Gerolymatos

          The devshirme was a Muslim Turkish “blood tax” on the Jews and Christians of the Ottoman empire. Ottoman officials would enter a village and demand to inspect the children and youths of the village. Parents who did not produce their children would be severely punished (tortured). The Muslim overlords would select the children they wanted and march them away. Girls were made into sex-slaves and maids for wealthy Muslims. Boys were forcibly converted to Islam and made into warriors called Janissaries. The devshirme was nothing other than slavery practiced by the imperialist Ottomans against the destitute villagers of the Balkans, robbing the healthiest and brightest children from the community.

          Tell me what of this is a lie, Alamin.

        • SD
          August 6, 2015 at 9:45 pm

          “Over 28 Million Africans have been enslaved in the Muslim world during the past 14 centuries. While much has been written concerning the Transatlantic slave trade, surprisingly little attention has been given to the Islamic slave trade across the Sahara, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

          While the European involvement in the Transatlantic slave trade to the Americas lasted for just over three centuries, the Arab involvement in the slave trade has lasted fourteen centuries, and in some parts of the Muslim world is still continuing to this day.” Dr. Marcus Garvey

          • Alamin
            August 7, 2015 at 5:13 pm

            I think Gregory makes my point more politely on your drivel than I would have. I’m sorry that my comment stirred you up into presenting so many more innacurate, one sided statements.

          • SD
            August 10, 2015 at 3:40 pm

            Alamin: What is your rebuttal on my inaccurate, one-sided statements? Do you have any evidence for me?

      • Gregory Kruse
        August 7, 2015 at 9:03 am

        You are sorting out Muslims as if they are the worst peoples and the Christians as if innocent of all charges. Though your charges against the Muslims has validity, nothing you say validates your charge of nonsense against Abbywood’s comment.

    • rotorhead1871
      August 9, 2015 at 1:46 am

      it looks like parts of the west hates them just as much, except there is a lot of muslims that want to move to the west…while no westerners want to move to muslim countries…..

  2. Joe L.
    August 5, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    Given the long history of colonialism and imperialism by the western world on the rest of the world, I wonder what is going to happen when there is an alternative to the western economic system because I believe that countries indebtedness to institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, and use of the SWIFT system keeps countries in servitude of the western world? The BRICS Development Bank just opened a few weeks ago and I believe it will start to lend in 2016 along with other institutions such as the AIIB and an alternative to the SWIFT system. If the victims of our imperialism and colonialism have an alternative, remembering the history, are they going to take it and shun the western world? Should be interesting especially as China moves closer to being the world’s number one economy in nominal terms (China already is the world’s largest economy according to Purchasing Power Parity).

    • Bob Van Noy
      August 6, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      Joe L, I am not an economist, but I like what Ellen Brown has to say about the concept of Public Banking and Local Investment. If the Profitability in Banking were limited, regulated and directed; we’d All be better off.

  3. Zachary Smith
    August 5, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Fascinating!

    I look forward to reading the second essay.

    • Peter Loeb
      August 6, 2015 at 6:22 am

      DEFINE “TERRORIST”!

      I strongly object to the use of the term “terrorist” as Polk
      is wont to do. Is he thinking?

      Example:

      “…So in this first of two essays I will put together and consider what motivates terrorists, what they remember and what we have done; ..”

      By “terrorist” does Polk mean “Muslim”? Are all the oppressed, resistance
      and freedom fighters “terrorists”.. In fact, I think “terrorist” is a relatively
      modern term but I could be wrong on this.

      Bravo for this article in other respects. Please cease using the term
      “terrorist” in the manner you have above.

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

      • Joe L.
        August 6, 2015 at 11:40 am

        Interesting that you bring up the use of the term of “terrorist”. Well I am Canadian and I was watching CTV news here in Canada a few weeks back. The news reported of the man, who incidentally was Muslim, that killed 4 soldiers at a base in the US as a “terrorist” even though he was supposedly not linked to anyone. Ironically, the very next story was about James Holmes who shot up that movie theatre a few years ago where he killed 12 people and I think injured 70 people and the news described him as a “shooter”. Now for me, both of these acts were acts of terror which would mean that either both of them should have been described as “terrorists” or both should have been described as “shooters”. So I absolutely understand how our media, and maybe society, equate Muslims almost exclusively with “terrorism”. To me this is Orwellian Double-speak much like “enhanced interrogation”, as if it is somehow different from “torture”. Edward Bernays would be proud of the “propaganda” or “public relations” that is instilled on the public in this day and age.

  4. Abe
    August 5, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    […] the majority of those killed in these wars and those suffering most from these wars, statistically speaking, were Muslim — a stark contrast to the common view that radical Muslim terrorists are the deadliest group in the Middle East. Rather, it would seem the American military are the worst killers, and the death toll resembles religious genocide. In 2009, Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard, wrote in Foreign Policy:

    “How many Muslims has the United States killed in the past thirty years, and how many Americans have been killed by Muslims? Coming up with a precise answer to this question is probably impossible, but it is also not necessary, because the rough numbers are so clearly lopsided.”

    Do The Math: Global War On Terror Has Killed 4 Million Muslims Or More
    http://www.mintpressnews.com/do-the-math-global-war-on-terror-has-killed-4-million-muslims-or-more/

  5. Joe Tedesky
    August 5, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    I always like reading Professor Polk.

    Fighting an insurgency is exhausting, and endless. An occupation of a nation, is much different than establishing new settlements. The Earley Anglo-American along with modern day Zionist demanded a place for their new ‘settlements’. Their demand punished the indigenous Native-American and devastated the Palestinians to no end. The occupation of Iraq like its predecessor Vietnam proved to be quite different. I believe that is because the indigenous are not overwhelmed by all the new settlers. You can’t win with just an army.

    The Moslem, Christian, and Jew are so close, yet so far away (Carol King moment here). If that all there were, then answer me this…what should I expect as a Christian if I were in the U.S. Military stationed along side a Moslem or a Jew? What happens where a terrorist militia in Syria is said to have Sunni fighting alongside Shia? Let’s just say, this maybe a fact. Then what is really going on here?

    Zbigniew Brzezinski likes having proxy forces do our dirty work. If the U.S. can buy mercenaries then why can’t Saudi Arabia, Turkey, any nation for that matter. Blaming the Moslem is like thinking the puppet has talent. The real question is who is the puppeteers?

    Here is a portion of an article by Tomi Lahren

    Its Not the Muslims Stupid

    “From the late 1950’s onward scholars started documenting the movement that became known as radical Islam today. The only problem is, it’s not Islam. It never was. It is western fascist political philosophy that’s been tailored to suite the Middle East. Going into the new millennium new groups used “Muslim, Islam, and Islamic” as a means to self identify within the vastly larger Muslim communities in an effort to draw fire from the West and radicalize populations while trying to establish themselves by putting the communities under fire.”

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/07/tomi-lahren-its-not-the-muslims-stupid.html

  6. Shaun Byatt
    August 6, 2015 at 12:26 am

    I think that unfortunately you underestimate the actions of the United States during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries to the resistance of their policies and insertion into the Mid East hierarchy. I think that the actions of the US government against its native population and its gunboat diplomacy against China, during the days of the Boxer Revolution as well as in the Philippines sowed the seeds of today’s resistance.

    Their “Jack Boot” diplomatic insistence that the Opium trade be allowed in China, along with western ownership of all railroads had already coloured the view of Middle Eastern leaders against the US as yet just another “White Christian” government, no different from their historic enemies of Europe when they finally entered the region after WWII.

    The US damaged its own cause and your 1 line about “Except for the Philippines” is deliberately misleading as if the US is the victim of “European Diplomacy”. This is a fallacy as none of the Western powers are innocent during this period and even though the elite may be changed and a friendly players put into power to subvert the populace, the people have a long and collective memory about these things. I can give the example of Australian veneration for our diggers during the Gallipoli campaign. It is considered the “actions which made a nation” down here. This European war which shouldn’t have had anything to do with us, still looms large in the identity and psyche of my nation. Even though it happened nearly 100 years ago, its probably better known than the exploits of soldiers in any other conflict we’ve been in.

    Other than that an excellent read and I look forward to your next essay.
    Thank you.

  7. Antidyatel
    August 6, 2015 at 7:16 am

    Isn’t author forgetting some minor detail about original inhabitants of North America?
    “While these horrible crimes were not attributable to Americans, natives both there and throughout the colonial world tended to group Americans with Europeans as “whites” so we have been damned by association”
    Ruins the whole articles and practically ridicules the author

    • Antidyatel
      August 6, 2015 at 7:19 am

      Aren’t we also remembering now the victims of genocidal tendency of American military that in a second incineratedmore than 100000 civilian in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

  8. Mark
    August 6, 2015 at 9:16 am

    I would disagree with the idea Mossadegh’s overthrow in 1953 Iran is the best known of Americas actions to that point in time. Many American’s still don’t know this and that it was done for the sake of oil profits — specifically what has morphed into what the US knows as BP or British Petroleum.

    The most obvious and egregious violation of rights, life and property the Euopeans and US imposed on the Mid-East was when Zionist massacred and expelled 750,000 Arabs to take the Arab lands in Palestine.

    The method of organized Zionist terror gangs annihilating entire Arab villages was then “legitimized” by the US first, with other Western nations to follow in recognizing the Zionist terrorism and land theft as “legitimate”…

    On this basis alone Israel is not “legitimate” and makes Zionism and Israel the most successful terrorists in the modern world having coerced and intimidated entire governments to Legitimize Zionist terrorism. They were terrorists that also controlled the Western “news” media which was used as a propaganda diceminator for Israel to manufacture favorable sentiment through obfuscation, misrepresentation and outright lies being presented to the Western public as “facts” — just as it is today…

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 6, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      “At one point when the State Department was trying to convince Israel to allow Palestinian refugees to return, Secretary of State George Marshall wrote: “The leaders of Israel would make a grave miscalculation if they thought callous treatment of this tragic issue could pass unnoted by world opinion.” [343] Marshall underestimated the ability of Zionists to minimize the information on Palestinian refugees reaching Americans. A State Department study in March 1949 found the American public was “unaware of the Palestine refugee problem, since it has not been hammered away at by the press or radio.” [344]”…… Alison Weir, “Against Our Better Judgement: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel”
      …………………………………………………………..
      There were plenty in the U.S. State Department at the time who protested mightily against supporting this bunch of Zionist terrorist, but they failed to impress their president to do otherwise. Besides, all that, the news media was apparently already controlled by their Israeli handlers. There is nothing better than taking over the government with the world’s largest military, and the most affluent economy on the planet. By spreading out their flock, with a sprinkle there and a sprinkle there of it’s Zionist advocates their takeover of the American government has been a resounding success. Now the question is, how do you get your greedy brother-in-law to leave?

      • Anonymous
        August 6, 2015 at 12:42 pm

        How do we end it Ted, is the 20 Trillion dollar question.

        We can start by telling the truth. Their are a number of reasons why many Americans don’t state the truth about Israel’s beginning as terrorists and continuing with those methods up through to today.

        We all need to cease being afraid, for any reason, to state the truth about Israel and our enabling support as well as our outright guilt in taking sides in what in all reality used religion to “justify” Zionist mass murder and land thefts — still being committed today against Palestinians and now throught the region with their neocon/Zionist PNAC wars.

        • Joe Tedesky
          August 6, 2015 at 2:01 pm

          How do we end it? We could start by shutting down the U.S. Governments cashiers window. While there is no inherent problem with advocacy we do have an overly big problem with lobbyists. In my mind, the Internet could and probably should be the place to reveal who’s behind the curtain. Even this method would more than likely need a lot of tweaking, but transparency is the key. Sun light is the best disinfectant to be sure. All of these problems could be greatly diminished if the U.S. (& all of the west) were to have an objective and honest news media. Good luck with that. I’m putting my money on the next generation, but we who know better must guide these young citizens to learn what is to be done, to correct this sad corruption of our American government.

          • Mark
            August 6, 2015 at 3:28 pm

            Ted, We do now how fickle the US public is and how easily they can be manipulated. But at the same time the numbers of US citizens that is becoming aware or at least suspicious, is growing every year — and there is likely a tipping point where the momentum becomes unstoppable.

            Regardless, Many of those of who care about the truth and justice, while recognizing just how dangerous the neocon/Zionist threat to peace life is, seem to have no choice but to state the truth at every opportunity. Indeed we have nothing to lose and not speaking up is nearly the equivalent of tacit approval.

          • Joe Tedesky
            August 6, 2015 at 4:40 pm

            Mark you forgot to mention, how we have people like you. If you are not to overbearing and wait your turn to speak, you may encourage others to learn what you have learned. Don’t be the crazy uncle at the Thanksgiving table, but be the smart relative who is well informed. Also, advise the youth among you to read important literature that will aid them to gain a decent knowledge concerning world affairs. Remember, every Jew (& there a good ones) is not a Zionist, but every Zionist is a Jew. Add to that in America another name for Zionist seems to be the name ‘Neocon’. I agree every American needs to take a course in the ‘who is who’ in U.S. diplomacy to learn what is really going on, in our government. Keep on keep’n on Mark.

          • Anonymous
            August 7, 2015 at 11:47 pm

            The globalist rulers are slowly but surely getting a stranglehold on the freeflow of information on the internet ( ie. censorship abilities ). There does not appear to be any viable entity to constrain the rulers from totally controlling vital internet info flows .

    • Bob Van Noy
      August 6, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      Mark, I think it was The British & Persian Oil Company…

      • Mark
        August 6, 2015 at 3:16 pm

        Bob, I’m not sure what it was called back then — but whatever company it was on behalf of, that the MI6 requested the CIA’s help to overthrow Mossadegh, that company in part is what morphed into the BP we know today.

  9. Mark
    August 6, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Quoted from the article: “And this sense of wariness has been heightened by the almost continuous wars with Israel and by the common belief that rulers and whole governments covertly collude with Israel. (In wars and other forms of conflict the more recent include 1948-1949, 1956, 1967, 1969-1970, 1973, 1982, 1982 1996, 2008, 2012 and 2014.)”

    Mr Polk, “rulers and whole governments” did collude with Zionists by having succumbed to Zionists lobbying Western governments starting before they massacred and expelled 750,000 Arabs in 1947-48 from what had been Arab homelands for over a millennium. This was and is irrefutable evidence of collusion when those Western governments accepted Zionist terrorism as being legitimate when they all recognized Israel’s murder and land thefts as “legitimate”.

    Zionist are still doing the same today and going even further by having the US lead in fighting their pre-planned wars. The 2003 Iraq invasion was a 1996 Zionist plan to reconfigure the Mid-East of which overthrowing Syria and Iran, also part of the same plan, has not yet been achieved. 9/11 was a convenient and awaited excuse for Israel and their agents embedded in the US government to launch their war crime plans on countless millions of Middle Eastern Arabs and Persians while it has also affected innocent Christians and Jews in the M-E as well.

    Search: ((( PNAC, New Strategy for Securing the Realm ))) and ((( the Yinon Plan ))) — an absolutely sinister and evil plan for intentionally creating chaos in the M-E among the Muslims for Israel’s benefit…

    To see the depth of Zionist infiltration in the “US” government search ((( the New Pentagon Papers ))).

  10. Joe Blow
    August 6, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    What a pretentious, disingenuous piece of intellectual masturbation. This isn’t “understanding”, this is the wholesale swallowing of Muslim propaganda. Somehow, this author has turned all of the many Islamic invasions of Europe and the Middle East into defensive wars against “Christian aggression.” Uh, no. The Crusades were the reaction to Muslim conquest, not the catalyst. The wars against “the Moors” were to take back conquered lands. Muslims weren’t invited to Tours or to Vienna, they ended there on a march of conquest. Islam has been at war with the West for 1500 years (the US is only 229 years old). Even today, most armed conflicts around the world have Muslims at the heart. To think that Christians somehow “brought this on themselves” in the 20th century through bad foreign policy is laughable. The author obviously has some self-loathing that carries onto his own civilization. To look for only the good qualities in another civilization, but only the bad qualities in your own is intellectually dishonest, defeatist and suspect.

    Islam is responsible for the murder of over 80 million Hindus during their 700 year occupation of Indian. As recently as 1971, Muslims murdered over 2 million Hindus, while raping over 100,000 Hindu women. How could US foreign policy have caused this? The author might as well say Stalin didn’t murder 17 million, Mao didn’t murder 32 million, and there were no killing fields in Cambodia. Perhaps US foreign policy caused that also?

    • Baldie McEagle
      August 6, 2015 at 8:57 pm

      Any time someone uses “Stalin and Mao” in an argument, they’re flailing.

      • Joe blow
        August 6, 2015 at 10:33 pm

        And you didn’t even attempt to refute. Those millions murdered just kind of a joke to you?

    • Mark
      August 6, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      When you refer to the author as “self loathing”, Zionism comes to mind because that is exactly how they refer to any Jew that tells the truth about Israel.

      Your post comes off as a typical Zionist propaganda blaming the current day turmoil in the M-E on anyone but the guilty — in fact you blame it on the victims the same as Zionists do.

      If the Zionists had stayed in Europe, and the West did not “legitimize” Zionist terrorism by recognizing the self-declaration of Israel as being legitimate after massacring and disposessing the arabs, would there be Muslim retaliation directed at Israel or their complicit Western enablers today?

      • Joe Blow
        August 6, 2015 at 10:32 pm

        You are just another conspiracy theorist, it’s like a disease. I didn’t even mention the Jews, nor am I a Zionist. You however, are obviously just another crackpot anti-Semite. How can you blame the historical ills of the Middle East on a country only 70 years old?

        • Mark
          August 7, 2015 at 12:25 am

          Joe, if you’re not a Zionist, you somehow picked up their propaganda and language. You didn’t just make that up, so how do suppose it became so ingrained into your system?

          Are you a victim of Zionist Propaganda? Of course you wouldn’t know it then would you…

      • Joe Blow
        August 6, 2015 at 10:54 pm
        • Anonymous
          August 7, 2015 at 12:29 am

          If the Zionists had stayed in Europe, and the West did not “legitimize” Zionist terrorism by recognizing the self-declaration of Israel as being legitimate after massacring and disposessing the arabs, would there be Muslim retaliation directed at Israel or their complicit Western enablers today?

        • Alamin
          August 9, 2015 at 2:15 am

          Glad you posted where you do your misguided “research” on Islam. The ignorant rubbish that is published on that self serving site is evident to anyone who can think for themselves. Polk’s argument may have its flaws but it is accurate for the most part and certainly brings some sorely lacking knowledge about the Muslims as well as their cause for frustration and bitterness toward the West.

    • Shaun Byatt
      August 6, 2015 at 10:03 pm

      I’m sorry Joe, but the 1st crusade was all about the liberation of Judea and Jerusalem from the Muslims as you say, but this city wasn’t taken from Christians. It was a crusade by European’s to remove Muslims from that city, a city which had never been theirs. Once they took the city they immediately committed atrocities to the non christian population of the area. People have always been safer in non Christian states than in them, and that doesn’t exclude Christians.

      for more illumination on the subject you may enjoy reading “A History of the Crusades” which includes the volumes “The FIrst Crusade””The Kingdom of Jerusalem”&”The Kingdom of Acre” by Steven Runciman The Folio Society London. 1994

      • Joe Blow
        August 6, 2015 at 10:30 pm

        Joe,

        That is simply untrue and historically ignorant. No surprise you don’t attempt to refute what I wrote about the millions and millions muerdeted by Muslims, but simply open a new tangential argument.

    • Brad Owen
      August 7, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      Thanks for leveling out the tilt. In fact, the Realm of Greco-Roman Western Empires and Persian-Babylonian Eastern Empires have been at each others’ throats for at least 2500 years…still are…still the same fight, and it transcends any mere nation, religion, or ethnic group.

      • Brad Owen
        August 7, 2015 at 12:20 pm

        My above comment was addressed to SD. Boy, did I ever get off the track. How’d I end up down here? Sorry ’bout that.

  11. Terry M.
    August 6, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    There’s a great deal of important history and useful information in this essay, Professor Polk. May I say William? Or do you prefer Bill?

    And many thoughtful comments by Bob and Joe and Mark and Shaun and Abe and Peter and Zachary.

    What’s missing, both from the initial essay and from the discussion thus far, is the hidden factor of history: Patriarchy. All of the “great monotheistic” (personally, I prefer “Abrahamic,” as I think the monotheism is disputed among the parties themselves,) religions are intensely patriarchal.

    All of the cultures, states, and nations that have grown from these religious roots are also intensely patriarchal. Imperialism is patriarchy manifest. Without the subjugation of fully half of the human species to the control of the other half, these religions lose control of their populations and respond with brutal fundamentalist movements and ideologies.

    It is no accident that all of the Abrahamic religions’ fundamentalist sects are predicated on the dehumanization and vicious exploitation of women as domestic chattel.

    Ignoring the rise of feminism and the drive for human rights and civil rights for women makes this analysis very two dimensional at best, and militates toward a highly flawed understanding of both problem and solution.

    • Joe Blow
      August 6, 2015 at 10:27 pm

      Terry M,

      You are totally full of it. Christianity led the way to BETTER treatment of women and children compared to the mores of its day.

      • Zachary Smith
        August 6, 2015 at 11:38 pm

        Asking for (or giving!) private information on an internet forum is dumb, but I’d be delighted if you’d be so kind to share your state, your church affiliation, and your vote in the 2000 election. All that’s sort of generic stuff.

      • Joe's father in heaven
        August 7, 2015 at 12:35 am

        Joe, if Jesus taught love and forgiveness, why are you so angry?

    • Mark
      August 7, 2015 at 12:17 am

      I would agree regarding supremacism and patriarchy influencing each other; but then I think ignoring feminism may be more a symptom of a patriarchal society than the reason for it.

      Hardly anyone discusses the affects of instinct and human nature along with general psychology when discussing politics or our behavior and how things came to be the way they are.

      Oddly enough, no one can understand politics or human behavior without considering the instinct and human nature — they litterally play into every thing we do as humans also playing into our social structures, culture and collective decisions.

      When you have an entire group of Western nations run predominately by patriarchal supremacists, who’ll never concede power even if it’s warranted, they are much more likely to invade the entire Middle East over a period of decades while claiming it was the fault of Arabs and persians that made them do it — and sorry to say this is right in line with a wife beater’s thinking…

    • Brad Owen
      August 7, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      Terry, I made an out-of-place comment just above you. I meant it for SD up above, but your observation on religions, sparks a response in me. As I said above, the Greco-Roman Western Empires (and maybe even “Egypto-Greco-Roman”) and the Babylonian-Persian Eastern Empires have been fighting for at least 2500-3000 years or so, seeking total dominance, or God-knows what, of as much of the World as possible, creating and using ANY weapon-of-advantage conceivable. I think these high-class Pagan/Polytheists created the Christian and the Moslem Religions to keep the rubes-of-their-Realms in line, to soldier-on, for The Empire (They wiped out any competing Pagans; Celtic, Germanic, Scandinavian, Slavic, Sumerian, Persian, Egyptian, and such). Much later on, the Greco-Roman christianists re-tooled the jewish religion to further their Imperial agenda, finding Zionism a useful tool-of-Empire. The darkly-informing “ZeitGeists” of these two Imperial Realms is, I think, still at play (maybe “pagan/polytheism” isn’t too far off the mark, with conscious, living, tutelary “Spirits-of-the-Times” working in & for these two Imperial Realms?) Don’t get me wrong; I believe in Mystics, Contemplatives, Shamans and such, and their inner experiences, too (I’m no atheist/materialist). I don’t believe, however, that any of their inner experiences were intended to be re-fashioned & organized into religious weapons-for-Empire. They were explorers of Inner Realms. Feminism has even more ancient roots, The Goddess pre-dating Patriarchy by thousands of years, and seems to be, apparently, re-asserting Her Dominion & Reign, once again.

      • Mark
        August 8, 2015 at 5:17 pm

        Brad,

        What evidence is there that says Zionists are a “tool” being used by anyone else?

        I am aware that Jewish Zionists invented Jewish Zionism — and they eventually hijacked Judaism essentially claiming that the Zionist version of Judaism was the only true version.

        And in regards to dealing with foreigners, all they’ve ever done is attack people and steal their land — while also having commandeered the US government and military to serve that end.

        Obviously for anyone paying attention while being honest, Zionists don’t really want peace until they murder enough people to steal all the land they want — how much land they want and when they’ll stop murdering to get it, they’ve not provided an honest answer.

        What do you think their problem is? And again, what evidence is there that they are being used by anyone else?

        • Brad Owen
          August 8, 2015 at 11:01 pm

          As I said before, Mark, Cuff ’em. They’re involved co-conspirators, for sure. Why don’t I believe the trail of culpability ends with them? Just a gut instinct…playing detective. They are such a small group that doesn’t fit in easily with other societies…hence the “wandering jew”. No, the main culprits are more central to everything we’ve been led to believe are “self evident” truths, and more trusted, and central to our core beliefs, which they probably fashioned for us, as chains. As for evidence, well, they wouldn’t be as clever & cunning as I think they are, if they left trails of evidence for us to follow. Lack of evidence isn’t proof of non-existence. This is the best answer I can honestly give you, Mark.

          • Brad Owen
            August 8, 2015 at 11:12 pm

            I also do not believe we’ll be able to relax and breathe easy, even if we round up up every single Zionist conspirator and throw ’em in prison. The main instigators of this criminal conspiracy will still be at-large and in play. We’ll still have the problem plaguing us, even with every zionist in a prison cell.

          • Mark
            August 9, 2015 at 7:32 am

            Since all you have is suspicion, then you have no credible evidence.

            Are you aware your “suspicion” serves no purpose here other than take the light off of those Zionists and their US agents we know are guilty in leading the US to fight and kill for Israel’s pre-planned wars from the 1990’s — at the expense of countless lives and Trillion$ of US tax dollars?

            What do you suspect would happen if we removed the illegal and undue influence of, not those you claim are behind the Zionists, but of those Zionists that have actually subverted our US democracy?

            Why are you opposed to holding those Zionists accountable, for literally having terrorized and coerced “our” US representatives to serve Israel and not US interests — in fact serving the criminal state of Israel at our own expense?

          • Brad Owen
            August 9, 2015 at 8:56 am

            Mark, I seriously doubt my suspicions of culprits other than the Zionists will stop the juggernaut coming down upon those Zionist perps. It’s obviously happening, and I doubt that Israel will even exist another twenty years from now, and the Western Empire will have to secure another beach head to regain/secure Its’ Eastern Provinces (perhaps Turkey, as it used to be part of the Western Empire). I can even imagine that the ACT of rounding-up these Zionist loyal servants-to-Empire can be actually turned to Imperial advantage. So, cuff ’em already, see what happens. One thing I’m fairly certain of, is that the Imperial Play will not therefore end.

          • Brad Owen
            August 9, 2015 at 9:27 am

            In fact, Mark, I’ll even go further. Thanks to your, and others’, persistence on pursuing the Zionist perps, on such a broad front, loudly broadcasted everywhere, I just now got a “gut feeling” that a “Decision” has been reached, somewhere within the “Imperium” of “Sage Councilors” that Zionism has reached its’ “shelf life” of useful service-to-Empire, and now Antithesis shall proceed: the Act of dismantling Zionism…which shall also serve the Empire’s Agenda…Synthesis. Both Perps and Pursuers shall serve the Empire’s needs.

          • Mark
            August 9, 2015 at 9:44 am

            Brad, Israel has an army of paid propagandists on these “comment forums” in the US; and they do it because it helps them in continuing their crimes and undue — illegal — influence on US politicians with disastrous results.

            Your continuing insistence to to deflect culpability from Israel and downplay their role is just one of the tactics they use to keep American’s confused and uninformed so they can keep the deplorable status quo going at America’s expense.

            Search ((( Israel paid propaganda ))). and ((( Israel internet propaganda ))).

          • Mark
            August 9, 2015 at 9:54 am

            Brad, the end of you last is a somewhat self-contradicting saying that those behind the scenes are going to acquiesce to truth and justice by abandoning Israel — that seems a direct contradiction to the idea that “Tories behind the scenes” are running the show.

          • Brad Owen
            August 9, 2015 at 10:51 am

            I don’t see the contradiction, Mark. A formerly-useful Tool no longer serves its’ useful purpose, so is discarded, and a new one fashioned. The Tory/Royalist/Imperialists carry on with a “Plan B, or F,or N…” Zionism wasn’t the first Plan, it won’t be the Last one either. They may even sacrifice “The Rothschilds” (however that’s spelled) to make it really convincing. One man’s “Truth & Justice” is another man’s opportunity…and everyone walks away, with a self-congradulatory “Mission Accomplished”.

          • Mark
            August 10, 2015 at 10:48 am

            How can the Tories be running the show if the decision is not theirs to keep the favored “tool” working for them?

            Seems an outright contradiction to the “belief” that they are calling the shots and running the show.

    • ebonileigh
      August 11, 2015 at 6:28 am

      This is an excellent comment, I totally agree.

      • ebonileigh
        August 11, 2015 at 6:30 am

        i.e. the comment by Terry

  12. RogerT
    August 7, 2015 at 1:56 am

    Whilst Professor Polk’s erudite summary of the historical confrontation of religions is interesting, I suggest that it has little to do with the situation today, The sole cause for the rise of Muslim fundamentalism and accompanying terrorism was and is the imposition of a Zionist regime against the wishes of the indigenous peoples and the surrounding neighbours. The ongoing atrocities of that brutal regime aided and abetted by, in particular, the USA but also by the West as a whole, stretching back some 80 years, cry out to heaven.
    I do not get emotional about the fall of the Byzantine empire but, though a non-muslim, I find myself loathing that abomination of a Zionist cult together with those Friends of Israel which now control my government and most of the West’s governments. No wonder,there is so much Muslim hatred for America which hypocritically claims to be the bastion of democracy and human rights whilst actively supporting the excesses of Zionism.
    It may be too late to curb the horrors of Zionism which may have eradicated the need for Muslim terrorism/freedom fighting and so, eventually, the war will be carried into Israel with the danger of nuclear escalation.

    Yahweh bless America – as no Christian God would ever want to.

    • art
      August 9, 2015 at 11:22 pm

      Author completely disregard history of brutal Islamic conquest which resulted in murder of about 300 mln people with monstrous cruelty. All modern conflicts involve Muslim aggression, read about bloody borders of Islam. Islam has nothing in common with Judaism which it considers as corrupt and Christianity ridiculing divinity of Christ. It’s death cult and unreformable. It wages conquest for 1500 years and spread from small spot in Arabia to huge territories in Asia, Africa and even Europe due to incredible savagery of Muslims. It will conquer Europe and USA because its governments refuse to stop Muslim invasion hoping that Muslims finally wipe out Jews. Read Francisco Gil White and prophetofdoom.net If Islamic plague is to be stopped, it will be done only by Israel.

      • Mark
        August 10, 2015 at 4:54 pm

        Art,

        Chalk yourself up as another victim of Zionist propaganda, the same in that sense as are the Paletinian Arabs and Christians victims of Zionist propaganda.

        The whole of the USA has been made fools of by Zionist propaganda — manipulated into fighting Israel’s pre planned wars — 2003 Iraq, Syria and Iran.

        Search: ((( PNAC, New Strategy for Securing the Realm ))) and ((( the Yinon Plan ))) — an absolutely sinister and evil plan for intentionally creating chaos in the M-E among the Muslims for Israel’s benefit…

        To see the depth of Zionist infiltration in the “US” government search ((( the New Pentagon Papers ))).

        Search: (((Israel control US media))).

  13. Mitchell NewDelman
    August 7, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Bill Polk’s essay is founded upon the dynamic of social aggregations from the dawn of human history.

    Successful human aggregations, including States all have their own self-selected set of myths, legends, laws and a string of political events for cohesion and survival.

    With a limited objective of finding common ground amongst aggregations claiming an Abrahamic patriarch, one feeble step could be made using internet diffusion. That step is explained in the essay at the link below.

    In brief, all Jews, Christians and Moslems could agree upon one thing; their GOD, this divine One, existed before Abraham. That is the feeble step.

    Other Non-Abrahamic belief systems (religions, national political creeds or atheists) would at least acknowledge the benefit of this feeble step to better understand their own social aggregation within the web of humanity.

    One need not join to see the essay below; merely remove the pop-up request to join:
    https://www.academia.edu/13015423/EA_ANU_revisited

  14. Gregory Kruse
    August 7, 2015 at 11:28 am

    I’m pleased to be a supporter of consortiumnews.com.

  15. John M. Morgan
    August 7, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Excellent overview of Christian/Muslim history, especially since the industrial revolution gave so much power to Christian countries to dominate and exploit others. I agree with some posters that the role of Israel and Zionism deserves more attention.

  16. Winston
    August 9, 2015 at 6:17 am

    West is using Jhadis for its own geopolitical aims as Libya and Syria reveal. Same goes for Bosni and Kosovo. Jihadi patsies to stupid to know they are tools!

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