Why do they hate us
Americans ask, “Why do they hate us?” Stephen M. Walt, Harvard professor of international relations, suggests:
Remember the Golden Rule? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I’ve been thinking that Americans ought to reflect a bit more on the long-term costs of our willingness to do unto others in ways we would most definitely not want them to do unto us.
This past week, the New York Times has published two important articles: The first described Obama’s targeted assassination policy against suspected terrorists, and the second describes the U.S. cyber-warfare campaign against Iran. When our government is doing lots of hostile things in far-flung places around the world and the public doesn’t know about them until long after the fact, then we have no way of understanding why the targets of U.S. power might be angry and hostile. (As a result, we will tend to attribute their behavior to other, darker motivations.)
Remember back in 2009, when Obama supposedly extended the “hand of friendship” to Iran? At the same time that he was making friendly video broadcasts, he was also escalating our cyber-war efforts against Iran. Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei reacted coolly to Obama’s initiative, saying: “We do not have any record of the new U.S. president. We are observing, watching, and judging. If you change, we will also change our behavior. If you do not change, we will be the same nation as 30 years ago.”
U.S. pundits immediately saw this as a “rebuff” of our supposedly sincere offer of friendship. With hindsight, of course, it’s clear that Khamenei had every reason to be skeptical; and now, he has good grounds for viewing Obama as inherently untrustworthy. I’m no fan of the clerical regime, but the inherent contradictions in our approach made it virtually certain to fail. As it did.
We keep wondering: “Why do they hate us?” Well, maybe some people are mad because we are doing things that we would regard as unjustified and heinous acts of war if anyone dared to do them to us.
I don’t think Americans should be so surprised or so outraged when others are angered by actions that we would find equally objectionable if we were the victims instead of the perpetrators. And if we keep doing unto others in this way, it’s only a matter of time before someone does it unto us in return.
[Excerpt of article by Stephen M. Walt, Harvard professor]